Eating less is better, right? WRONG! A huge misconception of those who are trying to lose weight or are just starting their fitness journeys is that you need to restrict yourself to the point of constant hunger in order to reach your goals. This is not true. In fact, if you have this sort of mentality, you are likely destroying your metabolism. In my experience, eating for volume is the most important thing to do to lose weight.
I have a huge appetite so I’m always looking for ways to eat as much as possible while still sticking to my calorie goal. I love feeling satisfied after I eat, but I also love to eat low-calorie meals so that I can eat every few hours. How can I make this work? Let me tell you! I eat for volume. This means that I focus on eating large quantities of low-density, low-calorie foods. The base of each of my meals revolves around vegetables. Eating in this manner ensures that I get the satisfaction of eating an entire plate of food as well as feeling full after I eat.
Eating for volume works because:
Calories and quantity are not directly correlated in food. For example, 100 grams of brussel sprouts contains 47 calories, while 100 grams of sweet potato contains 86 calories.
The stomach can only hold so much food. If you load up on low-calorie foods, you will have less space for high-calorie foods.
Here are my top suggestions to eat for volume:
Load up on vegetables. Like mentioned above, the base of my meals revolves around vegetables. Then I figure out what to add for protein and complex carbohydrates. Half of my plate is filled with vegetables, while the other half is protein and carbohydrates. For example, maybe the base of my stir fry will be riced cauliflower or my spaghetti bowl will start with a large serving of zucchini noodles. Maybe I’ll throw that grilled chicken on top of a large salad. The possibilities are endless. NEVER EAT A MEAL THAT IS NOT ACCOMPANIED BY VEGETABLES.
Add seasonings. Vegetables are not blah! There are a million ways to spice things up (literally). Some of my favorite seasonings are nutritional yeast, minced garlic and onion, garlic and onion powder, and everything but the bagel seasoning. You don’t have to eat raw vegetables either. Sauté them in some water or cook them lightly coated with 0-calorie cooking spray.
Start with a salad. If my dinner is not already salad-based, I will have a small salad before my actual dinner. Salads are low-calorie and high volume, of course this depends what you put on them. If you stick to leafy greens, other veggies, and a fat-free or sugar-free dressing, you will be eating no more than 50 calories for a massive bowl of greens. Dressings I recommend are sugar-free or fat-free balsamic vinaigrette. A good goal is to use a dressing that has no more than 10 calories per tablespoon. The brand skinnygirl is phenomenal (found at Walmart). Another good alternative for salad dressing is apple cider vinegar with a dash of salt.
Add leafy greens. Again, leafy greens will add a ton of volume at the expense of very few calories. Try adding a handful of spinach to your scrambled eggs, smoothies and other blended drinks, stir fry, and any baked dishes. Spinach is great because it doesn’t have much of a taste and it’s very versatile. It can be sautéed, baked into dishes, or be eaten raw.
What are the benefits of eating this way?
You will feel full.
You will get to eat a lot of food.
You will be getting lots of fiber, improving your digestive health.
You will be sure to get all your micronutrients, vitamins, and minerals, improving your overall well-being.
You will stay hydrated. Vegetables are mostly water.
You will be mentally satisfied knowing you get to eat large quantities of food, making it easier for dietary adherence.
My go-to low-density foods and calories per 100 grams:
Carrots (41 calories)
Brussel Sprouts (47 calories)
Cauliflower (25 calories)
Broccoli (34 calories)
Asparagus (20 calories)
Leafy Greens: Spinach, Romaine, Kale (20 calories)
Zucchini (17 calories)
Assorted Squash (40 calories)
Cucumber (16 calories)
Tomato (18 calories)
Blueberries (51 calories)
Strawberries ( 33 calories)
Raspberries (53 calories)
Apples (52 calories)
Nonfat Cottage Cheese (70 calories)
Nonfat Greek Yogurt (60 calories)
Egg Whites (52 calories)
Chicken Breast (88 calories)
Remember, just because these foods are “healthy” and low in calorie does not mean you can eat unlimited amounts of them.
I hope that this blog post has sparked some ideas for you to incorporate into your own life. Eating for volume has been a huge game-changer in my journey and I owe a lot of my success to it. Give this way of eating a try and I know you will be successful, too!