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Juniper Journal

Volume eating: How to lose weight while feeling full

Volume eating allows you to indulge in larger portions while keeping calorie intake in check.

Volume eating: How to lose weight while feeling full
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Are you looking for a weight loss strategy that isn't restrictive but can still help you manage your calorie intake? The volume eating method has become a popular approach, designed to help you feel full and satisfied, all while assisting in weight management and portion control.

In this guide, we'll explore the principles of volume eating, including its pros and cons, and how you can incorporate it into your daily life. Whether you're embarking on a weight loss journey or simply want to improve your eating habits, volume eating offers a flexible and sustainable solution. Let's take a look.

What is volume eating?

Volume eating is a smart approach to food consumption that allows you to indulge in larger portions while staying within your daily calorie allowance. Contrary to the belief that a food's weight directly determines its calorie content, volume eating challenges this notion. Instead, it emphasises that the various macronutrients in food contribute to its calorie count.

In essence, volume eating revolves around opting for foods that are high in volume but low in calories, creating a satisfying sense of fullness without causing a significant calorie influx, which makes it an effective tool for weight loss and management.

It's important to note that volume eating isn't a fleeting diet trend. It doesn't involve restrictive dietary rules — on the contrary, it is a sustainable and sensible eating habit that works for many people.

What is calorie density?

Calorie density measures the number of calories contained within a specific volume or weight of food. Typically, this measurement is expressed as calories per 100 grams of food and is sometimes referred to as energy density.

Foods with high-calorie density pack a significant number of calories into a small amount of food, while those with low-calorie density provide fewer calories for the same weight of food. This distinction is at the heart of the volume eating strategy.

The beauty of volume eating lies in the fact that by choosing low-calorie density, high-volume foods, you can enjoy more substantial servings while managing your calorie intake effectively. This way of eating allows you to maintain a calorie deficit while feeling satiated for longer.

Choosing low-calorie density foods has numerous health benefits, including improved nutrient intake and support for weight loss goals [1].

High-volume vs low-volume foods

The concepts of high-volume and low-volume foods are particularly significant for weight management and overall health, and they're the basis of how to approach volume eating.

Let's explore the differences between them and how to include nutrient-dense foods in your diet without consuming too many calorie-dense foods.

High-volume foods

  • High-volume foods have a low-calorie density, meaning they deliver fewer calories per gram.
  • These foods are typically rich in water, fibre, and/or air, giving them a substantial, filling quality [2].
  • Examples of high-volume, low-calorie foods include several fruits and vegetables like cucumbers, lettuce, celery, berries, and watermelon, as well as broth-based soups and dairy products like Greek yoghurt and cottage cheese.
  • Opting for high-volume foods can help you achieve a sense of fullness and satisfaction without significantly increasing your calorie intake. This can be particularly helpful for those aiming to manage their weight without wanting to compromise on portion sizes.

Low-volume foods

  • Low-volume foods are calorie-dense, meaning they pack more calories into a given weight or volume.
  • These foods tend to have lower water and fibre content and may be higher in fats and sugars.
  • Examples of low-volume foods encompass processed snacks, fried foods, sugary desserts, dried fruits, and foods rich in fats, such as nuts and oils.
  • Since low-volume foods are less likely to create a sense of fullness, consuming them can lead to calorie overconsumption, which can in turn contribute to weight gain.

What are the pros and cons of volume eating?

Like any dietary approach, volume eating has its pros and cons.

Pros of volume eating

  • As you know by now, one of the main benefits of volume eating is that it can help with weight management. By eating high-volume yet low-calorie foods, you can have larger portions while keeping your calorie count in check.
  • High-volume foods, especially those rich in fibre and water, can promote feelings of fullness. This can help suppress food noise — a non-stop mental chatter revolving around food that, for some people, can end up overshadowing other aspects of their lives — and reduce the likelihood of overeating or snacking on calorie-dense foods between meals.
  • Many foods commonly associated with volume eating, such as fruits and vegetables, are packed with essential nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants [3]. This means you can get a wide range of nutrients while managing your calorie intake.
  • The fibre in high-volume foods supports digestive health by promoting regular bowel movements and potentially reducing the risk of gastrointestinal issues.
  • Foods with high water content, like fruits and vegetables, contribute to your daily hydration needs.
  • Some people find constant calorie counting to be detrimental to their overall mental health. Volume eating focuses more on the nutrient density of foods and less on counting calories, which is why this approach may lead to better mental well-being.

Cons of volume eating

  • Focusing solely on high-volume foods can limit the variety in your diet, potentially leading to boredom or cravings for other types of foods. This can make the dietary approach difficult to maintain in the long term.
  • While high-volume foods are nutrient-dense, they may not provide all the nutrients your body needs, leading to a nutrient gap. A balanced diet should include a variety of food groups to ensure you're meeting all your nutritional requirements.
  • Volume eating can be challenging in social situations or dining out, as many social gatherings and restaurant options may not align with this dietary approach.
  • There may be a learning curve on how to prepare and incorporate high-volume foods into your diet effectively, which may take time and effort.
  • For some people, consuming large quantities of high-fibre foods can lead to digestive discomfort, including gas and bloating [4].
  • While volume eating can help control calorie intake, it's essential to remain aware of portion sizes and overall calorie consumption. Overeating low-calorie foods may still lead to weight gain.

Volume eating can be a useful dietary strategy for weight management and overall health, particularly when combined with a balanced and varied diet and overall healthy eating habits.

However, it's essential to be mindful of potential limitations, such as dietary monotony and ensuring a comprehensive intake of essential nutrients. As with any dietary approach, it's important to consult a healthcare professional to determine if volume eating suits your individual needs and goals.

Volume eating for weight loss

The volume eating method is a strategic approach for weight loss that allows you to consume larger portions while keeping calorie intake in check. Here are some key things to be aware of when implementing the volume eating method:

  • Remember to eat slowly and mindfully. This practice enhances your sense of fullness and makes it easier to control your calorie intake.
  • Use smaller plates and bowls, as this can also make your portions appear larger, helping you manage your portions effectively [5].
  • Stay hydrated throughout the day to prevent mistaking thirst for hunger and reduce unnecessary snacking.
  • Plan your meals and snacks in advance to ensure you have a variety of healthy, low-calorie options readily available.

How does volume eating work on your plate?

Here's how you can organise your plate using volume eating principles:

  • Prioritise non-starchy vegetables: Begin by filling at least half of your plate with non-starchy vegetables that are low in calories but rich in fibre, vitamins, and minerals. A few great options are leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, peppers, zucchini, and asparagus.
  • Incorporate lean protein: Include a serving of lean protein on your plate, such as grilled chicken, turkey, fish, tofu, tempeh, beans, lentils, or low-fat dairy products. Protein promotes fullness and aids muscle preservation during weight loss.
  • Add whole grains or starchy vegetables: Integrate a portion of whole grains — like brown rice, quinoa, or whole wheat pasta — or starchy vegetables — like sweet potatoes, corn, or peas — to supply complex carbs and extra fibre for sustained energy.
  • Use healthy fats sparingly: Include a small amount of healthy fats, like olive oil, avocado, or nuts, in your meal. These fats add flavour and satiety but remember that they are calorie-dense, so it's important to monitor portion sizes.
  • Minimise high-calorie sauces and dressings: Either use them or opt for lower-calorie alternatives. You can also enhance your dishes with herbs, spices, and citrus juices to reduce the need for excess added fats and sugars.
  • Stay hydrated: Enjoy a glass of water with your meal or incorporate water-rich foods like watermelon, celery or cucumber for hydration, contributing to meal volume.
  • Use smaller plates and bowls: This will create the illusion of a larger, more satisfying meal and help you naturally control portion sizes.
  • Eat mindfully: Pay close attention to your meal, savour each bite, and consume your food slowly. This allows your body to register fullness more effectively.
  • Listen to your body: Be attuned to your body's signals of hunger and fullness. Stop eating when you're satisfied, not when you're overly full.
  • Plan balanced meals: Strive for balanced meals that deliver a mix of carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats to meet your nutritional requirements.

Adapting your plate composition based on your dietary preferences, nutritional needs, and weight loss objectives is essential. The fundamental principle of volume eating is prioritising foods with a high volume and low-calorie density, helping you feel satiated while efficiently managing your calorie intake. Maintaining a balanced and diverse diet is equally important for long-term health and nutrition.

Ready to take your weight loss journey to the next level? Discover Juniper’s Weight Reset Program, a holistic approach to weight loss that combines scientifically backed medicines with expert guidance from nutritionists and dietitians.

Our Health Coaching program offers you 1-on-1 support so you can create healthy habits in a sustainable, no-frills approach. With ongoing dietician support, meal plans, health education and more, you'll gain control of your health and weight for good.

Image credit: Getty Images

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