What is volume eating?
Volume eating is a method or approach that promotes eating high volume, yet low-energy dense foods in an attempt to create a calorie deficit without feeling hungry.
By eating lower calorie, more voluminous foods such as fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein, you have the sensation of fullness yet you're able to keep calories at a minimum. Certain individuals are naturally more volume-type eaters: this means they struggle to feel satisfied unless they have a substantial portion of food in front of them.
Volume eating can be effective for weight loss as it provides the fullness factor without superfluous calories. Further, most voluminous foods promoted through this approach are higher in fiber which can slow digestion, helping you feel fuller for a longer period of time. Research shows that volume eating can be effective, especially for those who depend on larger amounts of foods to feel content.
What Are The Pros and Cons of Volume Eating?
Volume eating has other benefits aside from potential weight loss. This includes a higher intake of nutrient dense foods such as fruits and vegetables which supply ample amounts of essential vitamins, minerals, disease-fighting antioxidants and gut-friendly fiber.
The downside of volume eating is that one might sacrifice quality for the sake of quantity. For example, instead of going for a meal that has a lot of anti-inflammatory fats such as olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds which are ultra nutritious, a volume eater might see this is as too calorie-dense and instead B-line for a big bowl of popcorn that has less calories, but also less nutrients.
Certain individuals might also have digestive distress after eating larger volumes of fibrous foods - these can be harder to break down in the body and thus, result in more gas, bloating, constipation or diarrhea.
Finally, volume eating can make eating larger amounts of food a hardwired habit: when there are no "safe" voluminous foods accessible, over-eating other calorie-dense foods can become more challenging.
While the concept of volume eating can be beneficial for most, especially if you're shifting your focus to eating more high fiber fruits and vegetables, anything in extreme can have it's pitfalls. Here are some recommendations to prevent any problems with over-eating or for the sake of sustainability:
- Include lots of voluminous foods in your diet, but also don't be afraid to pair with heart-healthy, energy-dense foods like extra virgin olive oil, almonds, avocados, chia seeds, fatty fish, whole grains and cheese. Fat is important to help absorb vitamins A, D, E and K. Further fat makes food more palatable and tasty - this is important for true eating enjoyment. Regardless, when it comes to healthy eating, variety beats volume and quality overrides quantity.
- Don't expect to lose weight on this diet if you're eating large quantities of food all the time. Remember, eating to be healthy and eating to lose weight are two different concepts.
- If you have a sensitive stomach or IBS, stick with easier digesting foods and don't go overboard on fiber. Aim for more cooked vegetables over raw veggies and consider an elimination diet supervised by a Registered Dietitian.
For a more personalized approach, The Core 3 Healthy Eating Plan, offers a customized and comprehensive guide to eating healthier and simultaneously finding food freedom. It can be adapted to any type of goals and eating styles, whether you prefer to eat in volume or not.
Keep in mind this approach is not recommended for anyone with significant digestive disorders, especially if you're still being treated and diagnosed, or those with a history of an eating disorder.
Overall, volume eating offers a different perspective on how to pick and choose foods to maximize fullness while not exceeding your individual calorie needs. The best way to find out whether an approach is for you is to experiment with it under the supervised guidance of a Registered Dietitian: an expert in food and nutrition science.