Volumetrics: What You Need to Know

This diet stands the test of time for weight loss and healthy eating

Volumetrics diet foods
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Volumetrics is not a new diet, but the eating style has stood the test of time. Volumetrics is used by many dieters to slim down and keep the pounds off for good. In fact, Volumetrics has been incorporated into the popular Jenny Craig diet. So should you follow this diet?  Here's what you need to know about Volumetrics for weight loss.

Who Wrote The Volumetrics Diet?

You'll find a complete explanation of the diet in a book called co-authored by Barbara Rolls, Ph.D.

Rolls is a Penn State nutrition researcher, and she co-wrote the book with Robert Barnett, a nutrition writer.

In addition to co-authoring the Volumetrics book, Dr. Rolls has researched obesity for more than 20 years. She served on the Advisory Council of the National Institutes of Health’s Institute of Diabetes and Digestion and Kidney Disease as well as the North American Association for the Study of Obesity, for which she served as president. 

What Is The Volumetrics Eating Plan?

Volumetrics is based on the premise that it’s the volume of food eaten, rather than the number of calories consumed, that leads to weight loss. When we eat more food, we experience a sense of satiety or fullness.

If you follow the Volumetrics diet, you learn that by eating low-calorie foods that fill you up you will lose weight without feeling like you’re on a diet. The plan is designed so that you don't feel hungry or deprived.

You will also learn about "calorie density" if you follow this plan. The recommended foods on the Volumetrics diet have a low energy or calorie density. This means that they promote a sense of fullness.  Foods that you avoid on the Volumetrics diet are energy dense. These are foods that are higher in calories or foods that you must eat a lot of to feel full.

Will Volumetrics Help Me Lose Weight?

According to Rolls and Barnett, dieters tend to eat roughly the same amount of food each day, regardless of the total number of calories consumed. They believe that if you eat about the same weight of food containing fewer calories than usual, you will able to lose weight without experiencing hunger.

The Volumetrics diet is well regarded by leading experts in the weight loss community because of its simplicity and common sense approach. But for any diet to help you lose weight, you have to be willing to stick to the eating plan for life. So you're likely to lose weight on Volumetrics if you get used to eating Volumetrics foods.

What Do I Eat on The Volumetrics Diet?

To follow the plan, you will eat low-calorie, high-volume foods that contain either a lot of water or a lot of diet-friendly fiber. Water and fiber both increase the sense of satisfaction or satiety.

You will eat plenty of fruit, low-fat milk or other dairy products, whole grains, beans, low-fat fish, vegetables, skinless poultry, and lean meat.

You'll avoid high-calorie foods such as regular cheese, candy, high-sugar beverages, and cookies.

But no food is completely banned on the Volumetrics eating plan. You can enjoy foods that are considered to be calorie-dense, like chocolate, as long as it's a treat. And as long as you stay within your daily caloric recommendations.

So how do you know how many calories to eat each day? The book provides a formula for you to calculate the correct number of calories to consume. The book also includes meal plans for 1,600 calories per day and 2,000 calories per day.  

But you don't have to follow the diet exactly. Each meal plan can be modified to your specific caloric needs. The 1,600-calorie plan, for example, allows for a 400-calorie breakfast, a 500-calorie lunch, a 500-calorie dinner, and a 200-calorie snack. But you can make adjustments. The authors provide healthy recipes as well.

If you do not wish to use the diet plans, you can also use guidelines in the book to plan your own meals. In the book, you'll find a food density list for hundreds of foods. The book also provides a simple technique for figuring out the calorie density of any food using the number of calories and serving size.

Volumetrics Diet Lifestyle Changes

The authors of Volumetrics recommend lifestyle changes that lead to long-term weight management. Changes include keeping an exercise and food journal and planning ahead for social situations that may throw you a curve ball, such as parties.

The authors also recommend that you get at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week. They suggest that you weigh-in no more than once a week during the weight loss phase.

The book provides a maintenance plan to follow once you have met your goal weight, or after six months have passed. After you’ve maintained your weight for another six months, you can start the weight loss plan over again.

Is Volumetrics Effective? 

The Volumetrics plan is not a fad diet. It is nutritionally sound and can be effective. The food recommendations are consistent with the eating guidelines promoted by the USDA. The eating plan promotes a healthy, balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and encourages you to limit your intake of saturated fat

The fact that the plan encourages regular, moderate physical activity is a definite plus. Exercise is something fad diets virtually ignore, despite the fact that regular activity is a vital part of a lifestyle that leads to long-term health and permanent weight loss.  Additional recommendations, such as keeping a food diary, will also help you adjust to your new lifestyle.

If the caloric guidelines and food recommendations set forth in this plan are followed correctly, this diet is both effective and nutritious. It will not bring major results very quickly, but it instead leads to safe, gradual weight loss of about one to two pounds a week, which is ideal for long-term success.

Source

Rolls, Barbara, and Robert Barnett. The Volumetrics Weight-Control Plan. New York: HarperTorch, 2002.

*This article was edited by Malia Frey, About.com Weight Loss Expert

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