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Embracing Volumetrics: A Smart Approach to Portion Control

by IBD Medical on February 05, 2024

Volumetrics is a dietary approach that focuses on the concept of energy density, which is the number of calories in a given volume of food. Developed by nutritionist Dr. Barbara Rolls, Volumetrics encourages people to eat foods with low energy density, which are typically high in water and fibre, as a way to feel full while consuming fewer calories.

For individuals with diabetes, the Volumetrics approach is particularly advantageous. Emphasising nutrient-dense, unprocessed foods low in added sugars and unhealthy fats, it promotes whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables with high water and fiber content. This not only aids in maintaining blood sugar levels but also aligns with diabetes-friendly meal plans.

Basic principle of volumetrics: The basic principle of Volumetrics is that people tend to eat a consistent volume of food, regardless of calorie content. By choosing foods that are low in energy density, individuals can consume the same volume of food but with fewer calories, leading to weight loss and improved satiety.

Understanding Energy Density: Energy density refers to the number of calories in a given volume of food. Foods low in energy density, such as fruits, vegetables, broths, and soups, are high in water and fiber, providing a feeling of fullness without packing in a lot of calories. Conversely, high-energy-density foods, like fatty foods and sugary snacks, are calorie-dense and may contribute to blood sugar spikes when consumed in large quantities. 

The Volumetrics Approach for Diabetes: The Volumetrics approach can be particularly beneficial for individuals with diabetes, as it emphasizes whole, unprocessed foods that are nutrient-dense and low in added sugars and unhealthy fats. Here's how to incorporate Volumetrics into your diabetes-friendly meal plan:

Foods that are low in energy density include:

  • Fruits and vegetables: These foods are high in water and fiber, which adds volume without a lot of calories.
  • Broths and soups: The high water content in broths and soups helps fill you up.
  • Whole grains and legumes: These foods are high in fiber and take longer to digest, keeping you fuller for longer.

On the other hand, foods that are high in energy density include:

  • High-fat foods: Foods that are high in fat, such as oils, butter, and fried foods, are high in calories for their volume.
  • Sweets and candies: These foods are often high in sugar and calories without providing much in the way of nutrients or satiety.

The Volumetrics approach encourages people to start meals with a low-energy-density food, such as a salad or broth-based soup, to help fill up before the main course. It also suggests choosing snacks that are high in water and fiber, like fruits and vegetables, to help control hunger between meals.

Volumetrics is based on scientific principles and has been shown to be effective for weight management and portion control. It encourages a balanced and nutritious diet, with an emphasis on whole, unprocessed foods.


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