It’s time to stop worrying about which foods are best for fat loss or “ramping up” your metabolism. Fat loss occurs in the presence of a calorie deficit or eating fewer calories than your body needs for maintaining its core operations. When this happens, your body breaks down body fat and other tissue to create the fuel it needs.
Achieving a calorie deficit, however, is easier said than done thanks to hunger, cravings, and food being so freaking tasty. Not many people can go from eating at their current calorie intake level to a deficit without feeling deprived or hungry. Making matters worse, if you’re currently eating calorie dense foods (think: sweets, salty snacks, fast food, etc.) and attempt to reduce your calorie intake, you will struggle to eat enough. 1,500 calories can look drastically different and either leave you hungry and deprived or stuffed to the brim and satisfied.
The solution to this caloric density issue is a strategy called high volume eating. In this case, high volume is referring to foods that are low in calories but large in quantity, size, weight, etc. Take the cilantro lime cauliflower rice carnitas burrito bowl below, for example, which is massive and has fewer than 500 calories without guacamole.
Other high volume eating highlights:
- High volume foods leave you full and satisfied
- High volume foods are typically nutrient dense
- High volume foods are typically high in protein, which is great for body composition
- Alleviates feelings of deprivation or other ill effects of dieting
- High volume foods are low in fat, allowing you to choose your healthy fat sources wisely
- The large size of meals and required chewing assist with the mental side of fat loss dieting
Another good example of high volume foods on display would be something like the fat free popcorn compared to baked Cheetos in the graphic below. The Cheetos have more calories, and you don’t get to eat as many. Check out more graphics like this in my healthy snacks guide.
Okay, I think you get the gist of high volume eating.
One final note before we get into the recipes: While I picked up a few cooking skills on my way to a degree in nutrition, I don’t particularly enjoy spending time in the kitchen. Therefore, most of the recipes will require minimal cooking and easy-to-prepare ingredients. If you’d rather prepare things like riced/mashed cauliflower or green beans from fresh not frozen, by all means, go right ahead. My goal with these recipes is to shed light on how healthy eating doesn’t have to be complicated.
Protein Ice Cream
If you have a sweet tooth, protein ice cream is a life saver. Frozen bananas give the best consistency (similar to real ice cream), but they do have a powerful flavor profile. Banana works well with most recipes but if you are going after a salted caramel or orange sherbert, for example, there may be better options. Other possibilities might be:
- frozen avocados (higher-fat, lower-carb option)
- coconut oil or flaked coconut (higher-fat)
- greek yogurt (higher-protein, lower-carb option)
- pumpkin puree
- frozen mango or other fruits with a thicker consistency (blueberry mango protein ice cream below)
- ice only (greatly reduces creaminess)
- frozen strawberries and vanilla protein powder make a great combo
4-Ingredient Blueberry Mango Protein Ice Cream
This is quite possibly my favorite protein ice cream flavor to date.
🍨Blueberry Mango Protein Ice Cream ⠀ 💙This 4-ingredient ice cream is so simple and has actual ice cream consistency ‘cause we don’t play that soupy protein ice cream stuff around here. Here’s the recipe: ⠀ 1️⃣1 C (140g) Frozen Blueberries 2️⃣1 C (140g) Frozen Mango Chunks 3️⃣1 scoop Vanilla Protein Powder 4️⃣1/2 C Unsweetened Almond Milk 👩🍳Blend everything together in a food processor or blender. ⠀ 📊305 Calories | 26P | 43C | 3F
Strawberry Cheesecake Protein Ice Cream
Strawberries work wonders in protein ice cream. And adding a bit of diet soda (trust me) adds a level of fluff that’s super delicious.
Bonus: For which protein to choose, I recommend Optimum Nutrition’s Hydrowhey. Since hydrolyzed whey isolate is its primary ingredient, it tends to decrease any digestion issues like gas and bloating that can occur with some protein powders. For someone with a baby stomach like mine, I always feel great using this protein. If you’re lucky and have an iron stomach, go with a cheaper alternative like their Gold Standard version.
A bro-rito, in case you didn’t know, is simply a burrito without the tortilla. In the recipe above, I used extra-lean ground turkey and reduced sodium taco seasoning (1/2 packet for 1lb of turkey). Alternative protein options might be lean ground beef, ground chicken, tofu, or a mixture of beans. Also, low-fat cheese is a great way to add protein and flavor to this dish.
More Recipes for Protein Options:
- Pressure Cooker Shredded Mexican Chicken
- Low Fat Barbacoa Beef
- Ground Beef Baked Tacos
- Instant Pot Ground Turkey Taco Meat
- Healthy Ground Chicken Chorizo
Consider the pictured version of this recipe the base model of bro-ritos. You could spice things up with fajita vegetables, beans, avocado/guacamole, lite sour cream, or other additions. Just be sure to match your additional ingredients to your goals. While the pictured version is plain, it’s a massive serving and a high volume meal. Scaling back too much to add in a ton of guacamole and sour cream might defeat the purpose. Be mindful and remember the purpose of your meals.
Spicy Mashed Cauliflower & Pulled Pork
As you can see below, a food processor or NutriBullet makes easy work for cauliflower mashed fauxtatoes (just be sure to cook the cauliflower before mashing). I’ve used both butter and coconut oil, and the coconut oil wins in terms of flavor, oddly enough. The great thing about cauliflower is its versatility and ability to take on flavors. A little bit of seasoning goes a long way with cauliflower. For the spicy version, I use cayenne and black pepper in addition to a pinch of sea salt.
Rotisserie Chicken & Vegetables
Don’t sleep on the rotisserie chickens next to the checkout line. They’re a great protein source, taste amazing, have zero cook time, zero clean up, and have an excellent macronutrient/calorie profile. This is another “blank canvas” meal that could be spiced up however you like with other vegetables, spices/herbs, etc. Have fun with it!
And in case you’re looking for more rotisserie chicken ideas, check out the graphic below.
More Protein + Veggie Combos
Rotisserie chicken is easy, but I think options like ground beef, chicken, and turkey are super easy as well. Here’s a handful of ground meat + veggie combos you can cook all in one pan.
- One-Pan Sweet Chili Ground Beef and Brussels Sprouts
- Keto Cheeseburger Skillet
- 20-Minute Sweet and Spicy Ground Chicken and Broccoli
- Greek Ground Chicken and Veggie Bowls
- Chipotle Ground Turkey and Sweet Potatoes
The Takeaways for High-Volume, Low Calorie Eating
- Cauliflower is one of the most versatile, high volume foods around and can serve as an excellent “base” or “blank canvas” food.
- The more food you can eat while keeping calories low, the more fat loss success you will have.
- Keeping calories low in most high volume meals involves scaling back on fat intake. By no means should you shy away from fat – it’s just the most calorically dense macronutrient and easiest to reduce for overall calorie intake. When you do consume fat on a fat loss diet, ensure that it’s from a great source and ideally a part of your meals. (Snacking on nuts during a fat loss diet is difficult for overall calorie intake.)
- Protein ice cream is a must for sweets lovers. Although it wasn’t mentioned, you can add vegetables like spinach and kale to bulk up your serving size and add extra nutrients to your diet. I prefer to keep them out of my ice cream and in food, however.
- Frozen fruits and vegetables are picked at their peak ripeness and you shouldn’t be all that concerned over buying fresh vs frozen.
- You can be as fancy as you like in the kitchen but at the end of the day, being consistent in the kitchen is what will make or break your fat loss success.
As always, if you try any of my recipes, I want to see your re-creations on Instagram. It lets me know you’re putting healthy recipes into action, and I love sharing your recipes to inspire others.