Have you ever been told that the key to weight loss is to eat less and exercise more? The good news is that you don’t need to consume less food, just fewer daily calories! A high-volume diet means you can still consume large volumes of food, as long as they are low-energy density foods. Don’t know what any of this means? Don’t worry, we’re about to explain what volume eating is and how you can incorporate it into your diet.
What is volume eating?
Volume eating allows you to consume large amounts of food without consuming large amounts of calories at the same time. Getting it right depends on the energy density of the foods you eat. When you compare foods or ingredients cup for cup, the number of kilojoules will vary. For example, 1 cup of vegetables can contain between 100-350 KJ. One cup of milk, on the other hand, contains 500-600 KJ.
The numbers in this example don’t mean that you should only be eating vegetables. It simply means that you should be using more fruits and veggies to bulk out your meals. This will leave you feeling satisfied and fuller for longer without the added energy intake.
Volume eating is beneficial because our stomachs have the same capacity or space for food regardless of what food it is. This means that the amount of food we need to feel full is based on the volume of food eaten, not the energy in the food.
How does it work?
Foods like fruits and vegetables have a low-energy density because they are made up of large amounts of water and fibre, but are very low in energy. This allows you to eat large volumes of fruit and veggies to help you feel full without adding too much energy to your meal.
Volume eating can be a game-changer when it comes to meeting your nutrition goals. Instead of trying to lessen the amount of food you eat, it’s about tailoring the way you fill your plate to meet your requirements. This is a positive-mindset-forward approach that not only doesn’t leave you feeling hungry and dissatisfied, but also prevents you from feeling deprived of the food you love.
If you’re having pizza with friends, for example, don’t eat pizza until you’re full or the pizza is finished. Rather, you will eat some of the pizza with a large salad on the side. By filling up half your plate with low-energy dense foods, you’ll be able to enjoy that pizza and you won’t be left feeling hungry afterwards.
Volume eating to suit you
This is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Your ratios will differ depending on your nutrition goals and needs. What you eat, and how much, will be determined by whether you’re an active or more sedentary person, or whether you’re looking to lose, maintain or gain weight.
An active person looking to maintain their weight or build lean muscle may have a plate that consists of more energy dense foods. If weight loss is the goal, your plate will consist of less of these with more low-energy dense foods.
The volume of food consumed by these two individuals will be roughly the same. The big difference comes in the number of kilojoules being consumed. As a general, average plate model for weight loss would be ¼ protein, ¼ wholegrain carbohydrates and ½ a plate of low-energy dense foods like fruit and veggies. You would also add a little bit of healthy fat for extra flavour, satiety and beneficial health properties.
If you’re worried about getting the perfect balance by eating enough for the energy your body needs without overdoing it and want more direction on a high-volume plate that’s perfect for you, contact one of our specialist dietitians for a consultation.