6 ‘hand-portion’ body transformations you have to see to believe

6 ‘hand portion’ body transformations you have to see to believe
Discover the surprisingly simple method that helped these six people finally achieve lasting change

By Julia Malacoff

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You already have the key to transforming your body.

Seriously. It’s actually on your person.

We’re talking about your hand.

In case you don’t know… here at Precision Nutrition, we developed a system for food tracking called hand portions.

The basics: Your hand acts as a personalized, portable portioning tool to help you eat appropriately-sized meals.

  • Your palm is a portion of protein
  • Your fist is a portion of vegetables
  • Your cupped hand is a portion of carbohydrates
  • Your thumb is a portion of fat

Depending on your sex, age, weight, activity level, and goals, you eat a certain amount of each portion daily. Ideally from whole, nutrient-dense foods.

That’s it.

It seems so easy that at first people often don’t believe it’ll work. “Where’s all the calorie math?!” they wonder.

And yet, the biggest problems often have the simplest solutions.

This uncomplicated method has transformed countless physiques. 

Strict calorie counting and measuring works well for some people and some goals. But in our experience coaching over 100,000 clients, most people are able to use hand portions to “watch what they eat” reliably and consistently.

And when it comes to getting the results you want, what you do consistently matters the most. 

That’s why we’re sharing these six incredible transformation stories.

Each person we’ve profiled—from an already-fit trainer to a desk worker facing a health scare—used this simple system to achieve their mind-blowing results, with absolutely no calorie counting, food scale, or tracking app required.

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#1: The office worker facing a health scare.

Tony Yavasile’s blood pressure was out of control.

On top of that, he was seriously concerned about his family history of diabetes and obesity.

But with a fast-paced job that involved a ton of travel, it was difficult for Tony to stick to a healthy eating plan.

The turning point: One of his foreign colleagues mentioned he was looking a little, well, bigger.

So, Tony reached out to Precision Nutrition ProCoach Arthur Hernandez and started a yearlong coaching program to improve his health.

At first, Tony was skeptical of hand portions. “My first impression was that this was a fad; something like counting points,” he says.

But turns out, the system soon resonated. “What I found helpful, and different from other ways of tracking food, was that it was effortless,” he says.

He also loved that he didn’t have to take out his phone and enter numbers into an app. Or use a food scale. “It’s a simple and easy method that can be used in any setting, at any time, with any meal.”

This was especially true of restaurant meals. “When you apply the hand method to the plate of food that’s delivered to your table, you can’t help but recognize how poorly-balanced restaurant meals are, in general. For me, this was the biggest game-changer.”

By the end of the year, Tony lost 44 pounds and 44 total inches. His blood pressure returned to the “green” zone, too. Now he uses what he’s learned to maintain his progress.

“Like every other life journey, I have the occasional setback,” Tony says. “But unlike in the past, I have the tools to move past it and get back on track.”

Case study #2: The woman who went from overeating to trusting the process.

When 24-year-old Sarah Terry’s husband joined the military, the pair moved to Camp Humphreys in South Korea. While it was exciting to live in a new country, it was also emotionally challenging.

“I relied on comfort foods because I was overwhelmed,” says Sarah. Think: cooking (and eating) an entire pound of pasta at a time.

But the first time she visited a temple in her new home, Sarah found she only had one dress that fit. “I cried and cried because I hadn’t realized how much weight I actually had gained,” she says.

That’s when Sarah decided to make a change, and joined the Precision Nutrition Coaching program.

Like many others, Sarah doubted hand portions would be effective. “It seemed too good to be true,” she says. After years of feeling bombarded with messages about food scales, calories, macros, and measuring tools, Sarah was convinced it couldn’t be this easy. “I always felt there was a more complicated answer to food and weight loss.”

As a former calorie counter, Sarah had apprehension about giving the practice up completely. At first, she still tried to figure out the calorie count of her hand-portioned meals.

“Eventually I learned to trust the process,” Sarah says.

After losing 45 pounds in a year, Sarah says she’s proud of how far she’s come.

“I didn’t need to cut food groups. I didn’t need fancy tools or special tummy tea or supplements or meal replacement shakes. Learning that I just needed myself—my hand—and the ability to form new habits was life-altering.”

Case study #3: The coach who needed a coach. (It paid off big-time.)

Even coaches need coaching. That’s why Jesse Vang, a Precision Nutrition Level 1 certified coach, hired a colleague to help him look and feel better. “I got that, plus way more than I expected,” says Jesse, now 31.

At the start of his program, the 5’7” coach weighed in at 157 pounds and was 17 percent body fat. Over the next year, Jesse followed a detailed strength training routine four days a week, incorporating a HIIT workout or two each week.

But the big changemaker, according to Jesse: hand portions. (Surprise!)

“For years, I was a dedicated calorie counter. But it just wasn’t sustainable for me,” he says. “I didn’t really focus on the quality of the food I was eating. Instead, I had a goal of reaching a certain number, and there were days I’d eat anything just to get there.”

Jesse was actually relieved when his coach gave him the option of using hand portions instead.

Already accustomed to tracking, Jesse came up with a system for ensuring he was meeting his hand portion goals for the day—without the stress of detailed logging. “I made it as simple as possible by using the Notes app on my iPhone,” he explains. Once he had eaten a portion, he would simply add it to his list for the day.

This helped Jesse keep track of his portions without feeling like he was stuck on a rigid meal plan. “The beauty of the hand method is the flexibility. If I ate a bit more carbs at lunch, then I’d simply drop my carbs on the next meal. Following this method saved me so much time and energy.”

By the end of the year, Jesse was 147 pounds and 8.6 percent body fat. (That means he lost 14 pounds of fat and gained four pounds of muscle.) But even better, he’s used his personal experience to help clients: “My clients follow this same approach, and all are having similar success.”

Case study #4: The woman who stopped chasing perfection and regained her health.

When Laurie Campbell, 54, started the Precision Nutrition Coaching program, she was the heaviest she’d ever been. “My largest clothes were too tight, and I found it easier to stay home in stretchy yoga pants and my husband’s baggy T-shirts, eating countless bags of chips that I always kept handy,” she says.

Weight loss was certainly a goal, but Laurie wanted more than that.

Looking back, one moment sticks out: playing with one of her granddaughters on the floor. The little girl jumped up and ran away, and Laurie wasn’t able to get up quickly to follow her.

“It was humbling for me to realize I had lost so much mobility and strength when I was once an avid runner involved in many sports and physical activities,” says Laurie.

In the past, Laurie meticulously counted calories. “I obsessively weighed and measured everything. I don’t think that encouraged a very healthy relationship with food.”

By setting impossible standards for herself, Laurie set herself up for the extreme highs and lows that come with chasing the “perfect diet.”

But when she switched to hand portions? “I found it to be a relief,” she says. (We hear that a lot.)

Hand portions also helped Laurie understand how she may have gained weight in the first place. “I realized I was serving myself the same portions as my husband, who is considerably larger than me,” she says.

By the end of the program, Laurie lost 38 pounds and 24 inches. Since then, she’s lost five more pounds, just by keeping up with what she learned.

“I feel fantastic now! I’m no longer ruled by food, diets, and obsessive monitoring,” Laurie says. “I’m not afraid to have dessert, but at the same time, I’ve learned to keep those chips out of the pantry.”

And best of all? “I can easily keep up with my granddaughters now. Well, most of the time!”

Case study #5: The trainer who got shredded as an experiment.

Extreme body composition goals may require more precise nutrition strategies. Usually, that means utilizing calorie and/or macronutrient counting.

But 34-year-old Luke Robinson, a Precision Nutrition Level 2 coach and owner of WolfPack Fitness, wondered if it had to be that way.

After clients asked him a bunch of questions about hand portions, Luke decided to conduct an experiment to see if hand portions could get him competition-level lean—but without spending all day in the gym. He knew the average person faced several nutrition challenges like:

  • “I don’t have time.”
  • “I don’t want to give up drinking.”
  • “I don’t want to give up my favorite junk food.”

Unless he adjusted his habits during his experiment, Luke figured many people wouldn’t find his results relatable or convincing. So he set the following guidelines for himself:

  • He could only work out 3 times a week.
  • Workouts had to be 30 minutes or less.
  • Workouts had to be done using only cinder blocks (which cost him $2 USD each), bricks (50 cents/each), and a metal bar from the junkyard. No expensive gym equipment allowed.
  • Workouts could only include the basics of strength training: deadlifts, pushups, squats, rows, pullups, split squats, farmer’s walk, side planks, and plank variations.
  • He had to drink to “drunkenness” at least once a week (for him, that was 3 to 4 vodka and soda cocktails).
  • He had to eat “junk food” at least once a week (such as candy bars, sugary breakfast cereal, greasy fast food, cookies, and so on).

Like Jesse, he kept track of how many portions of protein, vegetables, carbohydrates, and fat he ate. This made it easy to adjust as needed.

If he wasn’t losing weight, he’d reduce his carbohydrate or fat portions by one or two portions per day. If he was losing weight too fast, he’d add one or two carbohydrate or fat portions per day.

This made it unnecessary for Luke to count calories or macros—even though he was achieving high-level results. “You don’t need to know the exact macros or calories in anything,” he says. “You just need to know that it’s more or less relative to what you did the week before.”

In just two months, Luke went from 212 pounds to 200, accomplishing his goal to go from lean to super lean. As you can see from his photos, the results speak for themselves.

Case study #6: The mom who got in the best shape of her life.

After baby number two, 37-year-old Kelley Derner spent nine months working with her longtime trainer, Arthur Hernandez (clearly, a hand portions expert!), to get back to her pre-pregnancy baseline.

But she wanted more. “I promised myself that this time, I would do something just for me. After all that I went through postpartum, including depression and anxiety, I needed that,” says Kelley.

When her progress stalled, however, Hernandez suggested trying something new: hand portions.

Kelley wasn’t sold on the idea right away. It didn’t seem like enough food to her. “At first, I thought I was probably never going to feel full again,” Kelley laughs.

She was also worried she wouldn’t be able to gauge portions correctly.

Despite her reservations, Kelley gave it a try. Over time, she began to learn what portions looked like for her body. “When I realized what portion sizes I should actually be eating, I was shocked,” Kelley says.

What’s more, she discovered it was possible to overeat whole, nutrient-dense foods. And that even if she was eating “clean,” overeating was getting in the way of her goals.

For instance, by using her palm as a reference point, Kelley saw she didn’t need an entire chicken breast to make up one serving of lean protein. “I thought ‘well, it’s just chicken, and that’s healthy,’ but it was actually way more than I needed. Now, I cut them in half.”

Her takeaway? “Hand portions aren’t about restrictions. They’re about showing you what’s appropriate.”

As for her results, Kelley says she feels amazing. “I’ll be 38 in one month, and I look the best I’ve ever looked in my life—even after two kids.”

What to do next…

Challenge yourself to try something different.

When we’re comfortable with a certain way of doing things, it can be difficult to change things up.

As you read in these stories, many of the people were former calorie counters. And many of them had a difficult time giving that up.

So if you’re reluctant to give up calorie counting, macro counting, or any other method of portion control, ask yourself:

“How’s that working for me?”

Are you seeing the results you want with the methods you’re currently using? If not, it could be worth experimenting with something new—even if it feels a little uncomfortable at first.

Use our Nutrition Calculator to figure out your customized hand portions.

If you want to try hand portions but you’re not sure where to start, check out our Nutrition Calculator.

All you have to do is enter your personal details like age, current weight, and height, along with your goals and when you’d like to achieve them. You can also indicate your food preferences, such as plant-based, Paleo, Mediterranean, keto, and more.

Then, the calculator puts together a personalized eating guide that includes your individualized hand portions (as well as your macros in grams, if you’re curious!). Plus, it’ll give you everything you need to know about putting hand portions into practice.

Stay flexible… but consistent.

One of the reasons people are so successful with hand portions is that the system is highly flexible.

Need more energy for your athletic performance? Add a portion of carbs.

Not losing weight? Remove a portion of fats.

No calculations required.

At the same time, consistency matters. What you do on a consistent basis is what really drives your results.

And luckily, flexibility allows you to set up your diet in a way that enables you to do just that: be consistent.

So as you begin to experiment with hand portions, keep an open mind. Adjust as needed so that you can get where you want to go.

And anytime you hit a snag, remember: The biggest problems often have the simplest solutions.

Want help becoming the healthiest, fittest, strongest version of you?

Most people know that regular movement, eating well, sleep, and stress management are important for looking and feeling better. Yet they need help applying that knowledge in the context of their busy, sometimes stressful lives.

Over the past 15 years, we’ve used the Precision Nutrition Coaching method to help over 100,000 clients lose fat, get stronger, and improve their health… for the long-term… no matter what challenges they’re dealing with.

It’s also why we work with health, fitness, and wellness professionals (through our Level 1 and Level 2 Certification programs) to teach them how to coach their own clients through the same challenges.

Interested in Precision Nutrition Coaching? Join the presale list; you’ll save up to 54% and secure a spot 24 hours early.

We’ll be opening up spots in our next Precision Nutrition Coaching on Wednesday, January 15th, 2020.

If you’re interested in coaching and want to find out more, I’d encourage you to join our presale list below. Being on the list gives you two special advantages.

  • You’ll pay less than everyone else. At Precision Nutrition we like to reward the most interested and motivated people because they always make the best clients. Join the presale list and you’ll save up to 54% off the general public price, which is the lowest price we’ve ever offered.
  • You’re more likely to get a spot. To give clients the personal care and attention they deserve, we only open up the program twice a year. Last time we opened registration, we sold out within minutes. By joining the presale list you’ll get the opportunity to register 24 hours before everyone else, increasing your chances of getting in.

If you’re ready to change your body, and your life, with help from the world’s best coaches, this is your chance.

[Note: If your health and fitness are already sorted out, but you’re interested in helping others, check out our Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification program].

Spots open January 15th — don't miss out! Join the PN Coaching presale
list today.

If you're interested in Precision Nutrition Coaching, we strongly recommend you join the presale list below. Spots are limited and open just twice per year.

Choose your program below and we'll send you more info. Plus you'll get the chance to register 24 hours early and get our lowest price ever — up to 54% off the general price.