Volumetrics Diet

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Volumetrics Diet


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The Volumetric Diet Promise

Eat all the food that you want and lose 1-2 pounds a week with the Volumetrics diet.


About the Volumetrics Diet

Many have been the times that we’ve stared at buffets, wishing we could all eat as much as we wanted and still look like Bar Rafaeli or Chris Evans after we’re done. Some very rare, lucky people get to do exactly that, but for the rest of us, that bar of chocolate we just indulged in is going to show up sooner rather than later exactly where we prayed it wouldn’t, on our bodies. What wouldn’t we give to just hear “Eat a lot and still lose weight!” once in our lives? Now doesn’t that sound like a dream come true? Well, luckily for us unlucky people, the Volumetrics diet claims just that! The Volumetrics diet was created by Barbara Rolls, a Penn State University nutrition researcher, who has researched obesity for more than 20 years. Unlike deprivation-based diets, the Volumetrics diet facilitates people to find healthy foods that they can eat plenty of and still lose weight.


Fresh and Healthy Salad

Eat as much as you want as long as it’s healthy!


As the name suggests, the Volumetrics diet is based on the principle that weight loss occurs due to the volume of food that you consume rather than the number of calories you eat. If that’s a little difficult to wrap your head around, the central idea of the Volumetrics diet is its focus on feeling full. Ergo,, the idea is to fill yourself up with foods that make you feel full with lesser calories.

The Volumetrics diet has become very popular in the recent times as it is quite easy to understand and follow.  The diet recommends eating food with low calorie density i.e. foods such as vegetables and fruits that are low in calories. These foods are not only healthy and nutritious, but great to boost energy levels and overall wellness1.

The Volumetrics diet is planned in such a way that you do not feel deprived or hungry when on the diet, breaking the stereotype that you need to starve yourself to lose weight. The foods that are recommended by the diet have low calorie density or low energy, i.e. they create a feeling of fullness. You must avoid energy dense foods when on the Volumetrics diet, i.e. essentially high-calorie foods or foods that must be eaten in larger quantities to feel full.

The Volumetrics diet is a healthy way of eating and by following this diet plan you can prevent the risk of heart disease2. In fact, the Volumetrics diet was ranked as the “4th Best Diet for Healthy Eating” and “13th Best Heart Healthy Diet” by US News and World Reports.

The Volumetrics diet follows a simple and common sense approach to eating. On the diet, you will not see rapid weight loss; it is a long-term weight loss plan. But remember, Rome was not built in a day and Mike Ross had to wait 5 seasons to become junior partner. If you want to lose weight and keep it off permanently, then you need to stick to the Volumetrics style of eating for life.

How Does the Volumetric Diet Work?

The Volumetrics diet is all about emphasis on eating rather than depriving yourself. The diet allows you to eat more food and make healthier food choices. The diet helps you stick to healthy eating in the long-term and quit the very unhealthy habit of “yo-yo dieting”.

According to Dr. Barbara Rolls, the creator of the Volumetrics diet, the key to healthy and long-lasting weight loss is being aware of the energy density of foods, which is the number of calories present in a specific quantity of food. Because it takes small beginnings to achieve big things, the diet is based on achieving modest goals instead of focusing on quick and huge weight loss. The aim of the diet is to achieve sustainable and sensible weight loss, around 5% to 10% of your current body weight in a week.


Diet Decision Healthy and Unhealthy Food

The Volumetrics diet is all about eating the right foods, but eat as much as you want


Like we said (and it bears repeating), on the Volumetrics diet, you must evaluate foods according to their energy density and this concept is the key to the entire diet. Foods such as fats are highly energy dense and have plenty of calories packed into a small size, whereas water has an energy density of zero. When you eat foods that have high energy density, you pile on the calories very fast and if you opt for foods that are low energy dense, you can eat more, get fewer calories, and also fight the hunger pangs3.

On the Volumetrics diet, the food is divided into 4 categories:

  • Category 1: Very low density foods that can be eaten anytime
  • Category 2: Low density starches. These foods help you feel full without weight gain.
  • Category 3: Medium density foods
  • Category 4: High density foods that are allowed once in a while.

You can eat plenty of foods from categories 1 and 2, watch the portion sizes of foods from category 3 and keep the foods from category 4 to a minimum. 3 meals a day is a must: breakfast, lunch and dinner, and 2 snacks and 1 dessert.  

Food that has very high water content plays an important part in the Volumetrics diet as the water increases the weight of the food and does not pile on additional calories. No foods are off limits on the Volumetrics diet and you can indulge in your favorite category 4 foods once in a while, but as long as you adjust elsewhere.

The entire diet plan trickles down to one basic premise- “calories per bite”. By selecting foods that have a lower number of calories per bite, you can increase your portion size, but at the same time decrease your overall calorie count. Hence, you have a “satisfying” amount of food that leaves you feeling satiated and not deprived.


Volumetrics and Exercise

The Volumetrics diet encourages exercise as part of the diet plan because exercise is to diets as Watson is to Sherlock; a fact many people choose to ignore. Exercise can improve the efficiency of any diet4. You can start an exercise routine of 150 steps a day and slowly increase the number of steps to around 1,000 steps at the end of the week. Your ultimate goal would be 10,000 steps a day, so time to bring out the “Fitbits”!


Man and Woman Jogging

Slowly ramp up the number of steps you take everyday to 10,000 steps a day


What Is Calorie Density?

Calorie density, the whole backbone to this diet, is defined as the number of calories of food when compared to its weight in grams. It can also be defined as “calories per bite”. Different foods pack a different number of calories into each bite. For example, lettuce has very few calories per bite and a low calorie density, while butter has lots of calories per bite and hence a high calorie density.

The food that you consume gets its calories from the combination of carbs, proteins and fats contained in the particular food. Fat has the highest calorie density (around 9 calories per gram) as it has the most calories per bite, which is why foods that are high in fat like chips, and pastries, have a high calorie density. Foods that contain proteins and carbs generally have lower calorie density (around 4 calories per gram).

Fiber has a calorie density of around 2 calories per gram and hence fiber-rich foods such as whole grains, veggies, and fruits, help to reduce the overall calorie density of your meal.

Water, an important component has a calorie density of zero and therefore foods with high water content such as fruits, veggies, and soups, have a lower calorie density.

As we know, Volumetrics divides foods into 4 calorie density categories, so that you can put together meals that are filling without piling on too many calories.



Lettuce has a very low calorie density


  • Very low calorie density foods have a calorie density of 0.5 or less and almost all non-starchy veggies and fruits, and soups that are broth-based fall in this category.
  • Low calorie density foods have a calorie density of 0.6-1.5 and include lean proteins, whole grains, potatoes, starchy veggies, legumes, low-fat dishes and low-fat dairy. These are nutritious foods; however, they must be eaten in moderate portions for calorie control.
  • Medium calorie density foods have a calorie density of 1.6 to 3.9. These foods are not as filling and are higher in fat content and calories than lower calorie dense foods. Examples of medium calorie density foods are cheeses, meats, and salad dressings, and these must be consumed in moderate portions.
  • High calorie density foods have a calorie density of 4.0 or higher and their consumption must be restricted. Foods such as cookies, candy, and fried snacks come in this category and you must limit their consumption to very small portions or you will end up piling on the calories.


What’s on the Menu?

Category 1: Very Low Density Foods

  • Non-fat milk
  • Non-starchy veggies and fruits
  • Soups that are broth-based


Category 2: Low Density Starchy Foods

  • Whole Grains: Brown rice, whole wheat pasta, and breakfast cereal
  • Veggies and fruits
  • Legumes
  • Low-fat meat
  • Other Low-Fat Dishes: Spaghetti and chili.
  • Low-fat dairy



Include legumes as a part of the Volumetrics diet



Category 3: Medium Density Foods

  • Cheese
  • Pizza
  • Meat
  • Salad dressing
  • French fries
  • Fat-Free Baked Products: Pretzels, cake, and bread
  • Desserts: Ice cream

Various Types of Cheese

Just make sure you go easy on the cheese


Category 4: High Density Foods

  • Crackers
  • Chocolate
  • Candies
  • Chips
  • Cookies
  • Nuts
  • Butter
  • Oil


Dark Chocolate

Chocolate – so irresistible!


What’s off the Menu?

Like we said, no foods are banned on the Volumetrics diet. However, the diet recommends eating less of Category 4 foods or high density foods.


Advantages of the Volumetrics Diet

  • Emphasizes Eating Good Foods: The biggest plus of the Volumetrics diet is that it lays emphasis on eating foods that have high water content such as veggies and fruits that are healthy options5. The diet plan promotes eating all healthy foods and teaches you how to eat “right”.
  • Well-Researched Diet: The Volumetrics diet is backed by science and has been quite well-researched. It promotes a healthy method of weight loss. The diet plan promotes a balanced diet of whole grains, fruits and vegetables that help you feel fuller even if the number of calories consumed is very low. While you are eating plenty and satisfying servings of nutritious food, you are still losing weight.   
  • Flexible: Volumetrics is quite an easy and flexible diet that can be modified according to your personal preferences.
  • Encourages Exercise: The Volumetrics diet pays special emphasis to exercise and claims that exercise is a vital component to losing weight the healthy way6. The diet plan recommends at least 30-60 minutes of exercise daily.


Woman Working Out

It’s always good to complement your diet with a workout regime


  • Promotes Satiety: The diet plan has been designed in such a way that it promotes the feeling of satiety. If you stick to the rules, then you won’t feel hungry when on the Volumetrics diet. Veggies, fruits, soup, low-density foods and lean proteins such as seafood, tofu, poultry and beans aid to control your appetite7.
  • Taste: When on the Volumetrics diet, you don’t have to sacrifice your favorite food. Instead, make smarter swaps. For example, if you avoid using butter, then you can eat 2 slices of bread instead of one for the same number of calories.
  • Convenience: You can eat out as long as you adhere to the diet’s guidelines. You can consume alcohol, but before you go on a binge so deep that you don’t even remember, keep in mind that the diet only endorses alcohol in moderation.


Disadvantages of the Volumetrics Diet

  • Short-Term Satiety: Eating plenty of low-calorie foods can help you feel satiated and full, but this feeling may not last for a long time as eating foods that have high water content fill you up for a very short time before you start feeling hungry again.
  • Inconvenient: The Volumetrics diet is all about preparing your meals at home and eating out when following this diet plan is not convenient. 
  • Tedious: The Volumetrics diet may get a bit tedious after some time as you need to constantly keep track of the food blocks, calculate the energy density of foods, and maintain daily records of the foods that you are consuming. 
  • Not Suitable for Everyone: The Volumetrics diet may not be for everyone, as some people may not like eating fruits and veggies day in and day out. Also, the diet requires that you stay off foods that are rich in protein.


Side Effects

The Volumetrics diet recommends that you consume plenty of fiber-rich foods. Including plenty of fiber in your diet suddenly may result in side effects that make you uncomfortable such as abdominal bloating, cramping, intestinal gas and constipation8.



Vegetables like spinach are high in fiber


To avoid this, add fiber gradually in your daily diet so that your digestive system can acclimatize to the change. Think of it like climbing a mountain. You can’t reach the summit without first getting used to the effects of high altitude on your system. Also, drinking plenty of water and fluids will help to avoid constipation by keeping your stools soft9.


Other Uses

The Volumetrics diet can be beneficial for people who may have ailments that can be helped by eating high-fiber diets such as:


Phases of the Volumetrics Diet

The Volumetrics diet has 3 stages:

Phase 1: Intensive Phase

The first stage lasts for around 3 weeks and the main objective in this phase is to lose weight rapidly. In this phase, you eat whenever you are hungry and focus on foods that provide the body with the essential nutrients it requires. You can eat as much of low calorie density foods as you want and there are no portion restrictions. Remember to drink lots of water and fluids throughout the day and keep yourself hydrated.


Phase 2: Transitory Phase

This phase lasts for around 2 weeks where the goal is weight loss, but the weight loss occurs at a much slower pace. This phase is a preparation for the 3rd or the stabilization phase. In this transitory phase, 2 out of the 3 meals that you will consume must still contain low calorie density foods. In this phase, you will also re-introduce medium calorie density foods, especially carbohydrates, and you can have an occasional high calorie density food as a treat, as one of the 3 meals.


Organic Quails

Include more of lean meat in this phase of the diet


Phase 3: Stabilization Phase

This is the phase that requires you to say “I do”. The 3rd phase lasts forever, throughout your lifetime. The goal is to maintain the weight loss and not regain weight. You continue to eat plenty of low calorie density foods and must eat at least one meal a day that comprises low calorie density foods. You can have a mix of low and medium calorie density foods in the other 2 meals and avoid high calorie density foods as much as you can, especially refined and processed foods such as snack foods, cakes, chips, burgers, and pastries, to name a few.


Who Is It For?

The Volumetrics diet is suited for anyone who loves to eat food and lots of it. (Which we’re pretty sure is majority of the human population.)

The Volumetrics diet can be easily adapted to suit most health conditions.

If you want to lose weight quickly and prevent various ailments such as arthritis, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, diabetes and heart disease, then the Volumetrics diet could be suitable for you.

Final Word

Volumetrics is a wonderful and a positive approach that is not only nutritionally sound but also leads to permanent weight loss.  The diet offers a well-balanced guide to healthy eating and also incorporates an exercise routine into the diet plan, which is very important in achieving a healthy and fit lifestyle.

The Volumetrics diet emphasizes on eating a diet based on healthy foods that are low in energy density and high in water content, which is a fantastic strategy to satisfy hunger and pile on lesser calories. The idea of Volumetrics is to make better food choices, cutting down calorie consumption and at the same time not feeling deprived or hungry.

As we have seen earlier, the Volumetrics diet is a simple diet that does not cut out any food group or limit the quantity of food you must consume. It only recommends that you choose healthier alternatives without actually compromising on the taste.

When following the Volumetrics diet, you will probably prepare most of your food at home in order to avoid processed foods and foods with added sugar, and this can be a very good thing, though time-consuming. However, the end result is worth it, as you get to be a healthier, happier and most importantly, thinner “you”! That being said, eating the Volumetrics way may become a problem if you prefer meat and bacon and do not like too much of fruits and veggies in your diet. In this case, the Paleo diet is probably your thing!

Volumetrics does not promise a quick fix solution and you will probably not see rapid weight loss in the short-term, but like we said, Rome and Mike Ross, right? However, you will not experience “hunger pangs” or the feeling of deprivation when on this diet, the value of which you’ll immediately recognize if you’ve even been on stricter diets! The Volumetrics diet is a sustainable, nutritious, balanced and flexible diet and in the long run, you will develop a wholesome eating lifestyle, lose weight in a healthy way, and keep it off, too!

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3649719/
  2. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/96/3/681.full
  3. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/37/5/763.short
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3406229/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10500012
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3406229/
  7. https://www.omicsonline.org/scientific-reports/2157-7110-SR-585.pdf
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3435786/
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2908954/