The CSIRO Low-Carb Diet: Quick & Easy by Professor Grant Brinkworth and Dr Pennie Taylor

Professor Grant Brinkworth: The CSIRO Low-Carb Diet Quick & Easy

Reviewed by Clare Brook

The CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, is renowned for its practical application of science within society and industry.  The burgeoning weight problem within Australian communities, and the dangers of the ensuing ‘fad’ diets, inspired rigorous research and clinical trials on low-carb eating.  This resulted in the first CSIRO Low-Carb Diet, published in 2017, helping many people to achieve their desired weight.  The second edition, with eighty new everyday low-carb recipes, was published in 2018.  Professor Grant Brinkworth and Pennie Taylor have now collaborated on a third edition, The CSIRO Low-Carb Diet:  Quick & Easy.  This publication will be welcomed by busy people, regardless of whether they need to lose weight or not, as it contains one hundred new healthy recipes that can be prepared in twenty minutes or less.

Part 1 gives an updated overview of the scientific principles that promote weight loss and general wellbeing, in short, the raison d’être of the initial research and publication of the first two editions.  It explains the importance of maintaining stable blood glucose levels throughout the day by reducing the amount of high carb foods, and why exercise is an important part of the plan.  One of the main strengths of this diet is its positive effect on blood glucose levels, which makes it suitable for diabetics or those in a pre-diabetic state.  Parallel studies have found that eating fewer carbs increases the number of calories burned, so aiding weight loss.  The results of tests completed in a two-year clinical trial (page 15) are clearly illustrated in pie charts.  The benefits of this diet regarding blood sugar levels is clear but it was also found that the low-carb diet resulted in greater reductions in blood triglyceride levels (bad cholesterol) and the increase of the HDL- (good) cholesterol.  So the diet provides greater improvement in heart health, maintains stable blood sugar levels and assists in weight loss. 

It is made clear that this diet is not recommended for children under the age of 18, or pregnant women, or anyone with specialised nutritional requirements.  It is also thought that a low-carb diet is not suitable for athletes, especially for those taking part in high-intensity, short duration sports.  It is made clear that medical advice should be sought before major changes in diet, or if there are any pre-existing conditions.   

Part 1 also details an online diet and exercise diary template that can be downloaded from the web address provided in this section.  ‘Making it work in your kitchen’ (pages 24 to 32) gives a clear overview of the foods based on the nutrients they provide and their kilojoule value.   Illustrations of the four energy levels make it easy to choose the best level according to individual needs.  From pages 29 to 45, there is a daily food guide for level one that includes drinks and snacks.  The two-weekly meal plans along with shopping lists and a list of pantry staples make following this diet so simple.   This section was not included in previous editions.

Part 2 details the recipes in six colour-coded sections.  Beginning with ‘simple portable lunches’ such as pesto chicken and veggie melts, chicken and green olive couscous salad, chicken tikka and sweet potato lettuce cups.  These inviting recipes make preparing and packing a healthy lunch to take to work an easy task.   Soups and salads follow, many of which only have six ingredients and take under fifteen minutes to assemble.   The sixteen recipes are quite original – Tuscan pork and quinoa salad, crispy tofu and ginger soba noodle soup, hearty fish soup, vindaloo lamb and cooling slaw, and many more.  The section, ‘Grab and cook dinners’, detail equally original recipes.  I can personally recommend pork and zucchini fajita.  The recipes in the next section ‘super fast stir fry dinners’ only take fifteen minutes to prepare, or less, such as lemongrass chilli chicken and kale, a delicious and healthy super fast meal.  There are fourteen recipes in ‘One-pan dinner wonders’, most of which only take fifteen minutes to prepare.  The last section – ‘Fuss free entertaining’ – ensures that healthy diets are not abandoned when dinner guests are invited.  These impressive recipes could match fine dining found in any restaurant, such as harissa salmon with lemon yoghurt, roast lamb with parsley pine nut dressing, and seared beef with salsa rossa.  

The appendix gives a chart that shows participants in low carb eating how to determine daily kilojoule requirements, known as a basal metabolic rate or BMR.  An example of how it works in practice is also given in this section, and includes a useful recipe conversion chart metric to imperial and Celsius to Fahrenheit.

The CSIRO Low-Carb Diet:  Quick & Easy, with meal builders, and meal plans with shopping lists, along with its original recipes, is a most useful addition to the two previous publications of the CSIRO low carb diet books.

Professor Grant Brinkworth is a principal research scientist in Clinical Nutrition and Exercise at CSIRO Health and Biosecurity. He has a PhD and expertise in diet, nutrition and exercise science. Pennie Taylor is the senior research dietician at CSIRO Health and Biosecurity.

The CSIRO Low-Carb Diet:  Quick & Easy


by Professor Grant Brinkworth and Dr. Pennie Taylor

Pan Macmillan Australia

Paperback:  ISBN:  9 781760 783341  

$34.99; Pp. 256


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