Researchers of the HMRI Food and Nutrition Research Program are conducting a nutrition-based research study to enhance our knowledge of certain diets, foods, and their health effects.

We are looking for adults who are interested in participating in an 8-week study.

During this study, you will follow two different diets for a total of 4 weeks (2 weeks per diet), which have been developed and designed by our experienced dietitians.

As part of the study, we will provide all your meals and snacks for the 4 weeks, and our dietitians will tailor your diet according to your individual nutritional needs. For the other 4 weeks, you will consume your usual diet


Why is the research being done?

The purpose is to identify biomarkers from two distinct dietary patterns.

Findings from this research will help inform the development of innovative approaches for accurately assessing and summarising dietary intake, leading to more personalised dietary advice in the future.

Furthermore, study findings will guide future studies in population groups with chronic health conditions requiring tailored medical dietary interventions.


Who can participate in the research study?

You are eligible to participate if you:

  • Are 18 years or older?
  • Are a healthy adult with no diagnosed chronic conditions or condition that influences metabolism?
  • Not on medication OR on stable medications for at least 3 months?
  • Live in the Newcastle/Hunter region or Central Coast?
  • Have access to a smart phone or tablet with internet access?
  • Have received at least 2 COVID vaccinations (require proof of vaccination)?
  • Are willing to commit to a strict data collection process for 8 weeks (during which you'll be asked to follow a strict dietary protocol for 4 weeks and receive pre-planned meals and snacks during that period)?

This study is not suitable for volunteers if you:

  • Have food allergies or intolerances?
  • Are diagnosed Type 1 diabetes or insulin-dependent type 2 diabetes, have uncontrolled severe hypertension, or are undergoing cancer treatment?
  • Are currently following a strict dietary regime e.g., vegan, intermittent fasting?
  • Are on medications and/or supplements known to influence study outcomes (e.g., antibiotics, probiotics, hormone therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, corticosteroids, medications affecting metabolism, fish oil supplements)?
  • Have a history of gastrointestinal conditions (e.g., gastric ulcers and/or severe irritable bowel syndrome)?
  • Regularly consume more than 10 standard alcoholic drinks/per week?
  • Are pregnant or breastfeeding?
  • Are currently participating in another research study involving diet and/or physical activity intervention?


What will study participants be asked to do? What does the study involve?

This study involves:

  1. Adhering to a specific diet for 4 weeks out of the 8-week study period, during which you will be provided with all meals, snacks, and meal plans.
  2. Completing online surveys that cover topics such as medical history, demographics, physical activity, quality of life, and dietary intake (including 24-hour recalls and food frequency questionnaires).
  3. Attending 4 appointments at the University of Newcastle where we will conduct a health check, measuring your body composition, waist circumference, blood pressure, arterial pressure, and skin carotenoids, and collect blood, urine, and stool samples.

Upon completion of the 8-week data collection process, you will also receive the following:

  • Your baseline blood test results, blood pressure readings, and body composition analysis
  • Results of the Australian Eating Survey you completed at the beginning of the study, along with a brief explanation and feedback from a qualified dietitian.


The 8-week diet you will be asked to follow has 4 phases

During the study period, you'll follow a specific eating plan in four different stages. Here's what each stage will entail:

  1. Eat your regular diet for 2 weeks.
  2. Follow a set diet for the next 2 weeks, during which all meals and snacks will be provided.
  3. Resume your regular diet for the following 2 weeks.
  4. Follow a different set diet for the final 2 weeks, during which all meals and snacks will be provided.

One of the diets is based on a typical Australian Diet, while the other aligns with current national dietary recommendations. All participants will receive both diets, but the order in which they receive each one will be randomised.

Here’s what will happen at the appointments:

At the end of each phase, you will be asked to attend an appointment at the clinical research facility at the University of Newcastle. We will also ask you to fast overnight before your morning appointment.

During your appointment, we will conduct a body composition analysis, measure your blood pressure, and collect blood and urine samples. We will also provide you with at-home collection kits to obtain poo samples.

It is important that participants maintain all other habitual lifestyle, physical activity, and medication or supplements (where relevant) routine for the duration of the 8-week study.



What will I be eating as part of the controlled diets?
The diet interventions will consist of 3 main meals per day (breakfast, lunch, dinner) and snacks in between meals.

You will be provided with all meal and snack items as well as a written meal plan to help guide the distribution of meals/snacks throughout the day. You will have the freedom to choose when to have snacks/meal items but will need to ensure that all the food allocated for the day is consumed.

You are welcome to consume your regular beverages throughout (including water, coffee and tea).

The diet interventions will be tailored to your usual energy intake to ensure you remain weight stable and satisfied throughout the study duration. Our researchers will regularly check in with you to ensure enough food is supplied (and vice versa).

The menu is a 7-day rotating menu and has been designed to require little food preparation (e.g., making a sandwich) and very minimal cooking (e.g., at the most, frying an egg or heating food in an oven or microwave).
How strictly will I have to follow the diet?

Ideally, very strict.

Consumption of the diet in its entirety is key to the success and accuracy of the study.

We understand there may be the odd occasion where you may need to consume non-study food (e.g., at a café or restaurant for a special occasion). In these circumstances, we ask you to choose food/beverage items according to a list the researchers will provide, which relates to the diet phase you are up to.

What will I receive at the end of the research study?

You will receive a personalised copy of your baseline results.

Specifically, this will include analysis from our dietitians about your:

  • blood test
  • body composition
  • waist circumference
  • blood pressure
  • dietary intake analysis.

Our dietitian will help to interpret these results with you. Participants may be advised to follow up on their results with their GP where relevant.

How will I receive the food and meals that I will be eating?

A grocery order will be placed by the researchers for each diet phase, and you will be able to ‘Click and Collect’ at your nominated grocery store.


Interested in participating?

Please read the Participant Information Sheet.

If you would like to participate, contact our team:

Dr Erin Clarke, Dr Jessica Ferguson & Dr Jordan Stanford

Here is also the eligibility screening form for partipcants.