“He who eats the most but still loses, wins.”
I’ve seen this quote multiple times on the MyFitnessPal forums, and it’s become my life motto. I love to eat; probably more than I should! And why not love your food? It’s good for you, it’s delicious, and it makes you not die from starvation.
But there’s this myth going around that in order to lose weight, you have to drop to an insanely low amount of calories and stay hungry all the time and be miserable. Is this you?
Over the past year, I’ve discovered an amazing way to eat more and lose weight. And even though I’m not a doctor and I’m no longer losing weight, I feel that my findings can give you inspiration to make huge, nutritious, filling meals that make you think “Wait, am I really losing weight eating all this?”
So what did I discover? It’s a term called “Volume Eating” and has completely changed the way I think about food.
What is it?
Volume eating involves finding foods that are low in calories and adding them to your meals in order to bulk them up, taking longer to eat and making you feel full. Most fruits and vegetables are excellent at adding bulk:
- Spinach and lettuce
- Strawberries and blueberries
- Cantaloupe and watermelon
Even adding a single bag of frozen broccoli to your meal, like in a stir-fry, can pump up the size of your meal and make it more satisfying to eat!
How to get started
When you make your weekly meal plan, look at each recipe and figure out how you can add volume to it. For example, soups are a good meal for adding extra vegetables because they’re all mixed in anyway. If you like creamier soups, like potato soup, you can blend all the vegetables together with an immersion blender to get that creamy feel without adding the heavy cream.
I figured you’d want to see examples of what I typically eat in a day! At the moment, I don’t eat this much at every meal; I’m still working on that! But you can see the sheer volume of some of these meals and how they can fit your calorie goal. Most of these are around 500 calories, which make for a very filling meal!
1.) Right now this is my favorite breakfast. Yogurt is great on its own, but toppings really bulk it up! This is a cup of Dannon Greek Light and Fit yogurt, which is 80 calories. It’s topped with 100 grams of blueberries (48-ish calories) and a crumbled up Belvita Protein biscuit (200 calories). Fresh berries add a ton of volume, and a carb like a biscuit, or granola, can help keep you full.
2.) Scrambled eggs are awesome, and can be made huge with whatever veggies are in your fridge! On this plate were two eggs mixed with spinach, zucchini, and tomatoes. I also had some cantaloupe and an onion hamburger bun (Weird, but I had to use it up).
3.) I LOVE french toast for breakfast. Instead of using syrup (200 calories for a 1/4 cup of maple syrup!), I use about a 1/4 cup Greek yogurt mixed with peanut butter powder, which is about 75 calories. Then I top it with fresh fruit, like strawberries above. Using smaller slices of bread (60-80 calories per slice) means you can eat more slices.
1.) Who says you can’t eat healthy at amusement parks? Seriously, this salad at Kings Island is huge. Salads are a popular way that I get my extra veggies in and add bulk, and I can eat a ton and not feel “heavy” afterward. This salad had tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, jalapenos, cheese, bacon bits, two chicken strips, and a slice of garlic Texas toast. I used a packet of light Italian dressing which was 25 calories. This meal was probably around 600-700 calories, but not bad for amusement park food!
2.) Sometimes I just throw together whatever leftovers I have and call it a salad. I don’t remember everything that was in this, but it included chicken, sweet potatoes, a frozen vegetable blend, and some Dijon mustard on top.
3.) Not technically a salad, but I really liked this chicken salad recipe. It uses Greek yogurt in place of some of the mayo so you can eat more for about the same amount of calories. Adding grapes and green onions will add bulk, too!
1.) Usually my homemade pizza just involves pepperoni, but I added lots of mushrooms and green peppers and loved it!
2.) This is my veggie spaghetti recipe. I think from now on, I’m adding chopped and pureed veggies to all my spaghetti sauces because you can eat so much more that way.
3.) I went a little overboard with this cheeseburger stuffed zucchini. I only planned on using about 400 grams of zucchini, but the big ones I bought ended up about 800 grams per serving. That was a TON of food, but I was happy!
4.) Allison looked at this snack and said, “That’s not a snack, that’s a lunch!” It was probably about 300 calories for all that- a serving of Ritz popped crackers, turkey pepperoni sticks, snap peas, and hummus.
The Best Volume Eating Recipes– A collection of 15 recipes to get you started. I haven’t tried the oatmeal yet, but it’s on my list!
High Volume Recipes– This page has both recipes and ideas to bulk up your food!
The Ultimate Volumetrics Diet by Barbara Rolls– This book is awesome! I don’t use the diet plan she includes, but there are over 100 recipes with nutrition info and descriptions on how the meals were bulked up.
MyFitnessPal– This is the ultimate resource for tracking your food and keeping accountable. I used this to help me lose weight, and I still use it to keep myself in maintenance.
I hope you never feel like you have to go hungry while losing weight. It’s totally possible to get through this without feeling deprived, and the examples and resources above will hopefully help you in your journey! Do you have any volume recipes or tips to help us big eaters? Please post in the comments!
As with any weight loss situation, please consult your doctor before making any big changes to your diet! I’m not a doctor; just a mom sharing her experiences.
Jaime is a Nutrition Coach and professional writer. She enjoys cooking easy meals, running, and learning more about food.
Jaime specializes in helping women with ADHD learn to meal plan and cook healthier meals without getting overwhelmed.