February 28, 2021


By Rachel Grumann

"EAT more" is not a typical mantra from a diet book. But that's the concept behind the "The Volumetrics Eating Plan" (HarperCollins, $25.95), a new cookbook and diet guide with a core idea that should appeal to Manhattanites - who always want more of everything.

The argument behind Volumetrics is that you can avoid rabbit-size portions and still lose weight - if you choose the right foods.

Here's the gist of the plan: Foods that are high in energy (or calorie) density, such as fatty meats, cheese and crackers, provide a large amount of calories per bite. But you can eat a larger portion of foods of lower energy density, such as fruits and vegetables, for the same number of calories.

If you leave the butter off your bread, for example, you can have two slices instead of one for the same 140 calories.

For 500 calories, you can have half a hamburger, a few fries and a soda, or the Volumetrics option of an open-faced roast beef sandwich with Swiss cheese and sautÇed bell peppers, a bowl of tomato soup, fruit compote and sparkling water.

Consuming more foods with a high water content, such as fruits, veggies, soups, hot cereals and steamed fish, will help you feel full on a relatively small number of calories, says the book.

Consider grapes and raisins, which are the original and dried versions of the same food. Because grapes are high in water, you can have two cups of grapes, as opposed to a quarter cup of raisins, for the same 100 calories.

Author Barbara Rolls says she based the book on years of researching how foods affect hunger and fullness.

"Telling people to eat less is very unhelpful," she says. "It's a tired old message. People need to eat less of some foods, but also more of others. By eating more foods that give you fewer calories per bite, you can have bigger portions."

Rolls said her research showed that adding a salad to a meal reduces total calories consumed. People she studied who started lunch with a three-cup, 100-calorie salad containing iceberg and romaine lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, celery and cucumbers, along with fat-free dressing and light mozzarella cheese, ate a smaller meal (12 percent fewer calories) than those who didn't, she says.

The book offers 125 recipes, from veggie-stuffed macaroni and cheese (330 calories) and risotto primavera (290 calories) to Asian spring rolls (130 calories) and a roasted portobello sandwich (290 calories).

And bulkier meals, says Rolls, are good for a dieter's morale.

"If people end up with little food on their plates, they know they're still going to be hungry before they even start eating," she said. "That feeling of deprivation is what tends to undermine people's resolve."

One devotee, Pam Cobo, said the diet's more-is-more philosophy appealed to her. "When I tried diets in the past, I was starving all the time," recalls the 48-year-old. After being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes two years ago and weighing in at 200 pounds, Pam needed to make a change.

On the Volumetrics diet, "All of my meals start with a huge - and I mean huge - salad full of vegetables," said Cobo. "I'm a lazy cook, so I just buy pre-cut bagged lettuce and chop up some vegetables."

After three months on the diet, her doctor said she no longer needed medication to manage her diabetes. After five more months, she says, she'd lost 80 pounds.

"I have so much more energy now," she says, "and I don't go through my day wondering where my next Snickers bar is coming from."


Start your meals with a low-calorie soup or salad appetizer so you'll consume fewer calories at each sitting.

Make soup a meal. Choose soups that contain lean meat or beans and veggies so you'll feel satisfied while packing in more nutrients.

Use whole-wheat pasta, which is rich in filling fiber. The recommended serving of cooked pasta is half a cup (about 100 calories). You can go up to a full cup, but also bulk up your bowl by adding vegetables and lean protein.

Eat breakfast. Don't think you're saving yourself calories by skipping it. Research shows people who do end up eating more later in the day.

Make simple switches, such as choosing nonfat milk over whole milk. Nonfat has the same amount of calcium, 64 fewer calories per 8-ounce glass.

Volumetrics fruit-smothered whole-wheat buttermilk pancakes vs. traditional pancakes with syrup and butter


How we lowered the energy density:

Used whole-wheat flour

Omitted oil and butter

Replaced syrup with raspberry sauce<

Added fresh fruit

1 1/4 cups whole-wheat flour

1 1/2 cups low-fat buttermilk

1 beaten egg

1 tbs. sugar

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 cup raspberry sauce (page 250)

2 cups mixed fresh blueberries, raspberries and blackberries

1. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, buttermilk, eggs, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir gently until all ingredients are mixed. The batter should be slightly lumpy.

2. Heat a skillet lightly coated with cooking spray over medium heat. Pour 1/4 cup batter into the skillet for each pancake. The pancakes will be ready to flip when small bubbles appear along the sides. Flip and cook until the undersides are lightly browned.

3. Place two pancakes on each of four plates. Spoon 2 tbsp. raspberry sauce over the pancakes and top with 1/2 cup mixed berries.

YIELD: 4 servings

COOK'S NOTE: Cooked pancakes may be kept warm in 200-degree oven while you finish cooking the rest.

Nutritional information per serving

Calories, 270; Energy density, 1; Carbohydrates, 44g; Fat, 3g; Protein, 10g; Fiber, 8g


For a 100-calorie first course to fill you up so that you eat less of the main meal

How we lowered the energy density:

Used low-fat Italian dressing and reduced-fat cheese

Added more vegetables

8 cups mixed salad greens

1 cup peeled, shredded carrots

1 cup diced celery

1 cup cored, diced tomatoes

1 cup scrubbed, unpeeled diced cucumber

6 tbs. shredded nonfat mozzarella cheese

3/4 cup Italian dressing

1. Mix all the vegetables in a large bowl.

2. Add the mozzarella and Italian dressing and toss well.

3. Divide the mixture among four salad bowls or plates.

YIELD:4 servings of 3 cups each

COOK'S NOTE:This recipe uses the low-fat Italian dressing (page 153) rather than a nonfat Italian dressing as noted in the introduction to the chapter. If you prefer a nonfat dressing, try one of the commercially available.

Nutritional information per serving: Calories, 100; Energy density, 0.30; Carbohydrate, 16g; Fat, 2g; Protein, 5g; Fiber, 4g


For a 275-calorie sandwich

How we lowered the energy density:

Used whole-wheat bread and reduced-fat mayonnaise

Added grapes

11/2 cups diced, cooked chicken breast, about 11/2 5-oz. skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (see Cook's Note)

1 cup halved, seedless red grapes

1/4 cup diced celery

1/4 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise

1 tbs. toasted silver almonds (page 84)

1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper

8 thin slices multigrain bread

2 cups shredded green-leaf lettuce

1. Combine the chicken, grapes, celery, mayonnaise, almonds and pepper together in a medium bowl and mix well.

2. Divide the chicken salad evenly on four slices of the bread. Top each with 1/2 cup lettuce and another slice of bread.

YIELD:4 servings

COOK'S NOTE: If you do not have cooked chicken breast meat, try this easy method. Arrange skinless, boneless chicken breasts in saucepan. Add enough cold water to cover the chicken. Bring the water to a simmer over low heat. Turn the chicken over, cover and remove the pan from the heat. Let the chicken sit in the pan for 15 to 20 minutes, or until it is no longer pink in the center. Remove the chicken and refrigerate until ready to use.

Nutritional information per serving:

Calories, 275; Energy density, 1.4; Carbohydrate, 35g; Fat, 6g; Protein, 18g; Fiber, 2g

To understand where the calories are in your food, imagine that each scale weight is a 1-gram weight - there are 28 grams in an ounce.

Each dot represents one calorie. The number of dots shows the energy (or calorie) density of the major components of the foods you eat.

As you can see, the energy density varies widely: 9 calories per gram (cal/g) for fat, 7 for alcohol, 4 for carbohydrate and protein, 2 for fiber, 0 for water.

Remember that low-energy-dense foods with few calories per gram give you bigger, more satisfying portions than high-energy-dense foods.

Listen up

Have you lost touch with what your body is trying to tell you about when to eat and how much to eat?

It is appropriate to feel hungry before each meal, but you should not get so hungry that you feel dizzy and lightheaded, or you will lose control.

While you are eating, hunger should decline and you should feel pleasantly, but not overly, full.

If you don't experience this cycle of hunger and fullness, try the following:

For two days this week, ask yourself before each meal, "Am I hungry?"

Use the scale below to rate your hunger on a scale of 1 to 10 - 1 being painfully ravenous and 10 being so full you couldn't eat another bite.

Am I hungry?

Ravenous 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Full

As you eat, periodically pause and ask yourself, "Am I still hungry?"

If you've reached 5, it may be time to stop eating.

If you are starting to feel full and satisfied, stop eating for 15 minutes, allowing yourself time to recognize your body's satiety signals.

If you still feel hungry, continue eating while monitoring your feelings of hunger and fullness.

If you are really out of touch with hunger and satiety, try this routine: Eat breakfast, lunch and dinner on a regular schedule for several days and don't snack. You should feel hungry before meals and satiated after meals. Use the rating scale before each meal and pay attention to how you feel. Remember these feelings and use them to guide your future eating.



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