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CSIRO diet gets a grilling!

You'll probably lose weight on the popular CSIRO diet but is it as good as the hype suggests? Some nutritionists have attacked the CSIRO's Total Wellbeing Diet, saying that it's too light on science and too heavy on hype....

csiro diet "The concept was to reduce [fats and carbohydrates] and keep protein as the centre of the diet and increase it a bit," says co-author of the new diet, Dr Peter Clifton, research director at CSIRO Human Nutrition. Clifton and colleagues report in their study that women who followed the CSIRO diet for three months lost around 7 kilograms. The success of this diet has been put down to eating more meat (as well as reducing fats and carbohydrates in balanced way), but some leading nutritionists argue this simply isnt true.

Is the secret to the CSIRO diet really the protein from meat? Nutritionist Dr Rosemary Stanton says the research conducted by the CSIRO shows that those who follow a conventional high-carbohydrate diet lost just as much weight as those on the high protein plan. Stanton states "we're pushed with this idea that if you want to lose weight you have to follow the CSIRO's high-meat diet that is being pushed by [the meat industry], which funded the study". Stanton also says the study is too small and too short to carry any theoretical weight.

Dr Tim Gill, of the Australasian Society for the Study of Obesity, agrees with Stanton that the CSIRO diet is "a bit of science with a lot of hype". But he doesn't share Stanton's concerns about the amount of meat in the diet, which he says is only slightly more than the average Australian eats. Gill says, "There's nothing new and wonderful about it. We can dress it up however we like but basically it's a moderately low-fat diet with a reasonable amount of carbohydrate and a tiny amount of extra protein". So the hype about the CSIRO diet being a new approach and being radically different doesnt hold much water.

Clifton of the CSIRO says at least four research groups around the world have demonstrated the benefits of a high-protein diet. He says that dieters in the CSIRO study found it easier to stick to the high-protein diet than to one rich in carbohydrates. So even if the high meat / protein diet isnt any better for weight loss if people find it easier or more satisfying to follow then that is a positive. He also adds, from the results of a subsequent study, that those who stayed on the CSIRO diet for 12 months were 3 kilograms lighter than when they started compared to the conventional dieters.

Professor Joe Proietto heads the weight control clinic at Austin Health, where he uses the CSIRO diet to help patients maintain weight loss after they've been on a more radical low-kilojoule diet. He believes protein-centred weight loss programs are beneficial because carbohydrates may increase appetite by stimulating the production of insulin which could cause a resistance to leptin, a hormone which regulates hunger. This is hypothesized but not yet demonstrated. Clifton is trialling the CSIRO diet in men, who are allowed a higher proportion of protein than women, with a view to producing a male-focused sequel to the first book.

For the full story on the CSIRO diet go to ABC Online.

To find out more about the CSIRO diet, eating well or your individual nutritional needs contact us!


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