The top foods and exercises Aussies are using to shed kilos

CSIRO reveals secrets of Aussies' diet success

For most of her life, weight had never been a struggle for Brisbane-based superannuation officer Emma Hewison.

A brisk 30- to 40-minute walk four times a week was enough to keep her in shape – until she hit her mid-30s and got a desk job, and the number on the scales started to creep up by about a kilogram per year.

When her clothes stopped fitting and she reached a personal high of 77 kilograms, Hewison decided it was time to take action.

After trying various trendy diets, she found Australian national science agency CSIRO’s Total Wellbeing Diet to be the one that did the trick.

Emma Hewison credits a change in diet and exercise – which still fits in with her busy life – with helping her shed weight.

In addition to her frequent walks and four-times-a-week gym workout, Hewison, now in her 40s, said the diet helped her lose 14.5 kilos – and then gain 5 kilograms of muscle.

“I just found everything else too complicated and restrictive, and CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet is one that I found I could manage with a busy lifestyle,” she said.

“I also was looking to build lean muscle mass and to really work on my fitness, and so the increase in protein, focusing on feeling satiated and using food for fuel – I felt that was all a really common theme of the [diet].

“It wasn’t about deprivation, and that was important to me.”

Most popular diet foods

Hewison pointed to a focus on high-protein and low-GI foods as one of the diet’s biggest selling points.

In particular, she ate a lot of yoghurt, oats, boiled eggs, nuts, meats such as steak, salmon and lamb, and fruits such as bananas.

CSIRO, which is currently celebrating a decade of its Total Wellbeing Diet, found bananas are the most-eaten food for people trying to lose weight.

The science agency said more than 900,000 bananas have been consumed by members tracking their food intake with the program over the past 10 years.

Avocados come in second, followed by mixed-salad vegetables, tomatoes and carrots.

Overnight oats, stir-fry and healthy chocolate brownies marked some of the favourite recipes from the CSIRO program, suggesting members’ preference for ease and convenience as they balance busy lifestyles with achieving their health goals.

Favourite weight-loss exercises

Following the trend towards simplicity, walking outdoors was the most common exercise recorded by the diet’s participants, with members pounding the pavement for more than 22 million minutes over the past decade.

Walking the dog also made the top-10 exercises list by CSIRO diet participants, while the top 50 contained more everyday activities such as general gardening (No.11), cleaning the house (No.12), and window-shopping (No.44).

Over 1.2 million Australians have been affected by the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet throughout its evolution from the original book to its current digital platform featuring an AI weight-loss coach.

Over the past 10 years, 21 per cent of members were moved out of the obese category; the total weight loss by all members comes to 558,000kg, equivalent to 46 double-decker buses.

CSIRO research scientist Dr Gilly Hendrie said this milestone demonstrates the critical role Australian science has played in addressing the current trend in weight gain.

“The need for evidence-based, sustainable weight-loss solutions has never been more important,” she said.

“On average Australian adults seem to gain about five kilograms over a 20-year period, while two-thirds of the population are considered overweight or obese.

“With the right support, 12 weeks is all it takes to get the ball rolling and lose a significant amount of weight, improving wellbeing and reducing the risk of developing chronic diseases related to being overweight.”

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