Is there an easier way to estimate calories and grams?
Absolutely. First, just focus on the grams you need to consume—the calories will fall into place accordingly, provided you aren’t slathering your food in sauces, dressings, and other seasonings. (Learn to flavor your meals more simply; see recipes on muscleandfitness.com.)
“Four ounces of meat or fish is about 25 grams of protein,” says Nate Miyaki, C.S.S.N., a nutrition consultant in San Francisco who works with bodybuilders to prepare for contests. “That’s the size of a deck of cards.” One cup, or eight ounces, of a starch food (potatoes, rice) is about the size of a baseball, or a clenched fist, and that’s equal to 50 grams of carbs.
“One piece of fruit is about 25 grams of carbs,” says Miyaki, “unless it’s a melon.” Non-starchy vegetables, including all greens, do not need to be counted.
As we mentioned before, most of your dietary fat will come via your protein foods—a four-ounce portion of meat or fish has as many as five grams of fat—but you can eat fat-rich foods sparingly. Two tablespoons of nut butter is about the length of your thumb and totals 15–20 grams of fat, and a cup of raw nuts offers roughly 70 grams. A tablespoon of any oil is 15 grams of fat.
You may be interested to know that foods that have a high fat content aren’t limited because fat is “unhealthy” or inherently fattening. Physique-conscious eaters need only be wary of them because of the calories they pack (nine per gram as opposed to carbs and protein, which offer only four).
Because fat is so caloric, it can make you overshoot your calorie range in no time, and crowd out the other nutrients in your diet. Nevertheless, if you have trouble gaining weight, one of your strategies might be to increase your fat intake, which will add considerable calories.
As far as saturated fat goes, it’s used by the body to create testosterone, so don’t be afraid to have a lean steak or burger on a regular basis.