For most of the population, weighing and tracking food meticulously is boring and frankly a barrier for losing weight. While those who go on to track food indefinitely are very successful in their weight loss efforts, the majority of people will stop and fail unless they find other ways to eat in a way that allows for a caloric deficit. One way of doing this is with less precision but much more practicality called meal templates.
In medical school and training, I was always trying to get my patients to lose weight to get them healthier. I kept trying to get my patients to count their calories and macronutrients because that’s what I did to be successful in sports and studies suggest it to be a good method for losing weight.
Unfortunately, I wasn't really helping many lose weight. It was too much work and around 90% of them said it was quite frankly miserable.
To many fitness enthusiasts, weighing food and tracking can be fun and part of the process. But for most people, it is not the ticket to their success despite what we might think is best.
I knew that self-monitoring and having some semblance of food portion control was going to be important for my patients to be successful. To do it without tedious tracking and weighing while still providing results would take some thinking. Does perfect precision down to the grams of food really matter? Or could we pull back a bit and still have success?
Some people lose weight without ever having to weigh their food or even track it for that matter. What do they do? Somehow they found a way to eat fewer calories than they were burning.
Some of my patients did it through a low carbohydrate diet where they just restricted a whole macronutrient, which lowered their intake automatically. Unfortunately, many of them went on to regain their weight.
My most successful patients found ways to control their caloric intake without cutting a whole macronutrient out though. They ate the same portions of food and similar types of meals consistently. It was from this where the idea of a healthy eating template came.
Learn how delicious foods like the image above can be part of a healthy diet!
If you think about it, you probably eat the same typical meals each day. Your breakfast may be the same bowl of cereal, your lunch is always eaten out with a coworker, your dinner is a rotation of about 10 meals you and your wife and kids enjoy. What if you modified each of these meals to your own template to where you didn’t have to weigh your foods but instead eyeball an approximate amount based on parts of your hand or other objects where the size can be estimated?
It’s fine to just try to eat a better-quality diet with lean meat, vegetables, healthy fat and carbs in each meal. However, having just a small bit of easy portion control according to your own template will increase your success.
Knowing that 4 oz of lean meat is about the size of your palm or a deck of card, 40 grams of healthy carbs is the size of your fist, along with a few other tricks can get you a long way. When I implemented these simple strategies in with my patients their success rate increased by over 50%.
Want to know how to build your own healthy eating template? Check out the link here to get started!
About the Author
Dr. Spencer Nadolsky is a board certified Family Medicine Physician and a Diplomate of the American Board of Obesity Medicine. His love for lifestyle as medicine began in athletics where he worked hard using exercise and nutrition science to propel himself in football and wrestling. After wrestling at UNC Chapel Hill as the Tar Heel heavyweight and earning a degree in exercise science, he headed to medical school.
During medical school, Dr. Nadolsky attended multiple obesity medicine conferences and realized that he wanted to use the same nutrition and exercise information he learned for athletics but now for the general population and health. After medical school, he attended VCU’s Riverside Family Medicine Residency in Newport News to hone his skills. He is now practicing online via SteadyMD pioneering a new delivery of medicine.