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The Volumetrics Diet

When you go on a diet, how do you feel? Are you happy and energized, or cranky and starving? Many diets, especially fad diets, require a drastic reduction in food intake, and that's one of the biggest reason people cheat. And as we all know, cheating on a diet leads to failure.

A diet that leaves us feeling full while cutting fat and calories might seem like a pipe dream, but according to nutritionist Barbara Rolls, it's not. By eating foods with a low calorie density, we can feel satiated without adding pounds. This is the idea behind the Volumetrics eating plan.

Rolls literally wrote the book on Volumetrics. As director of the Laboratory for the Study of Human Ingestive Behavior at Penn State, she has done extensive research on eating habits. Her first book, The Volumetrics Weight-Control Plan, was published in 2002. She followed it up in 2007 with The Volumetrics Eating Plan, which includes more recipes.

What Is Calorie Density?

The Volumetrics approach to weight loss relies on the concept of calorie density. Just as it sounds, calorie density represents the number of calories in a given volume of food. For example, consider a cookie and a slice of apple, both of which weigh the same amount. The cookie has more calories than the apple slice, therefore it has a greater calorie density.

The least calorie dense foods have a high water content. Since water contains no calories, the calorie content of such foods is less than the same amount of a food that is made up primarily of oil. Yet both foods are similarly filling.

Fruits and vegetables are among the least calorie-dense foods because they are usually 80 to 95 percent water. Other foods with a low calorie density include broth, skim milk and vegetable soup. Foods that are dense in calories include nuts, chocolate, chips and butter.

The concept of calorie density is also applied to cooking. Egg whites are substituted for whole eggs, applesauce is used in place of oil, and skim milk is used instead of whole milk. Such substitutions make it possible to enjoy many of our old favorites without eating as many calories.

The Volumetrics Eating Plan includes listings of the energy density of many popular foods, as well as a formula for calculating the calorie density of any food. It also provides guidance on increasing physical activity. Rolls also suggests that dieters keep a record of the foods they eat and the physical activities they participate in so that they may identify problem areas.

Volumetrics is reported to have a high success rate, and it is reasonably easy to follow. It is also less restrictive than most diets, allowing even calorie-dense foods in small amounts. Those who attribute their diet failures to constant hunger will find that the Volumetrics Eating Plan is a welcome change of pace.

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