While fad diets come and go (we’re looking at you, taco diet!), there’s one that has stood the test of time — the CSIRO Total Wellbeing diet. Developed by Dr. Manny Noakes in 2005, the 12-week eating plan has always been known for its science-backed, realistic approach to dieting. So much so, that nutritionists and dieticians often cite it as their diet of choice. The high protein, moderate carb, and low-fat weight loss plan is all about sensible eating and moderation.
That’s why the launch of the CSIRO’S latest diet, Flexi, took us by surprise. Unlike the CSIRO’s previous diets, It’s based on the concept of intermittent fasting (ie. cycling between periods of extreme kilojoule restriction and eating normally). The diet was released following an extensive study into its effects on weight loss and overall health. Participants in the 16-week trial lost an average of 11kg and saw improvements in cholesterol, insulin, glucose and blood pressure.
Three days of fasting or ‘control’ days, consisting of two meal replacements and a ‘control’ meal (consisting of vegetables.)
Three days of two meal replacements, two snacks, one normal meal.
One ‘flexi’ day per week, where you can eat or drink whatever you like.
The program is a collaboration between CSIRO and weight loss company Impromy, who provide the meal replacement shakes, recipe book and personalised meal plans. The diet itself is quite similar to 5:2, which has long been the subject of controversy due to its intermittent fasting principles. So, is this a healthy and sustainable way to lose weight? We asked nutritional medicine practitioner and diet myth-buster, Fiona Tuck, to weigh in.
Intermittent fasting can be an effective way to manage weight and positively assist health conditions such as insulin resistance and high cholesterol. Intermittent fasting can be extreme or subtle, depending on the number of hours of fasting take place and the number of kilojoules consumed. Modest fasting such as having one low calorie day per week can be beneficial or managing weight and health and sustainable for many people. However, fasting is not suitable for everyone including those with extremely active lifestyles that requiring energy dense diets. But for the average person, the health benefits of intermittent fasting look very promising.
In an article about the Flexi diet, CSIRO acknowledges that the diet isn’t suitable for everyone’s preferences and lifestyle. Think it’s right for you? As with any new diet plan, make sure you do your research and consult your GP first.