Your Guide to the Volumetrics Diet
If you’re looking to eat healthier but are lost in the world of meal plans, a good option to consider is the Volumetrics diet, which has gained traction in the past few years. Developed by nutrition professor Barbara Rolls, it follows a philosophy to eating rather than a strict plan and relies on grouping foods based on their energy densities. Affordable, practical, nutritious and geared towards a lifetime approach, it is also ranked favourably by U.S. News, placing fifth in Best Diets Overall and second in Best in Weight-Loss Diets. Here’s all you need to know to get started on it.
Divide up the eats
The Volumetrics method groups food into four categories. They are:
- Very low-density = non-starchy fruit and veggies (like beans, most leafy greens and berries), broth-based soups and no-fat milk
- Low-density = starchy fruit and vegetables (like potatoes, peas and dried fruit), grains, legumes, cereal, low-fat meat and low-fat mixed dishes like chili
- Medium-density = meat, cheese, french fries, pizza, salad dressing, bread, ice cream and cake
- High-density = butter, oil, crisps, chocolates, biscuits and nuts
Lean on the first two groups
While no foods are prohibited in this diet, Volumetrics encourages weight loss by focusing on a high consumption of the first two food categories – the very low and low-density, meanwhile controlling and limiting your portions of the latter two groups – the medium and high-density. You eat fewer calories but can plate more of the low-density foods, which have a higher percentage of water and fibre, thus ensuring you stay full and never go hungry. That said, it works best in the long-term for those who enjoy soups, fruit and vegetables and can easily forgo the more indulgent treats – and less so for those who feel satiated by biting into denser foods.
Choose alternatives when possible
One way to adopt the Volumetrics principle on a daily basis without struggling through a diet is to replace the higher density foods in a meal with lower density alternatives. For example, swap potatoes in a dish with sweet potatoes. If you’re craving a crunch, don’t quell it – rather, skip the crisps and crackers as often as you can for healthier options like a fresh serving of carrots and hummus or air-popped popcorn. Occasional indulgences are welcome – as long as compromises are made elsewhere so as to balance out your caloric intake.
Find more resources to ease in
Don’t know how to separate your foods easily into the required categories or where to begin with the Volumetrics lifestyle? Read Rolls’ book, The Ultimate Volumetrics Diet, for meal plans, nutritional information, shopping and exercise tips and recipes that’ll help you get started. Rolls has published other titles that could prove useful to you as well, such as The Volumetrics Eating Plan. Once you’re familiar with the essentials of the diet, you could find suitable recipes online or in cookbooks and collect a hearty list of dishes to keep you satisfied and healthy through the day, from breakfast to dinner – snacks included.
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