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We all know the formula for weight gain - eat more calories while maintaining the same exercise routine -> gain weight over time. The same is true for losing weight, consume less calories while maintaining the same exercise routine -> lose weight. When thinking of eating less to lose weight, our minds often go to cutting our current portions, skipping meals or completely eliminating things from our diet. While this can work, some people struggle with this for all kinds of reasons. Cutting out foods and cutting back on portions may not be giving you the proper nutrition you need - adequate protein & fuel to stay full and satisfied. To lose weight/fat you will need to be in a caloric deficit. When people hear lower-calorie, they think less food - which may be true, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be!

What if I told you a successful way to lose weight was to essentially eat more to lose weight? Now, I’m not talking about eating just any food, but adding specific foods in larger quantities to bulk up your plate & leave you satisfied. Not every gram of food is equal in calories, as you may know. A cup of fresh strawberries is not equal to a cup of ice cream, although many (including myself) wish it were! Foods can either be classified as high or low volume. Foods high in fat and/or more concentrated in sugar are considered “low-volume foods”, given that fat contains more than double the number of calories per gram compared to protein and carbohydrates, while foods high in fiber and/or water content are considered “high-volume foods”, given that both fiber and water provide little to no calories per gram. High volume foods are those such as your leafy green vegetables (spinach, kale), cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, brussel sprouts), stem and other vegetables (peppers, onions, zucchini, celery, squash) & fruit, especially berries! In the grey area we have moderate-volume foods such as root vegetables (beets, carrots, sweet potatoes), and whole grains (quinoa, oats, brown rice & lean cuts of meat. Then, we have the low-volume foods which we really want to be mindful of portion size since they are lower in water and fiber but higher in fat, sugar and overall calories. Low-volume foods include those such as fatty cuts of meat, cheese, butter, oils, seeds, honey, maple syrup, sugar, dried fruits. The below image illustrates how not all foods are equal! These different densities of food fill our stomach in very different ways - leaving you either with a full, satisfied feeling or a less full, unsatisfied feeling.

If you are someone who likes to see a big plate of food in front of them, likes to enjoy bigger portions, or likes to just grab little bits of food every so often, volume eating can be a great tool for you! To look at it simply, instead of needing 2 cheeseburgers or 3 slices of pizza to reach a level of satiety/fullness, a better option could be turning the burger into a high-volume salad with crunchy veggies, sweet potatoes & other toppings. If you really want pizza, have a slice or two and fill a side plate with high-volume vegetables and lean protein to keep you satisfied and full!

A lot of times when people try to incorporate “healthier eating” into their diet they either eat too little and end up hungry which leads to quitting before any results, or they eat foods that may be deemed “better for you” but still very high calorie and do not see any progress they were yearning for. For example, cashews can be great for you but, if you’re eating 1 cup of cashews, that’s close to 800 calories - not ideal if you're trying to be in a calorie-deficit! This idea of volume eating isn’t eating excess of any food you consider “healthy” but rather bulking up your plate with lower calorie foods, still with a balance of macronutrients, to remain full & satisfied. This idea is not to imply that higher calorie foods or low volume foods are “bad” for you. All foods have their place in a healthy diet but, if you have a goal of weight loss or you would consider yourself a “volume eater” it is important to be mindful of portions sizes and how much you consume of specific foods. 

A few other benefits of volume eating include;

  • A lot more fiber in your diet! Volume foods are typically natural fruits and vegetables that are filled with fiber - an essential part of the diet! Consuming more fiber is linked to weight loss as well as lower blood pressure.

  • Volume foods are also nutrient-dense - meaning you will be getting plenty of vitamins and minerals to support your health

  • Lastly, volume foods typically are higher in water content to aid in your hydration levels!

Some examples of high-volume foods;

  • Egg whites

  • Broccoli

  • Cauliflower

  • Asparagus

  • Leafy greens

  • Mushrooms

  • Bell peppers

  • Cabbage

  • Zucchini

  • Squashes

  • Watermelon

  • Strawberries

  • Blackberries

  • Greek yogurt

  • Lean ground turkey

  • Boneless, skinless chicken breast

Easy ways to eat for volume:

  • Start by adding veggies to all your plates

    • Throw veggies into scrambled eggs for breakfast, add veggies into smoothies, make a stir-fry with added veggies, try subbing a traditional pasta for zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash.

  • Try swapping higher carb foods for a veggie alternative or mix half and half

    • Instead of having a cup of cooked white rice (205 calories) try 2 cups cauliflower rice (50 calories) or do 1/4 cup white rice with 1/2 cup cauliflower rice!

  • One of my favorites - make a big ole’ salad!

    • Start with a base of leafy greens, add other colored veggies or fruits of choice. Option to add in some quinoa, nuts, seeds, avocado or cheese & top with a lean protein source!

  • Try a veggie packed soup or stew 

    • Soups and stews can be super easy to make and are great to keep in the fridge or freezer for when you’re tight on time! Always try to add a protein source, bone broth is also a great way to add extra protein! Instead of using noodles, try spiralizing a zucchini in replace of the noodles!

Recipe ideas to eat for volume!

High Protein Oats:

1/3 cup oats

2/3 cup water

Microwave for 1 minute

Add 1/4 cup liquid egg whites, microwave 20 seconds, stir, microwave another 20 seconds. Stir in 1 scoop protein powder.

Top with fresh fruits and a scoop of greek yogurt. 

Protein Cauliflower Oats:

1/3 cup oats

2/3 cup water

Microwave 1 minute. 

Add in 1/2 cup frozen cauliflower rice, microwave 45 seconds. 

Add a splash of almond milk & protein powder. Top with fruits. 

Check out this PDF for more recipe examples!

Volume Meals
Download PDF • 4.59MB

If you have been trying to change your eating habits but don’t know where to start, or have often begun & quit different diets in the past, I encourage you to give this a try. Changes in diet often fail because they’re unsustainable or you ultimately get hungry - you feel unsatisfied and hungry after meals, always wanting something else. Volume eating is a tool to give your body enough food and to incorporate portions of foods you love while adding high volume foods to keep you full, satisfied & happy!

1 comment

1 commento

Lots of great information! Thank you! I printed the list of high volume foods to keep in my kitchen.

Mi piace
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