CSIRO Diet Guide: How To, What To Eat + Health Benefits

Is this high-protein, low-calorie diet right for you? Keep reading to find out!

It seems as if several countries have designed their own healthy diets that eventually become popular outside of the original country of origin.

For example, in the United States, we have the Mayo Clinic Diet and the DASH Diet, while the UK is known for the Slimming World Diet Program.

Australians are known for the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet, another diet plan designed to promote the health of citizens that has since infiltrated into other countries outside of Australia.

In this guide, we will discuss what the CSIRO Diet plan involves, its principles, how to follow it, what you can eat, and the benefits of the CSIRO Diet food plan.

Let’s jump in!

A person showing weight loss by holding out the waistband of his jeans.

What Is the CSIRO Diet Plan?

The CSIRO Diet, also known by its formal name of the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet, is so named because the acronym comes from the organization behind the development of the diet, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).

Therefore, the CSIRO Diet is often called the Total Wellbeing Diet plan or the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Weight Loss Diet.

Dr. Manny Noakes and Dr. Peter Clifton wrote a book called The CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet in 2005, describing how the CSIRO Diet plan was based on research that the organization had carried out about weight loss through diet.1CSIRO. (n.d.). Research. Www.csiro.au. https://www.csiro.au/en/research

‌The CSIRO weight loss program was marketed as a weight loss diet for the “weight loss weary” (those tired and frustrated of trying different weight loss diets only to have temporary success or no success in losing weight).

Low carbs written on a chalkboard, surrounded by foods.

How Does the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet Menu Plans Work?

The CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet is a high-protein, low-calorie diet plan.

This diet does not exclude any food groups, making it a more balanced diet and one that might be easier to maintain in the long term since no food groups are necessarily “off-limits.“

According to the CSIRO Diet macros, the Total Wellbeing Diet meal plan provides:

  • 33% of the calories per day from protein
  • 36% of the calories per day from low-glycemic index carbohydrates
  • 20% of the calories per day from “healthy fats
  • 6% of the calories per day from saturated fat
  • No more than 3% of the calories per day from alcohol

Therefore, while this isn’t a very low-carb diet like the keto or Atkins diet, it is lower in carbohydrates than the standard American diet.

For this reason, the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet plan isn’t considered a low-carb meal plan but rather a “carbohydrate-limited diet,” focusing on reducing total carb intake while still allowing for plenty of low-glycemic carbs.

Furthermore, the CSIRO Diet plan is higher in protein than the general recommendations for the macro ratios for how much protein to eat in a day per the 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.2United States Department of Agriculture. (2020). Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020 -2025 . https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov/sites/default/files/2020-12/Dietary_Guidelines_for_Americans_2020-2025.pdf

Calorie counting written on a notebook, a calculator and an apple.

How Do You Follow the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet Plan?

Before you start on the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet, you first must estimate your daily energy expenditure, which is how many calories you burn in a day.

The CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet website provides calculations, or you can use a TDEE calculator such as this one here.

According to the CSIRO Diet, you should aim to consume about 480 to 960 fewer calories per day than you are burning based on your TDEE calculation if you are following the CSIRO Diet for weight loss.

For example, if you determined that your TDEE is 2500 calories daily, you should consume 1540-2020 calories per day on your CSIRO Diet weight loss meal plan.

This caloric deficit is in line with the recommendations for fat loss set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).3Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, September 19). Losing Weight . Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/losing_weight/index.html

‌Because there are 3500 calories in 1 pound of stored fat, losing 1 to 2 pounds per week requires a daily caloric deficit of 500 to 1000 calories daily.

Therefore, the CSIRO Diet weight loss rate should be about 1-2 pounds per week or 0.5-1 kilogram per week.

A person counting calories on an app.

There are four levels of the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet plan based on how many calories you need daily.

Here are the CSIRO Diet calorie levels:

  • Level 1: 1315 calories per day 
  • Level 2: 1435 calories per day
  • Level 3: 1675 calories per day
  • Level 4: 1915 calories per day


If weight loss seems too rapid or you are too hungry, you must level up and start eating more calories. 

To support weight loss and improve health, you should follow an exercise program and get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio exercise per week with at least a couple of vigorous-intensity workouts per week if possible.

Once you have reached your goal weight, there is a CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet Maintenance Plan similar to the CSIRO weight loss plan but with a higher caloric intake.

On the CSIRO Diet Maintenance Plan, you are supposed to keep adding 120-calorie “blocks“ of food until you find the right caloric intake to maintain your body weight.

Proteins such as fish, chicken , nuts and eggs.

What Do You Eat On the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet Plan for Weight Loss?

Overall, the CSIRO diet meal plan focuses on healthy eating and minimally processed foods from various food groups without trying to restrict or eliminate food groups altogether.

The CSIRO Diet meal plan food allowance is as follows:

CSIRO Diet Meal Plan Food Allowance

  • 200g of lean protein a day for dinner
  • 100g of lean protein a day for lunch
  • 70g of whole grain bread per day
  • 40g of high-fiber cereal per day
  • 500ml of low-fat milk or low-fat plant-based milk per day
  • 300g of fresh or canned fruit, or 300ml of fruit juice (fresh fruit is preferred)
  • 2½ cups of cooked vegetables
  • 3 teaspoons of added oils or fats per day (healthy plant-based oils like avocado oil and olive oil are preferred)
  • 250ml of low kilojoule soup (optional)
  • 300ml of wine or equivalent per week or any snack to the value of 860kJ / 205 calories
Whole wheat bread.

Note that higher CSIRO diet levels may have slightly larger food allowances based on the calories you can eat per day. However, this is an average intake for each of the CSIRO diet food units (as they are referred to).

In addition, there is a “CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet free food list”’ of foods you can eat without restriction because they contain so few calories. 

Therefore, the CSIRO Diet free foods do not contribute to CSIRO Diet food units.

The CSIRO Diet free foods include vegetables, drinks, and condiments:

  • Non-Starchy Vegetables
  • Condiments and Spreads
  • Mustard
  • Vegemite
  • Pickles
  • Vinegar
  • Fat-free salad dressing
  • Tomato paste
  • Low-sodium soy sauce
  • Low-sodium hot sauce
  • Other low-sodium, fat-free, low-sugar sauces or condiments
  • Non-Caloric Drinks or Low-Calorie Drinks such as water, herbal tea or unsweetened caffeinated tea, black coffee, and diet soda
  • Herbs and Spices without salt, such as garlic, ginger, wasabi, fresh or dried herbs, bullion cubes, lemon juice, and cinnamon. 
  • Soups and broths that are homemade and low in sodium such as bone broth, chicken stock, vegetable broth, low sodium miso soup, or homemade vegetable soup with non-starchy vegetables
  • Artificial sweeteners

The CSIRO Diet and recipe book and program provide 12 week eating plans based on the CSIRO Diet calories.

There are CSIRO Diet 12 week programs for each level that spell out what you can have for each meal along with CSIRO Diet recipes for different dietary needs and preferences.

A person showing weight loss by holding out the waistband of her jeans.

What are the Health Benefits of Following the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet?

Overall, the CSIRO diet plan can be effective for weight loss and reducing your risk of diseases due to the focus on whole foods, reducing the intake of processed foods, and helping people achieve a healthy weight.4National Institutes of Health. (2019, June 4). Eating highly processed foods linked to weight gain. National Institutes of Health (NIH). https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/eating-highly-processed-foods-linked-weight-gain

The inclusion of exercise helps support weight loss and health, and the fact that there aren’t a lot of outright banned foods may improve adherence.5Fock, K. M., & Khoo, J. (2013). Diet and Exercise in Management of Obesity and Overweight. Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology28(4), 59–63. https://doi.org/10.1111/jgh.12407

‌The CSIRO diet weight loss rate is reasonable and sustainable for most people, and the fact that there is a CSIRO diet maintenance phase helps set up a mindset that you are establishing lifelong healthy behaviors rather than going on a crash diet for rapid weight loss.

However, the diet plan encourages the intake of artificial sweeteners, which may be linked to adverse health effects, and some of the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet recipes are complicated.6Gardener, H., & Elkind, M. S. V. (2019). Artificial Sweeteners, Real Risks. Stroke50(3), 549–551. https://doi.org/10.1161/STROKEAHA.119.024456

‌If you live outside of Australia, it can be harder to access all of the resources for this weight loss diet, but you can work with a nutritionist or get the book for more guidance.

A nutritionist and a patient.

References

Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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