What is volume eating?

What is volume eating?

October 13, 2021 4 min read

What is volume eating?

The instant dread that comes with food restrictions and portion limitations makes most weight loss diets incredibly tough to follow. It’s no surprise that most dieters fail on their quest to lose weight and if they do succeed,most of them regain the weight within a few months.  

While losing weight almost always requires consuming less calories than you burn, it doesn’t need to be so hard. The concept of volume eating has been around for several years and hasproven to be more successful than calorie-counting. This diet focuses on eating larger portions of low-calorie foods (think more fruits and vegetables) and less higher-calorie foods (dairy, meat, and processed snacks). This plan helps dieters not only lose weight, but keep it off long-term and develop healthier eating habits. 

How does volume eating work?

This plan focuses more on the energy density of food. Since light foods like dressings and sweeteners contain more calories while heavier foods like leafy greens and vegetables contain less, you’re naturally able to make healthier choices without restricting or counting. 

This mindsetallows you to eat larger portions full of hearty, filling veggies and fruits instead of cutting back on food. As a result, you’re less likely to get hungry and more likely to stay on track.

What are the benefits of volume eating?

The simplicity and lack of restriction helps dieters stick the plan longer and take advantage of the many proven benefits including: 

  •  Less restrictions.Focusing on volume eliminates the need to count calories and limit portions. Not only does this plan allow you to develop a healthier relationship with food, but it also feels less restrictive. Eating for volume allows you to eat the same portions you’re used to and feel full throughout the day.
  • Lose weight.Since you’re more likely to maintain this style of eating for a longer period of time, your chances of reaching your weight loss goals are higher. This plan can also create healthier eating habits that last long-term, so you’re able to better manage weight in the future.
  • More nutrients and minerals. Foods with the highest volumes include mostly fruits and vegetables which is whyplant-based diets offer some of the same benefits as volume eating. High-volume foods like leafy greens and whole grains are nutritious and contain high amounts of fiber.One study showed that people who increase their fiber intake are more likely to lose weight than those who do not prioritize fiber. 
  • Stay hydrated. Foods with high water content are often heavier in volume and more filling because of it. Eating more of these foods can help you stay hydrated and feeling more energized.

A man in a suit blows on the food on his fork as he raises it to his mouth


What foods are high in volume?

Most high-volume foods fall into three categories: vegetables, whole grain, and lean proteins. 

One of the many reasons this diet works for weight loss is because it helps dieters avoid high-calorie, low-volume foods like cookies, chips, and sugary cereals. By focusing on enjoying larger portions of these three food groups, you’re more likely to create healthy habits and keep weight off. 

Fruits and Vegetables

Filling your meals with plenty of greens and vegetables is the easiest way to eat more food with less calories. Greens like kale, spinach, lettuce and cabbage all contain more water and fiber than calories so you can enjoy several cups of greens a day without worrying about the calories. Fruits and vegetables with high water content include:

  • Apples
  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Grapefruit
  • Zucchini

Whole Grains

Whole grains have a lot more volume and fiber than airy, refined grains like white bread. They also include important nutrients like iron and magnesium that the body needs to function. Some of the highest volume grains include:

  • Whole-grain oats
  • Brown rice
  • Millet
  • Barley

Lean Protein

Lean proteins contain fewer calories than higher-fat proteins, so you can eat more of them without consuming more calories. You can swap out red meat and full-fat dairy for foods like chicken breast, salmon and non-fat yogurt. Beans and legumes are also good substitutes and sources of protein including: 

  • Kidney beans
  • Black beans
  • Black-eyed peas


people reach across plates full of food on a glass table with a wooden floor beneath it


In addition to these three food groups, our bodies still need healthy fats to keep our joints and heart healthy. Adding small amounts of olive oil, nuts, and avocados can make meals more delicious and keep the body functioning properly. 

How to cook high-volume meals?

Volume eating does require some planning and prepping, but it doesn’t need to be time-consuming.

If you’re able to prep your three food groups for the week, your meals don’t require a lot of cooking at all. Meal prepping your grains, proteins, and vegetables for the week helps you mix together filling bowls and salads within a few minutes and have healthy snacks ready.

If you’re tight on time, get pre-chopped vegetables foreasy sheet pan dinners to roast and keep in the fridge for the week. You can also use frozen fruits and veggies to make filling smoothies to take meals on the go. Volume-eating really allows you to get creative and try different combinations of foods so you’re never bored of eating the same thing twice. 

Is volume eating for you?

As with all diets, volume-eating isn’t for everyone. 

Athletes and those doing a lot of calorie-burning exercise need carbohydrates, calories, and fats to keep up their performance. Volume eating focuses on lower calorie foods with minimal carbohydrates and would not help those who are training. 

Also, increasing your fiber intake can cause some initial GI distress. If you do not currently eat a lot of fiber, try introducing these foods gradually to give the body time to adjust and reduce symptoms. Those with pre-existing GI conditions should consult their doctor before upping their fiber intake.

In Summary

Volume eating is a great way to incorporate more nutrients and fiber into your diet and lose weight in the process. Its non-restrictive nature makes this diet easy to follow and allows you to keep the weight off longer and build healthier lifestyle habits.

Regina Rayan - Contributing Writer, Physician's Choice

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