What is volume eating?
Volume eating allows you to still consume large volumes of food without consuming a large number of calories at the same time. It is based on the energy density of the food. This means that for the same weight, the number of kilojoules in food varies depending on the type of food. For example, 1 cup of vegetables contains 100-350kJ, whereas 1 cup of milk contains 500-600kJ. This does not mean you should be eating only vegetables, but adding some fruit and vegetables to bulk out the volume of your meals can keep you feeling satisfied without the added energy intake.
The reason this can be beneficial is that our stomach has the same capacity, or volume of space to hold food, regardless of the food we actually eat. This means the amount of food we need to feel full is based on the volume of food we eat rather than the energy of the food.
How does volume eating work?
The reason foods like fruit and vegetables are low energy density is because they are made up of large amounts of water and fibre, which are both very low in energy. This allows you to consume large volumes of fruit and vegetables, making you feel full and satisfied, without adding a large number amount of energy to your meal. Plus, the fibre in fruit and vegetables keeps you feeling satisfied for longer.
Volume eating is a game-changer when it comes to meeting your nutrition goals. Instead of thinking you can only eat small amounts of food, it’s all about tailoring the way you fill your plate to suit your requirements. This new positive mindset when it comes to filling your plate will not only prevent you from being left hungry, but it will also prevent you from feeling deprived of the foods you love. Volume eating allows you to enjoy some pizza with your friends whilst still meeting your nutrition goals. Rather than eating a whole pizza (a meal which is often energy-dense), why not enjoy a slice or two with a large salad on the side. By filling up half your plate with salad vegetables you still get to enjoy your pizza (in an amount which aligns with your goals) and you won’t be left hungry afterwards.
Volume eating to suit you
There is not a one size fits all approach when it comes to volume eating. Depending on your nutrition goals, the ratios of the foods you are consuming will differ. The make-up of your plate will differ depending on whether you are an active or more sedentary person, as well as whether you are looking to maintain or lose weight.
For example, an active person looking to maintain their weight or build lean muscle may have a plate which consists of more energy-dense foods. On the other hand, if weight loss is your goal, your plate may consist of fewer energy-dense foods and a larger amount of lower energy foods. Whilst the volume of food consumed will be similar between individuals, the number of kilojoules you consume will vary depending on your nutrition goals. As a general rule, a plate model for fat loss would be 1/4 protein, 1/4 whole grain carbohydrates and 1/2 plate of colour – salad or vegetable which are low in energy value, with a little bit of healthy fat for flavour, satiety and beneficial health properties.