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Volumetrics Diet For Weight Loss: A Beginner’s Guide 2024
The volumetrics diet encourages you to eat more low-energy-density foods that reduce hunger, including superfoods that naturally help you eat less. The goal is to stay within a calorie deficit for weight loss without having to count calories.
The foods encouraged on the volumetrics diet are low in calories but high in volume – mainly due to their water and fiber content. Because of this, they are supposed to help you feel full with fewer calories, as they fill your belly more easily.
Volumetrics is a family-friendly diet that you can follow with various eating patterns such as vegan, vegetarian, kosher, carnivore, or gluten-free.
The pros outweigh the cons of this diet. This beginner’s guide for the volumetrics diet will provide a look at how this low-energy-density, high-nutrient-density diet works, what you can and cannot eat, along with a sample meal plan.
Two-Day Sample Volumetrics Diet Meal Plan
Meal planning and prepping can save you time, money, and stress in your journey to losing weight. Taking the time to map out your snacks and meals for the next day or week ahead can ensure you have healthy options available, especially from categories one and two, so you can limit three and four.
Planning meals with foods you like will prevent boredom and can give you something to look forward to. Choose lots of fresh produce, lean proteins, your favorite soups, and whole grains when shopping. Prepping your food, like fruits and vegetables, and dividing them into portions ahead of time can be beneficial for following through with your plan.
When you plan your meals for the volumetrics diet, you’ll want to have a balanced meal with low-calorie density foods like fruits and vegetables, along with protein and healthy fats. If you rely on just low-calorie foods, you may be hungry soon after your meal.
Here are two samples of Volumetrics diet meals to demonstrate.
Day One: Fresh Start Feast
Indulge in a healthy and satisfying day with our “Fresh Start Feast” meal plan. Enjoy a nourishing breakfast with a cup of oatmeal topped with fresh fruit. For lunch, warm up with a cup of chicken noodle soup. Dinner features a refreshing salad with grilled chicken. Keep your energy up with berry snacks and choose from various beverages. End your day on a sweet note with guilt-free desserts like chia seed pudding.
|Oatmeal topped with fresh fruit
|One or two slices
|Chicken noodle soup
|Chopped romaine(*) with a healthy oil-based salad dressing
|Grilled cheese sandwich or whole-grain bread
(*) One serving included: shredded carrots (one cup), cucumber (one half-cup), grilled chicken (three ounces)
|Low-calorie almond milk
|Honey lemon water
|Chia seed pudding
Day Two: Nutrient-Packed Delights
Get ready for a day filled with nutrient-packed delights with our “Nutrient-Packed Delights” meal plan for Day Two. Start your day on a refreshing note with a cup of fresh fruit smoothie with low-fat Greek yogurt. At lunch, indulge in a serving of whole-wheat pasta with sauce and ground beef. For dinner, relish the flavors of baked salmon, roasted potatoes, and a cup of vegetable soup. Keep your energy high with high-fiber cereal and optional chicken soup. Stay hydrated with bone broth or herbal teas and conclude your day with homemade low-calorie fruit ice cream with nuts.
|Fresh fruit smoothie with low-fat Greek yogurt
|Whole-wheat bagel with a piece of sausage
|Whole-wheat pasta with sauce
|Two to three ounces
|Roasted potatoes and carrots
|Low-calorie almond milk
|Chicken soup (optional)
|Bone broth (optional)
|Low-calorie fruit ice cream
These meal plan ideas are just a taste of all the meal varieties you can intentionally add to your volumetric diet.
What Is The Volumetrics Diet?
Volumetric dieting involves focusing on the calorie density of your plate and which foods are high or low in calorie density. This is a sustainable, long-term healthy eating plan, unlike other diets that are restrictive and may cause a nutrient deficiency after long-term use.
It’s essentially volume eating that promotes weight loss with its high-fiber eating plan.
The Volumetrics diet plan was introduced by someone who has been researching obesity and hunger for more than two decades. The founder is Barbara Rolls, Ph.D., a nutrition professor, and researcher at Penn State University.
To share this diet with the public, she wrote her first book Volumetrics: Feel Full on Fewer Calories, and her most recent book, Ultimate Volumetrics Diet, which helps teach you ways to avoid hidden calories in foods and how to select low-energy-dense foods.
This diet uses high-volume, nutrient-dense foods, like fruits and vegetables, that are low in calories to fill your plate. Consuming low-density foods that take up more space can keep you more satisfied.
This diet naturally encourages you to fill your plate with foods that are high in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and protein. They also promote food journaling, daily physical activity, and exercise as part of this diet lifestyle.
In addition, you’ll have the opportunity to choose foods that are low in fat, carbohydrates, and calories to promote a healthy weight.
How Does It Work?
If you’re trying to lose weight, following the volumetric diet may help. The volumetrics eating plan allows you to eat any food you please, but depending on how energy-dense it is will determine how much of it you can eat.
The volumetrics diet divides all food into four entire food groups to choose from. You have to calculate your food’s calorie density to know which food group they are in. This helps determine the recommended portion sizes of different foods on this diet. n
Choosing foods based on their energy density and water content will help you pick lower-calorie foods and allow maximum portion sizes. These foods will take up more space in your stomach and fill you up, which may reduce your chances of overeating and exceeding your daily calorie intake.
The low-energy-density foods are low in calories, high in water content, and typically low-fat. High-density foods are high-calorie foods that can contain unhealthy fats and added sugars that promote weight gain.
Choosing more foods from categories one and two helps you meet all your daily nutritional requirements while keeping your calorie intake. Limiting categories three and four helps to avoid calorie-dense foods that may make it harder to lose weight.
The four categories to choose from in this weight-loss diet are
- Very low-calorie density: <0.6 calorie density
- Low-calorie density: 0.6-1.5 calorie density
- Medium-calorie density: 1.6-3.9 calorie density
- High-calorie density: 4.0-9.0 calorie density
Figuring out which category your food is in requires a little math work. Take the number of calories in your food’s serving size and divide it by how many grams the food weighs to receive a number between zero and nine to rank the calorie density. You can see more in-depth details about calculating your food’s calorie density in Dr. Roll’s books about volumetrics.
Filling up most of your plate with volume-rich healthy foods like the first two categories in this diet can naturally reduce food cravings for sugary, fatty foods that are high in calories.
You can choose a small number of foods from category three, but it’s recommended to limit or avoid category four foods. The diet allows you to adjust your portion sizes, and no foods are completely off-limits.
Let’s see what research says about the volumetrics diet.
Studies That Support The Volumetrics Diet
Here are a few studies and insights that show the volumetric diet’s potential to be good for weight loss.
- Weight loss studies found that consuming a low-energy-density diet with low-fat, high-fiber, nutrient-rich foods may be an effective strategy for long-term weight loss management.
- Low-energy-density food consumption is associated with a reduction of body weight in obese individuals.
- Research shows that high-fiber, low-calorie diets may help a person reduce their body weight. Fiber helps to fill your stomach for longer times than low-fiber foods, reduces food cravings and overeating, and can reduce the risk of health conditions like obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.
- Studies show that eating a diet of high-energy-density foods leads to a pattern of eating unhealthy fats and refined carbohydrates, resulting in more significant weight gain.
You have to choose how strictly you’ll follow this diet. This diet can help you become more intentional about your eating habits and the foods you choose.
Volumetrics Diet Food List
Foods You Can Eat
There is a wide variety of food choices to decide on since you can eat any food. The volumetrics diet prioritizes the lower-energy density category one foods to make up the majority of your meals. Many of these are high-fiber foods that promote weight loss. A few of the nutritious foods with high water content in this category are
- Fresh or frozen fruits
- Fresh or frozen non-starchy vegetables: tomatoes, leafy greens, and cauliflower
- Broth-based soups and bone broth
- Low-fat dairy: 2% milk and nonfat yogurt
- Beverages: water, herbal teas, and unsweetened coffee
Category two foods are going to have fewer calories than categories three and four, such as
- Lean protein: cans or pouches of tuna, sardines, salmon, chicken, tofu
- Legumes: beans, lentils, green peas, and chickpeas
- Whole grains: brown rice, whole wheat bread, and quinoa
- Starchy vegetables: potatoes, beets, squash, and corn
It suggests you fill your breakfast, lunch, and dinner plates with water-rich foods and add a couple of snacks and a dessert.
Foods You Can Not Eat
Even though the volumetrics diet is not one of the restrictive diets that limits your foods, there are certain high-energy-density foods you want to eat minimally or avoid for the best chances at weight loss.
- Category three foods are refined carbohydrates, fatty fish, and full-fat dairy
- Category four contains nuts, seeds, oils, avocados, butter, and processed food
Any medium to high-calorie density foods are to be limited or not eaten at all. Some of the foods in categories three and four are good to leave out of your diet for your overall health, like sugary food and drinks and fried foods like french fries high in saturated fat.
However, there is a big emphasis on calorie density in this diet, so certain healthy foods may be restricted even if they promote a healthy weight.
Pros & Cons Of The Volumetrics Diet Plan
There are pros and cons to any diet regimen. Here is a list regarding the volumetrics diet.
- Inclusive of many types of eating lifestyles.
- Minimizes use of processed foods.
- Health benefits.
- It can be useful for short-term and long-term weight loss.
- Promotes digestive health.
- Wide range of foods to choose from.
- No foods are off-limits.
- Do not have to count calories, fat grams, or carbohydrates.
- High-fiber weight-loss-friendly diet.
- Math is required to determine portion sizes.
- Frequent grocery shopping is required for fresh products.
- Need to plan ahead.
- May limit your usual eating-out options.
- Minimizes intake of some healthy foods, like nuts, olive oil, and avocado.
- You can choose to consume unhealthy processed foods, especially if they are low-calorie.
The Volumetrics diet uses lower-calorie density foods that will leave you feeling full instead of hungry. It encourages you to fill most of your diet with water-rich and fiber-filled food options like fruits and vegetables. Adding a moderate amount of lean proteins and healthy fats can also promote satiety.
With a bit of math, this is a flexible diet that can become a healthy lifestyle, unlike many fad diets. Take it a step at a time and focus on increasing categories one and two while slowly replacing (or eliminating) categories three and four to lower the overall caloric density you consume.
Including exercise and physical activity, each day can burn more calories and help you meet your weight goals along with a balanced diet containing nutrient-rich foods.
Keeping a food journal to note what you ate and how your body and mind feel after eating can help you monitor and adjust your consumption.
+ 4 sources
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- Bes-Rastrollo, M., van Dam, R.M., Martinez-Gonzalez, M.A., Li, T.Y., Sampson, L.L. and Hu, F.B. (2008). Prospective study of dietary energy density and weight gain in women. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, [online] 88(3), pp.769–777. doi:10.1093/ajcn/88.3.769.