How does the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet Plan work and what can you expect from it if you decide to join?
The CSIRO diet is one of Australia’s most popular diets and has an emphasis on high protein, low fat and moderate carb intake.
How does the CSIRO diet work?
The CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet Plan is a 12-week online program that aims to help you become healthier, lose weight and maintain a healthy weight in the future. It follows a scientifically based healthy eating plan and tries to take your personality traits into account when providing you with meal plans. Nutrition scientists at CSIRO in Australia developed the diet.
Before you start the CSIRO diet, you’ll need to work out your daily kilojoule output. There is some guidance on this when you join the program. With this figure in mind, CSIRO recommends eating between 2,000 and 4,000 kilojoules (roughly 480 to 960 calories) less than you use in order to experience safe and sustainable weight loss.
There are four different levels, depending on your energy needs:
- Level 1 - 5,500 kilojoules (1,315 calories)
- Level 2 - 6,000 kilojoules (1,435 calories)
- Level 3 - 7,000 kilojoules (1,675 calories)
- Level 4 - 8,000 kilojoules (1,915 calories)
If you’ve been on any type of diet, you’ve probably found that you get hungry. With the CSIRO diet, there is a heavy focus on including plenty of protein in the meal plans, which will help you feel full between meals and keep cravings to a minimum. Because it’s high in protein, it can also reduce glucose and insulin levels.
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Although carbs are on the lower side, CSIRO recommends that you have six to seven servings a day. This can include high-fibre cereals, whole grain bread and fruit, for example.
It’s a bit different to the Atkins Diet, although both are high in protein. On the Atkins Diet, you’re more likely to be significantly restricting carbs and limiting essential fats. On the CSIRO diet, lean meats, fish and low-fat dairy are included.
The CSIRO diet is largely based on the findings of a 12-week study, during which 100 overweight women followed a high-protein, low-fat diet and reduced some of their markers for chronic health conditions. CSIRO studies suggest that women who have high triglycerides could lose 25% more weight (especially abdominal fat) by following a diet high in protein and low in fat and carbs, compared to one that is high in carbs and low in fat.
As well as supporting weight loss, meal plans help reduce risk factors for chronic conditions, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
The following are a few of the benefits of the CSIRO Diet Plan:
- Simple, healthy meal plans
- Practical exercises to support your eating plan
- iOS app to check your menu plans, track your progress and search the extensive food database
- The ability to get a full refund for the cost of the basic program ($199) if you successfully complete the 12-week program
- The Premium plan also includes access to online coaching sessions from an accredited practising dietitian.
- Meal plans are personalised to you according to your Diet Type.
- Maintenance diet plans for when you have completed the program.
It is suitable for people with a variety of health conditions, including type 2 diabetes, pre-diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, joint pain and osteoarthritis.
The CSIRO diet also aims to improve your CSIRO Healthy Diet Score. This score ranks you out of 100, according to how healthy your diet and lifestyle are. Most people will improve their score after completing the online program.
The CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet Plan takes into account your personality and how that may affect your eating habits. You will need to take a survey, and the results of the survey will be used to place you in the most relevant Diet Type.
There are five Diet Types:
The Thinker - CSIRO describes this Diet Type as someone who tends to “overthink situations and worry about making mistakes”. It’s based on the idea that stress, anxiety and mood fluctuations can make healthy eating more difficult.
The Craver - This Diet Type is linked to overeating. Cravings will often be for “discretionary” foods such as chocolate and other sweet treats.
The Foodie - This Diet Type spends a lot of time thinking about food and is often heavily invested in the preparation and cooking aspects of eating as well as the food itself.
The Socialiser - CSIRO describes this Diet Type as someone who “likes to connect with friends over food and drinks”.
The Freewheeler - This Diet Type involves an impulsive and spontaneous personality. CSIRO describes it as someone who doesn’t usually plan their meals and is prone to “making snap decisions, which may lead to consuming takeaway and convenience food.”
Your diet plan will be personalised to one of these Diet Types, depending on your survey results.
What can you eat?
The CSIRO diet is high in protein and low in carbs and fat. Meal plans tend to include a lot of meat and fish, which can be a problem if you are vegan or vegetarian.
The diet includes these foods, although there is some scope for adapting this to suit your lifestyle and preferences:
- High-fibre cereal (40g per day)
- Low-fat milk (500ml per day)
- Whole grain bread (70g per day)
- Fruit (300g of whole fruit or 300ml of fruit juice per day)
- Lean protein such as chicken/beef/lamb/fish/eggs/other meat (200g at lunch and 200g at dinner per day)
- Vegetables (2.5 cups per day)
- Low-fat yogurt
- Low-calorie soup (optional but up to 250 ml is allowed)
- Oils and fats (3 tsp per day)
- Up to two glasses of wine per week (optional)
The following are a few of the meal options that you may be provided with (depending on your Diet Type):
- Pumpkin, lentil, beef and rocket salad
- Overnight banana oats with berries
- High-fibre cereal with milk and a banana
- Honey mustard fish
- Lamb and vegetable stir fry
Alongside the meal plans, there are also exercises that you can do at home. CSIRO recommends that you do at least 30 minutes of exercise per day during the program. Ideally, you should do aerobic exercise sessions several times per week as part of this.
Image source: CSIRO Instagram