How much is too much and how much is too little?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created June 04, 2010 at 1:48 PM

I've been jumping back and forth between Robb Wolf's site, Mark's Daily Apple, and the Whole9 site as well as several other ones. The biggest issue i'm having is finding out how much lean meat, veggies and fats to eat.

As i understand it there really isn't any measuring needed for paleo (most people advise against it)

But there has to be some sort of portion or number guide to follow. How much is too much? How do i know if i'm eating to little?

I'm 5'8" @ 225lbs with an end goal of dropping down to 170lbs.

Is it equal portions of meat, veggies and fruit? I figure if I eat to much fruit (which i love) i'm really going to be packing on the carbohydrate calories.

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4 Answers



on June 04, 2010
at 02:40 PM

Great question. This often comes up.

Here's a quick and dirty method taken from the Zone camp. (I am not an advocate of the Zone.)

  • Put some meat on your plate. The portion of meat should be around the size of your palm (3-4 oz.).

  • Fill up the rest of your plate with as many vegetables as you want, especially leafy greens. Avoid starchy tubers.

  • Add some fat. 1/3 or 1/2 an avocado, maybe some high-quality olive oil. I recommend high-quality (pastured, non-pasteurized) butter, although it is not generally recommended by Robb and the Whole9 crew.

  • Eat small amounts of fruit if you like, preferably berries. Cut out the fruit entirely if your weight loss stalls. You might want to avoid the more sugary fruits like bananas.

Eventually, your macronutrient ratios will fall into something like 50-75% fat, 5-25% carbs, 10-35% protein. If you are not a serious athlete, and you are looking to lose some weight, I would wager that your numbers will be closer to 60-10-30 (give or take 5%).

Personally, I have never been able to survive on 3-4 oz. of meat per meal. I eat more like 6-8 oz. unless I am trying to gain weight.

I second pfw's recommendation for fatty meats, especially if you can get grass-fed meats. They are more nutritious and more satisfying. If you are eating CAFO-raised meat, however, you may want to stick with leaner cuts and supplement with other healthy fats (avocados, butter, coconut oil -- olive oil is a distant fourth IMO).



on June 04, 2010
at 02:11 PM

If your goal is to lose weight, you can't eat a lot of fruit. Well, you CAN, but the result could be cravings and hunger, which would be counter-productive.

So if you feel that you have weight to lose, your diet should be:

1) Fatty meat. 2) Vegetables (if you want).

Shoot for most of your calories from fat (60%+), the rest from protein. Some trivial amount can come from carbs (5% ish).

The basic point is to eat to appetite from foods that don't screw with your appetite, so that it adjusts and you eat the proper portions without thinking. So if you have a strong desire to eat fruit and can't control yourself with fruit, you probably should give it up for a while to let your appetite get back to normal. It's all highly individual and the goal is to create a range of food which you can eat without interfering with your natural weight regulation; that takes self-experimentation and some discipline.

Good luck!


on June 04, 2010
at 01:55 PM

Good question. It's been my general understanding that you want to go heavier on the meat (protein), strong with the veggies (there's your carbs) and light on the fruit (due to the sugar content). However, I don't believe there's ever going to be a set ratio on one versus another. It's the sort of thing you have to play with and work out for yourself, as everyone's different and you may find yourself with different needs from the next person.

Keep in mind you'll also find yourself needing good fats as an energy source; we're so used to the idea of "fat = bad" that we shy away from fats when in fact we need them!

For the most part, my diet is mainly protein (1g per lb. of body weight) and then I just eat whatever veggies and fruits are around. I don't go overboard, and I feel happy and healthy.



on June 04, 2010
at 06:31 PM

Sometimes it can be confusing to follow too many bloggers and gurus at once. I recommend simplicity (the KISS principle). You state that you love fruit, which suggests that carbohydrate intake is a factor in your current weight status. I would count your carb grams for a while and not worry about your macronutrient ratios. Mark Sisson suggests that for weight loss a daily intake of 50 to 100 gm of carbohydrates is the "sweet spot" ( http://www.marksdailyapple.com/the-primal-carbohydrate-continuum/ ). Try the Sisson/primal approach for a few months, with a goal of 1 to 2 pounds of weight loss per week. If it's not working, you may need to lower your carbs further. Some folks need to go into ketosis (<50gm carbs per day) in order to consistently lose weight. Note: Of course, Sisson's "Primal Blueprint" is more than just a low-carb program.

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