Interval Weight Loss is an approved weight management provider registered with many health funds in Australia. Additionally, if you are on the IWL Plus plan, your monthly calls with the IWL Plus accredited dietitian can be claimed as dietetic telehealth consultations. ALL FUNDS approve our IWL PLUS plan.
Make sure you select "Download PDF" on the email containing your invoice to ensure all the relevant details are included and submit this downloaded invoice to your health fund.
Funds that cover IWL Essentials
Doctors Health Fund
Queensland Country Health Fund
CBHS Health Fund
CBHS Corporate Health
Teachers Health Fund
Nurses & Midwives Health
St Lukes Health
Funds that cover IWL Plus
Intentionally, there is very little in the online program and books about exact quantities to eat. This is because it is not a diet and you will not succeed if you rely on a set 4-week, 8-week or 12-week program, or similar. IWL is not a prescriptive approach you may have been used to in the past. It is a descriptive approach that is based on six key principles.
We all need guidance, but you must learn how much to eat at each meal by listening to your body signals and by ensuring that you eat a lot at the start of the day and very little at the end of the day. For most, this will mean completely switching around the structure of your current food intake. For example, with oats at breakfast, load up your bowl on the first few occasions because breakfast is the most important meal of the day and should be the biggest (but you can split it up into two smaller breakfasts – one before work and one when you arrive at work). If you can’t get through the portion or feel uncomfortably full at the end of the meal you have eaten too much, and you need to reduce the quantity the next day until you master it. This is because everyone needs different intakes and males will usually need more than females (sometimes 1½ times the intake) as they have a larger body mass.
The same applies for dinner. If a recipe specifies how many it makes or how many it serves, this is a guide so that you can make an appropriate amount to also factor in leftovers for the next day’s lunch. It also depends on which meal you cook the recipe for. As per the IWL plan, you will serve up more at lunch than what you would at dinner.
As a general rule of thumb, when first starting out on the IWL plan and to give you something to work with as a guide, breakfast will be a portion size that is equivalent to three closed fists, lunch will be approximately two closed fists, and the evening meal will be approximately one closed fist. These guides exclude vegetables, so you can load up as many vegetables and salad as you like at each meal. You will find real-life examples of these portion guides in the 'resources' section of your program.
Your food requirements will increase during pregnancy (particularly during the third trimester) and when breastfeeding – up to one and a third times the food you typically eat (this is fine and encouraged).
Another great tool to use is the appetite scale found under 'resources'. This is particularly helpful when first starting the IWL plan to continually assess how hungry you are before and after each meal. You need to record this before and after each meal in a food journal and you should start this process in the wash-out period.
In summary, there are no exact portion sizes on the IWL plan. But you must remember that every meal must be balanced. Half the meal should be vegetables or salad, with a quarter being a wholegrain carbohydrate source like a piece of bread or serving of rice, and a quarter being your protein source such as meat, fish or lentils.
The IWL plan is a descriptive, not a prescriptive approach. This is intentional. Many of you will be used to set meal plans and militant exercise routines, giving you a fixed structure to follow for the four, eight or 12-week program. These plans do not work long-term. Plus, what we put into our body and how we should lose weight is far simpler than this. We can all count calories, abstain from certain foods and follow strict exercise routines for set periods of time, but eventually our evolutionary instinct will kick in and we will re-introduce our favourite foods and strong biological factors will come into play, ensuring we regain the weight we lost. If you feel a little lost as to how to start the IWL program, start by watching all the videos and reading the materials on your dashboard. Where possible, print these resources off and stick them on the fridge as a reminder of what you are setting out to achieve. Start by simply implementing the six principles of the IWL plan: eat big to small throughout the day; use chopsticks for your evening meal; don't deprive yourself of food and have a source of carbohydrate, protein and fat at every meal, use an activity monitor and incorporate activity into your daily routine; avoid technology at night and work on your to-do list; and weigh yourself just once per week and monitor the trend over time. The first month allows you to get used to the plan without the pressure of having to lose weight straight away. It is important to login to your IWL program each day and tick off the six principles you achieve; eventually they will become a way of life.
The good news is that you do not need face-to-face contact to succeed on the IWL plan. However, you can opt for the IWL PLUS plan which can be found under the 'subscription' section of your account. This plan costs an additional $30 per month for individual coaching with an IWL accredited dietitian via unlimited emails and once monthly video or phone calls. If you have private health cover, make sure to check whether they will cover telehealth consultations with an accredited dietitian as this will enable you to claim.
The IWL plan can be followed by anyone and from wherever they are located – rural, remote and overseas. You will find all the information you need to follow the IWL plan in your online program through the videos and supporting documents, and the new content that will pop-up on your dashboard each week. However, you may also benefit from reading the Interval Weight Loss books to understand the science behind weight loss and to provide even greater detail on the plan. The books will also assist you in breaking the dieting mindset and help you unlearn all the bad habits and wrong information you may have picked up over the years. These can be borrowed from your local library, purchased online or at your local bookstore.
We receive countless enquiries about whether the IWL plan can be followed by people of different ethnicities or with different eating patterns. Yes, absolutely yes! It can be followed by anyone. The IWL plan is an adaptive approach that can be tailored to your lifestyle. If you’re a vegetarian, take the meat out. If you’re allergic to salmon, don’t make the salmon recipe. If you’re coeliac, substitute with wholegrain carbohydrates that don’t contain gluten.
Yes, it is most certainly suitable for those with diabetes – both type 1 and type 2, and gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy) – and PCOS. If you have type 2 diabetes it will help prevent the disease from progressing further and in some instances may help you get rid of the disease altogether. It is also suitable for those with insulin resistance or pre-diabetes (the stage before type 2 diabetes) as the weight loss you will achieve will see your body working properly again and prevent the disease. PCOS is a very common hormonal disorder that affects a woman’s ovaries during childbearing years. The IWL plan will help you lose weight if you have PCOS and just a small amount of weight loss can help regulate ovulation and periods.
Yes, you can follow the IWL plan during pregnancy, but you must not lose any weight. Weight gain is healthy and expected during pregnancy. You are growing a person! After delivery of your baby, you will find that you naturally bounce back to your pre-pregnancy weight within the first six months of childbirth and even if you don’t there is no cause for concern. The IWL plan will help you get back there.
Yes, if there is a recipe that includes milk, for instance, and you are lactose intolerant, you will need to substitute it with a lactose-free alternative, such as lactose-free milk. Similarly, those with coeliac disease will need to find a replacement for products containing gluten or eliminate it. If you are diagnosed with lactose intolerance or coeliac disease and are still unsure which ingredients are suitable substitutes, please make contact through the IWL Community Facebook page or email us for some suggestions. You can also make use of IWL PLUS which gives you access to your own accredited dietitian.
Yes, most certainly. Again, simply substitute any meat or animal products with suitable alternatives. For example, meat with tofu, or chicken with beans. There is a detailed explanation of the nutrients to be mindful of when following a vegan diet in the book ‘Interval Weight Loss For Women’, and your IWL PLUS dietitian can also go through this with you.
Yes, however it is vital to follow up with your general practitioner regarding your medication and dosage and ensure your thyroid function is regularly monitored with a blood test. Weight loss may improve your thyroid function and therefore your medication will need adjusting as you progress on the IWL plan.
Yes, but you should follow up with your general practitioner if you suspect weight gain due to the medication/s you may be taking. There is a greater availability of approved medications for treatment of depression and mental disorders nowadays that do not have a negative effect on body weight, and these may be applicable to your specific condition.
Yes. More and more cancers are being linked to obesity, so eating foods such as wholegrain carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables can only help. Please be aware, of course, that if you have cancer you will still need treatment, and the IWL plan cannot prevent all types of cancer.
Yes, most definitely. If you are diagnosed with coeliac disease, you need to avoid grains containing gluten such as wheat, rye and barley. Suitable gluten-free grains that are also rich in fibre include rice, quinoa, millet and amaranth and you should include plenty of them. There are also many foods that are naturally gluten-free – fruits, vegetables, dairy, meat, fish, nuts and eggs, to name a few. To get tested for coeliac disease, your GP may send you for a blood test in the first instance, but to confirm the result they will need to send you for an endoscopy – a specialised test where they check the lining of your intestine to see if it is functioning properly.
Yes, absolutely. The recipes and weekly plans are just a guide. They are designed to give you some good ideas on what you can make, how easy it can be to cook using just a few ingredients, and to show you what ingredients you should use as the foundations for all recipes. Remember, when following the IWL plan you don’t need to rely on meal plans, count calories or weigh out portions of each ingredient. You can put any of your favourite recipes into the weekly food plan, you may just have to make some alterations to ensure they are based on the core principles of the IWL plan. Remember the following:
Morning sickness is common during pregnancy, usually in the first trimester, and mostly due to changing levels of pregnancy hormones. It’s vital to keep well hydrated, even if you can only manage small, frequent sips of fluid. Soups are another great way of keeping up your fluid intake to prevent dehydration. During this time, it is more appropriate to eat smaller, more regular meals. It is also advised to avoid any smells of foods that makes you nausea worse and you may need to focus on including more bland food. Aside from this, the same principles of the IWL plan still apply.
It should fit onto a bread and butter sized plate or a small rice bowl. You can eat as many vegetables or as much salad as you like. If you are hungry after having this small portion for dinner you should wait 10 minutes before considering going back for a second portion. In this instance, you may need to start putting more food at the start of the day to ensure you are less hungry by the time dinner comes around. And don’t forget your chopsticks or oyster fork.
A rice bowl is a small bowl used in Asian cuisine for rice. It’s the perfect tool for measuring out your evening meal and should be approximately the size of your fist.
It is not always practical to have an early dinner. Eat dinner when you can but make sure it is the smallest meal of the day. This is even more important when having your evening meal later in the evening as you are less likely to wake up feeling hungry if you over-eat at night.
It takes time for your hunger cues to change and if you have been doing the same thing for years or decades, that is, skipping breakfast because you didn’t feel hungry, your body’s signals will not change overnight. Coffee can also change your appetite and mask your appetite so make sure to have something with your morning coffee. If you have changed your meal orientation to ensure you are having your smallest meal at dinner you are well on the way to success and you will start to wake up feeling hungrier. Just give it time! This change is not going to happen overnight, but ride it out, it’s worth it– that’s a promise.
The following scale is a very useful tool to help you with your portion sizes, especially when first starting out on the plan. During the wash-out month (a time where you can get used to implementing the IWL plan), you should use a diary to record your hunger scale before and after meals. It is not the actual meal you need to be recording, but rather what your appetite is doing and how it changes throughout the day.
It takes time to learn to gain an appreciation for how your appetite signals work in the body and this is not something that changes overnight. The 66-day rule applies here too. If you notice that your hunger is high before meals at the end of the day (a ‘3’ or ‘4’ on the hunger scale), you have a few tweaks to make. This is particularly relevant if you have been in the same routine for years - skipping meals, eating little throughout the day and having your biggest meal at dinner. The first step is simply to change your food structure, to give yourself a chance of waking up hungrier in the morning. Over time, you should start to wake up in the ‘3’ range. If you wake up in the ‘4’ range, you are doing very well.
The scale is also very useful for recording your hunger after meals. Most of the time you should feel ‘1’ after eating, rather than ‘0’ or ‘-1’. When you first start the IWL plan, you will find the evening time the most challenging – the change to a bread and butter sized plate or rice-sized bowl can take some getting used to. The IWL approach does not want you to deprive yourself of food, so if you are still hungry after your first serve go back for more. This is especially relevant during pregnancy and when breastfeeding. As discussed, your appetite will increase during these times and this is normal and expected; after all, you're growing and feeding another person. But you must remember the 10-minute rule. That is, you should wait at least 10-minutes before you go back for more, as this is the time needed for your appetite signalling to work (the time it takes for signals to be sent to your brain telling you whether you need more food). In saying this, you can still eat as much salad and veggies as you like, and this applies to all meals. And irrespective of whether you're pregnant or breastfeeding, you still need to follow the funnel plan of big to small meals throughout the day. The only difference is you might need up to one and a half times the quantity of food.
You should structure your food intake in the same way during the maintenance periods as the weight loss months – largest meal at breakfast and smallest meal at dinner. You should not be eating more at dinner. The maintenance months allow you the flexibility to include more of those treat foods you love or to eat out more regularly, or to have more avocado on your toast or nuts at your morning tea.
Your appetite will increase during the second and particularly third trimester of pregnancy. This is normal and you need to welcome this increase in appetite. It may mean you’re eating one and a third times the quantity of food you typically eat on the IWL plan (this is fine and encouraged). Remember, you are growing another person and they are dependent on good nutrition to grow and develop. Always remember to reach for nature first and whenever you have cravings for the junk, think about the health of your baby and you. Listen to your body’s appetite signalling and feed it the fuel it needs. If you’re still hungry after eating, have some more.
Much like pregnancy, your appetite will increase when breastfeeding and will only start to decrease when your baby starts to eat solids. It burns a lot of calories making breastmilk and you need extra food to meet these requirements. Again, just like when you’re pregnant, you may be eating one and a third times the guide portions on the IWL plan and this is perfectly fine. You need to listen to what your body is telling you - if you’re hungry, you need to eat. Remember, the breastmilk you are producing is your baby's only fuel source and the nutrition you take in will influence their food preferences later in life. Eat according to the IWL plan and importantly, focus on a rich variety of foods.
If you are not seeing any change on the scales during the weight loss months, this could be due to many reasons. These are the common ones to look out for (not in any given order as everyone is different):
No, you must move on to your weight maintenance month. It does not matter if you don’t lose weight in any given month and it is best to just let it go and move onto the maintenance month, as per the IWL plan. This is very common when first starting off on the IWL plan especially if you have recently been on a diet or have been on numerous diets in the past. Your body becomes very efficient at removing any stress associated with dieting and it may mean you have to follow the wash-out period for longer than you hoped. As long as you focus on the long term picture, you will still get there.
If you know it’s going to be a challenging month (for example, you might be caring for someone, have a lot of family commitments or it’s Christmas time) this is also a well-advised time to embrace a weight maintenance month. Sometimes, two or more weight maintenance months in a row is required and this is completely fine.
Since the ‘sugar-free’ and ‘I Quit Sugar’ movements became popular, there has been much confusion about what constitutes a sugar and the difference between different types of sugar. Added sugars and naturally occurring sugars are not the same thing. Many foods contain naturally occurring sugars and these foods are very good for us (for example, fruit and dairy). They are excellent sources of nutrition and important for our long-term health. Do not let someone convince you that because a food contains ‘sugar’ it is bad for you. They are wrong. Naturally occurring sugars, such as glucose, fructose, sucrose, lactose and maltose are very good for us and not part of the problem.
Added sugars are the ‘bad’ sugars and you will find them predominantly in food products coming out of a packet, such as muesli bars, or white refined carbs such as pastries, confectionary and sweets. As a rule of thumb, food in its natural form may contain sugars that are naturally occurring and good for us, and food coming out of a packet may contain added sugars that are bad for us. There is no need to restrict any foods in their naturally occurring form.
Sugar in foods does not cause diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an auto-immune disease (there is no cure, it can’t be prevented and people are often born with it) and type 2 diabetes is typically caused by carrying excess body weight, which consequently stops the body working as efficiently as it should. Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes developed during pregnancy (closely aligned with type 2 diabetes) and typically goes away following the birth of your child. However, if you do develop gestational diabetes, it is vital to manage it by following the principles of the IWL plan (without a focus on weight loss), which will reduce your risk of pregnancy complications and any risk to your newborn (large baby, miscarriage and stillbirth). It will also reduce your risk of it persisting post childbirth and resulting in type 2 diabetes.
Foods that contain added sugar and fat, such as pastries, chocolates, ice-cream or anything that is processed and coming out of packets is high in energy. If you regularly include a high intake of these foods, it is likely you will be eating too many calories contributing to excess weight gain and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. However, sugar itself does not cause diabetes.
It is a perplexing field to navigate when wading through the supermarket and there are over 50 names for sugar. The most common ingredients to watch out for when looking for added sugars on labels include:
Fruit juice concentrates;
High-fructose corn syrup;
Sugar molecules ending in ‘ose’ (e.g. dextrose, glucose, sucrose, maltose, fructose).
Yes, fruit does contain sugar, but these are naturally occurring sugars. These are nature’s treats and should form part of your daily eating plan. You can eat as much fruit as you like, as long as it’s not juiced or dried. Juicing means most of the goodness (the fibre) gets left behind in the juicer and dried fruit has had the water stripped out of it, so it’s very easy to overconsume. Fruit or other foods containing naturally occurring sugars do not cause diabetes or weight gain. No fruits will make you fat and you can eat all fruits on the IWL plan (yes, even bananas!)
Skim, no-fat or low-fat milk will not have added sugar. The only difference between full fat and the low fat or skim alternatives is that the fat is literally skimmed off the top of the milk. Skim or low fat will have the same protein and calcium without the fat.
Some milks do have added sugar – like almond milk, oat milk and other dairy alternatives. Read the label carefully.
Cow’s milk is the richest source of calcium, protein and iodine. If you are looking for a dairy-free and lactose-free alternative to cow’s milk, calcium-fortified soy milk is the next best option from a nutritional perspective. Rice milk and almond milk are low in protein. Tune into the Shirtloads of Science podcast with Dr Karl on ‘white milk scams’ – Dr Nick Fuller is interviewed on this topic.
You do need to be a little careful with yoghurt. No-fat or low-fat yoghurt can have added sugar to make up for the loss of flavour incurred by removing the fat. To keep things simple, choose one that says ‘low fat’ and ‘no added sugar’ on the label. This is typically your natural yoghurt. Alternatively, select one that specifies ‘no fat’ and ‘no added sugar’ on the label. So, yes, you can buy low fat yoghurt that has no added sugar, but if you prefer the full-fat variety this is fine too.
Yes, it is. All that matters is that you include dairy and that you include it every day - two to three serves per day. Research has clearly documented that those who include more dairy products in their daily eating plan have lower body weights, better heart health and better able to manage their weight than those who don’t include them. As we don’t know whether full fat dairy is bad for our waistlines, until this question is answered through research, it is best to stick to skim dairy for milk and yoghurt products. It has the same nutrition - calcium and protein - as the full fat variety with half the calories. You can buy no fat and low-fat yoghurt without added sugar or you can opt for plain, natural yoghurt and add your own sweetness by using fruit or honey. If you really prefer to stick with full fat dairy, this is fine too.
Despite coming out of a packet some breakfast cereal products are obviously better than others – these include the ones that are largely wholegrain-wheat based, such as Weet-bix and All-bran. However, it is important to bear in mind that such packaged products will also contain other added ingredients such as salt and added sugar and there are many more suitable breakfast-based options such as oats, avocado on wholegrain toast, or fruit and yoghurt. Try and stay clear of all processed cereal products as its just as easy to make something from scratch.
Yes, you can enjoy a range of nuts and include a mix, including walnuts and almonds. Choose dry roasted or those in their natural form, without added oil or salt.
No! ‘Activation’ does not improve the digestibility and nutrition of the nut, despite all the clever marketing.
You should focus your fluid intake on water and have soda water when dining out (it can make you feel like you are treating yourself to something other than alcohol). However, a suitable alternative is to make your own soda water at home and add some fresh lime – another one of nature’s treats. Commercially bought soda water does not contain sugar but it does contain sodium so don’t have it as your primary source of fluid. Even mineral or sparkling water can contain sodium, depending on the brand, so be sure to check what you’re buying if you’re drinking it every day. And for those who drink tonic water, this also contains sugar, so if you must have this then stick to the ‘diet’ option. Remember, it’s a treat too.
Only if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. If you really want a drink when breastfeeding, pump and store the milk before having one. You can then feed your baby from expressed milk from a bottle. Otherwise, the general rule is that no foods or drinks need to be cut from the IWL plan. If you enjoy it, you can still include it. And you can have it in addition to your treat meal each week.
The best-known effect of alcohol is a small increase in your good high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, but this only happens at low level intake – no more than a standard drink per day – and you can also increase your HDL-cholesterol through regular physical activity. In practical terms, you should keep your intake to one average sized drink per day because we tend to fill our glasses quite high. You should also include a minimum of two alcohol free days per week. When consumed at levels above this recommended intake it can disrupt your sleep quality and it may lead to a disinhibition of your appetite signals and subsequent not-so-good food choices. It will also make it hard to lose weight during a weight loss month as alcohol is energy dense and it’s the first fuel to be metabolised by the liver in the body, meaning that when you go and eat that meal afterwards it may end up getting stored as fat. Most people following the IWL plan say that they get away with including one glass of wine per night (approximately five nights per week) and still lose weight on the weight loss months.
No, you should eat carbs with EVERY meal. Choose the wholegrain types as this will ensure every meal is balanced and help you feel fuller for longer. There is no research to suggest that carbs at night make you put on weight. That’s just your friend proclaiming to be a so-called ‘expert’ on all things health. Stop listening!
Yes, you can. But, easier still, the IWL plan advocates for people to cook extra every night so that you always have leftovers for lunch the next day. This saves the hassle of having to prepare something for lunch every day you wake up. If this doesn’t work for you and you’re convinced you will eat the whole damn lot even after it’s packed away in the fridge, yes, you can make the same lunch each day. But it strongly suggests that you are not following the principles of the IWL plan, particularly the funnel plan of big to small meals throughout the day. If you don’t eat enough at the start of the day, you will always be hungry at the end of the day. And if you’re bored, get cracking on your ‘to do’ list.
Yes, this is a great lunch option. If the sandwich incorporates a wholegrain carb, a protein source, a healthy fat source, and plenty of veg or salad, it gets the IWL tick of approval. Despite what smartarse comments your colleagues might make, sandwiches are healthy. For god’s sake, let them eat their keto meal or paleo plate of meat. You just need to worry about yourself and stick to the IWL plan. Good sandwich toppings include egg, lettuce, salmon, chicken, tomato, capsicum, spinach and so on – get creative!
Yes, of course. Routine and repetition are great if it’s a healthy option and nutritionally balanced, as per the principles of the IWL plan. You make over 200 food choices a day so make it a little easier on yourself and repeat the same meals on occasions. This is certainly done at IWL HQ too!
A juice cleanse or detox is not needed to cleanse your body of toxins. There is no such thing as a detox. This is clever marketing and absolute nonsense. The body does this process on its own – just don’t feed it a diet based on processed food all the time and include plenty of wholesome and nutritious foods as per the IWL plan. Save the juicing for the Hollywood celebrities.
The whole concept of ‘clean eating’ means nothing; it has done nothing except contribute to the ever-growing dieting industry and it’s a very clever money maker. The reason it grabs people’s attention is because it’s catchy. Worryingly, it has morphed into a misleading phrase that has led people to think certain fruits and vegetables are bad; that carbohydrates are the cause of all things evil; that you should eat gluten free; that coconut oil is a miracle food; and that you should obsess about every little ingredient. Don’t get caught in the trap of listening to your friends; stay focused on what you are setting out to achieve with the IWL plan.
It is beyond the scope of this FAQ page to review all supplements that are currently available on the market; there are thousands of them, so if it hasn’t been mentioned, you don’t need to waste your money on it. This includes probiotics and specially marketed foods that are high in whatever they’re marketed to be high in (you can get what they’re flogging from food itself).
If you are eating all the foods listed in the IWL plan you will not need supplements (except during pregnancy). This includes multivitamins. You will just end up excreting the vitamin supplements through your urine. For example, an excess of vitamin B2 (riboflavin) will be detected by a dark fluorescent urine colour. However, if you are a vegan or attempting to fall pregnant there are certain supplements that you should take. Refer to the third principle of the IWL plan – full rainbow – where we outline the key nutrients of concern when following a vegan diet.
Before and during pregnancy you will need a folate supplement. You need 400 micrograms every day from when you are attempting to conceive until you’re 12 weeks pregnant to help with the healthy development of the spine and brain in the baby. Not everyone plans their pregnancy, so it’s important in this instance to be taking a folate supplement from the time you know you are. Iron, calcium, iodine and vitamin D supplements may also be required during pregnancy, but only in consultation with your doctor.
Some supplements that you may consider include:
Iron: For those of childbearing potential and those who do not get iron from animal sources (such as meat), an iron supplement is likely needed. Red meat is the richest source of bio-available iron and should be included in the food plan two times weekly. Symptoms of low iron include tiredness and lack of energy. A deficiency can be detected through an iron studies blood test by your doctor, which you should do before taking any supplements.
Calcium: If you avoid dairy or are not getting enough calcium-rich sources other than dairy (for example, tinned fish with bones, tofu and almonds) in your diet, you may need to include a calcium supplement. Calcium is important for bone health and preventing osteoporosis, also known as brittle bones. Dairy foods are the richest sources of calcium and are of the highest bioavailability, meaning there is a higher absorption rate of calcium from the food. If you eat dairy or consume calcium-enriched plant sources of dairy (such as soy), you do not need this.
Vitamin D: In conjunction with calcium, vitamin D is also important for bone health and preventing osteoporosis. Natural sunlight is the richest source of vitamin D and we only require very small amounts each day. A 5 to 10-minute walk outside will be enough to meet daily requirements. Vitamin D is also found in some food sources, such as eggs. However, for those who see little to no sunlight each week, a vitamin D supplement will most likely be needed. Please consult with your general practitioner if you do not get any sunlight exposure before taking a supplement.
Vitamin B12: A vitamin B12 supplement is required for those who are vegan or those who are deficient in intrinsic factor (an enzyme required to bind vitamin B12 in the stomach). Those at risk of this deficiency include the elderly or those greater than 70 years of age. A deficiency can be detected by a blood test and you should consult with your general practitioner for a subcutaneous injection or appropriate supplement.
The term ‘superfood’ has gained enormous traction and popularity because after all, it’s something we all want – a food that promises to be super healthy so we can continue with our unhealthy lifestyle habits, but then believe to correct this by adding in some sort of miracle food, such as acai berries, chia seeds, kale, coconut oil or even some almond milk. Acai berries, for example, are packed with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, but so too are all berries, so it doesn’t matter which ones you have. Kale also contains plenty of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants but you don’t get any extra superpowers from eating kale than what you do from any other vegetable. All vegetables contain varying amounts of vitamins and minerals and they all give us superpowers. As goes for the plethora of other cleverly marketed superfoods, don’t get caught up in the hype, you’re going to be getting all the benefits they promise from the foods prescribed in the IWL plan and you’re going to save a lot of money in the process.
This is referred to as ‘spot reduction’ and unfortunately there is no such thing. Those late-night TV ads promising to shrink your stomach are all lies. You can’t lose weight in one specific spot. When you lose weight, it comes off the entire body. The tummy, hips and thighs are the most stubborn areas of all and often the last to see change. Your body will continue to change over time on the IWL plan but don’t expect your tummy to disappear or your hips to shrink from doing lots of crunches or sit-ups.
Exercise when it suits you. It doesn’t matter when you do it, all that matters is you do it. Yes, we can hear many of you saying, ‘I’ve heard it’s best to exercise first thing in the morning before breakfast’. Well, you guessed it, this isn’t true, and you’re not going to burn more fat in the morning on an empty stomach.
The principles of the IWL plan always apply – that is, big to small throughout day and regular meals to avoid excessive hunger setting in. However, in saying this, it is not practical to have a large meal before exercising – you are likely to feel ill and uncomfortable and you won’t be able to train at the intensity you hoped. If you prefer to exercise first thing in the morning, have something very light before your activity (if you can tolerate it) and make sure to eat as soon as you finish so that you stick to the principles of the plan.
No, weight or resistance training adds variety to your exercise routine and will not result in you putting on weight or gaining bulky muscle.
You should have your height accurately measured so you can calculate your BMI (your general practitioner can help with this). The BMI is your weight over your height squared. There are lots of online calculators that you can use after you accurately measure your height and weight for the first time. One suitable example is found at healthdirect.gov.au/bmi-calculator. BMI reference points for males and females are:
Under 18.5 Underweight
18.5–24.9 Healthy weight range
30.0 + Obesity
However, there are many limitations of BMI; it doesn’t account for a person’s muscle mass and hence why many athletes are classified as overweight. The cut-off points were also derived predominantly from data from North American and European populations and are not applicable to all ethnic groups. This issue has led to suggested re-defined BMI cut-off points for people of Asian ethnicity (where a BMI ≥ 23.0 kg/m2 is defined as overweight, and ≥ 27.5 kg/m2 as obesity) and for those of Polynesian ethnicity, with a BMI cut-off point of ≥ 26 kg/m2 for overweight and ≥ 32 kg/m2 for obesity.
Use this tool in conjunction with waist circumference. Your waist circumference should be measured by someone else to ensure an accurate measure. For consistency the most accurate point of reference is the belly button. Ensure the measuring tape is square around the waist when the reading is taken. For women, work towards a goal waist measure of less than 80 centimetres and for men less than 94 centimetres.
You can also monitor your radial pulse and blood pressure. Your pulse can be taken on the radial artery, located on the lateral side of the wrist (just under the attachment of the thumb). The average normal pulse rate for males and females is 60–80 beats per minute. Athletes tend to have recordings between 40–60 beats per minute. If your pulse is above 80 beats per minute at rest, you should visit your GP for a health screen.
Your blood pressure can be taken by your general practitioner or with a digital machine that you can purchase from a pharmacy or department store. It is common to see high blood-pressure readings in those following an unhealthy lifestyle, and this will improve with weight loss. Ensure you are seated, have been resting for a few minutes, and that you are not talking when the measure is taken. A normal reading for males and females is 120/80. If it is above 140/90 you should visit your GP to have it checked.
No diets work long-term. You will get a short-term fix (i.e. weight loss) and then you will end up stacking it back on. The current hype certainly surrounds keto, 16:8, 5:2, paleo, and many other forms of low carb diet, but this is simply due to big-name celebrities endorsing such diets. Clever marketing doesn’t mean a diet works. The research is not there to back up their bold claims and this is why they always appear in the bottom 10 when objectively assessed by a leading group of experts each year in the U.S News & World Report.
Intermittent fasting is not the same as Interval Weight Loss. Intermittent fasting (5:2; 16:8) is just another diet. You will lose weight and then regain it. Research has proven this.
No, many of the weight-loss programs and products that are now available do not have any evidence to back up their claims. This includes commercial weight-loss programs that heavily advertise on TV. Many of these commercial providers just use testimonials and case-studies on their websites for how much weight people lose. This is not real research – this is anecdata - and anyone can post such claims on their website. With respect to the commercial programs that provide all your meals, just like every other diet, of course you will lose weight. You are eating meals which are calorie controlled but as we all know it is not realistic to stay on this food forever. We get bored of it, it’s expensive and repetitive and it’s not a sustainable or educational approach to being healthy or long-term weight loss.
Weight gain from taking the oral contraceptive pill is a common complaint. There can be many side effects from taking the contraceptive pill, including weight gain, mood instability, bleeding and decrease in sex drive. Most of the time the weight gain is transient (much like many of the unpleasant side effects from taking the pill) and due to fluid retention - it should go away with time. The other good news is that research shows no effect on weight from taking the pill. But in saying this, if you think your weight has been increasing due to the pill, talk to your doctor, because there are many different options available and it is important to find one that works for you.
The IWL plan is a descriptive, not a prescriptive approach. This is intentional. The prescriptive approach where you are told exactly what to eat, how many grams of food to weigh out and how many calories to eat doesn't work long-term. Science has proven this.
However, for extra reading and some examples of meal plans, you will find them in your online program under the Resources tab and in the latest books, Interval Weight Loss For Life and Interval Weight Loss for Women - you can loan them from your local library. They are just a guide and the recipes in the online program will give you ideas of how to balance your meals.
Here are some pointers for when first starting:
1) It is important to take the time to navigate your online program dashboard - make sure to watch the videos, to go through the FAQs and to read the materials on your dashboard.
2) Print off the PDF resources and stick them on the fridge as a reminder of what you are setting out to achieve.
3) Your goal is to implement the 'Six Principles to the IWL Plan' - pick just one or two of the principles when first starting out, otherwise it can seem a little overwhelming:
- Eat big to small throughout the day;
- Use chopsticks for your evening meal;
- Don't deprive yourself of food and have a source of carbohydrate, protein and fat at every meal;
- Use an activity monitor and incorporate activity into your daily routine;
- Avoid technology at night and work on your to-do list;
- Weigh yourself just once per week and monitor the trend over time.
4) The first month - the wash-out period - allows you to get used to the plan without the pressure of having to lose weight straight away. It is important to set a reminder on your phone or to activate the push notifications on your dashboard to login to your IWL program each day and tick off the principles and habits you achieve; eventually they will become a way of life.
You will find IWL circuits and workouts under the 'Exercise' tab in your online program. You will also find twice weekly live exercise sessions in the IWL Community Facebook group - join via the 'Community' tab in your online program. They are just a guide because it is important to find exercises and activities that you enjoy and will sustain.
When first starting on the IWL plan, use a rough guide of three closed fists as your portion for breakfast, two closed fists for lunch and one closed fist for dinner. This portion includes your source of fat (for example, olive oil, avocado), protein (for example, meat, legumes) and wholegrain carbohydrate (for example, brown rice, quinoa). Salad and vegetables are unlimited.
Yes. If you click on 'Community' in your online program, you will be granted access to the IWL private Facebook community group. This is a community that has been created to help those on their IWL journey; to interact with others following the IWL program and to ask questions to others who may also be experiencing the same challenges as yourself. Importantly, it is a private closed group and a safe and positive place for those that are part of the IWL community. It is designed to encourage and engage those that are actively following the IWL program or those that have already succeeded on the IWL program, successfully maintaining their weight, and that can help others. Please share your celebrations, in all things health and encourage each other on this journey to ensure you never have to diet again.
Yes, absolutely! The wash-out period simply takes the pressure off having to lose weight from the get-go. It also gives you the chance to learn the principles of the IWL plan and to allow your body to reset at its set point. If you haven't dieted recently and put your body through years of stress through dieting, you are likely to lose weight when you first start on the IWL plan. If you do lose weight, your program will account for this in the next weight loss month. And if you don't lose any weight during the wash-out, you will still notice an improvement in your health.
Your program will turnover from weight loss to weight maintenance in four-week cycles. The dates under the monthly view will show you the timeline for each month's cycle.
If you wish to cancel your subscription, you can do so at any stage by clicking 'cancel subscription' under the 'Subscription' section of ‘My account’.
During the washout period you try to put the principles of IWL into action, without worrying about what your weight does. This lets your body find the weight it is most comfortable at. Once it stabilises you can start your weight loss month. Many will lose weight during the wash-out period and this is fine, but for those who have recently been on a diet or spent a lifetime dieting, patience will be required when it comes to weight loss. The washout month also allows you some time to implement the principles slowly, otherwise it can seem a little overwhelming. Some people find it is more manageable to start with one or two changes and gradually add to that, so it gives a gentle lead into the plan.
It is important to set a reminder on your phone or activate the push notifications on your dashboard to login to your IWL program each day and tick off the principles and habits you achieve; eventually they will become a way of life.
During the weight-loss months, you should introduce new exercises, new activities or new intensities. You can check the 'Exercise' tab for workouts, as well as the book 'Interval Weight Loss For Women' for some high-intensity interval training (HIIT) sessions. The focus should be on mixing up your exercise plan, with a focus on higher intensity exercises (this can be done in the pool, on a stationary bike, or on a rower, in the comfort of your own home). In the daily habits section if you are achieving your daily target of 10,000 steps (body weight or non-body weight activity) and incorporating new exercise sessions, this means you can tick off this habit, as well as the box 'I exercised for 30 minutes', meaning both boxes will be ticked for the day.
The change in activities and intensities will help you achieve your weight loss goals on the IWL plan.
It’s better not to use butter or margarine, instead stick to extra-virgin olive oil or avocado as your spread of choice. Some of you might be wondering about those cholesterol-lowering spreads that contain plant sterols. Plant sterols (by the way, we get these from foods such as nuts, seeds, grains and vegetables) work to lower our bad low-density lipoprotein (LDL)-cholesterol levels, but margarines that contain plant sterols need to be consumed at large volumes to get any effect. These are the margarines that you see on television commercials to reduce cholesterol. For example, you need to have 25 grams of a plant sterol margarine spread per day (which equals five slices of bread with 5 grams – or a teaspoon – on every slice) to have a cholesterol-lowering effect.
Push notifications can be enabled by clicking on the bell icon that appears on the bottom left corner of your dashboard. This is a reminder to log into your program every morning to tick off the daily habit section from the day before. Please note if you are using an iPhone you will need to manually set up reminders on your phone, for example, as a daily calendar alert. This is a key part of keeping yourself accountable to the IWL program, to help you apply the principles and form new, healthy habits.
Another food myth that’s been around for a very long time is that frozen vegetables and fruit aren’t as good for you. In your freezer, you should stock some frozen vegetables, frozen berries or other fruit. They are snap-frozen at the time of harvest and hence retain the same level of nutrients as fresh vegetables. Frozen fruit also allows you to enjoy raspberries and blueberries in the dead of winter and veggies out of season, plus they’re often cheaper than their fresh counterparts.
The quick answer is no. But if you’re cashed up and time poor, you could consider pre-packaged meals that are delivered to your door or a meal-delivery service that sends you different ingredients and recipes to cook for the week. They are certainly the current fad and it means you don’t have to think about what’s for dinner. But there’s a catch! People become bored of it, just as they do with all commercial programs and products and end up going back to their old habits when they come off it. These programs are also expensive, don’t really help you develop cooking skills or recipes of your own and have a lot of packaging.
Shopping for yourself is always going to be more satisfying, nutritionally balanced and importantly will generate less packaging, which is better for the environment.
It is fine to include the occasional frozen meal in your IWL plan but leave them for emergencies only. Just like all food that is processed it will contain a long list of ingredients and will lack the nutrition of its home-cooked alternative.
Anything processed or from the confectionary aisle should be thought of as a treat food. Treats include chips, biscuits, snack bars, energy bars, muesli bars, lollies, chocolate, dried fruit, white bread, soft drink, savouries and pastries, ice cream, and cakes. Don’t fall for clever marketing on packaged food claiming something is a ‘health food’, as it is still loaded with added sugar and fat, and should be thought of as a treat.
Treats should be portion-controlled, so buy chocolates or ice creams in individual packaging, or divide up biscuits into separate containers to avoid eating the whole packet.
Every gram of carbohydrate - which is stored as glycogen in our muscles and liver - binds three times its weight in water. If you have previously avoided carbohydrates, you might notice your weight increase slightly when you start to include them again. What you see on the scales is not an increase in fat mass, but rather an increase in the water content of the body. Once your glycogen stores are replenished, your weight will stabilise! Wholegrain carbohydrates are a great source of nutrition, rich in fibre and packed with vitamins and minerals, so we want you to include them. They will also help you lose weight long-term, not put it on!
Allow your brain the time to gauge its fullness (approximately 10 minutes after eating) and listen to your hunger signals. If you’re still hungry after your first serve at dinner, wait 10 minutes before your second serve. If you are still hungry after your second serve, you are either eating too quickly (don’t forget to use chopsticks or an oyster fork!), or you need to include more food earlier in the day.
If you are still hungry after dinner, it is important to have emergency foods surrounding you, such as fruit, nuts and dairy products (think nature’s treats!), so that you don’t reach for treat foods. Also remember to have a glass of water.
This is fine! On IWL, never deprive yourself of food. Unlike diets involving calorie restriction, eat enough to satisfy your hunger and give your body the fuel it needs.
It is important to eat regularly and not to include long periods without eating. Even if you are not feeling particularly hungry, make sure to include a morning tea and afternoon tea snack, even if it is just a few bites. This will prevent you reaching for a quick fix later on, while preparing dinner, for example.
Regardless of the month, you should aim for 10,000 steps daily (on average) and 30 minutes of exercise on most days. In the weight loss months, you should aim to vary the type of exercise you are doing and include higher intensity exercise. In the weight maintenance months, you do not need to worry about variety in the type of exercise you are doing, and you can ease off on the exercise intensity as well.
There are example exercise sessions in the ‘Exercise’ tab of your IWL platform. There are also twice weekly live exercise sessions that can be followed in the IWL private Facebook Community group. Click on 'Community' in your online program to access.
Additionally, there is an extensive library of exercise sessions hosted in the Community group, which can be found in the IWL private Facebook Community group, under ‘Videos’ in the ‘Media’ section. Click on "Community" in your online program to find this group of like-minded people at all stages of IWL.
Our current plans are billed quarterly or yearly and include tax. If you have private health in Australia, you may be eligible to claim back your program costs. Please see our FAQ on Private Health Insurance for further details.
At less than $5 per week we are the most affordable program on the market. See website for current payment plans.
Less than $10 per week – gives you access to your own accredited dietitian for one telehealth consult per month plus unlimited email contact. See website for current payment plans.
NB: You can upgrade or downgrade your plan at any stage and any payment made will go towards your new subscription. For example, if you sign up to IWL Essentials and then wish to upgrade to IWL Plus, the money you have paid will go towards your new Plus plan. Similarly, if you sign up to IWL Plus and then downgrade to IWL Essentials, a credit will be applied to your account.
It is important to include snacks to ensure you are eating regularly during the day. Remember to reach for nature first so a tub of yoghurt, a piece of fruit, handful of nuts and seeds and carrot sticks with dip are some ideas. Take a look at the ‘What to Eat on the IWL plan’ document in the ‘Resources’ tab or filter for snack options in the ‘Recipe’ tab of your online program.
Yes, you will find the option to pause your program in the 'My Account' section of your program under 'My Details'. This feature can be used when you wish to take a break. For example, you're going on holidays and won't have access to scales to log your measurements. On return, you simply deactivate the pause button and your program will resume. When paused, it still enables you to log your daily habits.
Your health will improve from day one of following the IWL plan providing you are implementing the principles of the plan and not excluding certain foods or food groups. To monitor this improvement in health you should go to your primary healthcare provider and have your bloods checked. They will test your cholesterol (total, HDL and LDL-cholesterol), triglycerides, glucose/HbA1c, and liver function. You can enter the results of your blood tests in your IWL program under Health in the Progress Tracker. Your assigned dietitian can discuss these results with you on your telehealth consultations.
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