2005-11-14

Intolerance & Health: New Slimming Diet From Oz

It will come as a revelation to many of us that Australia is not a country of fit, bronzed surf bums. With more than 60 per cent of adults overweight and one tenth of the population 'obese', our friends 'Down Under' are snapping at the heels of the USA as one of the fattest countries in the world. In an attempt to reverse this trend, government scientists in Australia have developed a diet which is taking the world by storm. 'The CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet' rocketed up the Australian bestseller lists overtaking 'The Da Vinci Code' and 'Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince', and is now being published in other countries. It's a low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet, which draws on elements of 'The Atkins' and 'GI (Glycaemic Index) diets', but incorporates these into a balanced lifestyle plan which also includes regular exercise. Mr.Manny Noakes, senior research dietician at 'Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation' ('CSIRO') in Adelaide, says it has had a broad appeal:
'It seems to have been taken up not only by people who want to lose weight, but also those want to follow a health lifestyle.'
The diet draws on a decade's research into food, health and dieting. One study followed 100 women on two low-fat diets, one higher in protein, the other higher in carbohydrates. After 12 weeks, both groups had lost weight, but those on the high-protein, low-carb diet had lost 25 per cent more. They had also lost twice as much fat around the waist and reported fewer problems with hunger pangs. The diet is described as 'calorie controlled and nutritionally complete'. Its creators say that, unlike 'The Atkins diets', it is not 'very low carb', and it does not try to eliminate any food group. The diet guide comes complete with menus, recipes and even weekly shopping lists. The diet came under attack because its development was sponsored by the meat, livestock and dairy industries, however Mr.Noakes insists this has not affected the content:
'After our initial research, we approached these industries to fund future research, and we have tested the diets with products from our sponsors, but we have maintained our autonomy to publish throughout.' 'Protein sources such as dairy products, lean red meat, fish and chicken are quite important in the diet and should be eaten in slightly larger amounts,' says Mr.Noakes. 'This is not only to do with the protein content. 'When cutting down calories, you're also cutting out a lot of vitamins and minerals, and these foods are good sources of things like "iron", "vitamin B12", "zinc" and "calcium".'
The diet does not cut out 'carbs', although the evening meal is 'carb' free, and incorporates 200_g of meat, fish or chicken. It is recommended that red meat is eaten four times a week.
'Some people have suggested that there is a link between red meat and certain types of cancer, but this risk is exceedingly low. 'The total diet is much more important in terms of risk of disease rather than any one food.' 'Refined starches, which you get in foods such as potatoes, white bread and cornflakes, increase blood sugar levels even more quickly than table sugar,' Mr.Noakes says. ''This triggers the release of insulin, which brings the blood sugar plummeting down, then your body gets a signal that it needs to eat. 'If you're constantly eating carbohydrates, you will feel hungry more often.'
However, dieters are encouraged to eat 'slow-release, low-GI' carbs in moderate amounts, such as wholegrain bread and high-fibre cereals. TAILORED FOR YOU No diet will suit everyone, and the 'CSIRO' diet can be tailored for the individual by working out your daily calorie output, using your weight, height, age and the level of exercise you take. That is the number of kilocalories you need to consume per day in order to keep your weight stable, but to lose weight that figure should be slightly reduced. There are four levels of the diet to suit different energy needs. The basic 'CSIRO' diet involved about 1_350 kilocalories/day, on which most people would lose 0.5/1_kg a week. REGULAR EXERCISE The most effective approach to weight loss is a combination of diet and exercise. The 'CSIRO' guide recommends 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity daily, combining 'aerobic'/'cardiovascular' exercise with 'resistance'/ 'flexibility' training.
'Physical activity on its own is not going to lose you weight, but it can have some profound effects,' says Mr.Noakes.
'Eating is only one side of the coin.
'We're learning a lot more about the interaction between proteins and physical activity, and it seems that a high-protein diet in combination with more physical activity is good for maintaining muscle while losing body fat, particularly abdominal fat.'
'Put another steak on the barbie', SUSAN MANSFIELD, The Scotsman,2005-11-14
Link: 'The 'CSIRO' Total Wellbeing Diet', by Dr Manny Noakes with Dr Peter Clifton (Amazon) Bookcover

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