Monday, March 14, 2011

Jeff Novick/Barbara Rolls Volumetrics Review and a Volumetric Recipe from Clean Food

Volumetrics. It's a concept that revolutionized the way that I eat, but something that I haven't talked about that much here on HGK. I was first introduced to the concept by Bethenny Frankel, you know, that famous New York Housewife who writes those books about being "Naturally Thin." She's got some interesting ideas in her books, but none so powerful as the one I am focusing on here today. It's such a worthwhile topic and there are quite a few new readers of HGK that might not be familiar with it that I am dedicating this post to it. (Please forgive me if this is review for you.)

"The Volumetrics Eating Plan is based on a basic fact: people like to eat. And if people are given the choice between eating more and eating less, they'll take more almost every time.

Unlike diets that are based on deprivation, the Volumetrics diet doesn't try to fight this natural preference. Its creator, nutritionist Barbara Rolls, PhD, argues that limiting your diet too severely won't work in the long run. You'll just wind up hungry and unhappy and go back to your old ways.

Rolls' approach is to help people find foods that they can eat lots of while still losing weight. The hook of Volumetrics is its focus on satiety, the feeling of fullness. Rolls says that people feel full because of the amount of food they eat -- not because of the number of calories or the grams of fat, protein, or carbs. So the trick is to fill up on foods that aren't full of calories. Rolls claims that in some cases, following Volumetrics will allow you to eat more -- not less -- than you do now, while still slimming down.

Rolls doesn't ban food types as part of the Volumetrics diet. She doesn't divide foods into the good and the bad. But she does urge people to evaluate foods based on their energy density. This concept is crucial to the whole diet.

Energy density is the number of calories in a specified amount of food. Some foods -- especially fats -- are very energy dense. They have a lot of calories packed into a small size. Water is the opposite, since it has an energy density of zero. If you eat foods with high energy density, you rack up calories quickly. If you go with less energy dense foods, you can eat more and get fewer calories."

Very low-density foods include:
Non-starchy vegetables
Unsweetened nut milk like almond milk
Soup broths

Very high-density foods include:

If you are a more visual learner, than the next two Jeff Novick videos are for you.

A note about the blender/blended food issue: I drink a green smoothie almost every morning. Mr. Novick questions the benefit of that when the goal is weight loss. He brings up a very interesting point. Whole unprocessed foods are clearly the best as far as weight loss goes. Eating a whole apple is better from a weight loss perspective than a blended up apple.

But, the reality of that is another story. The contents of my morning green smoothie these days are spinach, celery, apple, grapes, kale, parsley, almond milk, ground flax seed and ice. Would I ever sit down to a bowl of spinach, celery, apple, grapes, kale, parsley in the morning? What dressing would I have to put on that bowl to make it palatable for me? Would I have the time and energy to chew all of that food given my incredibly rushed mornings?

My conclusion is this: even a blended green smoothie is healthier for me than any other breakfast I could consume. And it does fill me up until lunch. So, on that scorecard, even if eating the contents of the smoothie in their whole form would be BETTER for me than in their blended form, I would never be able to do it. So, in balance, a green smoothie is the best, most realistic option for me. I'm sticking with it.

But, if you are trying to lose weight, it is worth your while to consider what you are putting into your smoothies. Would you eat all of that food if it wasn't blended up together? It might just be something worth thinking about.

Here's a good example of a recipe that would be included in a Volumetric way of eating:

Cabbage Saute with Tart Cherries and Crisp Apples
from Clean Food by Terry Walters

I served this over brown rice and both my husband and daughter loved it! The only changes to the recipe that I made were eliminating the oil and using broth instead and substituting maple syrup for the agave.

If Volumetrics is a new concept for you, you might want to investigate it even more. You can read reviews of Ms. Rolls' book here on Amazon:

Were you familiar with the Volumetrics concept prior to reading this posting? How has it impacted your diet?

Do you think about it when you choose food off of a menu in a restaurant?

Do you think about it when doing meal planning at home?


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The Healthy Librarian said...

Great post Wendy.

I drink a Green Smoothie every day, too--about 27 ounces over the course of the day--between meals.

Last night, I was reading Jeff's explanation--based on 1 study--of why he thinks it's better to eat a whole piece of fruit rather than blend it up.

Maybe the research stands if you're talking about fruit--but my smoothie is mostly kale & carrots--with berries, half a grapefruit & 1/2 an apple.

It's totally fills me up & it could hardly be called sweet!

And there is no way I would be eating kale & carrots mid-morning or mid-afternoon w/o it--or while I'm driving!

I love the taste & like David Murdock, the Dole Billionaire ( ) I think of it as a slow drip of nutrients spaced over the day.

And--contrary to Jeff's theory--I'm losing weight, without even trying.

Ben said...

Perhaps we're missing the point on Jeff's ascertations. It's not that a smoothie is bad for you... certainly the above posters are consuming healthy shakes. His point is that it is easy to over do it. Volume wise you can consume less unprocessed foods than you will in a processed/blended food. This may be a point at which some people stop losing weight or start gaining it.

It seems that Jeff is not against smoothies... he makes them in his video, "Fast Food". He wants us to be aware that they start to increase in calorie density as we blend and sweeten them... this is something not to be avoided, but it is something to be mindful of.

Wendy (Healthy Girl) said...

Ben-I couldn't have said it better myself. That's exactly what I'm thinking. Thank you for your thoughtful comment!

Anonymous said...

Ben, said it the best :-)

katshealthcorner said...

I have read the Volumetric's Book/Method. I love Ben's comment. He is so right.

YAY for whole foods!


Farty Girl said...

I love Jeffy! I posted one of his videos a while ago. I don't really think about it too much though, because I always thought his POV related more to processed food than whole foods.

As someone who was recently put on a diet to lose fat, I can vouch for what he's saying. You can eat a whole foods diet to the extreme and do too much. Case in point, right ova' here! :)

Abbie Jaye said...

Would I ever sit down to a bowl of spinach, celery, apple, grapes, kale, parsley in the morning?

I bet you would now! :-)

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