The Truth About the CSIRO Diet!

The CSIRO Diet is the most popular diet in Australia.

Even though it may be the most popular diet, this doesn't mean it is the most effective. Let's face it, if you are supported by powerful organisations and lobby groups and can use the media well to help promote the diet, then there is no doubt that it is going to be very popular.

In this article we will cover the features of the CSIRO Diet, its pros and cons as well as why it has become so popular.


It seems that every few weeks a diet appears on the market touted by the media as being the 'new' answer to people's weight-loss woes. Inevitably, people who are desperate to lose weight decide to give the new diet a go even though every other diet they have done in the past has failed to give them the results they desire.

The typical scenario is the same with most diets. When people start the diet they achieve significant losses of weight; it seems to literally fall of their body! Of course, they feel ecstatic about their initial success even though this feeling is mixed with feelings of hunger, tiredness and lethargy. Dieters begin thinking that perhaps this diet is 'the one'; the weight-loss 'holy grail' they've been looking for!

Unfortunately though, once they achieve their desired body weight or complete the required time period, they stop following the diet. The day they stop following the diet is the last day they remain at their new body weight! As soon as they return to previous eating habits the weight starts to pile back on and usually with re-inforcements as well!

This is the typical scenario of most popular diets on the market today. Since they are generally too hard to stick to long term they don't become part of a person's lifestyle and as a result, the results that a person achieves by following a particular diet is short-lived!

Is the CSIRO Diet Better Than Other Diets?

Maybe, maybe not. The CSIRO is Australia's national science agency and is one of the world's largest and most diverse scientific research organisations; it is very well-respected. The diet has been prepared as a collaboration of several nutrition scientists from the CSIRO.

Advantages of the CSIRO Diet

Not an energy-restrictive diet
The CSIRO Diet is not a low-kilojoule/ calorie diet as are many of the crash diets on the market are.

Variable food intake
Also, the overall food intake is adjusted for body mass and activity level, which is absolutely essential if long-term sustainability is desired.

No macronutrient restriction
Carbohydrate and fat are important fuel sources for the body. Previously, most diets focused on reducing the intake of either of these macronutrients. For example, the standard nutritional recommendations of nutritionists and dieticians are high carbohydrate low fat diets

More recently however, most of the popular diets have focused on reducing the carbohydrate intake and allowing more fat and protein in the diet. Even though low-carb diets have their place, particularly for people with certain health conditions, they are not necessary for healthy individuals to follow.

For a variety of reasons neither of these approaches, either fat or carbohydrate restriction, is effective for long-term weight control.

The CSIRO Diet, on the other hand, has a much more balanced macronutrient profile. It provides 36% of its total energy from carbohydrate, 33% from protein, 26% from fat and 3% from alcohol.

This type of macronutrient profile has been used by fitness people and bodybuilders for decades to help them lose body fat and keep in great shape, much to the opposition of many nutritionists and dieticians. Now, however, the research is proving this approach is the best at helping people not only lose weight and keep it off, but also at helping them maintain good health.

Recommends exercise
Oftentimes when people want to lose weight they will try to do so by skipping meals or starving themselves. Unfortunately, both of these approaches are ineffective in keeping the weight off long term. The best way to lose body fat and keep it off permanently is to incorporate a combination of good nutrition, exercise and correct supplementation.

Most diets only recommend making changes to the nutritional habits of the individual. On the other hand, the CSIRO Diet recommends regular exercise in combination with the diet in order to achieve the best results.

Long-term approach
Many diets have a limited period of time that they need to be followed for, i.e. 1 week, 4 weeks or 12 weeks. The CSIRO Diet is a 12-week diet with a maintenance plan. many restrictive diets are now starting to offer maintenance plans for once people have completed the diet.

The CSIRO Diet suggest following the plan for life and considering the vast array of meal options provided it is understandable why it should be sustainable long-term for most people.

Disadvantages of the CSIRO Diet

Infrequent meals
The CSIRO Diet does have some flaws though that need to be taken into consideration before following it. Firstly, it only recommends three meals a day. Whilst this may be suitable for some people, for others, especially if they have a fast metabolism, 3 meals a day won't provide enough food. Therefore, 5 or 6 small meals a day may be more effective.

Another major problem with having infrequent meals is that people are more likely to over-eat at their main meal times. This is in addition to the fact that their body may go into a catabolic state, which means they will lose muscle. This of course, results in a depression of their metabolic rate.

Use meal replacements for snacks

Admittedly, most people don't feel they could eat 5 or 6 small meals a day if they are whole-food meals or that they have the time to do so. Therefore, it is a good idea for those people to use meal replacements, like shakes or bars as an option for their mid-morning or mid-afternoon meals.

Vested interests
Perhaps the biggest flaw in the CSIRO Diet is the fact that the researchers were funded by powerful organisations. Meat and Livestock Australia and Dairy Australia are the two organisations/ lobby groups that provided the funding for the research that was conducted by the CSIRO. Whenever powerful organisations provide the funding for research, vested interested often prevail.

Without exception, the CSIRO Diet recommends a high intake of meat and dairy foods throughout the diet. The fact is that people do not require large amounts of animal-based protein in their diet. A small amount is fine of course. Furthermore, dairy foods should be considered 'optional' on any diet simply because it is not required by the human body at all but the CSIRO Diet recommends an abundance of dairy foods.

Alternatives for special groups aren't considered
Dairy and gluten intolerances are extremely common in Australia and both are strongly implicated in causing 'Silent Inflammation' in the body. Unfortunately, no accommodation is made for individuals who may be intolerant to either dairy or gluten-containing foods and the issue of silent inflammation is not addressed at all.

Does not recommend supplements
The CSIRO Diet doesn't recommend any form of supplementation despite the abundance of research to the contrary. This is a major concern to many nutrition experts. The human body has a requirement for at least 20+ minerals, 13 vitamins, 8 essentials amino acids and 2 essential fatty acids every day (that we are aware of at the moment). Plus, a whole range of 'phytonutrients' (nutrients from plants) as well.

If we don't supply these to our body on a daily basis it simply doesn't function as well as it should. The average Australian diet contains many foods that have been processed, refined, packaged and early picked. Plus, the soils in Australia are considered to be 'ancient', which means they are often very low in many of the minerals required by the body.

Furthermore, chemical fertilisers are often used to ensure maximum growth of plants in minerally-deficient soils. What results is nutrient-deficient foods, which leads to nutrient deficiencies in our body. Perhaps the occlusion of supplements from the diet was because no supplement company provided any funding for the research!

Overall, compared to the average person's diet the CSIRO Diet is a vast improvement. However, the various flaws it contains means that it is a long way from being an ideal diet for people to follow.

To discover the facts about nutrition and to get a diet that is easy to follow and guarantees to get you results, get a copy of my e-book, Look Good, Feel Great!

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