OverviewThe Volumetrics diet shows you how you can eat a lower-calorie diet that helps promote weight loss, but still eat satisfying portions of food. The concept of Volumetrics is that by eating foods that are low in calories but high in density, you can eat larger amounts of food. This diet was developed by Barbara Rolls, PhD, a professor at Penn State.
How Is This Diet Supposed to Work?The premise of this diet is that many diets fail because they don’t satisfy or control hunger. With the volumetrics diet, however, you can eat larger portions of food. The key is minimizing the energy density of your meals, which you can do through techniques such as increasing fiber content, cutting back on sauces or sweeteners, choosing fresh foods, and so on.
What’s Involved?Volumetrics involves eating a diet that is made up primarily of lower energy density foods. Energy density refers to the amount of calories per gram contained in a particular food. The following chart provides some examples of different energy density levels.
|Very Low-Energy-Dense Foods||Low-Energy-dense Foods||Medium-Energy-dense Foods||High-Energy-Dense Foods|
|(0-0.6 calories/gram)||(0.6-1.5 calories/gram)||(1.5-4.0 calories/gram)||(4.0-9.0 calories/gram)|
|Load up on: ||Start monitoring portion size of: ||Control your portion size of: ||Limit your intake of: |
- Adding water-rich ingredients (eg, fruits and vegetables)
- Incorporating high-fiber ingredients (Fiber is a form of carbohydrate that cannot be fully digested, so it does not contribute many usable calories.)
- Reducing the amount of fat (eg, from butter, oil, meat)
- Protein—Eating a bit of lean protein with your meals can help promote satisfaction and fullness.
- High-fiber, whole-grain cereals—Eating high-fiber cereal at breakfast is associated with eating fewer calories at lunch.
What Does the Research Say?This diet is based on research conducted by Dr. Rolls in her lab at Penn State, as well as other credible scientific studies. These studies have shown that the total weight of food that a person consumes from one day to the next stays about the same, even if the total calories varies.
Are There Any Concerns With This Diet?The main concern with this diet is making sure that people don’t completely give up certain healthful high-density foods, such as olive oil and nuts. Likewise, loading up on diet sodas or artificially sweetened foods—just because they are low in energy density—is not the best practice since these foods are usually low in nutrients.
Bottom LineIf you have tried other diets but never felt satisfied with the small portion sizes or limited amounts of food, then this diet may be for you. This diet offers a realistic, lifelong approach to eating that is low in calories but still satisfying.
American Dietetic Association
Weight-Control Information Network
Canada's Food Guide
Dietitians of Canada
Rolls B. The Volumetrics Eating Plan. New York, NY: Harper Collins Publishers; 2005.
- Reviewer: Dianne Scheinberg Rishikof MS, RD, LDN
- Review Date: 03/2014
- Update Date: 05/08/2014