CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, has released new research that will help Australians start healthy weight loss in 2023 by tackling one of the biggest obstacles to successful dieting: cravings.
Off the back of the findings, CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet has launched its new Fast Start program. It’s an alternative way for Australians that are overweight or obese to make sustainable, safe and healthy diet changes.
A recent survey of 330 Australians revealed that 66 per cent of respondents reported a constant struggle to resist higher levels of cravings, while 82 per cent said it would be easier to lose weight without cravings.
With one in five of this group also reporting more than 25 attempts to actively manage their weight, CSIRO conducted a follow up study to explore alternative ways they could better curb their cravings and avoid derailing their weight loss.
The follow up study asked participants to engage in three weeks of partial meal replacement, before making a fully supported transition into the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet’s high protein, low-GI wholefoods program. Evidence shows that people who start strong in the first three weeks of a weight loss program go on to lose 3.5 times more weight after 12 weeks, than those who struggle to get started.
On average, participants that completed the study lost 4.1kg in the first three weeks of using meal replacement shakes within their diet, and 80 per cent of people reported feeling better at controlling their cravings. By week six, participants lost an average of 5.9 kg, two-thirds achieved a clinically significant weight loss, and confidence in their ability to resist cravings increased by 19 per cent.
CSIRO Research Scientist and report author, Dr Gilly Hendrie said the findings were a welcome development in providing an alternative start to weight loss for some Australians, that better suits their needs and lifestyle.
“With 67 per cent of Australians overweight or obese it’s more important than ever that scientists continue to find new ways to help people lose weight.
“There is no one-size-fits all approach to healthy weight loss. We know that people who experience higher than average cravings not only have more weight to lose, but also lose less weight than others,” Dr Hendrie said.
“The evidence from our study shows that a supported transition using meal replacements to a wholefoods diet can help people lose weight, learn to eat well and adopt healthy practices.”
Through this new alternative approach, the Fast Start program offers members the option of using meal replacement shakes (taken two times a day for three weeks), before transitioning to the standard high protein, low GI wholefoods program.
Members are also full supported with the Total Wellbeing Diet program’s full suite of tools, including the food and exercise tracker, Positive Psychology tools and the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet community.
“There is a vast body of scientific evidence that supports meal replacements as a weight loss tool. What we’re doing differently here is providing a program that supports a more sustainable weight loss journey by helping people to transition to a wholefoods diet.”
CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet member, Deb from Adelaide reinforced the importance of starting a weight loss journey well, crediting the Fast Start program in helping her achieve her 18.9kg weight loss.
“The meal replacement shakes really curbed my cravings during the often challenging first three weeks of a program. The shakes were easy and convenient, and filled me up, so it was easy to say no to office morning teas and end of week takeaways.
“The transition to the wholefoods program was also critical in me not falling off the wagon, and I was able to keep that confidence and drive with the help of the CSIRO Total Wellbeing tools. All of the good habits I’ve learnt are now second nature. I know suitable portion sizes, and how much exercise I should be aiming for each day.
“Losing the weight early made the process more motivating and I had such a great weight loss that I was focused on continuing my weight loss journey and didn’t have any cravings. I knew if this was going to work then the cravings were no longer an option.”
Infographic, images, and b-roll of Dr Gilly Hendrie, Deb, and the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet website available here.