When attempting to lose weight or eat in a healthier manner, you've probably read about the "proper portions size," but how can you tell if you have the right amount of food on your plate? It takes a little time to remember all of them, but you can use a few quick tricks to gauge whether your portion sizes are too big or perhaps even too small. The best part about this tip is that you don't even have to carry anything extra with you. All you need is your hand.

Protein portions

It's important to eat protein with each of your meals. This nutrient helps build strong bones and muscles. You can get your daily protein intake by consuming beef, pork, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts, legumes or dairy. According to the American Heart Association, if you're on a 1,600 calorie diet, you should get 3 to 6 ounces (two to three servings) of protein per day.

You can measure each of these servings using your hand. For example, the distance from the bottom of your palm to your first knuckle is the ideal size for a serving of lean beef, pork or poultry.

For fish, such as halibut, mahi mahi, trout and tilapia, you'll want a piece the size of your whole hand. However, for certain seafoods like crab, lobster and shrimp, the portion is smaller - about the size of your fist.

If the protein you choose is on the fatty side, then these portion measurements should be smaller. For example, if your beef or pork are not lean, then your portion should only be about the size of half your palm. 

A piece of pork being grilled with some vegetables. Serve yourself the proper portion of meat by comparing it to your hand.

Fast carb portions

Fast carbs are carbohydrates that your body can quickly convert into sugar. Too much of this type of carb at one time can increase blood glucose levels to the point where it throws your body into fat-storing mode. Foods that fall under this category include starchy vegetables, sweet fruits and processed grains. It's often easy to consume a lot of these foods in one sitting, but again, use your hand to figure out the right amount.

One serving of pasta is about the size of your closed fist. Melons, such as honeydew and cantaloupe, and sugary fruits like cherries, pineapple and blueberries, can also be measured by a fist.

Desserts are also considered a fast carb. If you want to treat yourself to something sweet after dinner, try to keep the portion to the size of your palm. It's okay if the amount isn't exact, but a good rule of thumb would be no more than two small scoops of low-fat ice cream, a thin slice of cake or a couple of small cookies.

Slow carb portions

Slow carbs differ from fast carbs because they take longer for the body to break down into sugar, which means your blood glucose levels are not as affected by this type of food; they are therefore less likely to put your body into fat-storing mode. Slow carbs tend to be high in fiber and have low amounts of sugar. 

You'll need two fists worth of vegetables to make one portion. Measure this amount for nearly all vegetables except legumes. For beans, you'll serve yourself a much smaller size. For example, black-bean, kidney-bean and lima-bean portions should all be about equal to half a fist.

Knowing how to determine the proper portion size using your hand is particularly helpful when you're eating out. Now, you'll know about how big your servings should be to help you stick to your weight-loss plan.

To learn more about proper portion sizes and how to balance your plate with the right foods, sign up for theFood Lovers Fat Loss Program. You'll be given plenty of materials that teach you even more tricks for comparing food portions to your hands.

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