Volumetrics Diet

The Plan

The Volumetrics diet shows you how to eat low calorie foods that let you lose weight but keep you feeling full. It is based on the thought that you can eat more foods that are low in calories but high in density. Barbara Rolls, PhD is the author of the plan.

How Might This Work?

The author thinks that many weight loss plans fail because they do not control hunger. You can eat more on this plan. But you will need to lower the energy density of your meals. You can do this by doing things like eating more fiber, cutting back on sweeteners, and choosing fresh foods.

What Do I Need to Do?

You will eat lower energy density foods. This is the amount of calories per gram that are in a food. This chart lists foods and their levels.

Very Low Energy Dense

Low Energy Dense

Medium Energy Dense

High Energy Dense

(0 to 0.6 calories/gram)

(0.6 to 1.5 calories/gram)

(1.5 to 4.0 calories/gram)

(4.0 to 9.0 calories/gram)

Load up on:

  • Chicken broth
  • Broth-based soups
  • Cucumber
  • Celery
  • Tomato
  • Milk
  • Carrots
  • Peaches
  • Raspberries
  • Apples

Start watching the portion size of:

  • Tofu
  • Yogurt (plain, lowfat)
  • Grapes
  • Vegetarian chili
  • Banana
  • Shrimp
  • Olives
  • Potatoes
  • Pasta

Control your portion size of:

  • Frozen yogurt
  • Eggs
  • Turkey breast
  • Raisins
  • Italian dressing
  • Bagel
  • Hard pretzels
  • Angel food cake
  • Sirloin steak
  • Ravioli


  • Potato chips, baked
  • Croissant
  • Graham crackers
  • Granola bar
  • Bacon
  • Tortilla chips
  • Peanut butter
  • Ranch dressing
  • Pecans

The author thinks that eating very low energy and low energy dense foods lets you eat large, filling portions. You can still eat high energy dense foods, but you should not eat as much of them.

Divide a food's calories by its weight in grams to find out how energy dense it is. A food with 50 calories per 50 grams would have a density of about 1. This put it in the low energy dense group.

Tips to lower the energy density of a meal are:

  • Adding water rich items (fruits and veggies)
  • Adding high fiber items
  • Lowering the amount of fat

Here are some other ways to feel full:

  • Eat lean protein with your meals.
  • Eat high fiber, whole grain cereal at breakfast so you eat fewer calories at lunch.

The plan helps set easy to reach goals to lose weight. It also has a workout plan. It shows you how to track your progress and offers tips to get over challenges. It can also help you relearn feelings of hunger in those who may have lost touch with what that feels like.

What Does the Research Say?

This diet is based on research by Dr. Rolls as well as scientific studies. These studies have shown that the total weight of food that a person eats from one day to the next stays about the same, even if the total calories differ.

Are There Any Concerns?

The main worry is making sure that people do not stop eating healthful high density foods, such as olive oil and nuts. Also, it is not a good idea to load up on diet sodas or artificially sweetened foods just because they are low in energy density. These foods are often low in nutrients.

Bottom Line

This plan may help people who have tried other diets but have not felt full with small portions. This approach to eating is low in calories but still filling.


Eat Right—Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases


Dietitians of Canada


Diets for weight loss. EBSCO Nursing Reference Center website. Available at: https://www.ebscoh.... Updated June 16, 2017. Accessed March 14, 2019.
Volumetrics ranked no. 2 diet for weight loss in annual rankings. PennState website. Available at: https://news.psu.edu/story/499820/2018/01/08/health-and-medicine/volumetrics-ranked-no-2-diet-weight-loss-annual-rankings. Published January 8, 2018. Accessed March 19, 2019.
Last reviewed March 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review BoardDianne Scheinberg Rishikof MS, RD, LDN
Last Updated: 3/19/2019

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