A beginner’s guide to volume eating: What is it and how it helps in weight loss?

Among the many weight management practices is volume eating, which may sound ironic to the goal, but it is not. It is not a diet with too many restrictive rules, like cutting out certain food groups to obtain a thin body, fasting for long hours, and following eating windows. 

Volume eating is a scientific, research-based weight management and eating principle. This practice promotes healthy eating habits to improve overall body weight.

It is perfect for people who consume a full plate or bowl because it has slightly the same concept. Volume eating does not negatively impact your health and weight loss goals. Here’s a complete guide for beginners.

What is volume eating?

Volume eating refers to a concept, strategy, or method of eating in which you can consume a large amount of food while minimizing your calorie intake [1], [2]. Every bite of your selected foods provides different macronutrients from several calories.

This diet helps you prioritize high-volume foods, increasing satiety and fullness without consuming many calories. This weight management strategy is based on certain scientific principles.

First, foods’ physical weight and calorie content are not exactly correlated. Secondly, the macronutrient content of foods reflects their calorie content.

Lastly, different macronutrients give varying amounts of calories per gram; for protein, it is four calories per gram; for carbohydrates, it is four calories per gram; while fat is nine calories per gram. 

To make it more understandable, volume eating is a way of eating more food without significantly increasing your calorie intake. You can apply volume eating to your diet to decrease calorie density.

This approach is highly focused on high-volume foods that have lower calorie densities, also called energy density, while at the same time using portions for food that have a higher calorie density from lower-volume foods [3].

You may want to do volume eating if you have a weight loss goal to ensure you are in a calorie deficit. Or you have a very large appetite and find it extremely hard to stop. Volume eating can keep your food intake high without gaining many calories. 

what is volume eating

Benefits of volume eating in longevity

Overall, your goal of weight loss and adopting healthy eating habits can be achieved through volume eating. It is a game changer in weight management practices and a good method for instilling a healthy relationship with how you choose your food. 

Eating a full bowl or plate is often construed as a bad thing. More volume means more calories, but apparently, that is not the case. Volume eating can increase fiber and nutrient density since high-volume foods are primarily fruits and vegetables.

In fact, the foods promoted in the volume eating method are healthy for obtaining longevity. Following this approach is one step closer to better longevity, where you can live much longer with functional body systems and fewer health issues.

Volume eating can prevent you from developing fatal diseases, such as obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. 

Is volume eating good for weight loss?

The volume eating method involves calorie intake and calorie deficit concepts because it promotes the calorie balance equation by eating good and healthy foods.

Hence, even though you eat a whole plate, it is not really a problem, but rather good, as the food is packed with macronutrients. 

Some volume-eating advocates say this is one healthier way to reduce weight without overly obsessing about counting calories–simply let go of the big appetite and eat the right things. 

Volume eating can increase satiety

Focusing on high-volume food will keep you full for longer hours, which can prevent you from eating more later in the day.

For example, eating three and a half cups of raw spinach can physically take up more space in your stomach than consuming a half cup of cooked-down spinach. This practice will make you feel more full for similar calories.

The good news is that high-volume foods are also high in fiber, which can further increase satiety [4].

Volume eating allows you to eat more

Most of us can’t stop a long-standing habit—like overeating and chewing food occasionally–it is realistically hard. Volume eating is a strategy specifically designed for that dilemma.

When you are eating while you are on a calorie deficit to achieve weight loss, your overeating habit can naturally be minimized. You will hit two birds with one stone–overeating habits and weight loss. 

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What are high-volume foods? 

Food energy density is based on its macronutrient content and balance. High-volume foods are foods high in fiber or water content that provide little to no calories per gram [5].

High-volume foods with low calories can be consumed without regard to portion sizes. This type of food normally contains high water, fiber, and low sugar content. 

Some examples of high-volume foods are leafy green vegetables, such as lettuce, spinach and kale; cruciferous vegetables, like cabbage, butternut, squash, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and broccoli; stem and other vegetables, including peppers, onions, cucumbers, zucchini and celery; and whole fruits like berries [6]. Oatmeal and egg whites are also good examples of high-volume foods. 

Moreover, there are also moderate-volume calorie foods that you should be mindful of adding when you follow the volume eating approach.

Moderate-volume calorie foods have high water, moderate to high fiber and sugar content, and, most importantly, higher calories per serving. These can be root vegetables such as beets, carrots and sweet potatoes, whole grains and lean cuts of meat. 

What are low-volume foods?

On the other hand, low-volume foods refer to foods with high fats and are more concentrated in sugar, considering that fat contains more than double the number of calories per gram compared to protein and carbohydrates.

When eating low-volume, high-calorie foods, be mindful of their portion sizes. This type of food has low water and fiber but is high in sugar content and has the highest calories per serving. They are fatty cuts of meat, cheese, butter, oils, nuts, seeds, dried or juiced fruits, honey, peanut butter, maple syrup and sugar.

Some other forms of low-volume, high-calorie foods are pasta, bread, ice cream, chips, most heavily processed foods and heavy condiments or dressings like ranch and mayo [7].

What are common myths and misconceptions associated with volume eating?

By dispelling these myths, you can approach volume eating with a clearer understanding of its principles and how to adapt it effectively to your lifestyle and health goals.

1. Volume eating means unlimited eating

A common misconception is that volume eating allows for unlimited consumption of foods just because they are low in calories. 

It’s essential to remember that while larger portions of certain foods are possible, total caloric intake and nutritional balance still matter. Mindful eating and understanding your body’s hunger and fullness cues are crucial.

2. All low-calorie foods are good for volume eating

Not all low-calorie foods are beneficial for volume eating. Some might lack essential nutrients or might not provide the desired level of satiety. 

Volume eating emphasizes nutrient-dense foods like vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, which offer more than just low calories.

3. Volume eating is only for weight loss

While volume eating can be an effective strategy for weight loss, it’s also beneficial for overall health and wellness. 

It encourages the intake of various nutrients, improves digestion, and can help maintain a healthy lifestyle, regardless of weight loss goals.

4. Volume eating requires extensive meal planning and is hard to follow

While any dietary change requires some adjustment, volume eating can be quite flexible. It can be easily incorporated into various cuisines and dietary preferences, making it a practical approach for most people.

5. Volume eating increases metabolism

Volume eating, emphasizing low-calorie, nutrient-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, and grains, may make you feel fuller and reduce calorie intake, but its direct effect on metabolism isn’t clear-cut. 

Foods high in protein can slightly enhance metabolism through their thermogenic effect, requiring more energy to digest than fats and carbs. 

While volume eating includes various food groups impacting metabolism differently, its primary goal isn’t significantly boosting metabolism, which typically requires a mix of dietary changes and active lifestyle choices.

How can I start volume eating?

How can I start volume eating?

There are simple ways for beginners if you plan to start following the volume eating strategy. Let’s explore some examples and tips to help you start volume eating. 

1. Add more volume to your oatmeal and salads

You can simply cook a sliced apple or pear into your morning oatmeal, which is pretty much generic but is essentially good for weight management.

Oatmeal and salad are high-volume foods, but you can increase their volume by adding delicious slices of fruits or vegetables to your bowls. 

2. Eat your vegetables raw rather than cooked

It’s time to swap your cooked spinach! Cooking vegetables basically shrivels them down to nothing in terms of nutrients. You may want to shift to a salad with raw spinach for more volume.

When fruits and vegetables are raw, they are much more filling than the cooked versions. You will get more nutrient-dense food in your diet by shifting to raw [8].

3. Add egg whites

You should start adding additional egg whites to your morning eggs. By doing this, you can increase the volume of your morning eggs without the extra calories. You can also add volume to your oatmeal by putting in egg whites! 

4. Add vegetables to every meal

A few slices of vegetables in your meals won’t hurt, right? You can fill yourself up with fewer calories by doing this. Adding chopped or diced vegetables to your scrambled eggs is much more bearable if you hate eating vegetables. 

5. Avoid liquid calories

Drinking calories is a silent killer of your weight loss goals. Their extra calories can add up fast without you realizing it. Juices, coffee cups, or milk are rarely filling you up. You must pay attention to eating your calories rather than drinking them. 

6. Choose “airy” snacks

Re-think again if you want to grab a bag of chips or pretzels, as they are low-volume foods that are high in calories too. You can shift to eating popcorn, rice cakes or puff snacks in your house. You will find them much more filling because of their volume. 

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How can you successfully implement volume eating in your daily life?

Volume eating, a strategy favored by many for its effectiveness in aiding weight management and promoting satiety, involves consuming larger quantities of low-calorie, nutrient-dense foods.

Let’s explore practical tips and strategies to seamlessly integrate volume eating into your daily routine, ensuring you can enjoy plentiful, satisfying meals while achieving your health and wellness goals.

1. Starting and transitioning into volume eating

Begin by gradually incorporating more high-volume, low-calorie foods into your meals. This can help your body adjust to the increased fiber intake.

Pay attention to your body’s hunger and fullness signals. Volume eating is not just about eating larger portions but also about understanding your body’s needs.

2. Meal planning and preparation

Plan meals that include a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins to ensure a balanced intake of nutrients.

Preparing high-volume foods like chopped vegetables or cooked grains ahead of time can make it easier to put together healthy, satisfying meals quickly.

Experiment with recipes that naturally lend themselves to volume eating, like salads, stir-fries, and soups.

3. Understanding and managing portion sizes

Use visual cues for portion sizes, like filling half your plate with vegetables and the rest with lean protein and whole grains.

Even with low-calorie foods, it’s important to avoid overeating. Listen to your body and stop eating when you’re comfortably full.

4. Balancing macronutrients effectively

Ensure you’re getting enough protein, as it’s crucial for satiety and muscle maintenance.

Incorporate a moderate amount of healthy fats from sources like avocados, nuts, and olive oil.

Choose complex carbohydrates like whole grains and legumes, which provide energy and fiber.

Final takeaways

Volume eating is more than just another fad; it’s a simple and sustainable approach that can make a significant difference in your wellness journey.

By understanding the principles of volume eating and applying the strategies we’ve discussed, you can take charge of your diet without feeling deprived or hungry. Instead of counting every calorie, you’ll focus on choosing nutrient-dense, filling foods that naturally support weight loss.

Remember, this isn’t about strict rules or a one-size-fits-all solution. It’s about making smart choices that align with your goals and preferences.

FAQs

How does volume eating work?

Volume eating works by emphasizing foods that are high in volume and low in calories, allowing you to eat larger portions while keeping calorie intake in check. It relies on choosing nutrient-dense options that help you feel full and satisfied.

Does volume eating make you hungrier?

No, volume eating typically doesn’t make you hungrier. In fact, it can help control hunger by promoting the consumption of foods rich in fiber and water, which enhance feelings of fullness.

What is volume eating ideal nutrition?

The ideal nutrition for volume eating includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and foods rich in fiber and hydration. This balanced approach ensures you get essential nutrients while managing your calorie intake.

What are the pros and cons of volume eating?

Pros of volume eating include effective weight management, improved satiety, and a focus on nutrient-rich foods. However, potential cons may include the need for meal planning and preparation, as well as challenges in social situations where calorie-dense foods are prevalent.

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[1] https://reallifenutritionist.com/what-is-volume-eating/
[2] https://integrishealth.org/resources/on-your-health/2023/november/volume-eating
[3] https://kaynutrition.com/volume-eating/
[4] https://www.health.com/does-volume-eating-help-you-lose-weight-7506232
[5] https://rightasrain.uwmedicine.org/body/food/volume-eating
[6] https://www.thedietchefs.com/high-volume-low-calorie-foods/
[7] https://cheatdaydesign.com/the-benefits-of-volume-eating/
[8] https://movingdietitian.com.au/volume-eating/

Photograph: Marina Litvinova/Shutterstock
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