EAT LOTS AND LOTS food seems like the last thing you want to do if you’re trying to losing weight and kiss a healthier food. But it can work, as long as you choose foods that are low in calories and high in nutrients.
This is a strategy known as volume consumption.
Eating in volume focuses on consumption fruits, vegetablesand whole grainslow in calories and rich in nutrients and fiber, so you can eat more without consuming too many calories. The approach helps you stay full longer.
“Think: big salad,” says Jennifer WelperExecutive Head of Wellness at New Mayo Clinic Diet. “The idea is that it will help the dieter, who likes to eat with their eyes, to feel full and satisfied.”
On the other hand, eating calorie-dense, nutrient-poor foods “leaves us hungry after eating,” says Crystal Scott, RD/LD, CDESregistered dietitian at Best Nutrition Tips.
Eating in volume is not a fad diet. It’s considered a lifestyle or long-term dietary strategy, Scott says. “If you can make it a lifestyle change that lasts, it will be a diet that lasts,” Welper adds.
Still, this isn’t an invitation to overeat or sneak in too many foods like candy or fries, which are high in calories, just because the rest of your diet is low in calories. “You should always keep an eye on portion size and frequency of consumption,” says Welper.
Adopting a volumetric eating lifestyle will help you achieve your weight loss goals and provides many other health benefits. Here’s how.
What is Volume Consumption?
The concept of volume consumption, also known as volumetric regimewas developed by nutrition scientist Barbara Rolls, Ph.D.
Eating in volume suggests eating nutrient-dense, low-calorie, water-rich foods (think fruits, vegetables, and soups) and limiting high-calorie foods, such as saturated fats, sweets, cookies and junk food.
“Mass consumption is more of a lifestyle than a fad diet, as it meets the requirements of a balanced diet,” says Romane Guerotnutrition app dietitian Food viewfinder. “Unlike a fad diet, there are no nutritional restrictions involved in consuming volume, so it’s an eating habit you can stick with in a sustainable way. Eating this way on a regular basis can help build nutrient-dense meals and maintain a regular meal pattern.
How does eating in volume help you lose weight?
Eating is partly a psychological experience. Some people may not feel satisfied until they’ve cleared their plates or eaten a full meal, Welper says.
“Eating in volume allows them to experience a meal without feeling limited, in portions, while providing them with fewer calories so that weight loss, theoretically, can be achieved,” she explains.
Since fruits and vegetables contain fewer calories, you can eat more of them. And, because they’re full of fiber, vitamins, and nutrients, you’ll feel full and won’t be tempted to overeat. To research shows that low energy density diets can help control appetite and help achieve weight loss goals.
For example, eating 400 calories of chicken, spinach and beans is more filling than eating 400 calories of chicken, Scott says.
“Nobody likes to be hungry,” she adds. “If you don’t feel full and satisfied, you’re going to find something to fill you up. And, you are more likely to binge or overeat.
Eating in quantity also offers other health benefits
Volume consumption has been shown to help weight management and is linked to lower body weight. It also benefits your health in other ways, according to the International Food Information Council. Research shows that a low energy density diet can reduce your risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetesand some types of cancer.
Incorporating more fiber-rich fruits, vegetables and whole grains also works wonders for your digestive system, Scott says. men need 30 to 38 grams of fiber per dayand women need 21-25 grams, but most people don’t get that much.
You’ll likely feel better when you add more fruits and vegetables to your diet, Guerot says. “It creates balanced and nutritious plates, which positively impacts energy, mood, sleep, skin appearance and cognitive abilities.”
The best foods to eat by volume
Fruits and vegetables should take center stage when you eat a lot, including:
- Leafy greens like lettuce, spinach, and kale
- Root vegetables like carrots, beets, and sweet potatoes
- Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower
- Peeled vegetables like peppers, onions, zucchini and celery
But, meals should always be balanced, with lean protein, low-fat dairy, legumes, healthy fats and whole grains, Welper says.
“While eating plenty of vegetables is a good thing, a lack of protein can lead to significant health issues because the body needs enough protein every day to function optimally,” says Yann Harsteina registered dietician with the nutrition application Food viewfinder. Healthy fats, such as olive oil, nuts, seeds, avocado, and flaxseed oil, are good for the brain, eyes, and heart.
Mixing vegetables into your meals makes your plate look more hearty, says Welper. For example, add cauliflower to mashed potatoes, diced vegetables to rice, and steamed broccoli or roasted vegetables to pasta.
Increase your fluid intake also helps you feel full, says Scott. Drink plenty of water and add broth-based soups with vegetables, legumes, and whole-grain rice or pasta.
Even if you’re eating more low-calorie foods, it’s still important to pay attention to your portion sizes and how often you eat, Welper says. “There’s also a tendency to sneak into foods, usually carbs, under the false assumption that you can eat larger portions of them.”
Meals in volume
Meals should be balanced, with a lean source of protein, whole grains, and plenty of fruits and vegetables. Here are some examples of meals that incorporate a bulky diet:
- Breakfast: scrambled eggs with 1 cup of vegetables, yogurt and toast
- Lunch: Grilled chicken breast, 1/2 cup whole wheat pasta and 1 cup broccoli
- Snack: Cottage cheese with carrots or cucumber, or edamame, or low-fat yogurt and berries
- Dinner: Taco-seasoned ground turkey breast, with 1/2 cup rice, 1 cup pepper and onion mix, and 1/5 avocado
Who should try to eat in volume?
People tend to underestimate the number of calories in food. Sticking to whole foods, not processed or pre-packaged items, is a crucial part of bulk consumption. The same goes for working with a dietician to develop your strategy.
Just about anyone can benefit from a bulky diet, Scott says. But talk to a dietitian or your doctor first if you have gastrointestinal issues, like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, and need to be more careful about your fiber intake. Or if you’ve had bariatric surgery, you may need to watch your overall food intake.
It’s always a good idea to talk to a medical professional any time you drastically change your diet, Welper says.
“Every person and every metabolism is different. No diet should be undertaken without medical supervision,” she says.
Erica Sweeney is a writer who primarily covers health, wellness, and careers. She has written for The New York Times, HuffPost, Teen Vogue, Parade, Money, Business Insider and many more.
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