A significant number of readers have requested that I post a detailed discussion of my experiences using the Volumetric weight control plan, so here goes.
About a month and a half ago, I mentioned that I was trying out the Volumetric weight control plan as described in the book with the same title. So far, it’s been reasonably successful; I’ve dropped about eleven pounds in about six weeks, with a big loss the first week, a rebound in the third week, and a steady pound and a half a week loss since then. Better yet, it feels very sustainable, as though I could keep doing it forever and not be lost in a series of cravings or hunger.
I was interested in trying out this plan because my biggest problem isn’t choosing healthy foods (I like most vegetables, especially tomatoes and broccoli), but that I tend to eat a lot at one sitting, and thus making a single bad choice is the equivalent of eating a fat bomb. I’m also a large guy – six and a half feet tall – so although I’m somewhat overweight, my frame does hide it somewhat well.
A brief description of how Volumetrics works Volumetrics is a calorie-based diet – that’s the primary focus of it. It’s mostly concerned about the energy content of food, which is what a calorie describes.
The idea here is to identify portions of foods with a specific caloric content (usually 100 calories or 200 calories) and then eat a specific number of those portions throughout the day. This means identifying base foods that are low in calories and eating them in volume (like tomatoes) while still enjoying foods you like (in small portions).
Here’s an example: I love to make homemade pizzas. I make my own dough, slather it with pepperoni and lots of cheese, and then bake it in the oven. The only problem is that I like to eat three slices of the pizza when I’m done, and this turns out to be a health bomb. Volumetrics says go ahead and eat those three slices after you make a few switches: replace the pepperoni with lean canadian bacon, swap out the ordinary mozzarella for low-fat mozzarella (and use a third less cheese), and sprinkle tomato pieces on the pizza to make it more filling (as tomatoes are very low in calories). It’s all modular, though – I could go for a cheese and tomato pizza and eat my three pieces, and then still have space for other things.
Another big encouragement of the plan is to drink plenty of water – water is filling and has no calories. So, I could have those pieces of pizza with a big tall glass of water, fill myself up plenty, and be doing just fine.
Exercise The plan strongly encourages an exercise component, again breaking things down into pieces that are worth 100, 150, or 200 calories. Thus, if you do these exercise pieces, you can effectively have a lower calorie day. The exercises vary in impact, from walking two miles in thirty minutes to walking up and down stairs for fifteen minutes. These each burn 150 calories; the book recommends doing at least two of them a day. I’ve taken to doing the two miles in thirty minutes twice a day, myself, mixing in a few other things on occasion, and I can feel myself getting into better shape.
Advantages I have no problem getting full with this program. That’s the big advantage for me – whenever I would try one in the past, I would always get hungry because of the tight restrictions on portions. It also gives me a lot of freedom for cooking at home – basically, I just study the caloric content of all ingredients, figure up how many calories are in the complete thing I’m making, and figure out which portion of it equals 100 calories. This way, I can make choices that allow me to increase the volume but still keep it tasty for me.
Disadvantages If you don’t like vegetables, this is going to be a rough one – many vegetables are among the lowest in energy density, which means you can eat all of the tomatoes you wish, but you can’t each much sausage. For example, I was craving a bratwurst about a week ago, so in order to keep my day in an appropriate plan, I basically ate like a vegetarian for the other parts of the day. I was completely fine with eating the bratwurst – it was completely appropriate – but this meant lots of additional vegetables.
It also strongly helps if you’re willing to cook at home and are also willing to study the labels a bit on stuff and do a bit of basic math. The book comes with a huge number of simple recipes, but you really need to understand how they work to make this plan work, and that requires knowing how to do the math and how to find the information.
Overall, I’m a pretty big fan of this plan, but as I keep doing it, I realize that it’s really a regimentation and simplification of good sense about food. It also has a lot in common with budgeting your money – you have to plan a bit to fit in the calories for a given day, and the exercise takes planning, too.