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Eat High Volume Foods for Weight Loss

By Edited Sep 25, 2016 3 1

Losing weight is math at its core. You have to create a daily calorie deficit which over the course of several days will lead to the loss of a pound on the scales. 

However, the scale can be deceiving because often times that one or two pounds that your weight fluctuates on any given day is simply water weight that you have taken on or lost.

In order to keep your body in balance, you have to get control of your hormones such as insulin.  When you are constantly feeding your body a balance of nutritious whole foods, it remains in equilibrium and does not cause the constant cravings and insulin spikes that we all have from time to time.

Have you ever noticed that you will be going along just fine with your exercise and diet, and then you give in to “just this one thing”. While that cheat item, or cheat day, may feel good at the time, it sets you back days because you have to reset your body again.

Whenever I have a piece of cake or something like that, I usually want another piece the next day. Your body craves things like sugar and it throws it all out of whack. Sugar is as addictive and hard to get off of as nicotine in my opinion. However, I must confess, I have never smoked so some smokers might take issue with that statement, but I think I am right. As a matter of fact, I think a lot of smokers are hooked on both.

The key to losing and maintaining your weight is feeding your body what it is craving, and that isnutrition. Our bodies are energy converting machines. They crave foods that will nourish.  And many of the best foods are nowhere to be found in the average person’s diet.

While there is no such thing as a negative calorie food, there are some varieties that come close to using up the calories they contain just by digesting them. Low calorie foods are sometimes referred to as high volume food because they help with appetite control by giving you a full feeling.

High volume foods as the term suggests, have a lot of volume to them but they are typically low in calories. And this high volume also causes the stomach to stretch making you to feel fuller longer. Aside from that, just seeing the amount of high volume food you could eat as opposed to eating a candy bar can make you feel like you are not on a restrictive diet.

Studies have shown that just about every person eats about 3 pounds of food a day.[1] These 3 pounds can be made up of high volume watermelon or low volume chocolate cake.  If a food is considered high volume it means that you could eat a very large amount of it and still be way under the calorie count of say a piece of cheese cake.

In fact, most large watermelons have less than 300 calories total so you could eat the entire thing and it would still be only a 1/3 of the calories that you would probably get from a slice of cheesecake, depending on the size.

See now why they call junk food empty calories?

Ah but that cheese cake is so good right? I know, I have it every now and then too, but as I said, just one bad thing tends to send me into a tailspin for a few days until I can go cold turkey on the sweets. Unfortunately if you are like me, those binge days tend to last a week, not just days.

So what kinds of high volume foods do we all need to be consuming to fill up our bellies so we simply do not have room for the junk food?  Well, here are a few examples.


Credit: mjpyro

31 calories per cup

You can eat an entire crown of broccoli for about a 100 calories and it is one of the most nutritious foods on earth. I have eaten more broccoli this year than I have in my entire life. I do not know what got me on the broccoli kick. I kept seeing it in everyone’s recommended list of top foods and decided to steam some one day. I liked it. I eat it with almost every meal now.

If you are turned off by its bitter taste, you can dilute it with a little butter or mix it in with other veggies like green beans. However, that bitter taste comes from something called sulforaphane and that is what gives it most of its protective qualities for the body.[2] In short, deal with it.


Eat High Volume Foods for Weight Loss
Credit: Opensource

22 calories per tomato

Their primary benefit to the body is an antioxidant called lycopene which is hard to find in other foods.[2]  I dice a tomato and put it in nearly everything, including omeletes or anything stir fry.

If you do that however, I recommend waiting until the very end to throw the tomatoes into the pan.


Eat High Volume Foods for Weight Loss
Credit: mjpyro

5 calories per cup

Think about that. Only 5 calories per cup. You could eat an entire bag of it and it still would not be 500 calories. Or you could have a donut and then have your blood sugar spike making you crave another one an hour later. With kale, it helps regulate blood sugar because it contains a lot of manganese.

Kale is quite possibly the healthiest food on earth. In fact, according to my Doctor, the phytonutrients it contains may prevent certain types of cancer.[2]

They theorize that those nutrients make the liver produce enzymes that neutralize toxins that lead to cancer. In any event, the research is promising so try to get some in your diet.

I must confess, I did not know what kale was until about 4 years ago. Now I eat it every day  usually in a smoothie I make in my blender. I find it easier to drink some things rather than eat them. Not that kale tastes bad, but it is different from a leafy green like romaine that you are probably familiar with.

It also has a rough texture to the leaves that is an issue for some. So if you have a problem with that, simply obliterate it in a blender and drink up.


Credit: Citrus_paradisi via Wikimedia Commons

80 calories per grapefruit

Cardiologists recommend consuming a lot of grapefruit for its vitamin C, folic acid and potassium.[2] The pink and red kinds are also high in vitamin A and lycopene.


Eat High Volume Foods for Weight Loss
Credit: Opensource

7 calories per cup

Again, you could eat an entire bag of spinach and still be under the calorie count of a bowl of ice cream. I place two large handfuls of spinach in my smoothies every day. It is also good to use as a substitute for lettuce when you are making a salad.

Spinach is a nutritional powerhouse containing 13 flavanoids with anti-inflammatory properties that fight free radicals in the body.[2]


Eat High Volume Foods for Weight Loss
Credit: Opensource

32 calories per 1/2 cup

When I say berries, I am referring to all of them such as blueberries, raspberries, strawberries because they are all full of anti-inflammatories that boost your immunity. Blueberries in particular have some of the highest levels of anthocyanin, one of the most potent antioxidants.[2]

I buy a large bag of frozen blueberries every couple of weeks and use about a cup in my smoothies every day. They blend up great and can help to dilute the taste of kale if you are using that.


Soup is High Volume, Low Calories
Credit: Gillgaramond via Wikimedia Commons

122 calories per cup

You have to watch the sodium but if a little bit of sodium heavy soup can keep you from binging on something with many more calories and just as much, if not more sodium, I say go for it.

Still, you want to look for the ones that are low in sodium. I am still waiting to see some that have absolutely no sodium in them. Maybe they are out there, I just have not found them.


Losing weight and maintaining it does not have to be a painful, miserable experience where you starve yourself daily. You can eat as much as you like provided it is the right kinds of food.

High volume foods provide nutrient while giving you that satiated feeling. Sure, it is not the feeling you get from eating a big fat, carby meal, but that feeling it not so great either afterwards is it? Not only that, you will probably be hungry again within a few hours.

However, eating the right kinds of foods can feed your body the nutrient it craves and keep you in balance in both mind and body. Once you have control of your hormones, the cravings will go away and the scale will be further motivation to eat more watermelon.  

Eating for Life: Your Guide to Great Health, Fat Loss and Increased Energy
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Apr 18, 2014 7:24am
I could not agree with you more! except for this part: "Sugar is as addictive and hard to get off of as nicotine" - I gave up nicotine but I am still not able to give up sugar...
I hope others will grasp how important this info is!
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  1. How Much Sugar Do You Eat?. Concord, PDF: NH DHHS-DPHS-Health Promotion in Motion, 2007.
  2. Johnny Bowden The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth: The Surprising, Unbiased Truth About What You Should Eat and Why. Minneapolis: Fair Winds Press, 2007.

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