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Health Check: what’s the best diet for weight loss?

When it comes to weight loss, there are no magic tricks that guarantee success. What works for you is likely to be different to what works for your partner, neighbour or workmate. The best advice is to…

Find a healthy eating regime you can stick to. foshydog/Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND

When it comes to weight loss, there are no magic tricks that guarantee success. What works for you is likely to be different to what works for your partner, neighbour or workmate.

The best advice is to find a healthy eating regime – let’s call it a diet – that you can stick to. You may choose a specific diet book or commercial program to kick start your weight loss, but in the longer term, switch to an eating pattern you can live with for good.

The diet that works best will depend on many factors: your current weight, dieting history, how much weight you need to lose, reasons for wanting to lose weight, your knowledge and skills around food preparation and nutrition, personal supports and the time you have to focus on weight loss.

But first, a warning about fad diets.

Fad diets can work in the short-term because they lead to a reduction in total kilojoules but are usually nutritionally inadequate.

They often ban specific foods or food groups, such as carbohydrates, and promise miraculous results. Or they may promote unproven fat burning or other supplements. Fad diets generally contradict advice from credible health professionals.

Research shows the more radical the diet approach, the more likely you are to give up because of boredom or unpleasant side-effects including bad breath, constipation, and even gall bladder disease.

Getting started

First up, decide on your weight loss goal. If your body mass index (BMI) is over 25, aim to lose up to 10% of your body weight in six months.

Next, decide how you’re going to monitor your progress. You can record your weight weekly using an app, at your weight-loss group or program, or use a pen-and-paper diary.

If you’re overweight or obese, aim to lose 10% of your body weight. sarahluv/Flickr

Reducing your energy intake

Everybody’s total daily energy needs are different, depending on your level of activity – this calculator can help you work out your individual energy needs.

A weight-loss diet should reduce your daily energy intake by at least 2,000 kilojoules (kJ) per day compared to what you usually eat when weight stable.

That is enough of a kilojoule reduction to lose a quarter to half a kilogram per week, which can add up to 12 to 25 kilograms over a year.

Sounds easy, but it’s a lot more difficult in practice. You have to be consistent every day and every week. This is why you need to choose a diet that really appeals to your tastes and preferences. It doesn’t really matter which diet that is, so long as it specifically targets a reduction in total energy (kilojoules or calories), and you can stick to it.

When it comes to weight-loss diets, there are three levels of energy restriction:

Reduced-energy diets (RED)

Cutting out TV snacks will help you stay within your kJ limit. Shutterstock

REDs aim to reduce a person’s usual energy intake by 2,000 to 4,000 kJ per day from their usual needs. You can achieve this by changing some food habits, such as cutting down your portion sizes, swapping soft drink for diet versions or soda water, or not eating after 8pm to reduce snacking.

Other approaches that fit this category are low glycemic index (GI) diets or avoiding foods with added sugar.

Low-energy diets (LED)

LEDs prescribe a daily energy intake of about 4,200 to 5,000 kJ per day. This is usually a list of specific meals and snacks that you follow closely to ensure your kilojoule intake matches the daily target.

Most commercial weight-loss programs – such as Weight Watchers, Biggest Loser Club, Jenny Craig or home delivery Lite n Easy – provide this. Weight-loss diets that give you a meal plan, such as those designed by accredited practising dietitians, are usually LEDs.

Very low-energy diets (VLED)

VLEDs limit total energy intake to only 1,800 to 2,500 kJ per day.

This approach uses formulated meal replacements (FMRs) to ensure your energy intake is kept very low. FMRs are supplemented with vitamins and minerals to try and meet the body’s requirements, despite the severe energy restriction.

VLEDs, such as Optifast or KicStart, are used when you need to lose weight quickly for health reasons or ahead of surgery. Talk to your GP first because they need to be supervised by a doctor or dietitian due to potential side-effects such as gall bladder or liver inflammation, constipation, headaches and bad breath.

Long-term change

The level of energy restriction to aim for depends on what you think you can stick to. If your weight is going up by a few kilograms each year, then your current energy needs are probably around 9,000 to 11,000 kJ per day.

If you have never been on a diet before, then start with an RED.

If you want to lose weight faster, you will need the lower kilojoule target of an LED, but it will be harder to stick to.

For weight loss, it doesn’t matter what diet you choose, as long as you decrease your energy intake. cleber/Flickr, CC BY-NC

Once you have set the level of energy restriction, then further manipulating nutrients – by eating more or less protein, for instance – will not lead to greater weight loss. This applies to altering the proportion of total fat, the glycemic load or glycemic index of the carbohydrate.

For weight loss, it is kilojoule total that counts.

Monitoring your success

The National Health and Medical Research Council’s (NHMRC) 2013 guidelines for weight management, which are based on the best available scientific evidence, highlight the importance of recognising and avoiding triggers that prompt eating and learning to modify unhelpful thinking patterns that become barriers to following a diet.

The guidelines also note that self-monitoring is key to weight-loss success. If you track your progress in a weight-loss diary and monitor your dietary intake, physical activity, body weight and measurements, you’re more likely to lose weight and keep it off.

Once you have found the eating pattern that allows you to lose 250 grams to one kilogram per week, share your success story. That way more people will discover that “the best diet" for weight loss might not have a fancy name, but is an approach that you can live with, for good.


Editor’s note: thanks to all who took part in our author Q&A.

Join the conversation

89 Comments sorted by

  1. Sue Ieraci

    Public hospital clinician

    Can we fix the question? How about:

    "What's the best approach to diet and nutrition for overall health and well-being?"

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    1. Robert Smart

      retired

      In reply to Sue Ieraci

      If you are fit then extra weight is beneficial. Indeed if you are unfit then extra weight is beneficial. Unfit and thin leads to the worst health outcomes. [As I understand the recent research]

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    2. Gary Cassidy

      Monash University

      In reply to Sue Ieraci

      Great point Sue, I would even go further and remove the term "best". There is most likely no "best" way to it at all. One thing for sure though is eating a typical diet full of processed and junk foods is terrible.

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    3. Paul Rogers

      Manager

      In reply to Robert Smart

      Robert, this recent Swedish prospective study of 740,000 men over 34 years found that even the lowest fit lean men had a lower risk of heart attack than the fattest men in the highest fitness category.

      http://tinyurl.com/mt9g673

      Another finding was that high aerobic fitness in late adolescence is associated with a reduced risk of heart attack in later years.

      This may not be the end of it, but you can probably be certain that fit lean men (as a population) have better CVD outcomes than fit overweight men, and probably women. In addition, being overweight (but not necessarily by BMI) predisposes to joint problems and some cancers.

      To say that extra weight is beneficial if you are fit is bound to be incorrect.

      There is no justification for overweight or obesity on health grounds.

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    4. Joe Tandy

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Paul Rogers

      I haven't read this study, but the countless meta-analysis's that show that the strongest people have the lowest risk of all-cause death is more meaningful than an unjustified emphasis on CVD

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    5. Paul Rogers

      Manager

      In reply to Joe Tandy

      Mr Tandy, you would have to quote me study that showed this, and that it excluded aerobic fitness as a confounder.

      Strength could be a surrogate for general and aerobic fitness; however, i'm not saying that strength is not important at any age, especially for older adults.

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    6. Sue Ieraci

      Public hospital clinician

      In reply to Gary Cassidy

      Agreed, Gary - after I posted, I thought that the better version would add ''for each individual''.

      I'm not sure I agree about the ''typical diet full of processed and junk foods'', though. Typical of whom?

      Maybe I live in a bubble...

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  2. Craig Read

    logged in via Twitter

    Thanks for the article.

    I consider exercise and diet to be part of the same equation. Reducing calorific intake won't do much if you still manage to put more calories in than you burn off. But certainly, finding something you can "stick to" helps a lot.

    And how does metabolism fit into diet? I ask because my doctor has recommended a 5-6 meal a day diet for digestion related problems. People I've spoken to in the fitness industry say that it's a great way to get your metabolism working harder. Is that true?

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    1. Cory Zanoni

      Community Manager at The Conversation

      In reply to Craig Read

      Great question Craig. I look forward to Clare's answer tomorrow morning (especially since I mostly eat a few small meals throughout the day).

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    2. Paul Rogers

      Manager

      In reply to Craig Read

      I have found no conclusive evidence that many small meals enhance weight loss, all else being equal. It is something that is spread widely in the fitness industry without much evidence.

      This controlled study suggests not:

      "Increased meal frequency does not promote greater weight loss in subjects who were prescribed an 8-week equi-energetic energy-restricted diet."
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19943985

      There have been some experimental studies that suggest many smaller meals may be useful, but the evidence in controlled studies seems to be weak if not non-existent. I would be interested if someone has found otherwise.

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    3. Clare Collins

      Professor in Nutrition and Dietetics at University of Newcastle

      In reply to Craig Read

      Craig

      You are corrct that exercise and diet are part of the same equation. I think people strategies to make them more aware of the kilojoules (kJ) they consume from food adn drinks BECAUSE they take a long time to burn up. By watching your kJs you then dont need to spend as lon trying to burn them up to prevent your self from storing the excess as fat.
      For example - teh following food give you an idea of how long it takes to butn off the kJ in these foods:-
      1 Big Burger (2010kJ, 12060 steps…

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    4. Joe Tandy

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Clare Collins

      Most energy is burnt at rest by our heart, brain, liver and lungs.
      Ate a big burger? your TDEE will "burn" it off.
      Really the concept of having to "burn" off a meal with activity is outdated and damaging for anyone liable to eating disorders.

      Consider that HIIT leaves an oxygen debt that increases metabolic rate for up to 72 hours.

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    5. Paul Rogers

      Manager

      In reply to Joe Tandy

      Mr Tandy, high-intensity or high-volume exercise is not for everyone, and you need it to create a decent EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption).

      Although good for fitness, it's not really necessary because most energy expenditure is within the exercise and not post-exercise EPOC.

      "Effects of exercise intensity and duration on the excess post-exercise oxygen consumption.
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17101527";

      This is another half-truth blown out of all proportion by personal trainers and bodybuilders in the fitness industry.

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    6. Joe Tandy

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Craig Read

      Meal frequency should match our need to spike Muscle Protein Synthesis.
      The refractory period for MPS is 3.5 to 5 hours, eating/softdrink/milk etc will retard the refractory period further and NOT contribute to MPS.

      Your number of meals and meal size should reflect what helps keep you compliant with your macro's/energy intake requirements.

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    7. Joe Tandy

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Paul Rogers

      I never advocated high-volume exercise Mr Rogers.
      High-volume anything leads to inflammatory processes that are impossible for most of the population to recover from in time to re-disrupt homoeostasis and therefore progress.

      High-INTENSITY exercise however is however lacking in a substantial number of groups who it is not appropriate for.
      Could you name some for us? The majority of the population would benefit far more from well programmed HIIT than ridiculous LIIT and LISS protocals.

      I'm not sure which truth you think I am blowing out of proportion?
      My comment was largely around Clare parroting the E-in E-out reteric without mentioning all the energy burnt at rest.
      So conditioning protocols is strange tangent, but I'll oblige with every study I can muster, given that I doubt my 100's of hours successfully improving a myriad of health parameters with HIIT is of any sway with someone who seems to be purely an academic.

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    8. Joe Tandy

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Paul Rogers

      Let me know which aspect of HIIT you believe is over-stated by myself or any other professional in the health-industry and we can have a look at it.

      The prowler is the best HIIT tool available for anyone who can walk and push with their arms a little and provides the following benefits:
      1) No eccentric phase, so no DOMS. This means high-retention of clients and high patient-compliance with this as a cardiovascular or fat loss intervention.
      2) scaleable to suit injuries or fitness levels
      3) PROGRESSIBLE so that the benefit can be retained long term instead of just adapted to.

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    9. Paul Rogers

      Manager

      In reply to Joe Tandy

      Joe, your posts are a little confusing to say the least. You were making an exaggerated case for EPOC that does not really exist and I rebutted it.

      And Clare Collins was presenting a simple comparison between food energy intake and exercise energy expenditure. I'm sure she understands about basal metabolic rate.

      I am not criticising high-intensity interval training at all, and it is a valued component of a fitness program, but the benefits do get overstated in comparison with continuous exercise…

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    10. Joe Tandy

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Paul Rogers

      So what benefits does the addition of "aerobics" give to the general population or those who are already programming HIIT and resistance training for periodized increases in load?

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    11. Paul Rogers

      Manager

      In reply to Joe Tandy

      Joe, getting back on topic, I'm sure we agree on many things -- good diet, the importance of physical activity including weights in a weight loss program, and watching protein intake on low-calorie diets. For the most part, I'm sure you do a good job for your clients.

      The value of continuous aerobic exercise like running, cycling etc, is to do with optimum aerobic fitness, and of course energy expenditure in a weight loss program. HIIT is good but, as you know, it is demanding for people trying…

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    12. Willy Berk

      manager

      In reply to Clare Collins

      Hey,
      I had this problem and tried so many things. Different things work for different people and
      I was lucky enough to find one that worked for me. I lost 18 pounds in one month without
      much exercise and it's been a life changer. I'm a little embarrased to post my before and
      after photos here but if anyone actually cares to hear what I've been doing then I'd be happy
      to help in any way. Just shoot me an email at wberk758[at]gmail.com and I'll show you my before
      and after photos, and tell you about how things are going for me with the stuff I've tried.
      I wish someone would have helped me out when I was struggling to find a solution so if I can
      help you then it would make my day.

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    13. rory robertson

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Willy Berk

      Willy,

      Why not just post a paragraph on the basic details of your new dietary approach? And why you think it worked. I'm keen to hear about it.

      Not fussed about before/after photos: most of us are familiar with what 8-9kg of fat looks/feels like.

      rgds,
      rory

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  3. Comment removed by moderator.

  4. Joe Tandy

    logged in via Facebook

    A few points to consider, some of them statements and others questions.
    I invite the author to engage in a conversation here on it all; if it's within her skill-set.

    I am not at my PC, so unable to provide links to the papers on my claims contained hereafter; know that ALL of my claims can be found to have solid evidence in current research and I will endeavour to comment on my post later on with the articles for you to peruse.

    Firstly, the title of this article is erroneous... "the best…

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    1. Clare Collins

      Professor in Nutrition and Dietetics at University of Newcastle

      In reply to Joe Tandy

      Joe
      During weight loss you will lose both muscle and fat.
      If you want to try and lose more fat and less muscle then remaining very active and doing strength training such as weight or resistance exercise will help to conserve muscle. The other approach is to also lose weight more slowly.
      MACRONUTRIENTS
      The best available current evidence show that in the long term whether you manipulate protein, fat or carbohydrate, it makes no difference to long-term weight loss and that the level of kilojoule…

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    2. Joe Tandy

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Clare Collins

      You're off-point Clare.

      We are not interested in weight-loss, so any studies you are referencing in regards to "weight" as a parameter of interest are pointless.

      We are interested in the study of FAT loss.

      When you cut carbohydrate, what actually happens is that your total energy intake drops. We are talking about changing a macronutrient, NOT about making changes to an isocaloric diet.
      A weight-loss client SHOULD NOT reduce their protein intake if sparing muscle wastage is a goal of theirs... and it should be.
      You will find that a slight carb/fat reduction is required in order to achieve this goal.
      The ability to leave protein untouched when employing this intervention is made perfectly simple with supplements like BCAA's EAA's and whey protein

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    3. Laurie Willberg

      Journalist

      In reply to Joe Tandy

      Hi, Joe. By now you should realize you're arguing with people who are intent on maintaining the old status quo no matter how much recent research should be changing the old paradigms or how much clinical success those who DON'T follow the old "weight loss" and "all calories are created equal" mantras are having.
      The Conversation seems to specialize in posting articles by people (and their followers) who spend their time trying to bolster the status quo and fend off new research and new ideas. The attitude, exemplified by this article, is "this is the final word!" and "I'm going to beat off dissenters".
      You have a challenger making a false claim that your posts are "confusing" (typical tactic) and the author begging the question that muscle loss is inevitable and quoting dietary guidelines that are a simple recycling of the same-old same-old.

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  5. Rebecca Dudek

    logged in via Facebook

    I can't believe that people still use BMI. It tells nothing about how healthy you are or whether you are overweight. My BMI says i am overweight but my BF% say i am in the fit category. You can estimate your body fat % from pictures online or even better you could buy BF calipers online for about $5. Both measures would be a lot more accurate test for obesity than BMI.

    Macronutrients are not just important for health but they are important for weight loss too. You can find many studies online about how decreasing your Carbohydrate's will lead to a greater decrease in fat than LBM aswell as a greater decrease in fat than if you don't count your macros.

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    1. Clare Collins

      Professor in Nutrition and Dietetics at University of Newcastle

      In reply to Rebecca Dudek

      Rebecca
      see my previous comments above to Joe about macronutrients.

      You are correct that BMI is what we use at the population level. For individuals you can use a set of scales with a biopedance analyser that tell you your estimated percent body fat. You can also measure your waist as fat store here is more damaging to your health compared to fat on your hips and thighs that.

      The NHMRC Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Management of Overweight and Obesity in Adults, Adolescents and Children…

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  6. Heidi Evans

    logged in via email @hotmail.com

    Yep low calorie diets... I mean look at Magda Szubanski. What a roaring success, and Weight Watchers! Watching The Checkout last week was enlightening. More about consumer spending in supermarkets than weight loss. This seems like a clever way to publicly slam the LCHF movement, without attracting the pains in the butt like me.

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  7. Robyn Wheatley

    Teacher

    In response to Craig, I can vouch for the 6 small meals a day as I started doing that every day about 7 years ago now (as well as increasing my exercise) and I lost 15+kg and no carbs after 4pm. I still eat that way and I've kept the weight off.

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  8. Ronald McCoy

    Medical Educator

    Can you put on muscle through weight training on a RED? If the body is in a catabolic stage, can you still put on muscle if, say, you're getting plenty of protein? I would have thought your body would need to be in a more anabolic state. What if you eat the same energy i take, but weight train (and do cardio). Would you lose fat and not muscle? Can the body do both simultaneously?

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    1. Paul Rogers

      Manager

      In reply to Ronald McCoy

      Good point Ron. It's difficult, no matter what the low-carbers say. Our bodies don't like to mix catabolism with anabolism.

      In catabolism in low-calorie diets we can lose fat, muscle and bone to some extent. To maintain muscle and bone the best one can do is maintain or slightly increase protein intake while cutting fat, and do some regular weight training. Don't cut healthy carbohydrates because the last thing you want to do is get into ketosis while you're exercising hard, because muscle will be pulled apart for amino acids and then glucose (gluconeogenesis).

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    2. Ronald McCoy

      Medical Educator

      In reply to Paul Rogers

      Thank you. This reply confirms what I have always thought, and a point that is lacking in a lot of these conversations. The advice given too makes sense. If we reduce weight, we can lose muscle, which is seen as important for health. It's an under discussed problem.

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    3. Clare Collins

      Professor in Nutrition and Dietetics at University of Newcastle

      In reply to Ronald McCoy

      Ronald
      Thankyou for your questions. See my response to Joe above.

      The goal is to conserve your muscle during weight loss. You ant to aim to lose a greater proporation of fat. Strength or resistance training is hte best way to conserve muscle. Your protein requiremetns wil be slightly higher, but are not as high as people think. Aim for about 1 gram of protein per kilogram you weigh.
      So if you weigh 100 kilograms you would want to have aroung 100 gram of protein. For example you can get this from approximately 150 gram of white fish (30g protein); 500mL skim milk (20g); 1 egg (6g); 1 small can baked beans (7g); 3 slices whoegrain bread (12g); 1 serve breakfast cereal (3-4g); 1x 200g tub youghurt (8g); 1 Tablespoon nuts (7g); 300g piece of chese (7g).

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    4. Joe Tandy

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Clare Collins

      There is too much here to address in one post, I'll revisit this after I finish work.

      Of course the aim is to reduce a greater percentage of fat, and of course resistance training is the best activity mode to help ensure against muscle wastage.

      You're behind on research on protein intake's Clare.
      The prevent muscle wastage we need to stimulate the exact same bodily system as if we were trying to grow muscle:

      Muscle Protein Synthesis (herein referred to as MPS)
      MPS should be maximally stimulated…

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    5. Yuri Pannikin

      Director

      In reply to Joe Tandy

      Joe,

      Yes, 'really', and no caps either. 100 gms protein is about 20-25% protein for a 45 yo woman, which is plenty for MPS -- vegetarian, soy, whey or whatever you want of complete protein.

      BTW, you need to look at vegan bodybuilders at some time, Robert Cheeke is a good example:
      http://www.veganbodybuilding.com/?page=bio_robert

      The idea that you need huge quantities of animal protein to maintain muscle is not only a myth, but is unhealthy as well.

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    6. Sue Ieraci

      Public hospital clinician

      In reply to Joe Tandy

      Does Joe Tandy sell *whey protein*, by any chance?

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    7. Joe Tandy

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Sue Ieraci

      Sue Ieraci:
      I sell no products, have no affiliations or conflicting factors.
      The evidence for whey protein's benefits is overwhelming.
      And the science required to "prove" the quality of any protein source is very simply carried out.
      There is a reason that atheletes in the 100 000's use it as their choice supplement, their is scientific and anecdotal evidence going back decades of its efficacy.

      Yuri,
      Your argument is based on a few problematic fallacies.
      Protein requirements should not be…

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    8. Sue Ieraci

      Public hospital clinician

      In reply to Joe Tandy

      Why pay for whey protein supplements when you could just - ah - eat food?

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    9. Joe Tandy

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Sue Ieraci

      Because you can get more effect for less effort and less caloric/kJ load.
      Handy for lots of the population.

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    10. Joe Tandy

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Sue Ieraci

      You should also read my above post thoroughly if that is still a genuine question.
      Also, whey is dirt cheap as a supplement/food product.

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    1. John Doyle

      architect

      In reply to John Doyle

      Good to see saturated fat isn't stirring emotions as it used to even 12 months ago.
      Might that mean a more sensible approach to diet is taking hold?
      I certainly hope so.
      While I aim to make my fat intake saturated fat and not polyunsaturated fats I certainly aren't making it 30-40% of my diet as shown in the infamous "6 Countries diet" by Ancel Keys. That's mad!
      Mind you back then cakes were included in the saturated fats category! and margarine. That whole study was a schemozzle.
      I would probably have 50[?] CC of fat a day, mostly coconut oil and butter. also I eat cheese and occasionally cream.
      I lost up to 20 kg over 18 months and up to 20 cm of my waist.
      I can and do fluctuate up to 2 kg in a week, usually when I don't get enough exercise.

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  9. Bronwyn Potter

    logged in via email @iname.com

    Does age effect results when trying to lose weight? For example a menopausal woman.

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    1. Clare Collins

      Professor in Nutrition and Dietetics at University of Newcastle

      In reply to Bronwyn Potter

      Age does affect weight loss. See the comment to Craig Read above about METABOLISM.

      Your basal metabolic rate (BMR) slows as you age (A bit like removing a cylinder from a car engine). It also slows down during menopause due to hormonal changes.

      It is so unfair that as you age and finally get a chance to relax that you actually need to do more physical activity (and particularly some strength or resistance training) to conserve or build up your muscles so your BMR does not drop as much (and…

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  10. Helen Stoddard

    Freelance Mac Operator

    Hi Clare. Do you recommend the use of reduced calorie diets, whether RED, LED or VLED as an ongoing lifestyle option? If not, what is your advice once desired weight-loss is achieved, (assuming calorie reduction is successful). Also do you take into account the hormonal and physiological effects of foods on/in the body, or is your philosophy based merely on calories in/calories out? And.... what does one do when one feels hungry, but has reached the calorie limit for the day? Thanks!

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    1. Clare Collins

      Professor in Nutrition and Dietetics at University of Newcastle

      In reply to Helen Stoddard

      Helen

      Once you get to your helthy weight, the nex step is to prevent weight re-gain. To do that sucessfully it means some aspect of your previous eating habits and physical activity patterns has to change for good. For food you then want teh kilojoules from what you eat and drink to match those you bun up (so youare weigt stable.

      I wrote a previous Converstion piece that summaries what we know about peope who have sucessfully kept off a lot of wight for 5 or more years. You can find it at this link:-

      Monday’s Medical Myth: You don’t have to be the biggest loser to achieve weight loss success. The Conversation 3rd May 2013. https://theconversation.com/you-dont-have-to-be-the-biggest-loser-to-achieve-weight-loss-success-11587

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    2. Bruce Tabor

      blogger

      In reply to Clare Collins

      Thanks Clare, I think this answers my question about how to keep the weight off. My BMI is down to 24 from a start at 29.7 (18 kg weight loss) over 5 months. This is my 4th diet. The other three had similar weight loss (10-15 kg), but the weight was regained over 2 years.

      The difference this time is I am using an App (MyFitnessPal), so I can easily monitor not only my weight, but my calories in and exercise as well. Will it make a long term difference? Weight and see...

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  11. Gary Cassidy

    Monash University

    Hi Clare,

    This article has a focus on "quantity" as if that is the controllable variable. Although energy excess or deficiency is a requirement of weight loss or weight gain, energy intake is not something that humans are good at controlling extrinsically ("Why Calories Count: From Science to Politics" - provides support to this). In my opinion a good quality diet which is low in processed foods and very low in junk food will allow our bodies to intrinsically control the energy intake at an appropriate level (which could be highly variable between people or even day to day for an individual). Has there been much research into diet quality vs quantity and weight-loss or long term weight maintenance?

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    1. Clare Collins

      Professor in Nutrition and Dietetics at University of Newcastle

      In reply to Gary Cassidy

      Gary
      there has been research on quantity versus quality.
      It seems we like to eat a fairly similar "weight" of food each day.

      Lets say that is 2 kilograms of food. if th 2 kg is all as supreme pizza then you woudl consume about 18000kJ (4300 Calories) adn just for comparison sake, if th e2kg was all lettuce it would be 800kJ (200 Calories). In the scientific literature this is the energy-density research. the person who has done a lot is Professor Barbara Rolls who also wrote a great book on it call Volumetrics.

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  12. Karen Bourchier

    Medical Representative

    Hi,
    Thank you for your article.
    My daughter suffers with PCOS.
    What would be your recommendation to her about diet?
    Kindest regards, Karen

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    1. Clare Collins

      Professor in Nutrition and Dietetics at University of Newcastle

      In reply to Karen Bourchier

      Karen
      with PCOS you are esistant to teh effects of insulin adn may have rasied blood glucose levels. being physically active is bery important to improve both these aspect and medical treatmetn is needed. Your daughter is liekly to benefite from a vist with an Accreditied Practising Dietitian for personalised advice. Ther is also great information on the Jean Hailes website on managing PCOS at:
      http://www.managingpcos.org.au/

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  13. Mitchell Wilson

    PhD Student

    Clare,

    I can see the word "willpower" screaming out of your article. Have you seen successfully dietary approaches that address satiety so that willpower is less an issue for people with entrenched over eating habits? Is sugar the real culprit in the obesity epidemic in Australia? What research has been done linking mental health to obesity?

    Many thanks

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  14. john byatt

    retired and cranky at RAN Veteran

    There are many studies linking the sweet taste to fat intake, google scholar will find them, Monell chemical senses is also an excellent research facility.The obesity gene is also found to contribute

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK53528/

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  15. Victoria Phillis

    logged in via Facebook

    My BMI is 23 in the normal range BUT my waist to hip ratio puts me in a higher risk category at .86

    I eat healthy food and get plenty of exercise. Is loosing weight the only recommendation left to lower my risk level for diabetes etc?

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    1. Clare Collins

      Professor in Nutrition and Dietetics at University of Newcastle

      In reply to Victoria Phillis

      Victoria
      If you eat healthy are really active then you sounds like you are doign the best you ca. After that it is about checking in with your GP to monitor your other risk factors with consideration of family histroty.
      So knowing your blood pressure, your levels of LDL (bad) and HDL (good) cholesterol and being a non-smoking and have moderate (or no) alcohol and then having the age appropriate screenign tests as advised by your GP.
      You might like to try my online healthy Eating Quizz for general feedback on your usual eating patterns
      http://healthyeatingquiz.com.au/
      but for more detail you woud need to visit an Accreditied Practisign Dietitian

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  16. Trudy Williams

    logged in via Twitter

    Reading the conversation thread reveals the complexities surrounding weight loss and the factors that influence success.

    Claire's final sentence is important: "... “the best diet" for weight loss might not have a fancy name, but is an approach that you can live with, for good."

    No matter what theory or research reveals about 'diet' composition/meal frequency, if you can't live with 'it', the approach for you will be faulty. 'It' may be very useful in the short term, e.g. VLED approach, but…

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  17. MIchael Pearson

    Semi-retired historian

    I've been doing the 5/2 diet for a month or so, and find it very successful, and better still not really arduous. You'll know that it means you have only 500 calories on the '2' days, and eat normally the rest of the time. I've lost about 5 kgs, and am now in the recommended range re BMI. Any comments on this?

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    1. Cory Zanoni

      Community Manager at The Conversation

      In reply to MIchael Pearson

      Lyn Kabanoff mentioned something similar on Facebook: "I'm doing the 5:2 diet. But it's not really a diet, it's a healthy way to live life."

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    2. Clare Collins

      Professor in Nutrition and Dietetics at University of Newcastle

      In reply to MIchael Pearson

      The 5/2 plan means all you kilojoule reduction is over and done with in 2 days a week. If you need to reduce your daily intake by 2000 kJ per day ( approx 500 Calories) then remover 7x 2000kJ (14000) kJ in 2 days (7000 kJ less per day for 2 days)will suit some people better.
      Of course you coudl also spread that over 3 days ( about 4500 kJ les for 3 days).

      It is what works for you and you can live with.

      Interesting - many people find they do not feel as hungery on the eother 5 days as it seems to help regulate appetite)

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    3. Gillian Ray-Barruel

      Senior Research Assistant at Griffith University

      In reply to Clare Collins

      My weight has crept up over the past 5 years, so I have been doing the 5:2 plan for 3 months and I have lost 5 kg and 10cm off my waist. I could not be happier.

      The first month was the hardest as I was really hungry, but now I'm hardly ever hungry. On my non-fast days, my appetite is greatly reduced, and I get full on much less food. I used to eat about 2000 cals/day, but now I'm too full on less than 1800.

      It isn't a diet at all. It's about giving your stomach a rest a couple of days/week and stop thinking about food (my problem). On the other days, I eat whatever I want, which isn't a huge amount because my appetite has reduced. I think it's a very sustainable way for me to live and I plan to keep it up for the rest of my life. I'm now 48, so that's high praise!

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  18. Bruce Tabor

    blogger

    I've found it relatively easy to loose weight, but hard to keep it off.

    So my question is: How do you keep the weight off once you have lost it?

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  19. Cory Zanoni

    Community Manager at The Conversation

    Kate Searson on Facebook asked:

    "How many kj do you add per day if you are breast feeding, but you want to lose weight?"

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    1. Clare Collins

      Professor in Nutrition and Dietetics at University of Newcastle

      In reply to Cory Zanoni

      Kate
      In the Australian Nutrient Reference Values document from NHMRC the energy requirement for lactation is estimated as about 2000 kJper day (roughy 500 Calories)

      However there variations based on teh age of the breastfed infant and how frequently they feed and if this is exclusive breastfeeding.

      The 2000 kJ assumes full breast feeding over the infant's first six months and partial breast feeding thereafter. Your body draws on the store of body fat laid down in pregnancy to partialy cover…

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  20. Cory Zanoni

    Community Manager at The Conversation

    Helen Wood on Facebook asked:

    "What to do when diets don't work?"

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    1. Clare Collins

      Professor in Nutrition and Dietetics at University of Newcastle

      In reply to Cory Zanoni

      Helen

      it is then about working out why it has not worked or trying a different approach. The emphasis now is more on "trying again" until you find the approach that works for you and improves your health and well-being.

      The research from the major diabetes prevention studies shows that even if you can lose a small amount of weight, a number of times over your life, you reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to those who never tried to adopt a healthy lifestyle. Your efforts…

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  21. Jane O'Donnell

    logged in via Twitter

    What is really sad is, that people spend so much money on ways to lose weight, and time talking about it. The weight loss and vitamin industry is making billions.
    People who wish to lose weight, could buy less food or more raw food, not processed, and therefore save money. Also saving on petrol and transport costs because of increased activity.
    So perhaps it is marketing and advertising of food AND diet products that have brought us to this sorry state.
    Surely, this is why we need the Food Star Rating System to fight back!

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    1. John Doyle

      architect

      In reply to Jane O'Donnell

      Mind boggling, isn't it!
      A real first world problem! It is also a third world problem but there it lacks the guilt trips of dieting etc.
      It all just makes the money go round. Unproductive, wasteful and a demonstration of the decline of our society as we head down to a troubled future. It's just one of many manifestations of the awesome reliance on cheap energy that has forced the economies in the 2oth Century. I can't say when, but it will stop. It's not opinion, it's a mathematical inevitability.

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  22. Simon Hauser

    Medical Practitioner

    I looked at the website provided by the author Clare - www.8700.com.au and it is very sensible, probably because it is a goverment website so nothing to sell.
    Education is the answer - many people are health illiterate and have a poor understanding of calorific content of regularly ingested foods and the number calories burnt through exercise.
    Dieting without a exercise regimen is unlikely to be successful - actually going on a diet is unlikely to be successful at all. Needs to be a permanent life-style change. I have seen people make the necessary changes and maintain their weight loss for many years - it is not easy, hence why diets exist (and don't work).

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  23. rory robertson

    logged in via email @gmail.com

    Professor Collins,

    Thanks for your article. In response to a comment you wrote: "The best available current evidence show that in the long term whether you manipulate protein, fat or carbohydrate, it makes no difference to long-term weight loss and that the level of kilojoule (restriction) is the most important change. In the short-term (up to 3 months) the evidence from systematic reviews is that following a low carbohydrate will lead to greater weight loss, but there is no difference by 6-12…

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    1. Dr Jonathan Gordon

      Doctor of Strong Medicine

      In reply to rory robertson

      Rory

      After reading the article above I was compelled to suggest that Professor Collins, and readers of The Conversation, discover and critically appraise the works of Gary Taubes. His most recent book "Why We Get Fat" convincingly argues against the utility and validity of calorie counting and in my humble opinion debunks the foundational dogma upon which Prof Collin's article is laid.

      To suggest that body weight (and body fat) regulation is dependent on only two variables - calories in and…

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    2. rory robertson

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Dr Jonathan Gordon

      Hi Dr Jonathan,

      The availability of reliable information on the internet is a game-changer; it is leaving the ham-fisted parts of the nutrition and medical professions in its dust.

      Here's an excellent three-minute case-study in reversing obesity (-80kg!) and type-2 diabetes, with the "patient" simply doing things that obese people did 150 years ago, before modern nutrition "science" lost the post: (from 12.30 minutes) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D0GSSSE4l8U

      rgds,
      rory

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  24. Willy Berk

    manager

    Hey,
    I had this problem and tried so many things. Different things work for different people and I was lucky enough to find one that worked for me. I lost 18 pounds in one month without much exercise and it's been a life changer. I'm a little embarrased to post my before and after photos here but if anyone actually cares to hear what I've been doing then I'd be happy to help in any way. Just shoot me an email at wberk758[at]gmail.com and I'll show you my before and after photos, and tell you about how things are going for me with the stuff I've tried. I wish someone would have helped me out when I was struggling to find a solution so if I can help you then it would make my day.

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  25. Comment removed by moderator.