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Dr. Rohi Shetty Dr. Rohi Shetty

The Volumetrics Weight–Control Plan is derived from 20 years of ground–breaking research on hunger and obesity by Dr. Barbara Rolls, PhD, a veteran nutrition researcher at the Pennsylvania State University. Volumetrics enables you to eat satisfying portions of delicious nutritious foods and still lose weight, without giving up flavor or diversity in your diet. Dr. Rolls has based her weight–management plan on two key concepts: satiety and energy–density of foods.

Satiety is the feeling of fullness after meals. The idea of Volumetrics was born when Dr. Rolls discovered that people feel full because of the quantity of food they eat. This feeling of satiety does not depend on the number of calories they eat or the grams of carbohydrates, protein or fat in a meal. People tend to eat the same amount of food in each meal. Once they have eaten a certain number of grams of food, the stomach signals the satiety center in the brain and the result is a feeling of fullness and satisfaction.

Dr. Rolls explains that satiety is the missing factor in weight management. The key to weight management is choosing foods that help you feel full with fewer calories. The absence of satiety is the main reason why most diet plans don’t work very well or for very long. When people are not satisfied at the end of a meal, they tend to eat more during the next meal.

Energy density means the number of calories in a specified amount of food. To calculate energy density from a food label, divide the calories in one serving by its weight in grams and you get the energy density of the food.
Number of calories in one serving=Energy Density
Weight in grams of the serving

Low–energy foods usually have a high content of water, fiber and nutrients. Dr. Rolls recommends that a large portion of the diet should contain low energy–density foods such as fruits, vegetables, soups, legumes, and low–fat dairy products. Also good are foods with moderate energy density such as beans, potatoes, pasta, rice, low–fat salad dressings, fish, and chicken without skin.

High energy foods contain more fat, sugar and refined carbohydrates and are less healthy. Some foods, especially fats, are very energy dense. They have a lot of calories packed into a small size. Foods filled with air such as breads and pretzels also have a high energy density. They are not high in calories but they are not filling either. So, you can eat a lot of bread without feeling full. High–energy foods that have two or more times as many calories as their weight such as beef, bacon, cheese, potato fries, ice cream, cookies, pastries and chocolates should be restricted in the diet.

How to Apply the Volumetrics Weight–Control Plan

  1. Set your own goals for weight loss. Volumetrics provides an approach for losing one to two pounds each week by reducing your daily food intake by 500 to 1000 calories. Monitor your progress using daily progress charts.
  2. Select foods using Volumetrics:
    1. Whenever possible, choose foods that have an energy density of 1.5 or less.
    2. Have smaller portions of foods with energy density of 1.5 to 4.
    3. Avoid or substitute or manage intake of foods with energy density of 4 or more.
  3. Integrate 30 to 60 minutes of moderate physical activity exercise into your daily life. Use a pedometer to count your steps with an initial goal is at least 6000 steps daily and an ultimate goal of 10,000 steps.

Advantages of Volumetrics

  1. Volumetrics gives you a means to manage your weight without having to count calories. Portion size and energy density independently contribute to the total calories of a meal. So, you can choose bigger portions of low–density foods and smaller portions of high–density foods.
  2. The ingredients that make foods less energy–dense are water and fiber. By adding water or water–rich foods like vegetables and minimizing oils, you can lower the energy–density of most dishes, allowing larger portions and increasing satiety.
  3. Volumetrics does not forbid you from having your favorite foods such as chocolate cake or potato fries. However, the focus on energy density helps you to see how many calories there are in some of your favorite foods. This may help you to stop after a few bites instead of eating the whole serving.
  4. Volumetrics is flexible and allows you to adapt the plan to your likes, dislikes and personal goals. You can also combine its concepts of satiety and energy–density with other diets.
  5. It is more effective to emphasize what people can eat rather than what they should not eat. Overweight families lost more weight when they were encouraged to eat more fruits and vegetables instead of being told not to eat foods rich in fat and sugar. The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans supports this view.
  6. The Volumetrics Plan emphasizes the importance and hidden benefits of regular exercise.

To conclude, the Volumetrics Weight–Control Plan is a well–researched practical approach to weight management. Unlike diets based on deprivation, the focus of Volumetrics is on the feeling of satiety produced by eating nutrient–rich foods with low energy density. Volumetrics allows you to eat more than you do now and still lose weight.

Contributed by: Dr. Rohi Shetty