Watching my sister cry when she saw my mom take a casserole dish of manicotti out of the oven was a revealing moment that showed just how crazy fad diets make people.
My beautiful sister, you see, stuck strictly to the South Beach Diet for a few weeks, had lost only a few pounds and, under the guidelines, couldn’t consume the pasta-and-cheese dish. Her husband, on the other hand, had lost 20 pounds during the same time period.
Anyone who tries a highly restrictive diet knows that feeling of despair, especially if the progress is small compared to what you’re sacrificing. That’s why HellaWella.com advocates for healthy and sustainable eating as a lifestyle and not a fad diet that will help you quickly lose weight only to put it all back on and more. Enter the Volumetrics Diet, which neither restricts what you eat or how much you eat. Sounds too good to be true, right? Let’s take a look and how this method works.
The Volumetrics Diet caught my attention because I lovingly refer to my appetite as bottomless. I’m constantly looking for ways to fuel my body without gorging or starving. U.S. News and World Report had the Volumetrics Diet on its list of top methods for healthy eating and losing weight for 2014. The premise is that eating a high volume of low-density (i.e., low-calorie) foods will keep you satisfied and losing weight. It’s an approach to eating, rather than a structured diet. You have our attention, Volumetrics.
So what are we talking about when we say low- and high-density foods? We’re talking about the amount of energy packed into a serving size. Volumetrics is about finding foods that fill you up with a small amount of calories and then eating a lot of them. Low-density foods are those with a small amount of calories for the portion size. For example, a serving size of carrots, a low-density food, will fill you up more than the same serving size of peanuts, a high-density food.
Barbara Rolls, PhD, who created the Volumetrics Diet, places foods into four categories: fruits, non-starch vegetables and soups to eat anytime; reasonable portions of whole grains, lean proteins, legumes and low-fat dairy; small portions of breads, desserts, cheeses and high-fat meats; and the smallest “treats” of cookies, fried foods, nuts and fats. Alcohol should be consumed in moderation, as it is high in calories and doesn’t fill you up.
Fruits, veggies and soups are all water-based, which helps fill you up at a low number of calories, which is why they have the most leeway.
The biggest con to eating a Volumetrics diet, if you can call this a negative, is that since this is a lifestyle change and not a short-term program, you will drop weight over time, not all at once. A second downside to Volumetrics is that while you don’t have foods that are off-limits, you’ll most likely not like this method of eating if you don’t like fruits, vegetables or soups. The last major area of caution is that meal preparation can be tedious, because you have to identify which foods are high-density and which are low-density, especially for those who don’t cook.