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Volume Eating: Weight Loss Strategy Pros, Cons, And How To Do It – Women’s Health

Oct 16th, 2023

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Volume eating is a method or approach that promotes eating high volume (read: high in water and fiber), yet low-energy foods, in an attempt to create a calorie deficit without feeling hungry, says Lisa Moskovitz, RD, a registered dietitian, CEO of Virtual Nutrition Experts, and the author of The Core 3 Healthy Eating Plan. By eating lower calorie, more voluminous foods such as fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein, you have the sensation of fullness yet you're able to keep calories at a minimum, she explains.

That said, volume eating may not be suitable for individuals with certain medical conditions, such as gastrointestinal disorders or those with food allergies or intolerances, says Jihad Kudsi, MD, an obesity medicine specialist, bariatric surgeon, and the chairman of the Department of Surgery at Duly Health and Care. In these cases, it's crucial to consult with a healthcare professional to assess whether volume eating aligns with your specific health needs and to explore alternative dietary approaches if necessary.

Meet the experts: Jihad Kudsi, MD, is an obesity medicine specialist, bariatric surgeon, and the chairman of the Department of Surgery at Duly Health and Care.

Dina Peralta-Reich, MD, is an obesity medicine specialist and founder of New York Weight Wellness Medicine.

Lisa Moskovitz, RD, is a registered dietitian, CEO of Virtual Nutrition Experts, and the author of The Core 3 Healthy Eating Plan.

Amanda Sauceda, RD, is a registered dietitian and founder of The Mindful Gut.

Intrigued about whether volume eating can help you lose weight in a healthy way? Keep scrolling for everything you need to know about the weight loss method including the pros and cons, and how to maximize its effects.

As the name implies, volume eating is a dietary approach focused on consuming larger quantities of foods that are low in calorie density but high in volume, such as vegetables and fruits, reiterates Dr. Kudsi. It's a strategy that allows individuals to feel full and satisfied while managing their calorie intake, he explains.

How it works: You prioritize foods with high water and fiber content, such as fruit and veggies, since they take up more space in the stomach, promoting fullness and reducing your overall calorie consumption, explains Dr. Kudsi.

For example, instead of eating a tablespoon of peanut butter, which is about 94 calories, you would opt for a tablespoon of applesauce at about 15 calories, says Amanda Sauceda, RD, a registered dietitian and founder of The Mindful Gut. Its the same portion size but a sizable difference in caloric value, she explains.

Maybe. Volume eating can be effective for weight loss since it provides the fullness factor without tons of calories, says Moskovitz. Most voluminous foods promoted through this approach are higher in fiber which can slow digestion, helping you feel fuller for a longer period of time, and research shows that volume eating can be effective, especially for those who depend on larger amounts of foods to feel content, she explains.

However, it's also crucial to consider the long-term perspective. Statistics show that within two years, most dieters experience weight regain, says Dr. Kudsi. While calorie-restricting diets are often successful at initiating weight loss, they frequently fall short in supporting sustained weight management.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, which may include aspects like volume eating or a plant-based whole-food diet, can be pivotal, but it's also vital to recognize that obesity is a multifaceted condition influenced by genetics and hormones and may require guidance from a doctor, Dr. Kudsi adds.

Because volume eating requires you to load up on the fruits and vegetables you will have a higher intake of essential vitamins, minerals, gut-friendly fiber, and disease-fighting antioxidants, says Moskovitz. To maximize your nutrient intake, Sauceda suggests eating a variety of colors which should equate to a variety of nutrients.

In addition to taking longer to digest, therefore helping with the fullness factor, most fiber-packed fruits and vegetables have high water content which provides even more volume without the calories, in turn keeping you satisfied, Dr. Kudsi explains.

However, its also important to incorporate protein and healthy fats into your diet to help you stay full for the long-run, says Dina Peralta-Reich, MD, an obesity medicine specialist and founder of New York Weight Wellness Medicine.

To lose weight, you need to consume fewer calories than you burn, and volume eating can help achieve this by allowing you to eat larger portions of food while simultaneously lowering your overall caloric intake, says Dr. Peralta-Reich.

A common mistake of volume eating is sacrificing quality for quantity, says Dr. Kudsi. While volume eating can help control calorie intake, it's essential to choose nutrient-dense options and not rely solely on low-calorie, processed foods, he explains.

Remember those popular 100-calorie prepackaged snacks from back in the day? They may technically be lower in cals than a handful of raw nuts (which are loaded with healthy fats and anti-inflammatory properties), but theyre also much less nutritious, notes Sauceda.

Large amounts of fibrous foods like fruits and veggies can be hard for the body to break down and digest which may cause gas, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea, says Moskovitz.

To help prevent discomfort, its best to introduce high-fiber foods slowly, and not all at once, so your body has time to acclimate and adjust, adds Sauceda.

Eating more low-calorie food is the goal of volume eating, but it can also make eating larger amounts of food a hardwired habit, says Moskovitz.

When there are no low-calorie voluminous foods accessible, overeating other calorie-dense foods may feel like an impulse, so its important to always stay mindful of quantity, quality, and portion control, she explains.

High-volume eating generally increases the amount of vitamins and minerals youre consuming, but its also possible to be deficient in protein and fat if not done correctly, says Dr. Peralta-Reich.

Therefore, you need to be aware of your food choices and be sure to include portions of lean protein like fish, chicken, eggs, and turkey and whole grains such as quinoa, brown rice, farro, and whole grain bread, she explains.

If you find yourself hyper-focused on portion size and calories, volume eating can be problematic and could lead to unhealthy forms of restrictive eating, says Sauceda. In the same vein, if you have a history of eating disorders, volume eating should be avoided or discussed with a doctor or registered dietitian, she adds.

Eating large volumes of food can be a healthy habit as long as youre mindful of providing your body with the essential nutrients it needs throughout the day, says Dr. Peralta-Reich. This means including a variety of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats (avocado, nuts, seeds, and olive oil) to ensure youre eating a balanced diet that provides your body with optimal nourishment, she explains.

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Another pro tip? Try pairing fruits and vegetables with heart-healthy, energy-dense foods like extra virgin olive oil, almonds, avocados, chia seeds, fatty fish, whole grains, and cheese, says Moskovitz. These high-fat foods may have more calories, but theyre also important for the absorption of vitamins, and they make food more palatable and enjoyable, she adds.

Additionally, dont get too caught up in calorie counting, says Sauceda. Calorie counting is a different strategy and just because a food is higher in calories doesnt mean you should eliminate it, she explains. Volume eating is only healthy and helpful if you prioritize variety and get all the necessary daily nutrients, Moskovitz stresses. When it comes to healthy eating, variety beats volume and quality overrides quantity.

Lastly, its always best to talk to a doctor or registered dietitian before embarking on a diet, especially if youre hoping for long-term, sustainable results, says Moskovitz. From there, they can help you build healthy eating habits and create a personalized plan based on your goals.

The concept of volume eating can be beneficial, but anything in extreme has its pitfalls, says Moskovitz. Your best bet? Embrace a long-term lifestyle change by focusing on whole, unprocessed foods to not only enhance satiety and nutrient intake, but also to support sustained health and well-being, adds Dr. Kudsi.

Andi Breitowich is a Chicago-based writer and graduate student at Northwestern Medill. Shes a mass consumer of social media and cares about womens rights, holistic wellness, and non-stigmatizing reproductive care. As a former collegiate pole vaulter, she has a love for all things fitness and is currently obsessed with Peloton Tread workouts and hot yoga.

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Volume Eating: Weight Loss Strategy Pros, Cons, And How To Do It - Women's Health

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