I’ll Have the Caesar Salad With a Puff of Air But Hold the Dressing

This week, CNN released a headline in their health section titled, “Eat More Weigh Less!” Could it be!? Is CNN about to tell the world that eating more fat instead of carbs will make you lose weight!? Alas…no…it is instead encouraging the “volumetrics” diet which reminds TheFatNurse of fond memories in the 80’s with totally rad hair and jazzercise rage – PUMP UP THE VOLUME[-etrics] BABY!

Volumetrics is based off of Dr. Barbara Rolls’ idea that one can decrease calorie count AND feel satisfied by “limit[ing] the low-volume foods and eat mostly high-volume ones. Doing so allows you to double, sometimes triple, your portions and still lose weight, says Rolls.” A study to support this, done by Rolls, shows that “people who ate an entree made up of 25% pureed vegetables — in this case, squash and cauliflower were blended into macaroni and cheese — consumed 360 fewer calories per ‘volumize’ the dish, tricking your brain into thinking you’re eating more when in fact you’re eating less.”

“This simple recipe modification ups your vegetable intake and reduces calorie consumption at the same time,” Rolls informs CNN.

Alright…is this…really new? Doesn’t this just go with the whole drink water before you eat to stuff yourself up concept? More importantly, how long are these feelings of satiety going to last? Let’s take a look at the original study:

Link to the Rolls Study

“The findings from this study show that incorporating pure ́ed vegetables into meals as a method of decreasing energy density can be an effective strategy to reduce energy intakes and increase vegetable intakes over 1 d.”

ENOUGH TO DO IT FOR ONE DAY! WHOO HOO! Success! C’mon Doc, even you must admit that being able to maintain this diet for a day doesn’t show much about it’s long term potential…oh wait you do admit that:

“It is possible that individuals could compensate by consuming more energy on subsequent days, and this should be explored in future studies.”

Alright, sorry to have picked on you like that Doc at least you point that out. So this brings up a more important point: the media. Did the CNN writers just pick out this study without really thinking through it? More importantly, they are basing the idea that this diet can make a person lose weight through the ole “calories in calories out” dogma – the idea that one just needs to eat less calories to lose weight – this idea itself is controversial on its validity. Additionally, they also write this:

“Foods that are high in fat and/or sugar are just the opposite: They’re less filling, plus they have more calories per bite”

Eh? TheFatNurse can see how sugar is less filling and even fat laced with sugar (through the carbohydrate insulin response hypothesis). But fat by itself less filling than…? There are multiple studies from history as far back as the 19th century that show eating a high fat diet promotes satiety much better than a low fat diet while losing weight at the same time. You want some more modern studies? Just continue scrolling down.

Bottom Line: If you’ve been struggling to lose weight give this diet a try, but don’t blame yourself if it doesn’t work. This diet seems to be based off the controversial calorie deficit idea, so it is not your fault if it doesn’t work. Always be skeptical of ideas promoted in the media (including blogs like TheFatNurse!) and do your own research to see if there is any real validity to what they claim.

Links to Studies where participants reported feeling more satisfaction with a high fat diet versus a low fat diet while losing more weight and having lower triglyceride levels to counter the CNN article:

1) http://jcem.endojournals.org/content/88/4/1617.short

2) http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa022207

3) http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa022637

4) http://www.annals.org/content/140/10/778.short

5) http://www.annals.org/content/140/10/769.short

6) http://jama.ama-assn.org/content/297/9/969.short

7) http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022347602402065


2 thoughts on “I’ll Have the Caesar Salad With a Puff of Air But Hold the Dressing

  1. Did you notice the recommendations are to substitute vegetables for carbs (cauliflower and squash puréed and blended into macaroni and cheese)? Some of the low carb experts theorize that the reason low fat diets really work for some people is that while they are not low carb per se, the amount of carbs permitted is well below what the dieters probably would otherwise eat. So in essence, these are lower carb diets. That’s certainly the case if some of the pasta is replaced with puréed low carb veggies!


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