Pump Up the Volume: The Volumetrics Weight Control Plan for Older Adults

Pump Up the Volume: The Volumetrics Weight Control Plan for Older Adults

Whenever someone mentions a diet, the first thing that usually comes to mind is smaller portion sizes. According to Dr. Barbara Rolls, a nutrition researcher at Pennsylvania State University, reducing calorie intake does not mean reducing food intake.

Interested in dietary strategies for weight management, Dr. Rolls has found that those who are trying to lose weight are more satisfied when able to ingest the same amount of food, rather than the same amount of calories.[1] To place her extensive research into practice, Dr. Rolls has created a healthy eating plan—the Volumetrics Weight-Control Plan—that emphasizes eating foods low in energy density. What this means is eating foods that are low in calories but are collectively the same weight as foods previously eaten. By eating the same amount of food, those who are following this eating plan are able to still feel full, but fewer calories will be consumed. Most of the foods that fall into this low energy density category are fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans and foods high in fiber and water content. [2]

For an older adult, this eating plan may prove beneficial not only for losing excess weight, but also for maintaining a healthy diet.  As we age, some of us find it difficult to stay hydrated, so increasing consumption of foods that are high in water content may ameliorate this issue. Additionally, this eating plan encourages the consumption of high fiber foods, which aid in proper digestion and may better manage constipation. Although most older adults do not need to worry about reducing calorie intake, abiding by this dietary plan may improve the intake of the essential nutrients necessary for graceful aging. When adopting this eating plan, it is important to remember to still eat three meals a day, incorporating a protein at every meal. Even though most of the recommended foods have a high water content, drinking plenty of fluids throughout the day is vital. Following these recommendations will lead to a healthy, well-balanced diet.

Want more information?  Download this helpful handout:  Patient HandOut_Lauren Brown

Guest Blogger:  Lauren Brown

[1] Rolls BJ. The supersizing of America: Portion size and the obesity epidemic. Nutrition Today. 2003;38:42-53.

[2] Rolls, Barbara J., and Robert A. Barnett. The Volumetrics Weight-control Plan: Feel Full on Fewer Calories. New York, NY: HarperPaperbacks, 2003. Print.

Photos found at http://www.buzzle.com/articles/healthy-nutrition-for-older-people.html And http://www.sparkpeople.com/myspark/groups_subcategory.asp?pg=2&strSearch=&strMethod=&selGroupType=&SortOrder=&CatID=34

2000 Calories in A Few Easy Steps

2000 Calories in A Few Easy Steps

Due to age-related changes in body composition, metabolism, and activity, older adults should have slightly different diets than the general population.

Here is a non-comprehensive list of some suggested dietary concerns:

  • Wet your whistle!— drinking 8 cups of water a day is crucial for older adults since dehydration is very common because of an age-related decreased sense of thirst
  • An apple a day keeps the doctor away[I1] —high fiber diets are essential to prevent digestive problems; great source of fiber are fruits.
  • Beef Up[I2] —high protein diets (about 100g per day) are recommended for older adults to prevent age-related muscle and function loss (sarcopenia)2. The dense calories from meat fats are also good to help older adults meet caloric needs.
  • Calcium and Vitamin D—due to decreased Vitamin D [I3] synthesis in the skin and decrease calcium intake, older adults are very susceptible to osteoporosis [I4] and bone fracture. Adequate intake of these vitamins and minerals is crucial3.

Designing a 2000 Calorie Diet

Aside from the age-related concerns mentioned above, older adults should also follow the general guidelines in designing a healthy diet:

  • Varied—eating a variety of foods helps ensure adequate micronutrient intakes.
  • Energy adequate—caloric content should match weight aims. For older adults, this will most frequently mean maintaining weight by increasing caloric intake to counteract sarcopenia and loss of appetite.
  • Medical Considerations—if any medical conditions exist, consulting a dietitian or doctor is recommended to ensure proper nutrition

With the general goals clear, using online caloric-nutrient counting tools is a great way to ensure adequate nutrition: My Pyramid Tracker and Spark People are two free options.

Attached, you can also find a handout with total servings of each food group to reach 2000 calories.

Example 2000 Calorie Diets

Day 1 Day 2
  • 2 medium eggs scrambled
  • 2 pieces of Wheat Toast
  • ½ cup of cooked Oatmeal with half a Bananas
  • 8 oz of Orange Juice fortified w Calcium
  • 1 multigrain bagel
  • 1 T. light cream cheese
  • 1 cup orange juice with calcium
  • 6 oz. low fat  yogurt
  • 1/2 cup fresh strawberries
  • 1 Roasted Turkey (2 thick slices), Provolone (1 slice), Lettuce (2 leaves), and Light Mayonnaise (1/2 tablespoon) Sandwich
  • 8 oz of 2% Milk
  • 3 oz. lean hamburger, grilled or broiled
  • 1 T. ketchup
  • 1 hamburger bun
  • 1/2 tomato, sliced
  • 1/2 green pepper, sliced
  • 1 cup of skim milk
  • 1.5 cups of Caesar Salad
  • 1 Piece of Vegetarian Lasagna (4×4)
  • 8 oz of Apple Juice
  • 2 cups of whole wheat pasta with meat sauce
  • 2 medium sausages
  • 1/2 cup cooked green beans
  • 1 slice of garlic bread
  • At least four 8 oz glasses of water throughout the day

Calories= 2179 kcal 2055 kcal
Carbohydrates= 269 grams 279 grams
Proteins= 104 grams 103 grams
Fiber= 35 grams 31 grams

Also, download this helpful handout to be used when planning a 2000 calorie meal plan:  2000 Calorie Planning

Guest Blogger: Ignacio Cerdena

References and Photos

  1. Photo 1: ESL-to-go Blog. http://esltogo.wordpress.com/
  2. Kamel, Hosam. Sacropenia and Aging. Nutrition Review. May 2003, p157-167.
  3. Healthy Aging DPG (ADA) Newsletter: Bone Health: Physiology, Assessment and Prevention of Fractures. Summer 2008, pg 1, and 4-6.

[I1]Hyperlink to the “Fiber, Fluid and Alleviating Constipation” blog

[I2]Hyperlink to the “Protein and Sarcopenia” blog

[I3]Hyperlink to the “Vitamin D  (Dosing and Sources)” blog

[I4]Hyperlink to the “Osteoporosis:  What to do once you are a senior?” blog

1800 Calories A Day? No Problem!

1800 Calories a Day? No Problem!

Proper nutrition is vital for muscle function, bone mass, immune function, cognitive function, and wound healing and recovery(1) yet older adults are the demographic population most at risk for poor nutrition(2). By eating enough calories and protein each day and eating foods from all of the different food groups, you can make sure you get all the nutrients you need to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Energy needs depend on many factors, including age, weight, height, gender, and activity level. Check out this site to see what is recommended for you:


How much from each food group do you need to eat 1800 calories a day?

Protein: Choose 5 ounces of fish, poultry, lean meat, dry beans and nuts, and eggs

Grains: Choose 6 ounces of grains; look for whole grains such as brown rice and 100% whole wheat bread

Fruits: Choose 1 ½ cups of deep-colored fruits such as berries and melon

Vegetables: Choose 2 ½ cups of bright-colored vegetables such as carrots and broccoli

Dairy: Choose 3 cups of dairy, including low- and non-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese

Fats: These are ok! These foods, such as ice cream and butter, are fine in moderation but make sure these foods do not limit your intake of the other food groups.

Don’t forget about the importance of drinking enough water and getting enough physical activity- these are part of the food pyramid too! The most important point is that a well-balanced 1800 calorie diet involves food from all food groups.

Need More Ideas?  Check out these great handouts…5 sample 1800 kcal menus AND Mypyramid for 1800 kcals

Guest Blogger:  Jackie Geralnick


1) Ahmed T, Haboubi N. “Assessment and management of nutrition in older people and its importance to health.” Clinical Interventions in Aging. 2010 Aug 9;5:207-16.

2) Brownie S. “Why are elderly individuals at risk of nutritional deficiency?” International Journal of Nursing Practice. 2006 Apr;12(2):110-8.

3) Lichtenstein AH, Rasmussen H, Yu WW, Epstein SR, Russell RM. “Modified MyPyramid for Older Adults.” J Nutr. 2008; 138:78-82.

4) “Meal Plan: 1800 Calories.” RD411.com. 2010. Web. 19 Oct. 2010. http://www.rd411.com/

5) “MyPyramid Plan.” MyPyramid.gov – United States Department of Agriculture – Home. Web. 18 October 2010. http://www.mypyramid.gov/mypyramid/index.aspx

Healthy Eating: 1500 calories

My doctor says that I need to follow a 1500 calorie diet.  What does that mean?

A calorie is a measurement of energy…and that just means how much food you are supposed to eat.  If we get too much energy, the excess is stored in our bodies as fat.  If we get too little energy, our bodies use our fat stores and muscles to make sure that we have enough energy to run on.

Both of these situations can cause complications for older adults making it difficult to stay active and healthy.  Being overweight can lead to a variety of chronic diseases that can be debilitating.  Too little weight and muscle can impair your ability to fight off disease and stay healthy.

Consider the kinds of foods to eat…in order to have a balanced diet.  As we age our bodies change in the way that we process and absorb the food we eat.  At the same time we usually need to eat less than we used to.  This makes it all the more important to get the most nutrition possible out of what we are eating 1.

Add it all up…what should my plate look like?

1/2 to 3/4 of your meal should be carbohydrate based foods:

-grains, fruits, vegetables

1/8 to 1/4 of your meal should be protein based foods:

-meats, poultry, fish, eggs, milk and cheese, beans and tofu and nuts

1/3 of calories should be from fat:

-oils that our foods are cooked in  and butter and cheeses we add to our plates.

Check out this sample menu to see how much food will give you 1500 calories…1500 calorie handout

Guest Blogger:  Jennifer Cantwell-Wood


1. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010. http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/DGAs2010-DGACReport.htm  p B1-4. accessed 10.16.10

2.http://www.brighamandwomens.org/healtheweightforwomen/eating/mealplans/1500_calorie.aspx  accessed 10.16.10

When I Was Your Age…Healthy Eating Was…

When I was your age…

Dinner came from recognizable, whole, unprocessed sources-vegetables, grains, protein, fruit, and dairy.  It’s time to go back to that.  Healthy meals have the proper components in the correct proportion.  Nutrient dense foods, which are those with the most nutrients per serving or ‘pack for their punch’, are our focus.  The Modified MyPyramid for Older Adults (1) is a great resource, specific to your needs:

  • At least half of your grains (breads, rice, pasta) should consist of whole grains.
  • If fresh fruits and vegetables are not an option, frozen are just as good!  They can be stored for an extended period of time and are frozen at their peak, which is when all of their nutrients are at their prime.  There are also great low sodium canned vegetables now as a third option.
  • Choose lean animal protein, that which does not have a lot of fat, or other options, such as beans and tofu.
  • Low fat dairy products, including milk, yogurt, and cheese, round out your diet.
  • Fluid, preferably water, should be consumed with every meal to not only aid in digestion, but to help with hydration.
  • Lastly, but definitely not of least importance, is including a multivitamin daily, as it’s ‘cheap health insurance’ and can insure the proper vitamins and minerals are included if they are not supplied by the diet (5).

Video explanation of the Modified MyPyramid (3):

Another way to think about the Food Guide Pyramid is to use the Idaho Plate Method.  Check out the image below…

Guest Blogger:  Kate Pilewski

Works Cited:

  1. Lichtenstein AH, Rasmussen H, Yu WW, Epstein SR, Russell RM.

Modified MyPyramid for Older Adults. J Nutr. 2008; 138:78-82.

  1. Modified MyPyramid for older adults: Tufts researchers update their food

guide pyramid for older adults. Boston (MA): Tufts University.  Available from: http://nutrition.tufts.edu/1197972031385/Nutrition-Page-nl2w_1198058402614.html.

  1. “Brighter living: food pyramid (over 70)” (Brighter Living, 2008, 1:01).
  2. Idaho plate method [homepage on the Internet]. Rexburg (ID): Idaho

Plate Method. Available from: http://platemethod.com.

  1. Sebastian RS, Cleveland LE, Goldman JD, Moshfegh AJ. Older adults

who use vitamin/mineral supplements differ from nonusers in nutrient intake adequacy and dietary attitudes. J Am Diet Assoc. 2007;107:1322–1332.