Granola or an English breakfast? How to eat more and lose weight

The approach of Volumetrics can keep you feeling full while eating fewer calories. Too good to be true? Not quite

Racha Adib

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Pioneered by Penn State university nutrition Professor Barbara Rolls, the approach of Volumetrics can keep you feeling full while eating fewer calories. Too good to be true? Not quite.

Volumetrics works around the concept of energy density which in simple terms means the amount of calories contained in food in relation to its volume.

Infographic: Eat more, gain less
Infographic: Eat more, gain less

For example, foods high in water, such as vegetables, are not energy dense because water makes up most of its volume and weight. As result, they don’t pack in a lot of calories and they make you feel full. Other than vegetables, soups (some of which are 80% water), grapefruit (90% water), and yogurt (75% water) are also on the list of high volume, low energy dense foods.

Another fundamental aspect of Volumetrics is fiber. High-fiber foods, such as whole grains, not only provide volume, but also take longer to digest. The end result? You feel full longer and on fewer calories.

Does it work?

In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2007, 97 obese women were either assigned to a low-fat diet or a low fat and low energy dense diet that emphasized fruits and vegetable consumption. After one year, both groups lost weight, however the group on the low energy dense diet lost more weight (6.5kg mean average) compared to the group that was only on a low-fat diet (4.9kg mean average).

In another study, researchers investigated weight loss on a low-density diet. 200 overweight and obese adults were placed on a low-density diet and divided into four groups based on the snacks they were given. Group 1 got one serving of soup a day, group 2 got two servings of soup, and group 3 got two daily dry snacks like crackers. After one year, Group 2, which were having 2 soup servings, lost the most (7.2kg), compared to Group 1 which were having only 1 soup serving (6.1kg) and Group 3 which were having 2 dry snacks (4.8kg).

Both studies suggests that a diet rich in low energy dense foods is an effective way to drop the extra weight.

Case in point

Let’s look at some food comparisons to get a clearer understanding behind the concept of Volumetrics and the way it effects your satiety level and your weight.

It takes a huge plate of fruits to equate the calories of just one cinnamon roll.

One cinnamon roll is 480 calories.

Plate of fruits is 480 calories.

It takes you less than a minute to drink a glass of orange juice (350ml). That same amount of juice is equivalent to 3 oranges, which would be quite difficult to eat all at once! Additionally, the whole orange contains more fiber than its juiced counterpart.

1 glass orange juice is 170 calories.

3 whole oranges is 170 calories.

When it comes to French fries, every bite counts! They’re loaded with fat, not the healthy kind, and are very calorific. On the other hand, celery sticks can take you a long way.

2 French Fries is 30 calories

2 cups celery sticks is 30 calories

Soups are a great way to eat less especially if they’re the low calorie type. Choose tomato or vegetable based soups and stay away from the creamy ones. It’s much more filling and healthy compared to a sliver of pepperoni pizza, don’t you think?

2 cups minestrone soup is 160 calories

1/16 pepperoni pizza is 160 calories

Granola is trending these days, although its high in both fat and sugar. Look at what you can have as an alternative to only 1 cup of granola.

4 toasts, 2 eggs, and 2 sliced tomatoes is 600 calories

1 cup of granola is 600 calories

Also on the list of trends, bagels are delicious yet quite dense. One average bagel is equivalent to 20 fresh apricots.

20 fresh apricots is 300 calories

1 bagel is 300 calories

A blueberry muffin sounds quite healthy, but just one muffin can contain a whopping 400 calories. How about popcorn as an alternative snack?

1 blueberry muffin is 400 calories

15 cups popcorn is 400 calories

“I just have coffee in the morning” is a statement we hear often. Sometimes “just having coffee” can weigh heavily in terms of calories. Just look at what you can have instead of only one coffee frappe.

1 iced coffee frappe is 500 calories

Whole grain turkey sandwich, side salad, 1 banana, 1 fruit yogurt, 1 cup berries is 500 calories

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