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
Written by Payal Karnik, Certified Health & Nutrition Life Coach
Edited by Ravi Teja Tadimalla, Professional Certificate In Food, Nutrition & Health
Fact-checked by Moksha Gandhi, BPharm, Certified Health & Wellness Coach  • 

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

Following a volumetrics diet may help with heart problems
Image: Shutterstock

There are several pros and cons to the volumetrics diet:

A happy woman following the volumetrics diet by checking off items from her grocery listPros
  1. 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.

  1. 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).

  1. 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).


  1. 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.

  1. 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).

  1. 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

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