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Volumetrics Diet: A Guide of Pros, Cons, and What You Should Eat

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Meet the Volumetrics Diet, A Simple Yet Effective Weight Loss Plan

The cardinal rule of weight loss is pretty simple: take in fewer calories than you burn. And focusing on foods that are naturally low in calories can make that a lot easier to achieve. That’s precisely the philosophy behind the Volumetrics Diet, a plan that has you consuming foods that are nutrient-dense but low in calories to keep your hunger under control while also creating a calorie deficit.

The Volumetrics Diet isn’t for everyone, of course, but according to Harland Adkins, registered dietitian and founder of Fast Food Menu Prices, it’s a generally balanced and sustainable approach because it doesn’t exclude any food groups.

RELATED: How to Create a Calorie Deficit Without Losing Muscle

If you’re eager to shed pounds but have found other diets too restrictive (looking at you, keto), experts say this plan just may be a good fit. Here’s what to know before giving the Volumetrics Diet a try.

What Exactly is the Volumetrics Diet?

The Volumetrics Diet was created by Penn State University nutrition scientist and professor Barbara Rolls. Her book about the diet offers not only the guidelines for the diet, but also recipes and helpful tips on calculating the calorie density of foods. In addition to adjusting your eating habits, Rolls also encourages adopting other healthy habits to support your efforts, and keeping a journal to track your food intake and physical activity. It’s important to note that this diet is intended to be a long-term lifestyle change, not a quick fix for weight loss.

The Volumetrics Diet is all about eating more foods that are foods with a low energy density — fruits and vegetables, for example — while limiting foods that have a higher energy density. Simply put, calorie density is the measure of how many calories are in a given weight of a particular food.

“Low energy density foods have a lot of water and fiber, which means more volume for fewer calories,” explains Jennifer Schlette, registered dietitian and founder of KitchenSubstitute.

While the standard meal plan allows for 1,400 calories per day, this can definitely be tweaked to fit your unique needs.

Benefits of the Volumetrics Diet

By reducing your calorie intake, the Volumetrics Diet can certainly help with weight loss, says Kristin Gillespie, MS, RD, LD, and advisor for Exercise With Style.

Not only that, but this diet can also help reduce mindless snacking between meals since it focuses on fiber- and water-rich foods that fill you up. A small 2004 study found that people ate 56% more calories when they were served a meal with high-calorie density foods, whereas another small 2018 study found that meals with lower-calorie density led to decreased hunger and cravings.

“Because the diet focuses on increased consumption of fruits and vegetables and inherently limits processed, nutrient-lacking foods, it can also help improve the overall nutritional quality of the diet and have a lasting effect on food choices,” Gillespie tells AskMen.

Research has shown a link between the consumption of processed foods and a higher risk of heart disease, cancer, and even premature death. So, by mostly eliminating these foods from your diet, this approach may even help you to live a longer life.

“Because there is a large focus on whole foods and plants, you might also see improvements in chronic inflammation, mood, and energy,” notes Trista Best, a registered dietitian at Balance One Supplements.

One of the greatest advantages of this diet, according to dietitians, is that no foods are entirely off-limits. You can still occasionally enjoy foods with a high-calorie density in small portions — nuts, pretzels, chocolate, etc. — by making adjustments to your calorie intake at other meals.

Potential Drawbacks of the Volumetrics Diet

A big disadvantage of the Volumetrics Diet is that it can be time-consuming to calculate the calorie density of specific foods and find suitable recipes.

“You will have to make most of your meals and snacks at home, which can be too restrictive for people with tight schedules,” says Adkins.

It’s also not an easy diet to adhere to if you like to dine out because restaurants often prepare foods in high-fat butter and oils, meaning even those seemingly healthy vegetable-based dishes could be loaded with calories.

Emphasizing foods with low energy densities also means you may miss out on healthy fats. Adkins notes that nuts, seeds, and avocado are all examples of healthy foods with much to offer in the way of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, but they’re excluded from the Volumetrics Diet simply because of their calorie content. These foods also provide omega-3 fatty acids, which your body cannot produce on its own, and are known to improve overall heart health and cholesterol while reducing inflammation, blood pressure, and heart disease risk.

“My primary concern with this diet is that its sole focus is on calories,” says Gillespie. “Most of us know that nutrition is not as simple as just looking at calories, but rather the overall nutrient density of foods. By looking only at calories, we may be missing key nutrients that our bodies need.”

Who Should Try the Volumetrics Diet (and Who Shouldn’t)

According to experts, the best candidate for the Volumetrics Diet is someone overweight with a moderate activity level who has failed to lose weight on other diets. However, Adkins stresses that it is not an advisable approach if you’re an athlete who requires a higher energy intake to fuel you through your vigorous physical activities. If you’re super active and not taking in enough calories, your body may begin to break down muscle tissue rather than build it.

Additionally, Schlette notes that this diet may be a good fit for people with diabetes.

“Eating large quantities of watery fruits and vegetables can be dangerous for people with diabetes because these foods are absorbed very quickly, causing blood sugar levels to rise rapidly,” she explains.

It’s also worth noting that the Volumetrics Diet isn’t suitable for anyone who’s struggled with an eating disorder in the past, as it can contribute to a risky restrictive mindset.

“I would be comfortable recommending The Volumetrics Diet to people who always seem to feel hungry,” says Wendy Lord, a registered dietitian and consultant for Sensible Digs. “It is useful for those who feel the need to snack all the time and really battle to control their calorie intake.”

What Foods to Eat (and Not Eat) on the Volumetrics Diet

Foods are grouped into four categories according to energy density, according to Lord:

  • Category 1 — Very low density: Foods that contain a lot of fiber and water, such as fruit, non-starchy vegetables (asparagus, tomatoes, leafy greens, broccoli, peppers, etc.), nonfat dairy, and broth-based soups
  • Category 2 — Low density: Foods that are fiber-rich, but contain less water, such as whole grains (oats, quinoa, brown rice, etc.), beans and legumes (lentils, chickpeas, etc.), and lean proteins ( skinless white meat chicken and turkey, shrimp, 92% lean beef, etc.)
  • Category 3 — Medium density: Foods with an average amount of fiber and water, such as refined carbohydrates (white bread and pasta), full-fat dairy, fatty fish (salmon, tuna, herring, and mackerel), and poultry with the skin on
  • Category 4 — High density: Foods with generally a high-fat content and lower fiber and water content, such as nut butter, seeds (hemp seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds, etc.), sweet treats (candy, ice cream, cookies , etc.), processed snacks (chips, packaged cereal with added sugar, etc.), and fast food

Meals on this diet will include mostly foods from the first and second categories, with smaller portions of category three, and rare indulgences in category four.

Here’s an example of what one day of eating might look like:

  • Breakfast: Oatmeal with cinnamon and apples
  • Snack: Nonfat Greek yogurt
  • Lunch: Garden salad with grilled chicken and vinaigrette
  • Snack: edamame
  • Dinner: Zucchini noodles with tomato sauce and chicken meatballs

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Whole Grain Pasta Nutrients

Expert’s nutrition tips for runners

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Running is a very popular sport, thanks to its simplicity and many health and fitness benefits. It’s versatile and inexpensive, requires very little equipment, and it’s an excellent way to strengthen your cardiovascular health.

Nutrition plays an important part in optimum running performance. pexels

With the competitive nature of the sport, runners continuously challenge themselves and each other to improve. In addition to training, proper fuel for the body is vital for peak sports performance.

Noted medical and nutrition specialist Dr. Korakod Panich provided the five best nutrients for optimal running performance.

Nutrition is important for runners because it plays a vital role in overall health and can also support performance. A balanced diet for healthy runners should include these five key nutrients:

1. Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates—which can be found in food such as fruits, dairy products, and starches such as rice, bread, and pasta—are the most important source of energy for the body.

For runners, a small meal, taken an hour before running, consisting of carbohydrates and a bit of protein can provide the energy needed to run effectively. A smoothie made with milk and fruit, or some yogurt topped with berries, provides the nutrients needed and is easily digested before a workout.

Consuming the right amount of carbohydrates before exercising can help you maximize your workout.

2. Protein
Protein—found in meat, milk, eggs, and soy—helps repair and rebuild tissues and muscles that could be affected during physical activities. With the proper amount of protein and adequate sleep, muscles repair, rebuild, and become stronger.

Soy is a good protein source as it is one of the few complete plant-based proteins containing all of the nine essential amino acids that the body cannot produce on its own. Runners should consume a combination of carbs and protein 30 to 45 minutes after exercising.

Carb to protein ratio should be 2-3:1, with 20 grams of high-quality protein after a workout and between 40 and 60 grams of carbohydrate. A sandwich on whole-grain bread with a piece of fruit or a high-protein recovery shake would fill the bill.

3.Fat
Fat serves as an essential energy source. It is often used as fuel, particularly during moderate-intensity exercise that lasts for an extended period, such as a moderate jog lasting at least 30 minutes or so. The body will utilize more fat than carbohydrate for fuel in an attempt to conserve carbohydrate that is stored in the liver and muscles.

Choose beneficial fats—such as those found in olive oil, avocado, and nuts—and avoid saturated fats¬¬that can raise the risk of heart disease. This means staying away from fatty red meats, and ultra-processed foods, such as fast food or bakery items.

4. Vitamins and minerals
There are different kinds of vitamins and minerals that help maintain the balance in body system functions; fruits and vegetables are the best sources to obtain them. During exercise, the body excretes waste in the form of sweat, which also removes important minerals from the body. If you opt to exercise for more than one hour, energy and mineral drinks are highly recommended to replace lost fluids and minerals.

5.Water
The human body is made up of 70 percent water, which is why staying hydrated is crucial. Water helps deliver nutrients to the cells and plays a significant role in eliminating waste. Runners need to maintain body water balance before, during, and after workouts because water provides nourishment that the body needs for almost every single function. It also helps limit changes in body temperature.

Make sure not to lose more than two percent of your body weight in fluids during exercise, as it can reduce your strength and affect performance. If you exercise regularly, check your weight before and after a workout to keep track of water loss and be sure to replace those losses. For every pound of weight lost during exercise, replace with 2-3 cups of fluid (or 1 liter of fluid for every kilogram lost during exercise).

Nutrition and running style

Aside from understanding the importance of nutrients, it is also essential for new runners to learn the proper way to run. Running not just makes our bodies stronger; it also helps burn calories and fat, depending on the goal.

If you have little time and would like to burn calories and fat, you can do interval training, which alternates short work intervals (80-90 percent of maximum heart rate for 30-60 seconds) with rest periods (50 percent of maximum heart rate for 1-2 minutes). This helps improve circulation and enable the heart to pump blood and make it healthier while strengthening the muscles.

If your main aim is to burn fat, and you have some time, you can run slowly to raise your heart rate to 40-60 percent of your maximum, for at least 45-60 minutes.

Korakod Panich is a member of the Herbalife Nutrition Advisory Board.

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Whole Grain Pasta Nutrients

Weekly Spotlight: Make the Perfect Spring Vegan Pasta Salad!

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Pasta salad is a wonderful spring meal, plus it’s a wonderful plant-based meal that can easily be veganized! It’s a meal that you can add any veggie that you want to, making it super versatile for this time of year. When spring produces like arugula, garlic and some herbs are hitting their peak season, you might have extra veggies on hand or are looking for a way to clear out some veggies from your fridge. Pasta salad is also easy to whip up, and you can either do a simple dressing or a more involved creamy dressing to top it.

Depending on your time and how you want to enjoy your pasta salad, this guide splits pasta salad recipes depending on their sauce base. The simple oil and garlic type dressings are lighter in flavor, allowing whatever you hand (veggies or herbs) to stand out in your final pasta salad. However, if you’re looking for a creamier and more hands-on homemade dressing, we’ve got you covered too! These are topped with a dressing that uses a base of tahini, tofu, or even hemp seeds to create a delicious creamy dressing. The last group focuses on taking a traditional pasta salad adding a twist, like a clever flavor or mixing up the base grain!

We also highly recommend downloading the Food Monster app — with over 15,000 delicious recipes it is the largest meatless, vegan, plant-based, and allergy-friendly recipe resource to help you get healthy! And, don’t forget to check out our Weekly Meal Plan Archives!

Are you ready to have a week full of delicious, high-protein, whole-food vegan food that leaves you nourished and content? Let’s get started!

This week, we’re bringing delicious pasta salad recipes that are fully vegan and plant-based!

Pasta Salads that Use a Mayo, Sour Cream, or Simple Oil Dressing:

Vegan Spring Pea and Arugula Pasta Salad

Source: Spring Pea and Arugula Pasta Salad

These quick pasta salads are great to throw together for the week! Their light dressing makes it excellent to eat on its own to get a variety of simple flavors and enjoy the fresher crunch of the veggies in these dishes.

Pasta Salads that Use a Tofu, Tahini, Homemade, or Cashew Based Dressing

Vegan Easy Vegetable Pasta Salad

Source: Easy Vegetable Pasta Salad

These creamy pasta salads are excellent to enjoy on their own, or if you’re looking to add even more veggies, you could enjoy these over a base of greens for an extra crunch of texture! There are so many ways to make a creamy pasta salad with vegan ingredients; you could use cashews, tofu, tahini, or even hemp hearts to get a creamy sauce.

Pasta Salads that Are a Twist on a Classic Dish:

Vegan Greek Pasta Salad with Tofu Feta

Source: Greek Pasta Salad with Tofu Feta

Cacio e Pepe as a pasta salad? Using orzo instead of pasta? There are so many ways to change up the flavors and inspiration you use for your pasta salads. If you’re looking for a way to enjoy a new way of eating pasta salad, this is your list right here!

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Learn How to Cook Plant-Based Meals at Home

Reducing your meat intake and eating more plant-based foods is known to help with chronic inflammation, heart health, mental well-being, fitness goals, nutritional needs, allergies, good health other more! Unfortunately, dairy consumption also has been linked to many health problems, including acne, hormonal imbalance, cancer, prostate cancer, and has many side effects.

For those interested in eating more plant-based, we highly recommend purchasing one of our many plant-based cookbooks or downloading the Food Monster app which has thousands of delicious recipes making it the largest vegan recipe resource to help reduce your environmental footprint, save animals and get healthy! And, while you are at it, we encourage you to also learn about the environmental other health benefits of a plant based diet.

Here are some resources to get you started:

For more Animal, Earth, Life, Vegan Food, Health, and Recipe content published daily, subscribe to the One Green Planet Newsletter! Lastly, being publicly-funded gives us a greater chance to continue providing you with high-quality content. Please consider supporting us by donating!

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Food Therapist Debunks Myths About Veganism

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Veganism is a lifestyle that is based on the ideology that humans should not exploit animals or the environment for their needs. Vegans refrain from utilizing any kind of animal products for food, clothing, or work, among other things, and they do not differentiate between any species as they consider all animals equal. Simply put, veganism is the practice of avoiding the use of any animal products—particularly in our diet—including meat, eggs, and dairy products.

Myths about veganism

Additionally, there are countless myths, misconceptions, and assumptions about being vegan from all corners. We got Nidhi Nahata—Founder, Justbe Resto Cafe, Bangalore, and food therapist—to debunk a few common floating speculations.

1. Milk has a lot of calcium

Credit: iStock

There is an existing misconception that only cow milk contains calcium. So, what is the optimal source of calcium? Like plenty of other nutrients, calcium is readily available in a variety of plant-based foods that are better absorbed by the body than dairy. Think broccoli, cabbage, kale, almonds, chia, beans, pulses, leafy vegetables, and more. Therefore, even if you are not vegan, having a wide range of calcium sources in your diet can be a healthier option.

2. Animal protein is more important than plant protein

7 myths about veganism
Credit: iStock

Incidentally, the animals that are consumed for so-called protein are fed on a plant based diet, which basically means that we are consuming the same and/or processed protein through dead tissues or extracted produce from an animal. For those on the lookout for plant-based protein sources, there are plenty of options like soya, lentils, pulses, broccoli, seaweed, peas, spinach, beans, brown rice, whole wheat bread and pasta, quinoa, peanuts, cashews, almonds , pistachios, walnuts, oats, and seitan tofu.

3. Vegans have B12 deficiency

Vegans, vegetarians, or non-vegetarians—all could have deficiency because of vitamin B12, which is a bacteria found in nature. The sources of vitamin B12 are commonly questioned in reference to being vegan, since the most common source is assumed to be animals and animal products. But the reality is that vegans can achieve the intake needed through reliable sources, such as supplements or fortified foods.

7 myths about veganism
Credit: iStock

Vitamin B12 is produced by certain microorganisms and is processed while consuming cobalt from a plant base. However, our modern day agriculture prevents these nutrients to be transferred into our bodies through either sources-–animals or plants. Therefore, vegans, vegetarians, or non-vegetarians need to normally be given cobalt or B12 supplements to attain suitable levels regardless of their dietary preference.

4. Vegan lifestyle is very expensive

food item
Credit: iStock

The limited accessibility to vegan food and alternatives is one of the biggest restrictive misconnects prevalent in our society. The reality is that, similar to any diet, plant-based eating is only expensive if there are a lot of quick-to-eat processed foods, readymade meal preps, and products from vegan-specific brands. There are plenty of vegan foods and ingredients that are affordable in India, especially if the diet is centered around cheaper foods like fruits, vegetables, grains, lentils, beans, and several others. Good planning can make vegan diet more affordable than the ones that include animal products.

5. Pregnant women need milk and dairy

7 myths about veganism
Credit: iStock

“You cannot be vegan when pregnant” is a common misconception for soon-to-be vegan parents. The basic fact is that pregnancy is a challenge for the body, no matter what diet you are on and usually requires additional nutrients. It is advised to be closer to iron and vitamin B12, which can be attained on a vegan diet as well. The tradition of milk being one of the most integral components of our diet has been prevalent for decades. We need to be mindful and bring logical reasoning in choosing food for soon-to-be parents as well as children.

6. Soy increases the chances of breast cancer

  7 myths about veganism
Credit: iStock

There is no convincing evidence that eating soy-based food increases the risk of breast cancer in humans. This misunderstanding, however, might arise from earlier studies conducted on rodents. Scientists of this study showed that when these animals received large amounts of soy-compounds called flavones, they showed likelihood to develop breast cancer.

7 myths about veganism
Credit: iStock

A study published by the International Journal of Epidemiology, in February 2020, searched associations between soy intake and breast cancer risk by following 52,795 cancer-free women in the US for an average of 7.9 years. In the results, they found no substantial association between soy intake and breast cancer, but they did identify a link between dairy (milk) and breast cancer.

Soy as an ingredient is loaded with fiber and is a good source of protein, omega 3, and antioxidants. Research also suggests that soy has a good amount of protein which is well absorbed by the body, and the best way to consume it is in bean form, tofu, tempeh, and other such forms.

7. Veganism is a cult

7 myths about veganism
Credit: iStock

Being compassionate and conscious can never be a cult. Veganism is a lifestyle that utilizes an ideology to bring people closer to their instincts. This means bringing us closer to eating what nature has designed and grown for us, rather than exploiting animals and other sentient beings.

Lead Image Credit: Alia Bhatt and Yami Gautam Dhar, Instagram

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