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12 High-Volume Low-Calorie Foods For Weight Loss

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12 High-Volume Low-Calorie Foods For Weight Loss

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways

  • Volume eating, sometimes called volumetrics, involves eating large portions of high-volume, low-calorie foods to help you feel full. This may make it easier to lose weight.
  • No foods are off limits with volume eating. This makes it a more sustainable way of eating than other diet plans.
  • It’s important to include healthy fats and lean proteins in your volume eating plan to ensure you’re not missing these important nutrients.

Volume eating promotes eating high-volume, low-calorie foods in large portions to increase your satisfaction from a meal without increasing calories.

With volume eating, no foods are off limits–you can still choose to eat more calorie-dense foods in smaller portions.

Read on to learn how volume eating works and tips for including high-volume, low-calorie foods in your weight loss plan.

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What is Volume Eating?

Volume eating promotes eating high-volume, low-calorie foods to maintain a calorie deficit and lose weight while still eating large portions.

It’s based on the Volumetrics diet that nutrition scientist Barbara Rolls, PhD created in the early 2000s. 

The basic principle of volume eating is that no foods are off limits but that you should eat larger quantities of high-volume, low-calorie foods.

These include fruits, non-starchy vegetables, certain whole grains, and lean proteins.

It’s thought that by choosing these foods, which are typically high in fiber and water, you won’t feel as hungry as on other weight loss plans.

Since many of these foods are hard to chew, eating more of these foods may also help you stop eating so fast

Before embarking on any weight loss plan, keeping weight in perspective is important.

Many factors can cause your weight to fluctuate, and the number on the scale isn’t always the best indicator of health.

If you struggle with your relationship with food, it’s worth speaking with a dietitian before trying volume eating, as it could trigger rigidity and food rules.

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12 High-Volume Low-Calorie Foods

Here are 12 of our favorite high-volume, low-calorie foods, plus tips to include them in a balanced diet.

1. Leafy Greens

Leafy greens like spinach, kale, Swiss chard, arugula, and romaine lettuce are great additions to your volume eating plan.

Include them in your diet by:

  • Adding spinach leaves to soups or stir-fries.
  • Using arugula to spice up salads, pizzas, sandwiches, or wraps.
  • Using whole lettuce leaves as an alternative to tortillas.

2. Cauliflower

Cauliflower continues to be a favorite low-calorie staple, and with good reason.

Its mild flavor means it can be added to many different dishes without impacting the overall flavor profile.

Enjoy it by:

  • Substituting half the potatoes in your mashed potato recipe for cauliflower.
  • Air-frying cauliflower until crispy, then tossing in your favorite wing sauce.
  • Adding a small amount of steamed cauliflower to your smoothie to boost nutrients without changing the flavor.

3. Legumes

Legumes such as beans, chickpeas, and lentils are packed with fiber and protein, making them the perfect high-volume, low-calorie addition to your meals.

Include them by:

  • Mix cooked and cooled legumes into your salads.
  • Blending cooked and cooled chickpeas or white beans into your smoothies for a boost of fiber and protein that doesn’t change the flavor significantly.
  • Making burger patties by mixing black beans, chickpeas, or lentils with breadcrumbs, spices, and an egg. Grill or bake in the oven.

4. Zucchini

Zucchini is a versatile summer vegetable that can be prepared in many ways.

Not sure where to start?

Here are three tips for adding zucchini to your meals:

  • Use a spiralizer to turn zucchini into noodles. Toss with your favorite pasta sauce or pesto.
  • Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds to create a “boat.” Fill with lean protein, vegetables, and cheese, then bake until bubbly.
  • Sneak some veggies into your breakfast by grating zucchini into pancake batter. Top with yogurt and fruit.

5. Cucumber

With its high water content, cucumber is an excellent high-volume, low-calorie food to include in your volume eating plan.

Here are some tasty ways to add cucumber to your diet:

  • Mix grated cucumber with Greek yogurt, garlic, and dill to create a nutritious dip. Serve with chopped veggies or whole-grain crackers.
  • Hollow out bell peppers and stuff them with a mix of diced cucumber, feta cheese, quinoa, and herbs.
  • Combine cucumber noodles (made using a spiralizer) with shredded carrots, cooked chicken breast, green onions, and a sesame-ginger dressing for a satisfying noodle salad.

6. Watermelon

Is there anything better than enjoying freshly sliced watermelon on a hot summer day?

With its high water content, watermelon is the perfect fruit to add to your meal plan.

Enjoy it by:

  • Blending watermelon with fresh mint and freezing in popsicle molds for a refreshing dessert.
  • Mixing cubed watermelon with feta cheese, mint, and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.
  • Sprinkling watermelon slices with chili lime seasoning for a sweet and spicy snack.

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7. Fish

Fish is one of the best foods to keep you full because it’s rich in protein and omega-3 fatty acids.

Here are some easy ways to add fish to your diet:

  • Season with herbs, lemon, and a dash of olive oil and grill or bake.
  • Make fish tacos using grilled fish filets topped with cabbage slaw and salsa and served in a corn tortilla.
  • Mix canned tuna with chickpeas, cherry tomatoes, red onion, parsley, olive oil, lemon juice, and salt.

8. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are a great source of nutrients like lycopene, potassium, iron, folate, and vitamin C.

Lycopene is a potent antioxidant that protects your DNA from damage.

Here are a few ways to add tomatoes to your diet:

  • Dice tomatoes and mix with bell peppers, onions, cilantro, and lime juice for a quick and easy salsa.
  • Make a Caprese salad by layering sliced tomatoes with fresh mozzarella cheese, basil leaves, and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
  • Top whole-wheat toast with sliced tomatoes and avocado.

9. Chicken Breast

Chicken breast without the skin is one of the best high-volume, low-calorie proteins you can choose, at just over 100 calories per 100-gram serving.

It’s versatile and can be incorporated into many different dishes:

  • Marinate chicken breast in your favorite herbs and spices with olive oil. Grill until fully cooked.
  • Make chicken and vegetable skewers by cubing chicken breasts and threading them onto skewers with vegetables. Grill or bake until the chicken is cooked through.
  • Take baked chicken and layer it on a whole-wheat tortilla with lettuce, tomatoes, and red onion.

10. Strawberries

They may be small, but strawberries are packed with nutrients such as minerals, vitamin C, folate, and antioxidants.

Plus, research shows that strawberries can help reduce inflammation and blood pressure, making them the perfect addition to your diet.

Here are some ways to include strawberries in your volume eating plan:

  • Blend frozen strawberries with Greek yogurt and a splash of milk for a vitamin-packed smoothie.
  • Make overnight oats by combining sliced strawberries, oats, yogurt, and a dash of honey. Refrigerate overnight.
  • Toss sliced strawberries with baby spinach, goat cheese, and vinaigrette dressing.

11. Mushrooms

From common white button mushrooms to large portobello mushrooms to long, slender enoki mushrooms, mushrooms provide a unique flavor and texture to any meal.

Here are some ways to include mushrooms in your next dish:

  • Hollow out mushroom caps and fill them with herbs and cheese. Bake until golden.
  • Add sliced mushrooms to a barley or wild rice soup.
  • Stuff chicken breasts with sautéed mushrooms, spinach, and cheese. Bake until the chicken is cooked through.

12. Popcorn

Popcorn is a whole grain and is naturally low in calories.

At under 100 calories for three cups (popped), air-popped popcorn is the perfect high-volume, low-calorie food for when you’re craving something crunchy.

Here are some ideas for seasoning your air-popped popcorn:

  • Combine Sriracha sauce with lime zest and a small amount of salt, and drizzle over your popcorn.
  • Mix nutritional yeast with garlic powder and sprinkle over your popcorn.
  • Sprinkle popcorn with everything bagel seasoning.

Benefits of Incorporating Volume Eating into Your Diet

The main benefit of incorporating volume eating into your diet is how it helps you feel full with a lower calorie intake. 

One of the ways volume eating promotes feelings of fullness is by stretching your stomach.

There are receptors in your stomach that get activated when you eat.

When activated, they signal to your brain that you’re full, leading to decreased feelings of hunger.

This may help you eat less overall, contributing to weight loss.

Another benefit of volume eating is that it promotes the intake of nutrient-dense foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

This is beneficial for overall health–not just weight loss. 

Takeaway

Volume eating involves eating high-volume, low-calorie foods to reduce hunger.

This may help with weight loss. 

It’s important to remember that volume eating doesn’t mean only eating high-volume, low-calorie foods.

These foods, while healthy, do not provide a balanced meal on their own. Instead, balance your plate with lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats

How a Dietitian Can Help

If you’re struggling to lose weight, a dietitian can help.

They can help you come up with an eating plan that is both delicious and satisfying.

At Nourish, our dietitians are skilled at supporting people with their weight loss goals. Find a dietitian near you today.

Frequently Asked Questions

What foods are high in volume but low in calories?

Fruits and non-starchy vegetables are high-volume, low-calorie foods.

Certain whole grains (like air-popped popcorn made without added oil or butter) are also high-volume, low-calorie foods.

What foods fill you up without gaining weight?

Any food can cause weight gain if you eat it in large enough quantities.

However, foods that help fill you out without providing large amounts of calories include fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains.

What are high protein, low calorie, and high volume foods?

Some high-protein, low-calorie, high-volume foods include chicken or turkey breast, fish, eggs, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, tofu, and legumes such as beans, chickpeas, and lentils.

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