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High-Volume, Low-Calorie Foods – Volume Eating and Weight Loss

9 min read
various fruits, vegetables and greens are on the image, high-volume low-calorie foods
Melissa Mitri post Reviewer Melissa Mitri post Reviewer
Verified by Melissa Mitri
MS, Registered Dietitian, Former President of CT Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics

Learn what high-volume, low-calorie foods are and how to add them to your diet to promote healthy and sustainable weight loss.

Table of Contents

Have you been struggling with limiting the amount of food you eat to lose weight? 

Your struggle is understandable since simply eating less, restricting, and eliminating many foods can lead to feeling unsatisfied. This can eventually lead to overeating later in the day because your hunger builds up to where it’s difficult to control.

The good news is consuming low-calorie, high-volume foods you like to eat may help promote healthy and sustainable weight loss over time. 

What Are High-Volume, Low-Calorie Foods?

Volume eating involves consuming voluminous foods that are low in calories but also tend to be high in water content and thus provide more volume.

Consuming high-volume meals that are low in calories is a diet regimen that focuses on specific high-volume foods. It also does not recommend completely eliminating any food or food group from your diet. 

These foods primarily include fruits and vegetables, but some proteins and even grains can also be considered high in volume and low in calories. 

The concept behind volume eating lies in the different nutritional value of different macronutrients. Thus, we have the following calories per 1 gram:

  • protein – 4 cal
  • carbohydrate – 4 cal
  • fat – 9 cal
  • water – 0 cal
  • fiber – 2 cal
  • alcohol – 7 cal

From this it follows that low-volume foods contain more calories per gram and provide more calories in smaller amounts. Great examples of such foods are high-fat foods like oils, nuts, and seeds.

High-volume foods, in most cases, contain a lot of water and fiber and provide fewer calories per gram.

Focusing on high-volume and low-calorie foods (discussed later in this article) will likely reduce the amount of energy-dense (i.e., high-calorie) foods you eat because you will feel fuller and more satisfied from the voluminous foods. 

If you’re finding yourself often feeling hungry even after eating, high-volume eating may be perfect for you.

Volume Eating & Weight Loss

According to the Journal of Family Practice, consuming high-volume and low-calorie recipes can reduce hunger and may keep you feeling full and satiated while naturally consuming fewer calories. [1]

In other words, increasing the volume of foods you eat with a low energy density may help promote weight loss. This is because you will still feel full but will consume fewer calories. No wonder volume eating is a huge trend on TikTok now.

However, volume eating is more sustainable than typical dieting because it does not involve counting calories or macronutrients. Instead, the goal is to eat until you are full and satisfied with the foods that are high in volume and low in calories. 

Volume eating may be more successful in weight loss over time because it is less intensive and restrictive than just eating higher-calorie foods in smaller amounts or in “moderation.”

Many high-calorie foods don’t fill you up with a small quantity, so simply attempting to reduce these foods is not very sustainable.

According to the Journal of Family Practice, those who restrict calories and replace meals with different food products may lose a significant amount of weight but often gain most of it back soon after. [1]

Instead, consuming high-volume, low-calorie meals and snacks can reduce the overconsumption of foods high in sugar, fat, and calories.

Overall, you can pick the best foods that are low in calories yet high in volume that are enjoyable to you. This will make losing weight a more sustainable and mindful process.

Other Health Benefits of Volume Eating

Volume eating has many other potential benefits besides promoting healthy and sustainable weight loss. So, let’s discuss some more benefits of eating high-volume and low-calorie foods here.

  • Encourages a healthy relationship with food and eating: Rather than focusing on restriction and counting your macronutrients, volume eating allows you to feel full and satisfied while consuming fewer calories. 
  • Increases satiety and fullness: Because of the high water (and often high dietary fiber) content of many high-volume, low-calorie foods, this dietary regimen often leaves you feeling more full and satisfied than consuming small amounts of high-calorie foods.

20+ High-Volume, Low-Calorie Foods

Fruits and vegetables are the foods that are most frequently regarded as high-volume, low-calorie foods. Some examples include cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cabbage, leafy greens like spinach and kale, and fruits and berries like blueberries and watermelon. There are also high-volume foods in other food groups, such as protein, grains, dairy, and more.

Let’s discuss a few high-volume foods in each of these categories. 

High-Volume, Low-Calorie Foods: Vegetables and Greens

Incorporating many vegetables and leafy greens into your meals and snacks is a great idea. You can eat veggies and greens in large quantities without adding too many calories overall. 

They are also rich in nutrition, including vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber. Here are some great high-volume and low-calorie vegetables.

list of greens and vegetables that are high in volume and low in calories_high volume low calorie foods
  • Leafy greens, such as kale (33 calories/100g), spinach (23 calories/100g), arugula (25 calories/100g)
  • Cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage (25 calories/100g), cauliflower (25 calories/100g), broccoli (55 calories/100g), and Chinese cabbage (12 calories/100g)
  • Potatoes (77 calories/100g)
  • Zucchini (17 calories/100g)
  • Cucumbers (15 calories/100g)
  • Bell peppers (20 calories/100g)
  • Mushrooms (22 calories/100g)

High-Volume, Low-Calorie Foods: Fruits & Berries

Fruits are also great high-volume and low-calorie foods because they are high in water and fiber and low in calories. Fruits are also typically refreshing and hydrating, which can help you feel more satisfied and less inclined to eat more. 

Here are some tasty high-volume and low-calorie fruits.

list of fruits and berries that are high in volume and low in calories_high volume low calorie foods
  • Watermelon (30 calories/100g)
  • Berries, such as raspberries (52 calories/100g), strawberries (32 calories/100g), and blueberries (57 calories/100g)
  • Grapes (69 calories/100g)
  • Tomatoes (18 calories/100g)
  • Apples (52 calories/100g)
  • Oranges (43 calories/100g)
  • Grapefruit (42 calories/100g)
  • Pear (57 calories/100g)


There are also protein sources that are low in calories and can be added to high-volume meals and snacks. 

However, it is best to pair these protein sources with fruits and vegetables rather than just consuming high volumes of these proteins alone. So, let’s list some great protein sources for high-volume eating.

list of protein foods that are high in volume and low in calories_high volume low calorie foods
  • Legumes, such as lentils (116 calories/100g) or beans (varying between 100-140 calories/100g)
  • Eggs (155 calories/100g)
  • Lean meats (varying between 130-200 calories/100g)
  • Fish or seafood, for example, white fish (varying between 70-130 calories/100g)
  • Poultry, such as chicken (165 calories/100g) or turkey (135 calories/100g)

Other Food Groups

It may surprise you that there are not just high-volume fruits and vegetables, but there are also high-volume carbs or grains, dairy, combination foods, and more. Here are a few more high-volume, low-calorie foods that are in these other food groups. 

list of foods that are high in volume and low in calories_high volume low calorie foods
  • Broth-based soups, such as bone broth (about 86 calories/100g)
  • Popcorn without too much added butter, fat, or salt (around 375 calories/100g; one serving is about 25 grams))
  • Oatmeal or oats (68 calories/100g when cooked)
  • Low-fat Greek yogurt (59 calories/100g)
  • Low-fat cottage cheese (72 calories/100g)

How to Guide for Volume Eating: Tips and Tricks

While there are many ways to include volume eating into your diet and lifestyle, here we will discuss some tips and information on the basics of volume eating. 

  • Start slowly and gradually add high-volume foods to your diet. It is important to begin slowly if you are not accustomed to having a lot of dietary fiber in your diet since many foods and recipes high in volume may also increase in fiber, such as salads. 

Adding too much fiber into your diet too fast can lead to bloat and stomach upset.

  • Opt for raw vegetables over cooked whenever possible.
  • Include high-volume, low-calorie foods in your snacks and your meals, such as popcorn, low-fat yogurt with fresh fruit, and more.
  • Choose foods that are enjoyable to you to promote a healthy and sustainable diet regimen.

Are There Risks to Volume Eating?

While volume eating is a great way to prioritize healthy whole foods in your diet, there might be some pitfalls.

Obsession with choosing as low-calorie foods as possible might lead to disordered eating and achieving a calorie deficit that is just too much. Some people might avoid essential nutrients like fats because they carry ‘too many’ calories.

Another pitfall that is connected to the previous one is overloading your diet with fiber, which can lead to unpleasant digestive symptoms like bloating and even cramping.

To combat these risks, bear in mind that volume eating is about prioritizing high-volume foods, not limiting your diet to such foods only. Ensure you get enough proteins and healthy fats, stay hydrated, and, most importantly, keep your diet as diverse as possible.

Wrapping Up

Let’s review some key takeaways from this article.

  • High-volume, low-calorie foods are often those high in water, fiber, and more and can include fruits, vegetables, protein, and grains. 
  • Focusing on high-volume, low-calorie foods can promote satiety, prevent overeating, and support healthy weight loss.
  • Volume eating may also support a healthy relationship with eating and food. It is very different from restrictive diets (including fad diets) that focus on restriction, counting calories or macronutrients, and elimination.
  • There are many voluminous foods that are nutritious, low in calories, and satiating, including broth-based soups, salads, cruciferous vegetables (such as cauliflower and broccoli), and watermelon.
  • High-volume, low-calorie foods can be added to your meals and snacks to help promote weight loss that is sustainable and healthy. 
  • If you are not used to including much dietary fiber in your meals and snacks, make sure to slowly and gradually increase the amount. This includes fruits, vegetables, and legumes, and adding them slowly can reduce uncomfortable gastrointestinal symptoms such as gas, bloating, or diarrhea. 

If you are struggling to lose weight or want more information about volume eating, consider speaking with a registered dietitian nutritionist to address your specific concerns and receive individualized advice for you to successfully and healthfully lose or maintain your weight. 

Disclaimer This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!

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