The Hand Method- an Alternative to Macro Tracking

Finding an effective strategy for weight loss and physique changes can be challenging.

With the hundreds of diets available, tons of supplements that purport to aid fat loss, and thousands of people and companies touting the “fastest way to lose weight, guaranteed”, it can be hard to even know where to start.

And we’ve all known someone who’s tried something that’s worked, so we often want to take their advice, because the proof is in the results, right?

Unfortunately, weight loss and physique changes can be massively complicated. Factors such as genes, gut microbiome, stress, age, gender, and hormones all play huge roles in how much weight we carry, as well as WHERE we carry it. And if you’ve spent any time yo-yo dieting, each time you gain and lose, it makes it harder to succeed the next time.

It can be enough for anyone to give up.

But don’t. You CAN succeed at finding a healthy weight that makes you feel good, but you have to stop looking for instant results and commit to making consistent changes over the long term. This is be the HARDEST part.

We want results NOW- not in 6 months, or a year. And we want to be able to eat the cake, or the pizza, or have the glass of wine. Yet imagine if the first time you tried to lose weight you ‘d committed to slow and steady, learning to eat in a way that helped you maintain that physique- you might not be reading this now, because you’d already have a system that works for you.

It’s very much like debt- if you don’t stop the behaviors that got you into debt in the first place, when you pull yourself out you most likely will end up right back there. It could take a few months, or a few years, but you will watch your savings dwindle and your credit card charges pile up. But if you CHANGE your habits, you can get out of debt and stay there. And anyone who’s done this will tell you it takes months, even years, to make that happen.

Your weight loss goals are exactly the same.

Most diets work not because they’re “magic” or even one more effective than the other. They work because they require the individual to FOCUS on what they’re eating, and by focusing most of us start to make better choices and create better habits.

Macro counting, the act of tracking what one eats during the day, is one of the most popular methods for dialing in your intake and making changes. I personally use this method for many of my nutrition clients. And I like this method, a lot. I like how it starts the conversation on how much my clients need to be eating, and WHAT they need to be eating to reach their goals. This was one of my primary “go to” methods until recently.

Tracking macros and calories can have a very large margin of error.

From the fact that “calories in, calories out” is a remarkably simplistic concept that does not take into account SO many factors, such as calorie discrepancies on foods labels (can be up to 20% margin of error), to how each one of us USES these calories, to what the user is choosing as their food choices when they enter their foods. Add to this a lot of users eyeball things or forget to enter, and it can make or break someone’s goals.

Because of how frustrating tracking can be, combined with the less than perfect science on calories, has had me over the last year working on some alternative methods to help my clients reach their goals in a simplistic manner that they could apply anywhere, at any time.

The method I came up (built upon Precision Nutrition’s method) was put to the test starting in September and I am ecstatic on the results.

I had a client who moved out of the country for work, and he was in a place that made it hard for him to enter what he was using in his macro tracker, so this was the perfect opportunity to try this method and see how it worked.

For lack of a better name, at the moment I call it the “fist method”. Many of us have heard that when choosing foods, especially protein sources, 4 ounces of protein is about the palm of your hand. I started doing research and examining what a closed fist for most adults would look like as far as food intake- and on average a closed fist equates to 4 to 6 ounces of meat and a cup of carbs (approximately 40 grams).

I had my client use his fist to measure his intake, and I told him to consume 3 meals a day of- a fist of protein, ½ to 1 fist of carbs (depending on where we are in the carb cycling), and a fist of veggies. I worked out his snacks to compliment approximately how much I wanted him to be getting for protein, etc.

Some meals I would have him skip his carbs altogether. For fats he’s allowed up to two fat servings (i.e a tbsp of oil and an ounce of cheese) and whole eggs count as a fat.

This method has demonstrated to be an effective alternative to macro counting.

He is consistently creating a deficit in his food intake, he watches what he eats and eats mostly clean, and we’re having the constant conversation of consistency.

The carb cycling asks his body to use fat as fuel when his carb intake is low, and I know that he is consuming adequate protein. I personally like this method WAY more than macro tracking.

I know my clients (I now have multiple using this method) are being consistent with their intake, I am not worried about discrepancies (if macro tracking and its wrong, they may think they need to eat more or less and are misled), and this system teaches them how to eat AFTER they have reached their goals and no longer need me.

If you are not getting the results you want or are curious in trying this method, you can reach out for more info!

My mission is to help everyone I can become the healthiest, strongest versions of themselves. I am a Crossfit coach, athlete, Health and Nutrition coach, Movement Rehab Specialist, and a grad student completing my masters in Kinesiology with a focus on integrative wellness.

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