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The Skinny on Volumetrics: Using Simple Math to Lose Weight and Keep it Off

Aug 18, 2007
Warmer weather has arrived and so has the need to shed winter weight gain. Forget fad diets and fasting, a new approach to eating will help you lose weight and keep it off.

Volumetrics, developed by Barbara Rolls, Ph.D. and outlined in her book The Volumetrics Eating Plan (Harper Collins 2005), doesn't eliminate food groups. Instead, it uses common sense and simple math to help you calculate the energy density of foods and make choices based on the numeric outcomes.

Energy density relates to how many calories a food contains in a portion size or volume. Fried foods, cookies and chips have high density. Fruits, vegetables and fat free dairy products have low density. Lean proteins fall somewhere in between.

Studies have shown that people tend to eat the same weight of food each day. By choosing less dense foods, you consume fewer calories in your quest for fullness by volume.

For example, a three ounce portion of lean ground beef has approximately 190 calories. The same size portion of skinless chicken breast is 140 calories. And three ounces of tuna canned in water has only 98 calories. The tuna is the least energy dense choice, followed by the chicken breast. But the quantity of each example is exactly the same.

Fat and water are factors that help determine density. At nine calories per gram, fat is the most energy dense food. At zero calories, water is the least energy dense. Cutting fat and adding water-rich foods will leave you full and satisfied - and one step closer to fitting into your warm weather clothes!

Calculating the Energy Density of Foods

Calculating a food's density is easy. On the nutrition label, find the serving size weight in grams and the calorie count. Divide the number of calories by the number of grams to find that food's energy density.

Foods with a density of less than one are ideal. Foods between one and two should be eaten in moderation. Foods that calculate two or more should be consumed in limited quantities.

Not surprisingly, a four-ounce portion of raw carrots (113 grams, 22 calories) packs a .2 energy density. The high water and fiber content and zero fat in carrots make them an ideal choice.

Fat free pretzels, on the other hand, have an astonishingly high density for a food that is touted to be dieter-friendly. One ounce of pretzels (28 grams, 100 calories) has a whopping 3.57 density. Attribute this to lack of water and fiber.

One cup of fat-free cottage cheese (113 grams, 70 calories) is a smart lean protein choice at just .67.

Three Courses to Volumetrics Success

A three-course meal following the Volumetrics principles can be a highly satisfying way to cut calories without cutting enjoyment. Savor each course, eating slowly and deliberately.

Course 1: Soup
One serving of fat free broth-based soup

Course 2: Salad
Hearty mixed greens and chopped vegetables topped with low-fat or fat-free dressing

Course 3: Entree
3-4 ounces of lean protein
One serving of whole grain rice (or similar)
One or more servings of steamed vegetables

Need dessert? Opt for fresh fruit or a fat free pudding or Jell-O cup.

What About Indulgences?

Everybody has a favorite food vice. But before you indulge, consider the following:

* A Hershey bar has a high energy density of 5.58
* A 12 ounce, 150 calorie beer is only .44
* A 4 ounce, 100 calorie glass of wine scores a .88
* One ounce of honey roasted peanuts delivers a whopping 5.82 energy density

When treating yourself, the key is to practice moderation and portion control.
About the Author
Patty Harder is an author, ordained S.H.E.S. minister, Reiki Master and self-help guru. To download an excerpt of her recently-released e-book "Interview with an Atlantean: An Ancient Look at the Law of Attraction," visit http://www.searchingforspirit.com.
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