Eat more and lose weight? Yes, it can be done, when following the Volumetrics eating plan.
The Volumetrics concept is simple: eat a higher volume of food within a healthy calorie range and you’ll lose weight, even if it feels like you’re eating way more than usual.
Volumetrics creator and Penn State nutritional sciences professor, Barbara Rolls, PhD, is the author of a new book “The Ultimate Volumetrics Diet.” Its premise is that dieting – or healthy eating, rather – really comes down to calories per bite. “By choosing foods that have fewer calories per bite, your portion size grows, but your overall calorie count decreases,” she says.
Rolls has studied the science of satiety and how it affects hunger and obesity for the last 20 years, and what she’s found is that the amount of food we eat has a greater effect on how full we feel than the number of calories in the food. And furthermore, that if you’re full on a diet, you’re more likely to stick to it.
Dieters on the Volumetrics plan are encouraged to eat plenty of water-rich foods such as fruits and veggies, broth-based soups, whole grains, low-fat dairy, lean meat and fish. Eating these types of nutrient rich, volume heavy foods will help fill a person up faster on fewer calories; while ‘low-volume’ foods that are higher in fat and/or sugar are less filling and contain far more calories per bite.
The trick, says Rolls, is to limit the low-volume foods and eat mostly high-volume instead, because it allows a person to double and even sometimes triple their portions while still losing weight. But that doesn’t mean adding fruits and vegetables to already unhealthy meals, like burgers and greasy pizza, will yield positives results. It’s important to include plenty of low-density foods in recipes to begin with.
Rolls’s study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutritional, showed that people who ate an entree made up of 25% pureed vegetables consumed 360 fewer calories per dish, proving that tricking your brain into thinking you’re eating more when you’re eating less really does work.
In addition to water-fich foods, foods filled with air have a similar effect on the brain. For instance, a handful of potato chips contains the same amount of calories as three handfuls of air-popped popcorn, allowing a person to get three times the amount of food for the same amount of calories.
If you can’t remember all of the tricks to Volumetrics, Rolls has developed a list of simple rules to guide your way to healthier, higher-volume eating. Some of her rules include adding fruits and vegetables to everything, filling up on a low-calorie snack – like soup – before eating a big meal, and satisfying your eyes first by gazing upon the dish before digging in. And perhaps the best rule? Cleaning your plate.
“Other diets ask you to eat less, but wee see that as a half-empty plate,” says Rolls, which to her equates a half empty stomach. Now this is the type of ‘diet’ we could get on board with. Eating more while losing weight just sounds like way more fun than eating less.