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Volumetrics diet

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Also listed as: Diet, Volumetrics
Related terms
Background
Theory/evidence
Safety
Author information
Bibliography
Diet

Related Terms
  • Diet, energy density, food density, Volumetrics.

Background
  • The Volumetrics diet is a low calorie, high bulk, and low fat diet. People who follow the Volumetrics diet generally eat large portions of foods that are low in calories. The diet is based on the idea that people feel full after eating about the same amount of food every day, regardless of the fat, carbohydrate, or calorie content of that food. Regular exercise is also incorporated into the lifestyle modifications advocated by Volumetrics.
  • The Volumetrics diet is based on the concept of energy density. The amount of calories in a specified amount of food, usually a serving, is its energy density. Foods with high energy densities do not cause a sensation of fullness quickly, and they also tend to contain large amounts of fat. The founders of the Volumetrics diet believe that when a person does not feel full, they will continue eating; the Volumetrics diet encourages dieters to eat low calorie and high fiber foods until he or she feels full.
  • The Volumetrics diet book was first published in 2000. Since then, the book has undergone several revisions. Volumetrics is one of many recently popular diets that emphasize eating large portions of fruits and vegetables from meals prepared at home.
  • Today, some people choose the Volumetrics diet because it does not restrict the amount of food that may be consumed in one sitting. Rather, the diet restricts the types of foods that may be consumed. For instance, an unlimited amount of broccoli may be consumed in a meal because this food has a low number of calories per pound. In contrast, a person who chooses to follow the diet may only eat a bite or two of a chocolate chip cookie because this food has an extraordinary high number of calories per pound. Unlimited amounts of food may be consumed provided that each serving averages out to fewer than 400 calories per pound. To achieve this, a vast majority of foods in every meal are generally very low in calories and fat.
  • The Volumetrics eating plan was written by Barbara Rolls, current chair of the Penn State Nutrition department. Multiple academic articles have endorsed increasing the intake of fruits, vegetables, and legumes, but none have specifically investigated this diet to prevent, treat, or cure any medical condition. More research is necessary before a firm conclusion can be made.
  • The Volumetrics diet may appeal to individuals who experience difficulty with portion control.

Theory / Evidence
  • Many low density foods contain a high amount of water. For instance, most fruits and vegetables contain about 80 to 95% water. These foods result in a feeling of fullness faster than high density foods. As a result, the dieter consumes fewer calories.
  • The consumption of low density, high bulk and low fat foods is not restricted because the overall caloric intake will be low regardless of portion size.
  • Advocates of the Volumetrics diet claim that individuals in industrialized nations consume too many processed, high fat and high calorie foods with too few nutrients. It is believed by Volumetrics proponents that most conventional diets may lead to development of chronic and debilitating illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease.
  • Processed foods are avoided on the premise that they contain many additives and artificial ingredients which do not promote a healthy state of being while also adding many unnecessary calories and fats to the diet.
  • High fiber, low calorie, low fat, and non-processed foods are emphasized because it is believed that consumption of these foods will result in a feeling of fullness and will allow for absorption of many beneficial nutrients without all the potential negative effects of many foods typical to most diets in industrialized nations.
  • To support the validity of the diet, advocates of the Volumetrics diet highlight the large number of studies which endorse a high fiber and low fat diet in combination with regular exercise as a means of staying healthy or managing many diseases linked to obesity.
  • Critics claim that the Volumetrics diet may encourage people to eat more often because lower-fat foods do not lead to a feeling of complete fullness for the same duration of time as a high fat food.

Safety




Author information
  • This information has been edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).

Bibliography
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). . Last accessed September 7, 2007.
  2. Rolls B. The Volumetrics Eating Plan: Techniques and Recipes for Feeling Full on Fewer Calories. Publisher, 2007.

Diet
  • Rather than suggesting that a person adopt a radically new diet, the Volumetrics eating plan suggests that a person examine their own food preferences and make healthy substitutions for some foods. For instance, low bulk high energy density foods may be substituted for high bulk low energy density foods.
  • The foundation of the Volumetrics diet is that its followers should learn about which foods they like to eat while still losing weight. In general, these foods contain a low energy density, so that a person can eat a lot of them while still losing weight. Therefore, people who choose to follow the diet tend to incorporate more fruits, vegetables, nuts, and low-fat alternative foods into their eating plan.
  • The Volumetrics diet does not restrict portion size, provided that the foods consumed are high bulk and have a low energy density. Low bulk, high energy density foods such as crackers, chips, cookies, chocolate, candies, nuts, butter, and oils are consumed sparingly because a small portion of these contain as many calories as a large serving of a high bulk low energy density food. Therefore, low density high energy foods such as non-starchy vegetables, nonfat dairy products, and soup broths are consumed more often.
  • The Volumetrics diet often requires people to cook or create low-fat alternatives to their favorite high fat, high protein, and high carbohydrate foods. Information on substitutions is available from the Volumetrics book, as well as nonprofit webpages such as the American Heart Association.
  • Some followers of this eating plan choose to investigate the caloric content of everything they consume using the many charts and diagrams in the Volumetrics book. These charts detail the fiber and energy density of many foods and recipes. However, most people simply follow the general premise that the caloric profile of a meal should always be on the very low end of the caloric spectrum. Very small amounts of a higher calorie food, such as a donut, are acceptable occasionally, provided that the person eating the food learns to control the amount that they eat.
  • The way that a food is prepared is considered an important aspect of the Volumetrics diet. For instance, a fried piece of chicken contains significantly more fat and cholesterol than a baked or sautéed piece of chicken. In order to consume foods that are prepared according to lower fat methods, the Volumetrics diet requires adherents to prepare many foods at home.
  • The Volumetrics diet uses fat and calorie cutting techniques in food preparation that may be familiar to previous dieters. For instance, skim milk, egg whites, yogurt, and applesauce may be used instead of vegetable oil, butter, margarine, eggs, and cream.
  • The Volumetrics diet encourages the consumption of fish and lean meats, as these foods provide many essential vitamins and minerals while containing relatively fewer calories and fat than other animal products such as pork and red meat.
  • Energy dense foods such as alcoholic beverages, sweets, and fats are not forbidden. However, the Volumetrics diet encourages moderation by restricting the frequency and size of portions of these foods.
  • Exercise is a central aspect of the Volumetrics diet. Individuals are encouraged to participate in any type of physical activity for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week.
  • The Volumetrics diet attempts to convince individuals of the appealing nature of the eating plan by comparing and highlighting meals of equal caloric content but very different portion sizes. For instance, a lunch consisting of a chicken sandwich on whole grain bread, a few cups of vegetable soup, strawberries, and a few cups of soda contains the same number of calories as half of a regular fast food cheeseburger.
  • The Volumetrics diet encourages people to keep record of what they eat and their level of physical activity. The records indicate the individual's level of physical activity and caloric intake at the start of the diet, which serves as a "baseline" reference point to track progress while on the diet.

Copyright © 2011 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)


The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.

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