Anyone who has have deliberately gone into a fat loss phase, knows that you need to be in some sort of caloric deficit in order to succeed. Unfortunately, for the vast majority of us, caloric deficits equal hunger, and no one likes to be hungry. I think one of the main reasons diets fail is because people are so sick of being hungry. Now, I am not suggesting that there is a magical way to diet without hunger (wouldn’t that be nice?), but there are some tricks that can help keep hunger at bay, and my biggest trick, is eating high volume foods.
“Volumetrics”, or eating higher volume foods to shed fat, is not a new concept. It makes sense that if you are eating foods that are higher in volume, but lower in calories, that you will lose weight. However, when coupled with flexible dieting, eating high volume foods can become even more effective, because you are still hitting your protein, fat and carbohydrate goals for the day, just with higher volume foods. For example, if my first meal has 30g of carbohydrates in it, I could eat one banana, or I could eat about 2 cups of puffed kamut cereal and 1/2 c. of strawberries. Which do you think will be more satisfying overall?
Here are some of my favorite high volume foods to stave off hunger, in no particular order, while in a fat loss phase:
Puffed Cereals including puffed kamut, puffed corn, and puffed millet give you quite a large volume of food for very few calories and carbs and they’re quite versatile.
Shirataki or Tofu Noodles can be another dietary staple when you’re in a caloric deficit. They MUST be cooked properly, or they will smell like Gak (remember the 90s Nickelodeon green silly putty type stuff?) and probably taste the same. Rinse the hell out of them, boil them for 5-10 minutes and dry fry them until they are completely dry. Then add some veggies, and marinade and you have yourself a high volume, low calorie stir fry.
Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk. 30 calories per cup and absolutely delicious. No more explanation necessary.
Strawberries are about 7.7g of carbs per 100 grams of food. This means you can eat an entire pounds of strawberries for roughly 33g of carbs and a ton of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Combine these with the above mentioned puffed cereal and almond milk, and you have a winning combination that makes you feel like you’re not dieting at all! Not far behind this are other berries, apples, watermelon, grapefruit, and nectarines/peaches. Tropical fruits, like bananas, mangoes, pineapples, and also ALL dried fruit or fruit juices etc are very carb dense and a harder sell for me when I’m dieting.
Vegetables….so many vegetables (zucchini, spinach, salad, etc). I feel like this doesn’t need much explanation, but vegetables, particularly non-starchy ones, are naturally THE lowest calorie foods per gram…ever. They also happen to be incredibly micronutrient dense. Load up on them and you will feel fuller AND better.
Low Sugar Jam. Smuckers make a great low sugar strawberry and grape jam/jelly that can be found in regular grocery stores (and even Target!). It’s not sugar free, or containing artificial sweeteners, it just has less sugar! Winning!
Xanthan Gum, Guar Gum, etc can be used to thicken shakes and “puff” them up and make them more filling.
Cocoa Powder is a great fiber source and can make bland food quite tasty.
Vegetable Broth/Veggie Soup. Combine a veggie broth wit the above mentioned vegetables and you have a really filling side dish to keep you full for hours.
Fat Free Refried Beans, while not very high in volume, are SUPER satiating, especially on top of a crunchy salad with salsa.
Low Carb Breads and Wraps. Every area has their own local brand of low carb breads and wraps, so check them out–most of the time, they’re vegan!
Popcorn! Air popped of course, topped with some lime juice and nutritional yeast. Yum!
PB2–When your fat gets lower, PB2 ca be a great food to utilize. You can put it in oatmeal, smoothies, or you can bulk up smaller amounts of actual peanut butter with this peanutty goodness
Butternut Squash, Spaghetti Squash. What I like about these squashes is that you can do so much with them. Spaghetti squash can obviously take the place of noodles in any pasta dish. Butternut squash can be made sweet or savory, depending on what you’re in the mood for.
Mori-Nu Silken Tofu is a GREAT base for creamy dressings, sauces, and even desserts with some cocoa powder and stevia.
Wink! Ice Cream. I’ll be honest, that this is not my favorite by any stretch, but many people swear by it when dieting. It is a low calorie, vegan protein ice cream that comes in a bunch of fun flavors. But it is no So Delicious, that’s for sure 😉
Pickles. Pickles. Pickles. I can’t stress pickles enough. Try it, you’ll get the hype.
Walden Farms Pancake Syrup. I’ll be totally honest, this stuff and all of the Walden Farms counterpart definitely have some unsavory ingredients. But….when you’re hungry, they’re a godsend at zero calories.
Soda Water is bubbly and refreshing and temporarily filling. It can be flavored with lemon juice, mint, cucumber, etc. This should never replace your fresh water, but it’s a nice treat.
Flavored Hot Teas now are stocked in endless options in grocery stores these days. Caramel chai, apple cinnamon, pineapple lychee, vanilla roiboos, etc are all incredible and with a splash of almond milk and a stevia packet, they are practically dessert and great at staving off nighttime cravings.
Protein. Although this isn’t a high volume food or even category of food, having protein with your meals will absolutely help you feel fuller. And while protein shakes can be helpful in a pinch or in the off season, liquid protein will not keep you as full as food you actually have to chew on. Some of my favorite protein sources to have with my meals are Beyond Meat Chicken Strips, Upton’s Bacon Seitan, and Yves Canadian Bacon, high protein tofu (like Trader Joe’s and Wildwood), and Tofurkey Tempeh.