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Volumetrics Diet: How Does it Work?

Neil Donaghy | January 17th, 2013

With the holidays officially over, everyone is searching for the best way to lose weight. The Volumetrics diet is a different approach to shedding those extra pounds. It promises one to two pounds of weight loss a week, without being too restrictive about what you can and can’t eat. Instead of providing a structured diet, Volumetrics teaches you how to recognize foods that are low in energy density, but keep you feeling full. It focuses on satiety and healthy eating, rather than abstention.

Developed at Penn State University in 2000 by nutrition professor Barbara Rolls, the Volumetrics diet divides food into four categories, based on energy density:

  1. Very low density foods, including non-starchy fruits and vegetables.
  2. Low density foods, including starchy fruit and veg, grains, cereals and low fat meat.
  3. Medium density foods such as meat, cheese, French fries, bread, pretzels and ice cream.
  4. High density foods like chips, chocolate, cookies, nuts, butter and oil.

By replacing a high density food with a low density food, a meal can be transformed from a high-calorie, unhealthy dish into a low-calorie powerhouse – without sacrificing the sensation of fullness. Those on the Volumetrics plan must eat lots of category 1 and 2 foods, limiting portions of category 3 foods and trying to avoid category 4 foods altogether.

Volumetrics recipes

The recipes suggested by proponents of the Volumetrics diet are similar to other low-fat, low-calorie plans. Volumetrics recipes generally rely on foods with a high water content, which fill you up without adding calories. Soups feature heavily, as does lean protein like fish or chicken.

A typical day’s menu might look like this:

  • Breakfast: low-sugar cereal, skim milk and banana
  • Snack: apple and yoghurt
  • Lunch: grilled salmon and vegetables
  • Snack: oatmeal pancakes
  • Evening meal: sweet potato casserole

Best way to lose weight may include physician guidance

Volumetrics suggests a ‘diet without deprivation’ based on common sense. Foods with low energy-densities have been shown to promote a feeling of fullness on fewer calories, and it’s widely accepted that a diet heavy in fruits and vegetables is better for you than one containing lots of fat and sugar.

According to doctors from The Center for Medical Weight Loss, the best diets do look something like the Volumetrics plan. But their work also highlights the need for one-on-one counseling and tailored eating plans, which take into account medical history, personal preferences and lifestyle.

The Center for Medical Weight Loss features a physician-led approach to healthy living, and shows you the best way to lose weight through diet and exercise. Special introductory offers are available in some of the country’s 450 centers. To get started today, enter your zip code in the box to the top right.Weight-loss basics