Do you want to lose weight? Gain muscle? Improve health? Boost performance? This free calorie, portion, and macro calculator from Precision Nutrition can help you achieve the results you want… more easily than ever before.
Ready to try it? Click “Get Started” below and enter your information to instantly calculate calories, portions, and macros.
(Once we calculate your macros, we’ll send you a free, personalized guide to using our hand portion system for hitting your calorie and macro targets.)
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Designed, developed, and tested in the Precision Nutrition research lab—and proven effective with thousands of clients—it’s the most comprehensive calorie, portion, and macro calculator available.
Here’s why: The Precision Nutrition Calculator first determines the appropriate daily calories for your body, based on the NIH Body Weight Planner (and adapted from research collected at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease).
This estimate takes into account:
It then calculates your daily macros, combining the above data with additional factors, including your:
But here’s the reason this calorie calculator is truly revolutionary: Once it estimates your calorie and macronutrient needs, it automatically converts those numbers into food portions that are equivalent to parts of your hand. (Specifically, your palm, fist, cupped hand, and thumb.)
The result: If you choose, you can skip weighing and measuring your food—as well as logging the details of every meal into calorie and macro tracking apps. Instead, you can use our hand portion tracking system to achieve your calorie and macro targets.
This unique approach takes the hassle out of calorie and macro tracking, making it easier for you to lose weight, gain muscle, eat healthier, and improve your performance.
Some people naturally eat the appropriate amount of food and calories for their individual needs. They’re able to maintain a stable body weight for years—even decades— without counting how many calories they eat, or tracking macros, or ever measuring their portions.
Unfortunately, these “intuitive eaters” represent only a small segment of the human population. The rest of us typically need help with our eating, in the form of external structure and guidance, at least temporarily. This can help you:
That’s why we created this calorie, portion, and macro calculator. It gives you a nutrition blueprint for achieving your goals and, at the same time, helps you develop the skills you need to eat well for life.
(For optimal results, it’s best to combine this nutrition plan with intuitive eating and self-regulation skills.)
Most people know calories matter. If you eat more calories than your body needs, you gain weight. If you eat fewer calories than your body needs, you lose weight.
(Yes, this certainly sounds simple, but as you’ve likely experienced, there are many factors that make managing your calorie intake… not so simple. Learn more here.)
By tracking how many calories you eat, you can better know if you’re consuming the right amount of food for your goals. There are, however, disadvantages to only tracking the total number of calories you eat daily.
Most notably: This method doesn’t ensure you’re getting an appropriate amount of macronutrients for your body, goals, and preferences. Depending on what you’re trying to achieve, this can negatively affect your appetite, hormones, energy levels (especially for physical activity), and nutrient consumption.
And that can make it harder to lose weight, gain muscle, eat healthier, and improve athletic performance.
Just in case you’re not sure, let’s start by defining what macros, or macronutrients, actually are.
There are three major macronutrients: Protein, carbohydrates, and fat. (The fourth macronutrient is alcohol.)
Your body breaks down the macronutrients you eat into compounds used to help create energy, build body structures, create chemical reactions, and stimulate the release of hormones. Which means they can impact how you feel, perform, and even behave.
When you track macros, you don’t need to count calorie intake directly. Instead, you log how many grams of each macronutrient you eat every day.
That’s because each macronutrient provides a certain number of calories:
As a result, tracking macros means you’re automatically tracking calorie intake. It’s just that you’re ensuring a certain number of calories come from protein, carbohydrates, and fat, respectively. This is known as your macronutrient ratio.
For example, let’s say you eat:
Your macronutrient ratio would then be: 30:40:30.
By adjusting your macronutrient ratio based on your age, sex, activity levels, goals, and preferences, you can optimize your eating plan.
If you’re trying to lose weight, you might eat a higher proportion of protein, since it can help you feel satisfied longer after meals. Or if you’re a very physically active athlete, you might want a higher ratio of carbohydrates to meet your greater energy demands.
The good news: Our calorie, portion, and macro calculator will figure all of this out for you.
Just enter your information and, within milliseconds, you’ll get a macro ratio that’s customized exactly for your body, goals, and preferences. (Plus, the Precision Nutrition Calculator gives you the option to further adjust these numbers, in case you want to try a different macronutrient ratio.)
Like calorie counting, though, conventional macro tracking has its downsides. Perhaps the biggest challenge: Because it requires careful food measuring and weighing, most people won’t stick to it for long.
Many say it feels cumbersome and even takes the joy out of eating. Which can limit its effectiveness to very short periods of time. That’s where the Precision Nutrition hand portion tracking system comes in.
When we created this calorie, macro, and portion calculator, we asked:
How can we help people eat the right amount of food, but without the burden of having to weigh and measure every morsel?
Our solution: to give personalized targets not just for daily calories and macros, but also hand portions. That way, you can use whichever method you prefer.
This hand portion system—developed by Precision Nutrition—allows you to use your own hand as a personalized, portable portioning tool. You’re not actually measuring your food, but rather using your hand to gauge portion size. It’s highly effective for food tracking because your hand is proportionate to your body, its size never changes, and it’s always with you.
Here’s a snapshot of how it works:
Based on the calorie, portion, and macro calculator’s output, all you have to do is eat the recommended number of each hand portion daily. (Again, we’ll show you how to put this method fully into practice once you’ve put your information into the Precision Nutrition Calculator and received your free report and eating guide.)
Our research shows hand portions are 95 percent as accurate (or better) as carefully weighing, measuring, and tracking. With substantially less effort and time involved.
Plus, our hand portion tracking system allows you to easily adjust your intake to further optimize your results.
Ready to get started? Go ahead and enter your information into the calorie, portion, and macro calculator above, and we’ll do the rest, providing you with a free nutrition plan customized just for you.
If you have more questions right now, or want to understand the nutrition rules we used to design this calorie, portion, and macro calculator, see the Resources section for a full breakdown.
Here, we outline the numbers used to determine the calories and macros delivered by the calculator.
This calculator uses the same baseline algorithm as the Precision Nutrition Weight Loss Calculator to calculate maintenance, weight loss, and weight gain calorie needs. It factors in the dynamic and adaptive nature of your metabolism to predict how long it’ll take you to reach your bodyweight goal.
This algorithm is a mathematically validated model based on the NIH Body Weight Planner and adapted from research collected at the National Institutes of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease.
For people looking to improve health, the calorie, portion, and macro calculator uses the weight maintenance calories determined by the validated mathematical model inherent to the NIH algorithm.
For people looking to lose body fat, the calorie, portion, and macro calculator uses the validated mathematical model inherent to the NIH algorithm. This takes into account a whole host of anthropometric data, time desired to reach goal, and the adaptive nature of human metabolism.
For people looking to gain muscle, the calorie, portion, and macro calculator uses the validated mathematical model inherent to the NIH algorithm. This takes into account a whole host of anthropometric data, time desired to reach goal, and the adaptive nature of human metabolism.
For people looking to improve athletic performance, the calorie, portion, and macro calculator adds an additional 10% more calories to the weight maintenance requirements calculated by the NIH algorithm. This supports the increased demands of athletic performance.
For people looking to change their body composition with minimal weight change, the calorie, portion, and macro calculator lowers calorie needs by 10% from the weight maintenance requirements calculated by the NIH algorithm. This’ll help facilitate simultaneous fat loss and muscle growth. It should be noted that this approach is most appropriate for individuals who don’t wish to change their body weight by more than 10 to 15 pounds, yet want to improve their body composition.
The macronutrients are calculated by many rules.
When custom macronutrient percentages are entered, those ratios are used to determine all macronutrient and hand-portion calculations. Overriding the macronutrient math outlined above. (Calories will not be changed.)
You can’t. At least not easily.
Instead, you often have to make your meals first, weigh and measure foods, and input those measurements into an app to find out the macronutrient and calorie amounts. Then see what “allotment” you have left as the day progresses.
However, the hand-portion system does make this much easier, which you can read about in your free personalized guide (as well as below).
The hand portion amounts were determined based on the calorie and macronutrient calculations as outlined above.
Using the average hand size for the average-sized man and woman, and combining it with common portion sizes of foods, we approximate the hand-size portions as follows.
You’ll note we used one cup of Greek yogurt and cottage cheese as comparable to a palm. And we used a medium-sized tuber and medium-sized fruit as a cupped handful. These sizes were used as they represent common consumption patterns or pre-portioned amounts of these foods, which allows accounting for them to be as consistent and simple as possible.
Now remember, these are just approximates. Not exact measures. Actual portion sizes ultimately depend on the size of the individual hand, which is usually proportional to the size and needs of the individual. (That’s part of the beauty of the hand-portion approach.)
With the above approximate portions, we can create various meal scenarios and simulations, and calculate the approximate macros these portions provide. This helps number-oriented users see how weighing and measuring their food compares to using our hand-portion system.
It can’t be emphasized enough—these are approximations. Nothing will be exact, because all aspects of calorie and macronutrient calculations are based on averages with known error rates. (Yes, even the USDA nutrient database reports out averages. Actual foods always vary.) Regardless, this information can be helpful to know for the more mathematically inclined and/or individuals with highly specific and targeted goals.
And as you can see, the hand-portion system assumes a mixed intake of protein, veggies, carbs, and fats. As of course, these food sources will have varying amounts of each macronutrient.
For example, let’s look at protein.
Perhaps you start the day with eggs (a high-fat protein source), have a mid-morning Super Shake (very lean protein powder), have a chicken breast for lunch (very lean protein source), and have salmon for dinner (moderately lean protein source).
The hand-portion recommendations are based on the assumption that, on average, you’ll get a moderate amount of fat and even a small amount of carbs from your protein sources.
Now, if you’re consistently eating lots of fat-rich protein sources, or lots of very lean protein sources, you may need to make adjustments. Based on your progress, use outcome-based decision-making to determine if you, or a client, should simultaneously increase or decrease your daily number of thumb-sized portions of fats.
These same assumptions are built in for carbohydrates and fats as well. The hand-portion recommendations assume you’ll have a mix of fruit, starchy tubers, beans, and whole grains for carb sources.
And it assumes you’ll have a mix of whole food fats (e.g. nuts, seeds, avocado), blended whole foods (e.g. nut and seed butters, guacamole, pesto), and pressed oils (e.g. olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil) for fat sources.
If your intake is skewed towards oils, you may have to decrease the number of thumb-sized portions of fat you eat—since they contain more fat than the other sources. Or if you only eat berries for carbs, you may have to increase the number of cupped hands of carbs you eat—since they contain fewer carbs than the other sources. However, you should only decide that using outcome-based decision-making.
In essence, this means asking, “How’s that working for you?” If you (or your client) are achieving the desired results and are pleased with the overall outcome, there’s no reason to change what you’re doing. But if you’re not progressing the way you’d like, you could adjust your intake.
Let’s see how this system works in practice and in comparison to manually tracking macros and calories.
Example 1: High-level female athlete, 135 pounds with 18% body fat, who trains twice per day
If you calculate the calories and macronutrients of this person’s intake using the USDA nutrient database, you’ll get:
And if you put this person’s intake into hand-size portion terms, you’ll get:
When you multiply those portion numbers using approximate hand-portion math for women (see above table), it would provide an estimated intake of:
Example 2: Moderately active male, 210 pounds with 17% body fat
When you multiply those portion numbers using approximate hand-portion math for men, it’d provide an estimated intake of:
When looking at both examples, simply using your hands would be 96-100% as accurate as weighing, measuring, and logging all foods on apps or spreadsheets. Plus, with the known error rates of calories and macronutrients present on labels and in nutrient databases, this level of accuracy will likely suffice for all but the most advanced individuals (i.e. people being paid to look a certain way).
One of the most common questions asked about using your hands to measure portions is whether the hand portions are for cooked or uncooked foods.
The answer is most certainly cooked. Hand portions are for plating your food, not cooking it. That way, they can be used at home, restaurants, buffets, conferences, Mom’s house, and the office.
Other helpful notes:
This is helpful to know when it’s difficult to use your hand to measure a cooked food.
Some items don’t fit well into the hand-size portion system. It’s not perfect. No single system is. It’s meant to provide practical and actionable guidelines.
Most notably problematic are liquids.
Cow’s milk and non-Greek yogurt are tricky as they’re a pretty even mix of all 3 macros or can vary depending on the fat level someone chooses (e.g. whole, low fat, skim, etc.).
Ultimately, we suggest making that decision based on the fat or carbohydrate content of the milk or yogurt you’re consuming.
Generally, consider 1 cup (8 oz) of whole milk products a “thumb” of fat. (Even though it’s larger than a thumb and also provides protein and carbs).
Anything lower in fat (e.g. 0-2%) is generally considered a cupped hand of carbs (while also providing fats and protein).
A cup of anything highly sweetened (e.g. chocolate milk, strawberry yogurt) is generally considered a cupped hand of carbs (while also providing fats and protein).
So what happens in this situation: You have a full-fat Greek yogurt or whole milk that’s highly sweetened? Is it a fat or carb? Think of it this way: If it’s already full-fat, you know it’s a thumb of fat. But if a lot of sugar is also added to it, then it’s also a cupped hand of carbs.
The key is to pick an approach, and apply it consistently. This is probably more important than the actual classification itself. (Remember, the system already has built-in buffers: It assumes your protein, fat, and carb sources contain smaller amounts of the other macros.)
Cookies, ice cream, chips (and other compound foods)
With naturally occurring or minimally processed foods, it’s usually best to assign only one hand portion to a food. But with these highly-processed “compound” foods, you’ll want to assign two (or more) hand portions. Because just like dairy products that are full-fat and highly sweetened, they count as both fat and carbs. An easy way to account for them: one handful is equal to one thumb of fat and one cupped hand of carbs.
Again, a serving of soda doesn’t really fit into a cupped hand. Instead, consider a 12-ounce can of soda as a cupped hand of carbs. Certainly, 8 ounces would be preferable from the standpoint of physical size (and carbohydrate total), but 12 ounces really simplifies the size and math, as these beverages come pre-packaged this way. (This is similar to how we account for bananas, apples, oranges, pears, and other fruits, since they’re “pre-packaged” by nature.)
Nut milks are much like cow’s milk above. They tend to provide a mix of macros, depending on the source, and classification would also depend on whether or not they’re sweetened.
Generally, unsweetened versions (like almond milk) don’t count as anything, as they typically only have about 30 to 40 calories in a whole cup (8 ounces), and are often consumed in relatively small amounts. A sweetened version, however, would be considered a cupped hand of carbs.
Again, the key is to pick an approach and follow it consistently.
Alcohol generally should be its own category, as the majority of its calories are derived from its alcohol content (7 kcal / g), not its carb content. This applies to pretty much all alcohol, be it light beer, microbrew / craft beer, wine, and spirits (although some microbrews / craft beer and dessert wines can contain quite a few carbs).
However, many folks like to put alcohol in the carb category, which can work, too. Again, whatever method you prefer can work; just follow it consistently.
Note that most alcohol is about 100-150 calories per serving. If it has a sweetened additive (think margarita, or alcohol + tonic), then it’s adding a whole lot more sugar. So count that as a serving (or more) of alcohol and one (or more) cupped hands of carbs too.
It gets tricky with mixed-food meals, like soups and chilis. You simply have to eyeball it, and make your best guess, especially if you didn’t make it yourself.
Ultimately, the general goal is to get a protein, veggie, quality carb, and/or healthy fat in each portion. This is relatively easy to do when making it yourself. When made by others, simply guesstimate as well as you can. Most importantly, if the goal is anything other than weight gain, eat slowly and mindfully, until satisfied.
Often, meals like this are a mix of protein, carbs, and fats, but are a bit lower in veggies. Adding a vegetable on the side can be very helpful. And adding additional protein can also be helpful if the meal seems to have a greater proportion of carbs and fats.
Legumes and lentils both contain protein and carbs, so where should they be counted?
Answer: It depends on the meal itself and/or the eating style of the individual. If someone is fully plant-based/vegan, then it’s likely the legumes or lentils will count as their protein source, since those are probably the most protein-dense foods they’re consuming. But they can also count as both… under certain conditions.
Our suggestion: Choose the most protein-rich food (assuming there is one) as your protein source, and slot the other items from there.
In example 1, chicken is the protein (the most protein-rich part of the dish), beans are the carbs, broccoli is the vegetable, and olive oil is the fat.
In example 2, beans are the protein (the most protein-rich part of the dish), rice is the carbs, broccoli is the vegetable, and olive oil is the fat.
In example 3, one serving of beans would count as protein, and the other serving would count as carbs. In this scenario, it gets more difficult because it’s less clear-cut than the first two examples.
In example 4, there isn’t a protein-rich food, just a carb, vegetable, and fat.
In example 5, it would depend on the eater. Omnivore? Then we’d count the beans as a carb. Plant-based? Then we’d count the beans as a protein.
In using the calorie, portion, and macro calculator above, you’ll see the terms gentle, moderate, and strenuous. These describe the intensity of your activity.
Use the guide below to gauge your activity levels. When in doubt, it’s better to underestimate your activity rather than overestimate it.
Moderate to Strenuous Activity
Example 1: Let’s say your week includes:
That’d count as:
Which means you’d select your activity level as “Moderate” under the purposeful exercise question. (Defined as moderate to strenuous activity 3 to 4 hours per week.) The gentle activities are fantastic, but don’t bump up your calorie needs like higher-intensity activity does. So that is what you would be counting.
Example 2: Suppose your week includes…
Which means you’d select your activity level as “Light” under the purposeful exercise question. (Defined as gentle to moderate activity 1 to 3 hours per week.)
Example 3: Suppose your week includes…
Which means you’d select your activity level as “Very Intense” under the purposeful exercise question. (Defined as moderate to strenuous activity 7+ hours per week.)
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The post The Ultimate Calorie, Portion, and Macro Calculator appeared first on Precision Nutrition.
By: Brian St. Pierre, MS, RDTitle: The Ultimate Calorie, Portion, and Macro CalculatorSourced From: www.precisionnutrition.com/nutrition-calculatorPublished Date: Tue, 28 Jun 2022 16:33:00 +0000