If you want to be able to skate as long as possible, eat quality foods and fuel your body with the nutrients in fruits, veggies and quality protein sources.
– Nick Dompierre
one simple hack to make perfect meals all day erryday.
How do you eat in a way that's going to power your skating and your health?! Searching online to figure that out can leave you more confused than before your search, and if you're including "symptoms" in your search, there's no chance you're leaving without a diagnosis of something like leprosy. There's so much info out there pulling you in so many different directions - some people say you should eat nothing but meat, others think cabbage is the answer to life. It's easier to get confused than it is to figure out how to actually eat well. I mean you might even be confused by all the skate nutrition content up on this site?!
People promoting different diets might have some solid theories and maybe in part they're in some way true, but there isn't one perfect diet that suits everyone's needs. Even if monching on nothing but cabbage was the healthiest diet, would you really want to do that!? Course not. Eating well has to be something sustainable and it has to be something you don't hate in the long run. If you're freaking out about what you eat and the fact that you ate three bites too much potato, the stress from sticking to that kind of diet is probably going to leave you unhealthier than a slightly worse diet and a more chilled lifestyle.
For most skaters locking in the fundamentals and following some general guidelines - like eating mainly a variety of whole foods & minimally processed foods - is what's going to work, and not just in terms of providing your bod with what it needs to skate and function optimally, but being an option you can actually stick to as well.
So, what if there was a simple tool that helped make eating in a way that powered your skating and health easier, helped you get those fundamentals on lock, along with moving you towards whatever goals you might have?! The tool is here. The time is nigh.
the hand-portion method.
If you've been watching/reading the other videos/articles in the skate nutrition series on carbs, fat and protein, you'll have heard me talk about using your hand to measure different portions of these different food categories and to gage how much you need to eat based on these portion sizes. If this is the first page in the nutrition series you've come across it might sound like I'm asking you to scoop out your yoghurt with your hand, but I'm not... so go check those videos/articles to go deeper into each food category or read more below.
The hand-portion measuring method was developed by a company called Precision Nutrition as an easy-to-use tool that helps create awareness around what you're sticking in your face hole, and as a simple way to make changes in your diet you might need to make.
They split food up into four categories and gave each one its own "hand-size" measuring tool:
protein: palm size.
carbohydrates: cupped hand.
fat: thumb size.
non-starchy veggies: the fist of doom.
Non-starchy veggies are vegetables that you'll add to your plate to get an extra blast of nutrients, as opposed to ones that will fill you up, like potatoes. The main way plants store their carbohydrates is in long chains called "starches" (the plant version of glycogen in humans). Higher starch foods are going to have more carbs, whereas non-starchy ones can get their bulk from things like fibre or water.
Once the portion sizes were locked in, they developed a "starter meal template" consisting of 1 to 2 portions of each category, which acts as the baseline for forming a meal. This starter template is based on a balanced diet and assuming you're eating 3 meals a day.
This amount of carbs and fats isn't going to be enough food for many people (I personally eat more than this), but by having 1 to 2 portions as the minimum you're at least making sure you're getting a wide variety of nutrients that your body needs to skate and function, and then if you need extra energy, you can build on top of this template (which we'll get to later).
Think of it more as a way of, first - ensuring you're getting a wide variety of nutrients in your diet, and second - being a tool that creates awareness around how much you're eating and how that might be influencing your goals, eg staying energised when you're skating, losing weight, or getting tonk like Nick Dompierre.
Once you've got that baseline in place and you've calculated how many portions you're monching on, you can then evaluate if you're progressing towards your goals and mix things up as needed by adding or taking away portions.
is this even accurate or worth doing?!
Now if you're someone that weighs their food gram by gram, you're probably thinking "Mate, this is fucking ridiculous.", and I feel you... At first glance it seems like this is a super inaccurate method and nowhere near as precise as measuring gram by gram, but, weighing your food isn't so accurate either...
This is because the amount of calories you think you're getting in by reading labels or weighing food can be off by 25% - due to things like food labels sometimes being off by huge amount; the other nutrients in the food affecting how much nutrients you actually absorb; or the fact that our bodies process nutrients differently, etc. Along side that how much you think you're burning can also be off by 25% (think of a calorie as just a little nugget of energy). It's the same as using a super accurate tool for something that isn't accurate, like searching for your kitchen table with a magnifying glass.
Precision Nutrition claim that their hand portion method is 95% as accurate as carefully weighing everything you eat. This means that those differences in the amount of carbs in a cupped handful of rice vs a cupped handful of potatoes are probably going to balance out throughout the course of a day or two. That combined with how calories in vs calories out can be so off means that unless you're a fitness model or high-end elite athlete, that 5% difference isn't going to be too important.
Now maybe you're on the other end of the spectrum and you're thinking, "I know I eat well and get enough intuitively, I don't need to use this method.", and you could be totally right. I personally don't use this method anymore and just intuitively know how much I need, even though the general meal structure is always in the back of my mind.
On the other hand, research shows that when most people estimate what they eat they're off by as much as 30-50%! So if you've never paid attention to measuring what you're getting on your plate, you might benefit from giving this method a go. For example, I find it's super common for many people to underestimate how much protein they get in on a daily basis. If you're thinking "Mannn I don't wanna measure my food in any way.", remember that this isn't something you need to do for life. Once you figure out how to structure plates and provide your body with what it needs, you can sack it off , build your meals intuitively, and just use it when you need it.
~ 3-4oz (85-115g) cooked meat, fish, tofu or tempeh, 2-3 whole eggs
~ 1tbsp (14g) oils, nuts, seeds, nut butter, cheese, etc.
~ ½-⅔ cup (100-130g) cooked grains /legumes, 1 medium fruit / tuber
~ 1 cup non-starchy vegetables
what's this shit good for?!
As you're probably realising, I back this method pretty hard and think it's super beneficial for the majority of people, at least to do for a few weeks to create awareness, or when you need more precise nutrition to help you move towards your goals. Some solid benefits to the method are:
relative, portable mitten.
First off, you've always got your little mitten with you so you've always got the same measuring device everywhere you go, giving you a consistent measure. Obviously you're not going to ask if you can go into the kitchen in the restaurant and scoop two handfuls of rice on your plate, but once you've used this method for a few days you'll get an idea of what a cupped handful of carbs looks like.
All else equal bigger people are going to need more food than smaller people and luckily enough bigger people usually have bigger hands, giving us a portion size that's more relative to our body size.
easy to use.
It's super simple. Weighing out your food gram by gram takes time and is just straight up not enjoyable for the majority of people, especially if you're feeling lazy. Using your hand is easy and quickly becomes second nature as you start to get used to portion sizes. I do wanna point out though that if weighing your food's your thing, then that's totally fine. At the end of the day it's just a tool that also creates awareness and can help you reach your goals, so if it's your thing, stick with it!
Like I said before, by hitting all of the food categories, it forces you to eat a wide variety of foods which increases the probability that you're giving your body everything it needs to skate and function well.
starter plate: 1 portion.
starter plate: 2 portions (1 veg).
how to use this to figure out how much you should be putting in your face hole?
The key to applying this method is trial and error and sticking with a certain amount of portions to see if this has an effect. Go through the steps below to start locking in the portion method.
1. start off with the baseline template.
If you feel good, you've got no desire to change stick with the starter template or whatever template + carbs and fat portions you go for. If you've got specific goals to hit, apply the steps below.
start adding things step by step - what you can handle
2. lock in protein & veg needs.
Protein is absolutely essential for your skating but many people don't get in enough each day.
For most people in most situations, protein needs aren't going to go above 1 to 2 portions per day. This will be the case for a huge amount of goals - if you just want to optimise performance, recover like a boss, build muscle, etc.
It's important to point out that this is referring to "high-quality protein" so things like meat, fish or tofu, as opposed to the protein you'd get in broccoli.
However, that broccoli you'll get in as part of the non-starchy veggies category. Add 1 to 2 fists of non-starchy veggies to each of your plate and get variety in there! Try different veggies and try to add a wide variety of different colours to your plates.
Click the follow link to learn more about protein and skateboarding.
3. mix up carbs & fats.
Where people's diets are going to vary the most is in the amount of carbs and fats they get in. These can vary based on many different things like how much you're skating, gender, age, activity level off your plank, your goals, and much more.
Think of carbs and fats as the energy for your body to function, along with the energy to supply the movement you do.
Carbohydrates are your body's primary energy source for fast and powerful movements and fats power slower, more long duration movement. You've got enough fat stored in your body for you to be able to push for literally 1000s of kilometres so running out of fat is never really an issue. On the other hand your carb tank is very limited, meaning once it starts running low, your body will be literally unable to provide energy at the speed it needs for fast and powerful movements. As skating is all about fast and powerful movements, mixed with long sessions with an endurance element, most people will be better off with a decent amount of carbs.
The amount of carbohydrate and fats you go for is going to be relative to how much you skate, how active you are when you're not skating. Check out the Precision Nutrition calculator to get some personalised recommendations for portions based on your activity level and lifestyle. If you don't wanna do that, a good starting point for someone who skates a lot and wants to optimise performance and maintain weight will be closer to 2-3 cupped handfuls of carbs per meal and 3-4 thumbs of fat.
If your goals are related to losing weight, the hand-portion method is a solid option as well. Here you're going to want to focus on lowering the amount of carb and fat portions you get in, whilst maintaining protein portions high and potentially increasing non-starchy veggie portions if you're feeling hungry.
If you're not feeling satisfied after meals, losing weight when you don't want to, or you're trying to build muscle and not getting results, start by adding to some meals each day:
- 1 cupped handful of carbs
- and/or 1 thumb of fat
So you're getting about 2-3 extra portions each day.
If you're feeling too full after meals or not getting weight-loss results, start by removing from some meals each day:
- 1 cupped handful of carbs
- and/or 1 thumb of fat
So you're getting about 2-3 less portions each day. Also consider replacing these portions with extra veggie portions if you want to bulk up your plates.
If you're eating fewer meals than 3 per day, make the same adjustments as above but add extra protein and veggie portions to your plates.
4. measure, implement & reassess.
Once you've decided on a portion amount you're going to try you'll need to decide on a measure you'll use to figure out if it's actually taking you in the direction you want to go. This can be subjective like how energised you feel during your sessions, how pleased you are with your skating, how fast you recover, how you mood or wellbeing is affected, etc.
On the other hand you can use more objective measures like how exactly how much extra time you're able to skate for, or if you're losing weight - a number on the scales (be careful not to measure too frequently and take the general trend over weeks), or fitting into smaller pants or your favourite mankini.
Next you need to set an amount of time you'll try the current portion method. Change takes time, don't expect your life to change overnight. Stick to the your portion layout for at least 2 weeks and then reevaluate to see if your going in the direction you want to be. If you are, keep going. If not, make some adjustments.
FAQ & extra nuggets.
I'm sure you've got lots of questions about this method so I'm going to blast the common ones here.
"food is so different, I still don't see how this is gunna work."
It's true that each food in a certain category doesn't contain the exact same amount of nutrients, but a perfect measuring tool doesn't exist and for the vast majority of people such precision just isn't needed and just adds unnecessary stress.
Yes, a handful of rice contains more carbs than a handful of boiled potatoes but not by a huge amount, and over the course of a few days these fluctuations in nutrients are going to balance out. This is especially true if you're not completely mixing up your diet every day and always trying new foods.
Also don't forget that this is a personal tool that's relative to you and how you eat. You couldn't portion up Ricky Crumble's plate based on how you eat, and he couldn't portion up yours. If you're not moving in the direction you want, create a new baseline or portions, try it for some time and then reassess.
The key is being consistent with how you choose to measure portions. You could sack the hand portion system entirely and measure with your feet if you're a sicko, and as long as you stay consistent with that system, it will give you the same results.
"should I measure portions cooked or uncooked?"
For the vast majority of food, gage your portions based on how you're going to eat them, not how you're going to cook them. For example, if you've cooked rice or potatoes, measure your portions when you're putting them on your plate. Whereas if you're eating a food raw, with something like avocado, obviously you're not going to cook that so you measure it in how it is. Some foods that can completely change size, like cooked oats should be measured before though.
"what about foods that don't fit at all into the system?"
Although the majority of foods you eat will fit into the system, there are certain foods that obviously don't fit at all. For these foods you need to just choose a way that you'll personally measure them, and stick with it. You can also check out the table above listing hand-portions in grams of carbs, fat or protein and match up the foods the best you can.
Drinks are obviously a hard one, but a general guideline you can use are: does it contain full-fat milk? If so, count it as a thumb of fat. Does it contain a lot of sugar? If yeh, then count it as a cupped hand of carbs.
Protein powder is a good example that doesn't work as palm portion but it does usually come with a scoop that usually gives you about 20-30g of protein, so that's easy to just think of as "one portion".
Eggs are another protein source that doesn't fit as a "palm portion". For eggs think of a portion as 2-3 eggs - giving you about 12-18g of protein. Maybe you're like "Hold your horses Rupert! A palm of protein should be giving me 20-30g, 2 eggs gives me just 12g!" And yes, you're right. If you're really stressing, just eat three. But also be aware that a palm of chicken often has more protein so as long as you're eating a variety, it should balance out.
To make things simple with foods like crisps/chips, cookies, ice cream and other heavily processed foods, think of a "handful" as one portion that counts as one portion of carbs and one portion of fats.
For alcohol think of it counting as between one to two portions of carbs or fats.
"what about mixed meals like grandma's casserole?"
For these you're going to have to eyeball it and go fishing for those bits of protein. As you're plating it up, just pay attention to the different foods your adding to your plate. Once you've been doing this method with normal plates for some time and you've learned which foods are higher in which nutrients, it should be easier to do. You might also want to add in some extra protein on the side if it's lacking, or chuck some seed or oil on top for some fats.
"are legumes and lentils protein or carbs?"
That's going to depend on the meal you're eating. They can be thought of as carbs if you've got a high-quality protein source on your plate, but if they're the highest protein food, then they can be thought of as your protein source.
For ma vegans out there, if you're getting your protein from primarily legumes and lentils (not including tofu/tempeh/protein powders) then you might want to consider adding some extra portions to hit your protein needs.