Volumetrics Diet: Pros & Cons, Meal Plan, and How It Works

Eat more, weigh less; the power of volume for a science-backed sustainable weight loss.

Medically reviewed by Olesya Wilson, Certified Nutritionist Olesya Wilson Olesya WilsonCertified Nutritionist facebook_iconlinkedin_iconyoutube_iconinsta_icon
Written by , MSc (Biotechnology), Certified Health & Nutrition Life Coach Payal Karnik MSc (Biotechnology), Certified Health & Nutrition Life Coach Experience: 2.5 years
Edited by , BSc, Professional Certificate in Food, Nutrition and Health Ravi Teja Tadimalla BSc, Professional Certificate in Food, Nutrition and Health Experience: 8 years
Fact-checked by , BPharm, Certified Health & Wellness Coach Moksha Gandhi BPharm, Certified Health & Wellness Coach Experience: 2 years
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If you want to reduce weight without feeling hungry, the volumetrics diet is your ultimate pick. A nutrition expert created this weight loss program based on the idea that eating high-volume, low-density foods will keep you full and happy while consuming fewer calories. You will not only lose weight but also improve your general health by prioritizing the consumption of nutritious meals. These include foods high in water, fiber, and protein. You can achieve your weight loss objectives, transform your physique, and have fun while doing it with the vVolumetrics diet. Say goodbye to restrictive dietary regimens and hello to a smart, sustainable, and satisfying way of eating. Keep reading!

protip_icon At A Glance: Volumetrics Diet
  • Principle: A diet rich in low-energy-density foods with high water content that make you feel fuller for longer and reduce calorie intake.
  • Purpose: To regulate calorie intake to reduce the risk of type-2 diabetes, pancreatic cancer, and heart diseases and lose weight.
  • Who It Is For: Anyone who wants to eat a healthier but flexible diet.
  • Duration: Long-term
  • Who Should Avoid: People with kidney diseases, gastrointestinal disorders, diabetes, prediabetes, or celiac disease, and pregnant and breastfeeding individuals.
  • Cons: Time-consuming, expensive, and may lead to nutrient deficiencies.

What Is The Volumetrics Diet?

The volumetrics diet was developed by Barbara Rolls, a nutrition researcher and professor at Penn State University. It is based on the idea that you can regulate your calorie intake by consuming low-energy-density foods that make you feel full and less hungry.

protip_icon Trivia
The Volumetrics Diet was featured in the book “The Volumetrics Eating Plan” by Barbara Rolls, which was first published in 2000 and has since been updated multiple times.

The diet is built on the concept of energy density, which focuses on the number of calories in a specific amount of food. Scroll down for additional information on this diet and how it works.

How Does The Volumetrics Diet Work?

The volumetrics diet primarily focuses on foods with low energy density (those that contain few calories for every gram). It includes fruits, vegetables, and low calorie soups with broth as the base. These are high volume meals with a higher water content than high-energy-density foods. Consuming low-density meals will make you feel fuller and reduce your calorie intake (1).

The volumetrics diet is divided into four categories of foods:

  • Very Low-Density Foods

These have a meager number of calories per gram and include broth-based soups and salads. These foods can be consumed in large amounts to help with satiety without adding many calories.

  • Low-Density Foods

These filling foods have a low number of calories per gram and include fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. These foods are the main focus of the volumetrics diet and must be consumed in larger amounts.

  • Medium-Density Foods

These have a moderate number of calories per gram and include nuts, seeds, and avocados. These foods can be consumed in moderate amounts.

  • High-Density Foods

These have a high number of calories per gram and include butter, cheese, and oils. These foods should be consumed in small amounts or avoided.

The volumetrics diet promotes regular exercise as a component of a healthy lifestyle. Exercise can assist in boosting metabolism, encouraging weight loss, and enhancing general health (2). Additionally, it supports moderation food intake, which might aid in calorie restriction. The use of smaller plates, attention to hunger and fullness cues, and a mindful eating strategy can all help you achieve healthy eating.


protip_icon Quick Tip
Use measuring cups and a food scale to ensure portion control while following this diet.

Eating foods with a low energy density allows one to have a larger (portion) meal without consuming a lot of calories. Boosting feelings of fullness and satisfaction may eventually encourage people to eat fewer calories and lose weight. Discover in the section below how the volumetrics diet boosts weight loss.

Can The Volumetrics Diet Promote Weight Loss?

Following a volumetrics diet helps in managing weight
Image: Shutterstock

Low-energy foods are high in fiber, water, and other nutrients that can promote both weight management and overall health.

A study in 2020 conducted on 3877 participants revealed that the intake of viscous dietary fiber can aid weight loss. A mean body weight reduction of 0.33 kgs to 0.14 kg was observed. The effect was greater in obese participants and in participants with diabetes. The accuracy of the evidence was evaluated to be moderate for body weight, high for waist circumference and body fat, and low for BMI.

Several studies have shown that individuals who follow a low-energy-dense diet tend to lose weight and maintain weight loss over time. They also tend to have a lower body mass indexi  XA health assessment method that calculates the height-to-weight ratio to determine how much body fat you possess.  (BMI) and body fat percentage (3), (4), (5).

 A study on overweight women focused on dietary energy density and came up with a method for controlling appetite and maintaining weight. The secret is to reduce energy-dense and fatty foods by increasing your consumption of fruits and vegetables (6).

A study on teenagers demonstrated that a low-energy-density diet between 3.9 and 5.1 kJ/g did not cause weight gain, but an energy density of 8.64 kJ/g to 9.17 kJ/g did (7). Another study on overweight and obese women found that low energy meals had a positive impact on people trying to effectively reduce weight (8).

The volumetrics diet focuses on the quality of the food and its calorie density and helps one reduce their overall calorie intake, potentially leading to weight loss. Since it is not a restrictive diet, it is more likely to be sustainable in the long run.

 Keep in mind that losing weight is not an easy process and may take some time before you see visible results. Every diet has its advantages and disadvantages. Discover the pros and cons of the volumetrics diet in the section below.

Pros And Cons Of The Volumetrics Diet

Image: Shutterstock

There are several pros and cons to the volumetrics diet:

Pros

  • It Is Flexible
  • While the volumetrics diet limits the intake of certain foods, it is not a restrictive diet and does not eliminate any essential food groups. It encourages a variety of foods and allows for flexibility in meal planning. It can be tailored to fit individual needs and preferences, be it weight loss, general health, or any other specific goal.

  • May Improve Overall Health
  • The volumetrics diet encourages the consumption of nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains. These foods provide essential vitamins and minerals, which can improve one’s nutrient intake and general well-being (9).

  • May Reduce The Risk Of Chronic Diseases
  • The nutrient-dense foods can help reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. Intake of high-energy-density foods is associated with risks of type 2 diabetesi  XA chronic disorder where your body does not produce enough insulin, causing elevated blood sugar levels.  and pancreatic cancer (10). A few dietary adjustments that are recommended in this diet will help you reduce these risks. Low energy-density diets also help control blood sugar levels and reduce high cholesterol levels (11).

Cons

  • May Be Challenging To Stick To
  • The volumetrics diet may be difficult for those used to eating high-energy-density foods or who have a busy lifestyle. The diet requires planning and preparation, which may be time-consuming and challenging for some individuals. Eating out can be difficult as one may not know the calorie density or portion size of a particular food.

  • May Be Expensive
  • Eating vegetables, fruits, and lean protein can be more expensive than a diet high in processed foods. Energy-dense meals are the least expensive and the most inflation-resistant. This might be the underlying reason populations with inadequate financial resources continue to have the highest prevalence of obesity (12).

  • May Not Work For Everyone
  • This diet may not work for everyone and some people may not see the desired results. It is not a quick weight loss solution and requires a long-term commitment and a lifestyle change. You must make active efforts and remain consistent for the diet to work.
    If these cons do not stop you from taking up the challenge, scroll down for additional tips on how to get started on this diet.

How To Start The Volumetrics Diet

Image: Shutterstock

Here are some steps to help you start the volumetrics diet:

1. Learn About The Diet

Familiarize yourself with what foods to eat and avoid on this diet. Think carefully about your lifestyle and whether it is suitable. Being aware that the diet may not be effective for you and is not recommended for everyone can spare you unpleasant situations if the diet doesn’t work.

2. Make A Grocery List

Make a shopping list of high-volume, low-calorie foods like fruits, whole grains, vegetables, lean meats, and low-fat dairy products. Keep in mind that this could be expensive. Choose grass-fed, organic, or wild-caught items. Processed foods are often high in calories and low in volume, so avoid them as much as you can.

3. Plan Your Meals

Plan ahead to ensure you have enough food choices and a balance of macros and micronutrients. If you lead a hectic life, do the majority of your meal preparation over the weekends. Make a note of any appealing, healthy dishes that caught your eye, and then try them. Being creative with the limited number of items you can eat is the secret to keeping a balanced diet. Be aware of the portion size of your meals and snacks. While high-volume foods might make you feel satisfied, moderation is key.

4. Drink Plenty Of Water

Drinking water can help you feel satiated and content. It is also a zero-calorie drink. Other options include lemon water or coconut water, which are equally hydrating and nourishing.

5. Get Moving

Regular physical activity is integral to any weight-loss diet. Aim for anywhere between 30 minutes to 1 hour each day. If you live a busy life, look for at-home exercises that can motivate you. Avoid overexercising as it might leave you feeling extremely tired.

6. Keep Track Of Your Progress

Monitor your weight, body composition, and general well-being regularly. You can either download fitness-tracking apps or maintain a dedicated workout journal. Also, try joining a community where you can share your progress with everyone. Having a diet/workout buddy can help you have accountability and motivation to follow through with the diet.

protip_icon Quick Tip
Look for items with the Heart-Check mark while grocery shopping as they may suit your heart-healthy dietary needs.

Meal planning enables you to have nutritious meals so that you won’t seek unhealthy options when you are busy or unable to cook a healthy meal right away. Discover a sample meal plan for the volumetrics diet below.

Volumetrics Diet Meal Plan

 Here is a sample 7-day volumetrics meal plan that you can follow:

 Day 1

MealWhat To Eat
BreakfastOatmeal with fresh berries and a scoop of Greek yogurt
LunchGrilled chicken breast with a side of roasted vegetables
SnacksCarrots and celery sticks with hummus
DinnerVegetable soup with a side of whole wheat bread

Day 2

MealWhat To Eat
BreakfastScrambled eggs with spinach and mushrooms
LunchGrilled fish with a side of quinoa and steamed broccoli
SnacksApple slices with almond butter
DinnerLentil and vegetable stew with a side of whole wheat pita

 Day 3

MealWhat To Eat
BreakfastSmoothie bowl made with frozen berries, Greek yogurt, and spinach
LunchGrilled chicken breast with a side of brown rice and steamed vegetables
SnacksAir-popped popcorn
DinnerVegetable and bean chili with a side of cornbread

Day 4

MealWhat To Eat
BreakfastWhole wheat pancakes with blueberries and a side of turkey bacon
LunchGrilled chicken breast with a side of quinoa and steamed vegetables
SnacksFresh fruit salad
DinnerVegetable and bean burrito with a side of salsa and avocado

Day 5

MealWhat To Eat
BreakfastWhole wheat toast with avocado and egg
LunchBaked salmon with a side of roasted sweet potato and green beans
SnacksGreek yogurt with honey and mixed berries
DinnerMinestrone with a side of whole wheat bread

 Day 6

MealWhat To Eat
BreakfastWhole wheat toast with peanut butter and banana
LunchGrilled chicken breast with a mixed green salad and a vinaigrette dressing
SnacksFresh berries like strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries
DinnerSpaghetti with marinara sauce and topped with sautéed vegetables

Day 7

MealWhat To Eat
BreakfastBaby bell peppers stuffed with tuna salad
LunchVegetable soup with a side of whole wheat bread
DinnerBaked salmon with quinoa and vegetable pilaf
SnacksCucumber and tomato salad

Before beginning any new diet plan, you should speak with a registered dietitian or any healthcare provider.

protip_icon Quick Tip
Maintain accountability and improve your eating habits by keeping a food journal. Note everything you consume, the time and location, and any thoughts or feelings that might have influenced your decisions.

This meal plan is simply a suggestion; you are free to alter it to suit your dietary preferences and restrictions. Scroll down to see some quick and delicious meals you can prepare while following this diet.

Volumetrics Diet Recipes

1. Vegetable Soup

Vegetable soup on the volumetrics diet
Image: Shutterstock

Ingredients

  •  1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 cup of diced potatoes
  • 1 cup of diced sweet potatoes
  • 2 cups of sliced mushrooms
  • 2 cups of chopped kale or spinach
  • 2 cups of vegetable broth
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon of dried thyme
  • Pepper and salt

Instructions

  • Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.
  • Add onion and garlic and sauté until they become translucent.
  • Add carrots and celery and sauté for another 5 mins.
  • Add potatoes, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, kale or spinach, vegetable broth, water, diced tomatoes, thyme, salt, and pepper.
  • Bring the soup to a boil, reduce to low heat, and let it simmer for 20-25 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
  • Taste and adjust the seasoning and serve the soup hot with whole wheat bread.

2. Baked Salmon With Quinoa And Vegetable Pilaf

Image: Shutterstock

Ingredients

For the salmon:

  • 4 (6 oz) salmon filets
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh herbs (parsley, dill, or basil)

For the quinoa and vegetable pilaf:

  • 1 cup of quinoa, rinsed
  • 2 cups of water or vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup of sliced mushrooms
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • Pepper and salt
  • 1/4 cup of chopped fresh parsley

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C).
  • Mix olive oil, lemon juice, herbs, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.
  • Place the salmon filets in a baking dish.
  • Brush the salmon with the olive oil mixture.
  • Bake the salmon for 12-15 minutes or until the salmon is cooked through.
  • In a medium saucepan, bring the quinoa and water or vegetable broth to a boil.
  • Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 18-20 minutes or until the quinoa is tender.
  • Next, heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.
  • Add onion, red bell pepper, mushrooms, and garlic and sauté for about 5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
  • Stir in cumin, salt, pepper, and sauté for an additional minute.
  • Stir in the cooked quinoa and fresh parsley.
  • Serve the salmon on top of the quinoa and vegetable pilaf.

The volumetrics diet is a generally healthy and balanced diet that can be beneficial for many people but may not be suitable for everyone. It is possible that people with specific medical issues or dietary limitations can’t adhere to it. Learn more in the next section.

Who Should Not Follow The Volumetrics Diet Plan

The following people are advised not to follow the volumetrics diet without consulting a health care provider or a certified dietician. The diet may not be tailored enough to meet their specific nutritional needs or may exacerbate their conditions or allergies. These include:

  • Those who are pregnant or breastfeeding (13)
  • Those with food allergies or sensitivities
  • Those with celiac diseasei  XA condition characterized by an immune response to consuming gluten, a protein that causes inflammation and impairs nutrient absorption. (14)
  • Those with chronic kidney diseasei  XA progressive kidney disorder where the organ's ability to remove waste from the body is reduced over time, leading to its failure. (15)
  • Those with diabetes or prediabetes (16)

Always talk to a health care provider or a registered dietitian before adopting any new diet, especially if you have any pre-existing medical condition or dietary restrictions.

Infographic: Volumetrics Diet: What To Eat And What To Avoid

The volumetrics diet concentrates on consuming high-fiber and low-calorie foods to fill you up. This plan is intended for those who wish to shed pounds healthily and feel full for an extended period. In the infographic below, we have listed the foods to eat and stay away from, along with tips that can help you achieve results with this diet.

volumetrics diet what to eat and what to avoid (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

The Final Word

The volumetrics diet is a weight loss plan that focuses on consuming low-density foods that are high in water and fiber and low in calories. This approach can help people feel full on fewer calories, leading to weight loss. Having a balanced diet and paying attention to portion sizes are essential to success. This is a flexible diet that enables you to make smarter decisions that support weight management and enhance your general health and well-being. Try out the volumetrics diet if you are seeking a healthy and efficient weight loss option!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the volumetrics diet healthy?

Yes, since the diet focuses on consuming nutritious foods and limiting the intake of processed foods. It is also a non-restrictive diet, which means you can eat a variety of foods and ensure you are getting all the nutrients your body needs. Fresh foods may also reduce inflammation, which can help you lose weight even if you are not cutting calories.

What is the percentage of fat in the volumetrics diet plan?

The volumetrics diet plan does not specify the exact percentage of fat to be included in it. However, it does recommend minimizing the consumption of saturated fati  XDietary fat that raises the levels of bad cholesterol in the body, increasing the risk of heart disease and other related issues. and promotes the intake of low-fat dairy products.

Can the Volumetrics Diet be combined with other eating plans or diets?

The volumetrics diet can be combined with other eating plans if it aligns with your personal dietary and health needs. You can incorporate a volumetrics diet in your existing dieting plan by simply choosing low-carb, high-fiber foods and limiting your intake of high-calorie and low-nutrient food items.

Key Takeaways

  • The volumetrics diet is a weight loss strategy that places more emphasis on food volume than on calorie intake. The objective is to lose weight while being satisfied.
  • Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins are foods high in fiber and water content.
  • The diet limits the intake of sugary drinks, high-fat meats, and processed foods.
  • Individuals with kidney problems, diabetes, food allergies, and celiac disease should consult a health care provider before following this diet.
Volumetrics Diet

Image: Stable Diffusion/StyleCraze Design Team

Learn how to lose weight by following the Volumetrics Diet! Watch this video to find out how to feel satisfied by eating healthy, low-calorie foods in your diet.

References

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. The Ultimate Volumetrics Diet: Smart, Simple, Science-Based Strategies for Losing Weight and Keeping It Off
    https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/96/3/681/4576922
  2. Health Benefits of Exercise
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6027933/
  3. Dietary energy density and obesity: how consumption patterns differ by body weight status
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27738811/
  4. Dietary energy density is associated with body mass index‐for‐age in Mexican adolescents
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7198965/
  5. The effects of high and low energy density diets on satiety, energy intake, and eating time of obese and nonobese subjects
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/6303104/
  6. Dietary energy density in the treatment of obesity: a year-long trial comparing 2 weight-loss diets
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2018610/
  7. Dietary Energy Density and Its Association with Overweight or Obesity in Adolescents: A Systematic Review of Observational Studies
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6266059/
  8. A Low Energy–Dense Diet in the Context of a Weight-Management Program Affects Appetite Control in Overweight and Obese Women
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6054218/
  9. Lower-energy-density diets are associated with higher monetary costs per kilocalorie and are consumed by women of higher socioeconomic status
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2907149/
  10. Dietary Energy Density Is Positively Associated with Risk of Pancreatic Cancer in Urban Shanghai Chinese
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3771813/
  11. Low energy density diet, weight loss maintenance, and risk of cardiovascular disease following a recent weight reduction program: A randomized control trial
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5122107/
  12. The rising cost of low-energy-density foods
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18060892/
  13. Macronutrient and Micronutrient Intake during Pregnancy: An Overview of Recent Evidence
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6413112/
  14. Dietary guidelines and implementation for celiac disease
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15825119/
  15. Diet and Chronic Kidney Disease
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6855949/
  16. Nutritional Recommendations for Individuals with Diabetes
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279012/
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