What is volume eating?
Volume eating helps with the most critical factor to success when it comes to losing weight and keeping it off…
…the calorie balance equation.
In other words, to lose weight you need to burn more calories than you consume.
Volume eating is one way that you can reduce the number of calories you eat whilst eating a lot of food.
It is not a strict diet plan, it is a technique that you can apply to your current diet in order to reduce the calorie density (also referred to as energy density) of what you consume.
When following this approach, the focus is eating a lot of foods that have a lower calorie density.
What are low calorie density (and therefore high volume) foods?
Calorie density refers to the number of calories (energy) in a specific amount of food. Foods that have less calories than their weight are considered to have a low calorie density.
For example, 100g of low fat natural yoghurt contains approximately 53 calories. Because it contains less than 100 calories in 100g it is considered low calorie density.
A good first step is to see what some high volume recipes look like.
What are calorie dense (AKA energy dense) foods?
Foods that are high in calories in a small number of grams have an increased calorie density.
Some calorie dense foods are incredibly healthy and should be included in every meal. Lower calorie foods that weigh a lot have a low calorie or energy density.
The calorie density of foods depends on the amount of carbohydrates, fats and protein present in the food, and the volume of the food. Foods that are high in fats, added sugars or alcohol have the highest calorie density.
Low versus high calorie density foods
So in practical terms, when thinking about low versus high calorie density foods:
- olive oil contains 800 calories per 100 grams so has a high calorie density
- regular cheese contains 300 calories per 100 grams so has a high calorie density
- broccoli contains 3 calories per 100 grams so has a low calorie density
What is the magic ingredient for high volume foods?
The magic ingredient that makes a food high volume is water because it contains no calories.
Fibre is also a big focus when eating for volume as it contains fewer calories than the other carbohydrates, protein, fat or alcohol…
….fibre also leaves you feeling satisfied.
Here lies the beauty of this approach.
How does calorie density work for liquids?
One of the first things I recommend that people do is to ditch most calorie filled liquids.
Liquids like soft drinks, juice, sports drinks and flavoured milk add little to no nutritional value. They also add unnecessary calories and because they move quickly through the stomach, they do not help us feel full.
In fact, calorie filled liquids can make you feel hungrier because of fast absorption of a high carbohydrate load.
Why volume eating?
- By focusing on mostly foods with a lower calorie density, the volume of your meals will be high so you will feel full whilst you lose weight.
- You will eat a nutrient dense diet. Because volume eating focuses on fruit and vegetables you will eat plenty of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. These are important for supporting a strong immune function and are critical to the body processes that work to break down food and turn it into energy.
- Not eating enough nutrients can lead to frequent illness, poor sleep, feeling sluggish and tired. These in turn are likely to interrupt a pattern of healthy eating and exercise.
- Whilst eating for volume does focus mostly on lower calorie density foods, the approach is flexible enough for you to include some calorie dense foods. Win win.
Weight loss with volume eating: Feel full with fewer calories
This approach is a gradual change, not a fast way to drop 10 kilograms.
You can apply this approach to almost any of your meals and snacks to make lower calorie versions of your favourite foods. Here’s a summary of the key factors why volume eating works for weight loss:
- You eat more food for less calories
- It helps with satiety. You eat in a way that makes you feel full which means you are less likely to reach for extra snack foods, many of which are highly processed and calorie dense.
- You can maintain this way of eating long term because:
- completely cutting out any foods or food groups is not required.
- there is no need to count calories or macros (which gets very tiring, annoying and can be deflating)
- you can tailor the approach to suit your own lifestyle and dietary preferences
When all of these factors are taken into consideration you can see how volume eating leads to weight loss .
Volume eating summary:
- Volume eating is also referred to as ‘eating for volume’ or the ‘volumetrics diet.’
- You can eat a lot of food – volume eating will not leave you feeling hungry.
- It focuses on including mostly low calorie density foods
- You don’t need to count calories or macros
- The foods are nutrient dense – they contain a lot of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients
- Volume eating does not require you to completely cut out any foods
See some examples of how you can save calories whilst using the eating for volume approach below.
Note: When talking about volume eating, I refer to calories instead of kilojoule as the concepts are easier to explain. Kilojoules (KJ) are simply the metric way to measure the energy that comes from food. Like kilograms (metric) versus pounds (imperial). Most food labels in Australia state both the number of calories and KJ on the label. 1 calorie equals 4.2KJ.