There are three ways to calculate appropriate portion sizes when preparing balanced meals.

1) Eyeball method: estimate correct portion sizes according to the size of your hands

2) Use Nutrition Facts Labels from package labels: figure out how much is in the serving size and how much to use for a balanced meal or a recipe

3) Use the Zone food blocks portion sizes list


Look at your hands to use the Eyeball method of Balanced Meals. 

      In the Eyeball method limit the portion of high glycemic carbohydrates such as starchy vegetables, potatoes, pastas, grains, bread or a sugary drink.  The portion size for high glycemic or starchy carbs is a tight fistful. The size of an 8 ounce glass or a cup is also about the size of your fist.  This carbohydrate or sugary drink portion must be eaten as one quarter of a balanced meal; to keep blood sugar in a favorable zone at all times.

      An adequate amount of protein is needed to balance high glycemic, starchy or sugary carbohydrates.  The portion size for protein is the thickness and diameter of the palm of your hand. 

      The portion size for low glycemic carbohydrates such as greens and non-starchy vegetables is two huge hands full or a huge soup bowl full.  The size of fat in each meal is about the size of a finger.

Portions sizes are presented in an excel chart. The food portion chart is a list of portion sizes.  

       Balanced meals consist usually of 3 or 4 portions of protein, 3 or 4 portions of carbohydrates and 3 or 4 portions of fat.  Women usually consume meals with 3 portions of each of the 3 macronutrients protein, carbs or sugar and fat.  Men usually consume meals containing 4 portions of each of the 3 macronutrients. 

        Balanced snacks are usually 1 or 2 portions of protein, 1 or 2 portions of carbohydrate and 1 or 2 portions of fat.  Any combination of foods in the appropriate portion sizes keeps your blood sugar in a favorable therapeutic zone and this encourages weight loss and muscle maintenance. 

Use Nutrition Facts Labels to identify the serving size and the amounts of protein, carbohydrates, fiber, sugar and fat in the serving size. 

         Appropriate portion sizes, also called Zone food block sizes, can be calculated by investigating the Nutrition Facts Labels and identifying the serving size the Nutrition Facts Label is presenting.  The amounts of Total Carbohydrates, Fiber, Sugar, Protein, Fat are the amount in the serving size mentioned. 

         Every portion of protein in a balanced meal contains 7 grams of protein. (Remember a portion of protein has 7 grams and the word protein has 7 letters.)   A meal therefore has 3 or 4 times 7 grams of protein. 

  • A three block meal (with 3 portions of the 3 macronutrients: protein, carbs and fat) has 21 grams of protein. 
  • A four block meal (with 4 portions of the 3 macronutrients: protein, carbs and fat) has 28 grams of protein.  

           Therefore divide the amount of grams of Protein listed in the Nutrition Facts Label by 7 to determine the number of portions of protein in the serving size of the product you are looking at.  For instance usually the suggested serving size of tuna fish in a can is 2 ounces.  In this 2 ounce serving size there is 14 grams of protein.  14 grams of protein is 2 portions because portion sizes have the standard of 7 grams of protein per portion or block.   People usually eat more than 2 ounces of tuna but 2 ounces is actually a snack size that would balance with 1 slice of bread, 2 ounces of tuna is for a half a sandwich.

       Every portion or block of carbohydrates has 9 grams of carbohydrate or sugar.  (Remember a portion of carbohydrate or sugar has 9 grams and the word carbohydrate has more than 9 letters.)  A balanced meal with appropriate portions has 3 or 4 times 9 grams of carbohydrates, totalling 27 to 36 grams of carbohydrates or sugar per meal.   

  • A three block meal (with 3 portions of the 3 macronutrients: protein, carbs and fat) has 27 grams of carbohydrates. 
  • A four block meal (with 4 portions of the 3 macronutrients: protein, carbs and fat) has 36 grams of carbohydrates.  

       The Fiber listed under Total Carbohydrates in the Nutrition Facts Label is subtracted. Fiber is not soluble and lessens the glycemic effect of the carbohydrates making the meal more low carb.  Total carbohydrates minus fiber, divided by 9, is how many blocks or portions of carbohydrates are in the serving size.

       Every block of fat has 3 grams of fat. (Remember a portion or block of fat has 3 grams of fat and the word fat has 3 letters.)   Divide the grams of fat listed on the label by 3 to determine the blocks or portions of fat in the serving size.

  • A three block meal (with 3 portions of the 3 macronutrients: protein, carbs and fat) has 9 grams of fat. 
  • A four block meal (with 4 portions of the 3 macronutrients: protein, carbs and fat) has 12 grams of fat. 

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