The Live ATOP EyeBall Method: A simple, math-free guide to estimating portion sizes

Updated: Feb 28



At Live ATOP Coaching, we get it. Weighing, measuring, and tracking every little thing that you consume for the rest of your life is not always ideal. Thinking you have to meticulously track all your food intake for all eternity is no way to live your best life either. While there are some major benefits to tracking your food - such as building awareness around portion sizes and food choices - it’s still not something we want all our clients to be doing all the time for the rest of their lives. Even our clients that are currently on a strict macronutrient tracking diet are sometimes unable to track due to traveling, an impromptu weekend dinner with friends, or the extremely busy schedule that most people maintain on a daily basis. Since we pride ourselves in personalizing every clients’ experience and journey, we have developed other ways our clients can stay conscious of their food intake without having to stress about hitting certain Calorie or macronutrient numbers. One of the methods we have had great success with is called The Live ATOP EyeBall Method.


The Live ATOP EyeBall Method is based on a series of approximations, since we are in fact “eye-balling” it. However, these approximations- as long as they are consistent - can actually be fairly close to actually weighing, measuring, and strictly tracking your food.


The best way to explain this method is to break it down into 4 categories.


The Live ATOP EyeBall Method Categories:


1. Protein.

Some examples include: Turkey, Chicken, Fish, Egg whites, Pork, Beef


2. Vegetables

Some Examples include: Leafy Greens, Carrots, Broccoli, Asparagus


3. Carbohydrates

Some examples include: Grains, Rice, Potatoes, Beans, Fruits


4. Fats

Some Examples include: Oils, Butters, Nuts, Seeds


Now that you have an idea of what fits into these categories, we are going to make some eye ball approximations, using both our hands and our eyes. This will be used to determine the proper serving sizes for each food category.

EyeBall Method Serving Size Approximations:


1 serving of Protein = 1 palm-size = 25g protein


1 serving of Vegetables = 1 fist size


1 serving of Carbohydrates = 1 cupped hand = 25g carbohydrates


1 serving of Fats = 1 thumb size = 10g fats


Here, Megan is showing two servings each of protein, veggies, carbohydrates, and fats. To see a video of Megan using this method to measure her lunch, click HERE.



*Note: When thinking of hand sizes, be sure to think of your own individual hand size. This helps our approximation because someone who is smaller in stature will have smaller hands, and thus a smaller serving size.


Now that you have an idea of how to eye ball serving sizes, let’s now figure out how much food you should be consuming using the Live ATOP EyeBall Method.

Step 1: Aim for your lean body mass in grams of protein per day.


Example: Selene weighs 180 pounds. She did an InBody analysis which told her that she has a lean body mass of 140 pounds. (Other methods to find lean body mass include knowing your body fat percentage, bodpod, underwater weighing, or DEXA scan.) Since we know 25g of protein is equal to 1 palm size. Our goal is to consume 6 handfuls of protein per day (150 pounds lean body mass / 25 g protein = 6). You can choose to round up or down based upon your goals.


Step 2: Consume the same number of servings with the other categories of food as the protein.


Example: Since Selene approximated that she needed 6 palm sizes of protein per day. Then that would mean she would also need 6 servings of vegetables, 6 serving carbohydrates, and 6 servings fats per day.

That’s all there is to it!


This is a quick and easy estimate to finding your maintenance, or baseline, the amount of food that you should be consuming per day. At first, it may take a little bit of staring back-and-forth between your hand and food but with practice, you’ll be able to eye ball your serving size from across the room. Remember, you DO have to stay consistent with your serving sizes, and make the correct approximations based on your goals.


If your goal is to lose weight, then make sure you are consuming a little less per serving.

With that being said, if you are not seeing results or are too full eating your maintenance amount, you should slowly start decreasing your food. We suggest starting a decrease in food by taking out a serving or more of carbohydrates per day as needed. This is ideally done after you have established your maintenance amount of food and have adjusted to estimating your food using The EyeBall Method.


If your goal is to gain weight, then consume a little more per serving. If you do this and still are not seeing weight gain results, or are too hungry after you reach your maintenance amount, it would be a good idea to slowly start increasing your food. We suggest you do this by first adding a serving or 2 of either fats or carbohydrates per day. Again, this is ideally done after you have established your maintenance amount of food and have adjusted to estimating your food using The EyeBall Method.


The big drawback to The Live ATOP EyeBall Method is that the approximations are harder to make if you are eating processed foods. Think about making an approximation on a dish with chicken, rice, and broccoli that’s covered in ghee compared to making an approximation on a dish filled with pizza, pasta, or a hamburger and fries. The processed foods are going to make things a bit harder to estimate. That’s not to say that this EyeBall Method doesn’t (or can’t) work in those scenarios as well, it’s just not as accurate. Remember, it’s all about being consistent with how you estimate the serving sizes of different foods- regardless if it’s processed or not.

Meal Frequency Guidelines


The next question I always get is, “What about meal frequency?” Well, it depends. Some people love having 3 or 4 meals per day, some people like 3 meals plus a post-workout snack, and then there are others who love fasting and having a feeding window. It really all depends on you, your goals, your schedule, and your individual essence.


Here are some examples of serving sizes and Calories per day according to The Live ATOP EyeBall Method.


4 Meals at:

2 palm sizes of protein

2 fist sizes of veggies

2 cupped hands full of carbs

2 thumb sizes of fats

= 3,000 kcal/day


3 Meals at:

2 palm sizes of protein

2 fist sizes of veggies

2 cupped hands full of carbs

2 thumb sizes of fats

= 2,300 kcal/day


4 Meals at:

1 palm sizes of protein

1 fist sizes of veggies

1 cupped hand full of carbs

1 thumb sizes of fats

= 1,500 kcal/day


3 Meals at:

1 palm sizes of protein

1 fist sizes of veggies

1 cupped hand full of carbs

1 thumb sizes of fats

= 1,200 kcal/day


For simplicity’s sake, one thing we did leave out in The Live ATOP EyeBall Method was the idea of calculating Calories. In case you want a quick Calorie estimate to double check your EyeBall Method estimation, here is a simple equation you can use.


Maintenance Calories = Body Weight x 13-15


13: low daily activity, desk job

14: moderate daily activity

15: high daily activity, active job


Knowing how many Calories you should be consuming per day can help you figure out how many serving sizes you should be having with the EyeBall Method. However, adding in calculations starts to defeat the purpose, so don’t get too crazy with it. ; - )


To see a video of Megan using this method to measure her lunch, click HERE.


If you’re looking for a nutrition coach to handle all of this stuff for you so you don’t even have to think about how much to eat, click here to schedule a free consultation or e-mail us at info@liveatopcoaching.com for more information.

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