Losing weight is hard. And although that sounds like the most obvious statement in the world, sometimes it helps to hear it again.
Weight-loss journeys are made up of a lot of trial and error. It takes time to figure out which way of doing things suits you, your lifestyle, and your body best. What’s helpful for one person might not be for another.
There are a million weight-loss hacks that people claim help them to shed pounds. Katy lost 43 pounds by going Keto! That’s great for Katy, but for most people, fad diets and unsustainable approaches are only going to lead to frustration when they figure out it’s not giving them any long-term results.
Volume eating is a little different. It’s not a diet, and it’s not a programme for losing weight. It’s an effective tactic people use to help them eat more, for less. It champions nutrient-dense foods and allows for larger portion sizes. Sounds pretty appealing so far.
What are weight-loss tactics?
Although there might be numerous routes to get there, weight-loss boils down to one thing only—a calorie deficit. The only way that the body will lose weight is if it’s in a calorie deficit.
That means you burn more calories than you consume over a prolonged period. It doesn’t matter what you eat or how you exercise; if the amount of energy being spent by the body is more than the amount of energy going in, you will lose weight.
Weight loss tactics, therefore, are all about making it easier to put this into practice. Whatever helps you to implement a calorie deficit into your lifestyle is a weight-loss hack.
For example, some people fast until midday before having their first meal because it helps them lose weight. Contrary to what some might think, this has nothing to do with increasing your metabolism or burning more fat in the morning. The reason it works for some people is that it reduces the time in a day spent eating. Consequently, they eat less overall. It’s a way for them to create a calorie deficit that feels easier.
What makes a good weight loss tactic?
The golden rule, of course, is that it has to help you create a calorie deficit. That should be the core focus.
Some weight-loss tactics are a little misguided. They create a calorie deficit by accident but are aimed at achieving something else. The best thing to do when toying with new tactics is to ask yourself whether it will help you burn more calories than you consume over the week.
The second thing to consider is sustainability. Unfortunately, some weight loss approaches can be pretty harsh on both the body and the mind. They ask for things that make your lifestyle rather restrictive. It’s just not worth it. Nobody should be miserable in the name of losing weight.
The best weight-loss tactics are sustainable ones. Anything that you can keep up for a prolonged period whilst impacting your lifestyle most minimally is the best option to go for. Losing weight doesn’t happen overnight, so the best tactics aren’t ones that boast instant results. They boast more permanent results, though.
Other things to consider when choosing a weight-loss approach is whether it prioritises nutrition and health too. Doing this will make you feel much better and give you more energy for your weight loss journey. Eat nutrient-rich foods like proteins, vegetables, and fruits. Get enough sleep every night. Drink plenty of water. And don’t burn yourself into the ground by exercising too much.
What is volume eating?
Volume eating, as a recognised term, is relatively new. It describes eating large volumes of food for fewer the number of calories. High-volume, low-density foods.
When volume eating, your plate needs to be made up of foods that take up a lot of space without taking up a large percentage of your daily calories.
An awareness of the number of calories in different types of foods underpins any successful diet. Volume eating takes this one step further. Knowing which foods help you bulk out a meal without contributing much to overall calories is the key to using it as a weight-loss hack.
Meal A is 100g of dried pasta, 100g chicken, 25g of pesto, and 30g of cheese.
Meal B is 100g of dried pasta, 100g mushrooms, 100g of courgettes, a tablespoon of Crème Fraiche, and half a bag of rocket.
Size-wise, these two are going to look pretty similar on a plate. In fact, meal B might even look a little bigger. It’ll easily fill up a large-sized pasta bowl. The difference is in the calories. Neither are made from unrealistic quantities of anything. In fact, you’ve got the same amount of pasta in each. But the calorie breakdown tells an important story.
Meal A: 450 calories of pasta, 165 calories of chicken, 150 calories of pesto, 89 calories of cheese. Total = 854 calories
Meal B: 450 calories of pasta, 22 calories of mushrooms, 17 calories of courgettes, 45 calories of crème Fraiche, 6 calories of rocket. Total = 540 calories
A 300-calorie difference in a meal is a big deal when it comes to calories. Both options are both satisfying and filling. But one is going to help you create a calorie deficit much better than the other.
What are the benefits of volume eating?
Volume eating allows you to eat meals that aren’t restrictive when it comes to portion size. This is really helpful for the mental side of reducing calorie intake. When the amount on your plate looks large, and it takes you a while to eat, you’ll finish a meal satisfied without thinking it was over in a heartbeat.
When done right, volume eating is a way to eat fewer calories without really even noticing. This increased awareness of calories will help you make effective choices for food without impacting your lifestyle and your day-to-day happiness too much.
Because high volume, low-calorie foods are often found in vegetables and fruit, volume eating promotes a nutrient-dense diet too. This is really important for prioritising health and wellness as well as the desire to lose weight.
5 tips for volume eating
1. Pick what’s pride of place
Every meal should be satisfying and well balanced. It shouldn’t all be made up of high volume but low-calorie foods. Build your meal around something that tastes great and offers your body something.
For example, a protein like chicken, fish, or tofu might be the star of the show. Or it could be a carb like pasta, rice, or a pizza base. There’s always room for this stuff; it’s what you decorate around it that makes the difference.
2. Add a layer of leaves
The easiest way to bulk out a meal is to add some sort of leafy green to it. Stir in some spinach to your chilli. Build your salad on a bed of lettuce. Add in some rocket to your pasta.
By decreasing the amount of something else and adding greens, you can reduce the number of calories your dish contains without even noticing.
3. Keep an eye on toppings, condiments, and sauces
Hidden or unknown calories in things like sauces, toppings, or condiments are common culprits of high-calorie meals that don’t look like they should be.
Have a look into the highest and lowest-calorie options for salad dressings, pasta sauces, dips, and toppings to understand whether they’re really worth including in your meal.
Or look into purchasing the reduced-fat options of things you can’t get enough of. If mayo is a must, try swapping out the full-fat version (100 calories per serving) for the lighter version (60 calories per serving). Although fat is definitely not your enemy, in these instances, the reduced option helps keep your meal within your calorie budget.
4. Don’t forget about proteins and fats
Volume eating is an incredible hack to increase your portion size, but it shouldn’t be overdone. Making sure you get the right balance of your macronutrients is the key to a healthy plate.
Include lean proteins and healthy fats to give your body what it needs to function. Doing this keeps you full for longer too. Some of these other macronutrients might contain a few more calories than the vegetables you’re adding, but it’s important to prioritise them in your diet every day. Just be aware of the calorie count they come with and the best options to go for.
5. Try to go for nutrient-dense
Weight-loss is a massive marketplace, and there are loads of processed foods and drinks labelled low or zero-calorie to entice people to invest in them. Skinny syrups, diet drinks, and low-calorie sweets are an appealing option for people wanting to treat themselves without calories as a consequence. Still, it’s important to remember that these foods contain no nutrients whatsoever.
As a general rule, go for natural foods that carry micronutrients like vitamins and minerals over-processed foods that contain no micronutrients.
The best high-volume, low-calorie foods to go for:
5. Egg whites
3. Tortilla wraps
5. High-fibre cereals
2. Greek yoghurt