When it comes to fat loss, calories and energy balance matter more than anything. If you’re eating fewer calories than your body needs, it will begin to pull stored energy from body fat and other tissues to create the energy and sustain its vital functions. This is how fat loss and weight loss occurs, extremely simplified.
This immutable law of fat loss causes quite the uproar in the nutrition community with arguments over calorie quality, certain foods being no-nos, and other foods being saviors or panaceas. Alas, the calories in vs calories out argument is the ultimate determinant of changes in body stores. Period.
But don’t get me wrong, the quality of calories or where your calories come from matters – but probably not for the reasons you might think. Consuming micronutrient-dense (read: vitamins and minerals) foods will aid health and longevity more than processed, nutrient-void foods no questions asked. Still, if you ate too many calories from nutritious foods you would indeed gain weight or body fat. The problem is, most nutrient-dense foods are also high-volume foods, meaning they contain very little calories relative to their weight or volume. (Likely due to water, fiber, and other chemical properties.)
If you tried to eat 3,000 calories of spinach, for example, I think you would die. That’s not a hyperbolic statement – I think you would literally die.
This is where high-volume eating comes in. As an eating strategy, there’s nothing novel or sexy about it. You simply eat foods that are high in volume and low in calories. It’s worth mentioning that doesn’t mean you have to consume vegetables only. There are plenty of non-veggie, delicious foods that are high volume. I can’t emphasize enough how well incorporating high-volume food works for making fat loss diets more bearable and even enjoyable.
My love for high-volume eating, not to mention the frequency I talk about it, led me to experiment with an eating challenge. I see a lot of 10,000 calorie challenges where people attempt to eat 10,000 calories in one day. This usually requires eating calorie-dense and low-volume foods to reach the 10k mark without stuffing yourself to the point of illness. I’ve always thought doing a 10,000 calorie would be easy and a bit pointless other than getting a few views.
So, I wanted my experiment to be the opposite. Instead of eating 10,000 calories, I would eat 2,000 calories or less but make it almost exclusively composed of high-volume foods. With the easiest (and most attractive) way to measure the volume of my meals, I opted for a goal of 10 pounds of food in a day. I thought doing a challenge like this would be a great educational tool for choosing better foods for fat loss, potential pitfalls and challenges with high-volume eating, and would provide practical food/meal examples for anyone interested in changing their diet.
You’ll find the full video below and after the video, you can find timestamps of each meal and the foods I used for the entire day. Spoiler: I exceeded the 10-pound mark.
Meal 1 (0:00)
Liquid Egg Whites – 6 servings
Onion & 3-Pepper Blend (Kroger Frozen) – 1 bag
Chunky Salsa – 3 servings
Watermelon – 16oz
Weight: 2lb 4.5oz | Calories: 430
Meal 2 (9:30)
Broccoli Slaw – 1/3 container
Bolthouse Salsa Verde Avocado Dressing – 1 serving
Weight: 5oz | Calories: 70
Meal 3 (12:26)
Sugar-Free Jell-0 – 2 packets prepared (2/3 consumed)
Frozen Blueberries – 1/2 serving in Jell-0
Campbell’s Chunky Vegetable Soup – 1 can
Cauliflower Rice – 1 bag
Broccoli Slaw – 1/3 container
Weight: 3lb 12oz | Calories: 390
Meal 4 (16:15)
Honeycrisp Apple – 211g
PB2 Powdered Peanut Butter – 2 servings
Weight: 9.5oz | Calories: 200
Meal 5 (17:50)
Kroger Lite Orange Juice – 2 servings (16oz)
Frozen Blueberries – 1 serving
Spinach – 3 handfuls
Weight: 1lb 8oz | Calories: 280
Meal 6 (20:18)
Broccoli Slaw & Cauliflower Rice Stir Fry – the remainder from earlier meals (already logged in weight/calories)
Meal 7 (20:50)
Sugar-Free Jell-O with Frozen Blueberries – remaining 1/3
Weight: 12oz | Calories: 40
Meal 8 (20:50)
Quick Oats – 1/2 serving (20g)
Sugar-Free Devil’s Food Cake Mix – 1/2 serving (19g)
Chocolate Whey Protein Powder – 1 scoop
Unsweetened Almond Milk – 1 serving (8oz)
Creamy Peanut Butter – 1 Tbsp
Weight: 11oz | Calories: 350
Meal 9 (20:50)
Halo Top Pistachio – 1 container
Weight: 16oz | Calories: 240
Weight: 10lbs 8oz | Calories: 2,004
List of Foods and Calories/Macronutrients
The Recap & Takeaways (23:09)
- High-volume foods tend to be higher in carbohydrates. Be mindful of your protein, fat, and carbohydrate intake in addition to overall calorie consumption.
- Eating a ton of food will not lead to fat gain but may lead to acute weight gain, though not as much as you’d expect. My final weight only increased 3 pounds from morning until night. Most high-volume foods will contain large amounts of water that is either absorbed or excreted in urine. This style of eating may also be a solution for those with chronic hydration issues.
- Overall, I feel a balanced style of eating is more sustainable than keto or other high-fat diets primarily for volume and flexibility.
- Don’t replicate this exact day. You’ll want to include more protein and healthy fats with a reduction in carbohydrates. I’m accustomed to eating more food than most, and I hit a wall at the 6-7 pound mark. You could scale way back and still feel full/satisfied. Notice at the end of the day I kind of threw in the towel with a microwave cake and Halo Top.
If you’re interested in learning more about nutrition for fitness and healthy living, I’ve put together a free eBook on the topic. It covers everything from calculating your metabolic rate, calorie and macronutrient needs, diet strategies, as well as food guides and recipes. You can learn more about Nutrition Made Easy 2.0 here or enter your info below to download your copy.