The number one rule when it comes to weight loss is calorie balance. Creating a calorie deficit by eating less than you burn through exercise and daily activity is essential. But this isn’t always easy. For one, counting calories
is tedious and time-consuming and not all that accurate. Secondly, cutting calories can leave you feeling hungry and frustrated.
Research has shown that eating high-volume, low-calorie foods is the best way to quell hunger and lose weight healthfully and sustainably.
What is volume eating?
Volume eating is focusing most of your diet on consuming foods that are filling but low in calories. These foods typically have a high water and fiber content and take up more space in your stomach, increasing feelings of fullness and meal satiety while keeping your calorie intake lower.
This type of eating is not a diet plan or a short-term hack; it is a lifestyle technique that provides many benefits, including reaching and maintaining a healthy weight and beyond.
Eating for volume has you focus on these four factors when creating your meals:
- Lower fat intake
- Plenty of fiber
- Increased water consumption
- More fruits and vegetables
The Benefits of Volume Eating
Weight loss isn't a goal for everyone, but healthy eating should be. Eating for volume provides benefits that go beyond weight loss.
Weight loss can be tricky. You may start with the best intentions, but your body makes several physiological adaptations that can cause your metabolism to slow down and hunger to start rearing its head. When your hunger hormones, mainly leptin, and ghrelin, get involved, it can be tough to maintain a lower calorie diet.
Volume eating is a technique that keeps hunger at bay so that you can keep losing weight without feeling deprived. Research shows
that when people consume higher proportions of low energy-dense foods, they have a lower BMI and waist circumference.
Blood sugar control
Maintaining a healthy weight can help prevent diabetes and other blood sugar
health concerns, but aside from that, volume eating can help control blood sugar levels due to the high fiber content
Fiber slows the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream and reduces your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Vitamins and minerals
Because volume eating focuses on consuming plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, legumes, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy, you'll be much more likely to obtain higher amounts of essential vitamins and minerals. Since these foods are naturally rich in a wide variety of nutrients
, your overall diet will improve, and so will your health.
Consuming plenty of fiber and reducing unhealthy fats will boost heart health
. The technique of volume eating will lower your cholesterol levels
, particularly low-density lipoprotein or bad cholesterol. High-volume foods also reduce blood pressure and inflammation, both factors that indicate a healthy heart.
How to Increase Meal Volume
Increasing the volume of your meals is much more straightforward than counting calories when you focus on particular strategies and specific foods as the basis of your diet; weight loss can occur naturally while boosting the healthy and nutritious foods you eat.
Try these tips for increasing your meal volume:
- Eat plenty of soups as either a first course or a main dish. Stick to broth-based soups rather than cream-based.
- Drink water with your meals and replace sugary juices and sodas with water.
- Add whole fruit to your diet and reduce dried fruit and juices which lack fiber.
- Use mashed fruit or vegetables such as bananas, applesauce and cooked sweet potato to your baked goods to replace some of the oil.
- Use fruit to sweeten yogurt, cereal or oatmeal in place of sugar.
- Consume plenty of salads, raw vegetables, and add more vegetables to your soups and sauces.
- Eat whole grains instead of refined grains and eat more of them in their natural form rather than as processed into pasta, cereal, or bread.
- Make dips out of beans and use whole-grain pita and raw vegetables for dipping.
High Volume Foods
Keeping a mental or physical list of high-volume foods readily available will help you make appropriate choices. Here is a list of the best high-volume foods.
- Leafy greens such as kale, spinach, and lettuces
- Whole grains such as oats, brown rice, barley, millet, quinoa
- Lean protein such as chicken breast, ground turkey, white fish, tofu
- Lower fat dairy products such as Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, kefir
- Fruit such as pears, apples, berries
- Other vegetables such as radishes, broccoli, celery, parts of palm, squash, cauliflower, broccoli
- Beans and legumes of any type which are very high in fiber and protein
Putting it All Together
Food is an essential part of our lives. It goes beyond simple nutrition and fueling ourselves and reaches into our cultural and social daily lives. When trying to lose weight, you should never feel like you are limiting your ability to get together with friends or enjoy foods near and dear to your culture.
Simply modifying some recipes to include more high volume foods and focusing most of your dietary pattern on eating low calorie, high volume foods will go a long way toward naturally reducing and maintaining a healthy weight.
Of course, it's perfectly acceptable to still eat more calorie-dense nutritious or non-nutritious foods that you enjoy on occasion. Weight loss and diets should never be an all-or-nothing event. Focus on adding more high-volume foods to your diet a little at a time while still enjoying other more calorie-dense foods on occasion. It's all about balance.