Written by Yiannis Flemming – aka Mr Sport
Are you a fighter looking to make weight cutting easier? Well I have some good news for you! This article is going to explain how you can portion meals based on your goal, allowing you to spend more time doing what you do best, training!
Now I’m not sure of your background on nutrition, so I’ll give you the lowdown, but don’t worry, I’ll skip the boring bits. There are two main areas to your food that you need to know about. Macronutrients and micronutrients. Macronutrients are your proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, all of which you’ve probably heard of and have spent some time focusing on if you’ve cut weight before. Micronutrients are your vitamins and minerals, crucial to health, recovery and performance. If we can make small but effective lifestyle changes to improve our eating, we’re not only going to improve our eating habits, we’re going to make it sustainable, so that your diet is something you no longer need to worry about!
I’m going to focus on meals in this article as what you’re eating can either make or break your performance. Your meals should include a complete source of protein (protein that contains all of the essential amino acids), a variety of colourful vegetables, minimally processed carbohydrates to help fuel those intense workouts, and a dash of healthy fats.
The Hand Portion Guide:
If you’re good with calorie and macro counting then that’s great, but what if I told you there was a better way to measure your portions? This handy guide (excuse the pun) is being promoted by nutritionists all over the world, and rightly so! It’s been put through extensive research over at Precision Nutrition on over 45,000 clients looking to improve body composition and performance. So instead of counting every gram of food you put into your body, why not give this simple yet effective method a try.
As mentioned above, your meals should include four key elements. A complete source of protein, a variety of vegetables, minimally processed carbohydrates, and some healthy fats. Now simply use the hand portion guide to correctly quantify these foods as follows:
This section includes complete sources of protein such as, eggs, chicken/turkey breast, lean beef, salmon, tuna, and so on. Simply Google ‘complete protein sources’ if you want to check out what other foods you can use.
Take a look at one of your hands. The palm section is the portion of protein you’re looking to have. Female fighters should use just one palm-sized portion, while men should include two.
Remember I mentioned micronutrients earlier? Well these delicious plants are going to help you build the fitness and health that you need to compete at the top level. Leafy green vegetables such as, broccoli, spinach, kale, and baby leaf salad are all great. But try to experiment with colourful vegetables too. A diet consisting of multi-coloured vegetables has been proven to improve health.
Again, look at your hand and clench your fist. That is the portion size you want for vegetables. Men want to aim for 2 fists of vegetables with their meal, and women want to aim for one fist-sized portion.
Carbs have got a bad rap over the years, but they’re just as important as the other macronutrients, especially for athletes! You want to include minimally processed carbohydrates into your diet. Foods like fruit, oats, potatoes and rice are all great sources.
Two cupped hands of carbohydrates is appropriate for men, and one cupped hand for women.
This macronutrient is crucial to optimal hormone function. Very important if we’re looking to cut weight or alter our body composition. Great sources include, olive oil, nuts like almonds and cashews, mixed seeds, avocado and grass-fed butter.
As fat is the most energy dense macronutrient (9kcal/g), we need to be a little careful with how much we’re using. A portion the size of your thumb will be enough. Two thumb-sized portions for men, and one for women.
Customise to Your Goal:
The above portion sizes are based on your three meals a day, but if you need more food because you’re very active, trying to gain muscle, eat less frequently throughout the day, or aren’t satisfied at meals. Or need less food because you’re not very active, trying to lose weight, eat more frequently throughout the day, or are feeling too full at meals, then this is how you should portion your meals…
Men looking to eat more should start by adding one cupped handful of carbs and/or one thumb of fat extra to a few meals each day. Women should add half a cup of carbs and/or half a thumb of fat to a few meals each day.
Men looking to eat less should start by removing one cupped handful of carbs and/or one thumb of fat from a few meals each day. Women should remove half a cupped handful of carbs and/or half a thumb of fat from a few meals each day.
This approach is easier than counting calories and nearly as accurate. Just like you normally would, though, pay attention to your results and adjust as needed.
Mr Sport is fast developing a reputation as a go-to guy for human performance optimisation, particularly in mixed martial arts. His client base includes athletes at the top of the sport. Make sure you follow him across all of his social media platforms: