29. 07. 2014

Nutrition: Reduce your carbon footprint in the world with these mindful eating and purchasing practices.


The Australian diet and the Australian waistline are expanding, and the effects are drastic. Concurrently, the population of the world is expanding, and the competition for natural resources (soil, land, energy, water, air) is intensifying. All these events are linked because of environmental impact.

Regardless of what you think about global warming, you’ll likely agree that the wester lifestyle, advancements across the globe, and the world’s ballooning human population are affecting the state of the planet. But all is not lost; there are plenty of easy changes you can make to your daily diet and training regime that will reduce your carbon footprint while improving your health.

The Australian Carbon Footprint

People in the know talk often about carbon footprint. Simply put, carbon footprint is a way to measure the impact that human activities have on the environment through greenhouse gas emissions (GHGEs). GHGEs—namely, carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, nitrous oxide and chlorofluorocarbon—are associated with climate changes and have an impact on the entire environment. The more dependent we are on fossil fuels, the larger our carbon footprint is.

Predictably, Australian are responsible for more than 19 tons of CO2 per capita annually, (Source: International Energy Statistics 2009) One of the highest in the world!

Eating Green Vs. The Australian Diet

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the typical Australian diet now weighs in at more than 3,700 calories per day (Tidwell 2009) This Western style of eating—usually loaded with red meat, processed meats, refined grains and sugars, animal fats like butter and cheese, high-calorie liquids, heavily processed foods and convenience foods—is not at all “hybrid” in style, to use an auto design analogy. Instead it can be more accurately described as an SUV style of eating. Similar to many gas-guzzling, off-road vehicles, the Western diet is extravagant in regard to fuel use and emissions.

Along the same lines, this “Hummer” style of eating is high in calories and low in whole grains, beans, fruits and vegetables; as such, it is associated with high rates of obesity and chronic diseases. Conversely, a green (or low-carbon) diet calls for consumption of locally grown and seasonal food items, greatly reduced intake of meat and dairy, avoidance of processed and packaged foods, and an overall focus on reducing food waste.

The Australian Diet And GHGEs

If you’re asking, “How, exactly, can one’s diet and waistline affect the environment?” here are some points to ponder. While Australians don’t stroll around continually “emitting” greenhouse gases the way ruminant animals do, we indirectly cause vast amounts of GHGEs every day. Owing to our driving habits and excessive consumption of various natural resources, we have an enormous carbon footprint compared with the rest of the world. By making small, sustainable changes, beginning with our diet and activity habits, we can start to move toward a green way of life. In essence, by eating and existing with the planet in mind, we can effectively reduce GHGEs and “be green.”

The way we eat—including our food choices, portion sizes and lifestyle (dining out vs. cooking at home; frozen commercial casserole vs. homemade lasagne)—has a significant impact on daily GHGEs; food production accounts for one third of GHGEs on account of the many steps it takes to get food from farm to table (Geagan 2009; Harmon & Gerald 2007). Steps in food production include harvesting, processing, heating and cooling, storage, packaging and transportation (Harmon & Gerald 2007). Some food items go through many of these steps multiple times. 

For example, if the end product is corn syrup, the crop is transported to a facility where each ear of corn is processed and heated until every kernel is transformed. After this conversion takes place, the syrup is packaged and transported to another facility, where it is stored at the proper temperature (heating and cooling comes into play) until it is needed to sweeten or even thicken an item. At this point, the corn syrup, commonly used as a sweetener in processed items like ice cream or commercial cookies, is transported to yet another facility, where it is added to other (processed) products in order to make the final product. The final product—be it cookies or ice cream or something else—also requires processing, heating or cooling, storage and transportation. This final product may be stored and transported many, many more times before it arrives on your table. With this one example, it is easy to see what an impact our food choices have on the environment and the positive impact we can make if we reduce our intake of processed and packaged foods.

Going Green With A Focus On Protein

Besides the fossil fuels used to process and package foods—food items that make up a third of the total food consumption in Australia (Eshel & Martin 2006)—another perpetrator of high CO2 emissions is a diet high in animal protein. This is because (1) it takes 6–17 times more land to produce meat protein than it does to produce vegetable protein (Harmon & Gerald 2007); and (2) livestock production accounts for a whopping 18% of the world’s total greenhouse gases (Tidwell 2009).

It so happens that ruminants, such as sheep and cows, generate large amounts of greenhouse gases owing to their, well, “output, which takes the form of methane and nitrous oxide—both many times more powerful than CO2 at trapping heat. For these reasons and others, reducing consumption of animal protein has a powerful impact on the environment; according to researchers from Cornell University, vegans (who consume no animal products) use 250 fewer gallons of oil annually, and lacto-ovo vegetarians use 160 fewer gallons, compared with their carnivorous counterparts (Tidwell 2009).

Any fitness professional, avid athlete or registered dietitian knows that athletes, especially those in heavy training, require more protein than sedentary individuals. Because of the need for muscle growth and recovery, the protein needs of athletes are indeed slightly higher than the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA), which is 0.8 gram per kilogram per day for adults (Rodriguez, DiMarco & Langley 2009; IOM 2002). That being said, the majority of athletes consume enough protein to surpass the RDA and recover appropriately. One can assume that the majority of the protein they consume comes from animal sources (according to the Vegetarian Resource Group, only 5% of the Australian population is vegetarian or Vegan), which means that athletes have a large carbon footprint. Indeed, as noted earlier, the average American who eats a diet high in animal products (meat, dairy, eggs, fish, etc.) emits 20 tons of CO2 each year—five times the international average.

Consider the following:

  • It takes an estimated 7 pounds of corn and 2,500 gallons of water to put 1 pound of weight on a steer (Geagan 2009).
  • Producing 2.2 pounds of beef requires the same amount of energy that it takes to light a 100-watt bulb for approximately 20 days (Geagan 2009).
  • Producing energy (i.e., consumable calories) from plant sources is a far more efficient process than producing energy from animal sources. On average, 2 calories of fossil fuel energy are required to produce 1 calorie of plant food, whereas 20–80 fossil fuel calories are needed to produce each calorie of animal protein. In addition, it takes five times more water, a vital natural resource, to grow grains used for animal feed than it does to grow fruits and vegetables (Geagan 2009).

In light of these facts, it becomes obvious that by relying on vegetarian sources of protein, an athlete, or any meat-loving gastronome for that matter, can reduce his or her carbon footprint while still meeting the RDA (Geagan 2009).

Which Is Better: Organic Or Conventional in envirionmental terms ?

Many consumers think that because they are “organic eaters” they are also “green eaters.” Not necessarily. Generally speaking, there are countless benefits when it comes to eating organic fare, namely fewer “unexpected” food additives such as hormones and pesticides. It’s true that organic products on the whole tend to be green—given the savings in fossil fuels that are not needed to manufacture or ship them or to apply nitrogen-based fertilizers and pesticides. However, assorted organic products (i.e., overly processed, packaged items) are similar to their conventional counterparts in terms of GHGEs. When debating which item has the least environmental impact, first consider the steps the product has gone through. A savvy consumer must consider processing and transportation costs when considering any product, organic or conventional.

Eating local, ideally organic, but most importantly seasonal food is the answer for minimising your impact!

Eating Green—Will It Last?

The concept of reducing one’s dietary impact on the environment is certainly not new, but it is becoming more prevalent. Indeed, in a 2010 survey of more than 1,500 chefs, the National Restaurant Association asked participants to rank 226 items in regard to how trendy they would be in the upcoming year. The association discovered that out of all possible trends, multiple environmentally conscious options ranked among the top 15 menu trends of 2011. The hottest trends? Locally grown/produced produce and potables; locally sourced meats and seafood; sustainable products; and use of organic produce. As the threat of global warming continues to headline the nightly news, it is clear that changes need to be made in order to protect the environment for current and future generations. Fortunately, small changes made at home can create a world of difference.

Easy Ways To Go Green
Enjoy regional, seasonal produce and simultaneously support your local farmer while sensibly reducing reliance on transportation of foodstuffs and storage of last season’s harvest! Not only will you help the environment, but you’ll also reap the innate benefits of fresh, minimally processed, nutrient-dense foods. After all, no one can deny that farmers’ market tomatoes, fresh off the vine, taste a lot better than imposter tomatoes that don’t taste like much of anything when purchased “fresh” at the grocery in February.

Go local and/or choose small, sustainable animal proteins (wild and small herbivore fish, local wild game and chicken eggs), while avoiding beef and dairy as much as possible.

Substitute a vegetable protein source for an animal protein just 1 day per week, and over the course of a year, you’ll shave off the equivalent of driving 1,160 miles per year. If every Australian did this, we would save 1.7 billion gallons of fuel annually (Geagan 2009)!


Want to learn more about how to green up your nutrition? Check out some of the following websites and books to winnow your waistline, size up your carbon footprint, and lessen your impact on the environment:

Resourceful Reading

Thanks for reading
Tomas Wurst

News and Info

Workout and Tips to Fight Bad Posture

Workout and Tips to Fight Bad Posture

Not only does good posture boost your body image and make you look great, but it ...

6 Simple Tips To Get Rid Of The Belly Fat

6 Simple Tips To Get Rid Of The Belly Fat

Want a leaner and more defined waist and reduce lower back pain? FOLLOW THESE 6 ...

How To Design An Effective Abs Workout?

How To Design An Effective Abs Workout?

To design an effective abdominal workout, you need to separate the hype from the ...

Principles of training FITT

Principles of training FITT

Throughout the physical training industry there are many myths, misconceptions, ...

Why running has so many associated injuries and how to avoid them.

Why running has so many associated injuries and how to avoid them.

Running is a great way to improve your endurance and stay fit. But it also has a ...

Corporate Wellness Program Examples For Any Budget

Corporate Wellness Program Examples For Any Budget

Corporate wellness programs can use a variety of strategies to help improve ...

10 Tips to Transform Your Workplace

10 Tips to Transform Your Workplace

To see results at your health and wellness program, you need to start by ...

Mindful Goal Setting

Mindful Goal Setting

New Year Resolutions / Goals Success.

New Year Resolutions / Goals Success.

So much can be said about goal success and achievement. This topic has possible ...



Fitness training is all about discipline, not excess. Save yourself months of ...

Corporate Mindfulness - Meditation Wellbeing Programs

Corporate Mindfulness - Meditation Wellbeing Programs

Mindfulness course will provide the basic education and tools to develop the ...

Why Our Constantly Varied Fitness Programs Are More Effective To Increase Fitness Performance?

Why Our Constantly Varied Fitness Programs Are More Effective To Increase Fitness Performance?

A regimen develops fitness to the extent that it improves each of the ten ...

Contrast Training: Every Athlete Should Know This Technique

Contrast Training: Every Athlete Should Know This Technique

What if I told you that you could become stronger, more explosive and leaner, ...

Benefits of Small Group Fitness Training

Benefits of Small Group Fitness Training

Whether you can only fit in a quick 45-minute or 1-hour training session, small ...

Chicken & Sweet Potato Salad Recipe

Chicken & Sweet Potato Salad Recipe

The combination of chicken, sweet potato, and healthy fats creates a balanced ...

How to Get Started a Workplace Wellness Program. Part 2 (Stages of Implementation)

How to Get Started a Workplace Wellness Program. Part 2 (Stages of Implementation)

Small to medium size businesses in Australia are getting started on promoting ...

Motivation & Mindset for Exercise Success

Motivation & Mindset for Exercise Success

This is an article we love to share at New Year resolution time as it quite ...

How to Get Started a Workplace Wellness Program. Part 1 (Elements Choice)

How to Get Started a Workplace Wellness Program. Part 1 (Elements Choice)

You don’t have to be a large corporation to implement some form of Employee W ...

How to prevent injury? Part 1 (ROM)

How to prevent injury? Part 1 (ROM)

Fully functioning joints equal better able athletes to perform at their best and ...

Top 10 Benefits Of Workplace Fitness & Wellness Programs

When Google opened up in the 90s it took a unique approach to employee ...

Why is Exercise Good for You? Why pain leads to gain?

Why is Exercise Good for You? Why pain leads to gain?

Run your car hard and it breaks down. Run your body hard and it picks up. Dr ...

Healing powers of fruits and vegetables

 Here we are in the days when we have to pay attention what we eat. The world ...

Eat. Move. Live. (A Breakdown of Our Wellness Program Philosophy)

Eat. Move. Live. (A Breakdown of Our Wellness Program Philosophy)

"we want to help you make wellness simple, effective, and practical.. To do ...

Thank You!

We sincerely appreciate the confidence you instil in us to train you and the tru ...

The Why, What And How Of HIIT

HIIT workouts provide similar fitness benefits as continuous endurance workouts, ...

The Many Benefits of Outdoor Exercise

Learn about the many benefits associated with outdoor activity. All guaranteed ...

The Essentials of Corporate Wellness Programs and Fitness Training

No matter the resources you have a corporate wellness program, fitness ...

Exercise Lowers Risk for These 13 Cancer Types

A large new study confirms that exercise lowers the risk of many different types ...

2 Free Boot Camp Weeks

Faina (Chickpea Flatbread) Recipe

It is as easy and fast to cook as it is healthy and delicious

Tabata Explained: Why, How and What.

A Tabata is a high-intensity workout protocol that has fitness and weight-loss ...

Workout Australia Tough Mudder 2016 Team

We love this event as it enhances fitness as much as it promotes camaraderie and ...

The Paleo Diet. The good, the bad and the ugly.

The Paleo Diet. The good, the bad and the ugly.

"based on evidence showing that basic human physiology has changed little or ...

What’s the Best Fat-Busting Exercise? Does Ab work aid weight loss?

Once you’ve addressed your diet, exercise can truly begin to work its magic on y ...

Everything You Need to Know About Self Massage for Muscle Recovery

"Self-myofascial release provides the user the ability to control the healing ...

Top 10 Running Tips for Absolute Beginners.

This is a great physical activity. Among the most important benefits It ...

How Eating "Green" Impacts The Environment

Regardless of what you think about global warning, you'll likely agree that the ...

Do diets work?

Counting calories, high protein low carb diet, the zone diet, the fasting ones a ...

Why "Diet" Soda and Fat-Free Foods Make you Fat?

Why "Diet" Soda and Fat-Free Foods Make you Fat?

They trick your metabolism into thinking sugar is on its way. This causes your ...

Healthy Coconut Flour Pancakes

Grain free (paleo friendly)A healthy and delicious treat to indulge the entire ...

The importance of Posture

While exerciseing correct posture and aligment are the key to correct ...

Freshwater Fun-Workout

Join us for an action-packed workout at the astonishing Freshwater Beach  

What is post-workout nutrition?

By consuming particular nutrients after your workout you improve your body ...

Workout Australia Royal NP Coastal Walk Challenge 2013

The 25 of May 2013 we will meet in Bundeena Ferry Wharf and head south. This ...

Soy products Vs Health

Although it's often lauded as a healthy, cholesterol-free, cheap, low-fat ...

How much fruit can I have If I am on a weight loss diet?

“When we flood the liver with fructose, our liver responds by turning much of it ...

Nutritional guidelines for healthy living

My general eating philosophy is to eat from natural & unprocessed sources. ...

Lift Weight 2 Lose Weight

Simple: The more lean muscle you have, the faster your resting metabolism is, ...

Watching your weight? Then Dress for the occasion

Adding 1 tablespoon of Caesar salad dressing to your lunch can add 393kJ - ...

Workout Australia's team proudly accomplished the 100Km Trailwalker

Thanks so much to the team, support group and the generous donors who raised ...

Willoughby Women Fitness Camp - Mondays to Fridays 930AM Saturday 6:30am

Willoughby Women Boot Camp (Group fitness training and optional childcare ...

Garlic. The great protector!

Boost your Immune System  

Workout Australia is proudly supporting Oxfam on its work against poverty.


A life of NO REGRETS comes from one with NO EXCUSES.

Dairy-Free Calcium Food Sources

Back Stretches

It's fundamental to stretch after exercise.  Here there're a few great back ...

Workout in Palm Beach Day

BOOKED-OUT On Sunday the 6th of May at 10:00am Lucie and I would love to have y ...

Proprioception and Fitness Training.

" proprioception is the sense of the orientation of one's limbs in space"

Machine VS Free Weights

Simple answear to a common question among fitness trainees: Should I/we use ...

Interactions between sodium, protein and calcium

The effects of various nutrients on iron absorption

Coastal Walk Royal NP Challenges

 The Workout Australia Challenge was fantastic! BIG THANKS to the team's ...

Why is Exercise Good for You? Why pain leads to gain?

Run your car hard and it breaks down. Run your body hard and it picks up. Dr ...

What is a Paleo Diet?

Are sports-drinks necessarily? Do they improve performance?

Workout Australia Royal NP Coastal Walk Challenges

The 30th of October 2011 we will meet in Bundeena Ferry Wharf and head south. ...

Determination - Commitment - Perseverance

These 3 will take you wherever you want to be

Basic Fitness Principles

Never underestimate how long it will take you to work off that sugary treat

For example, a regular cappuccino (420 kilojoules) and a berry muffin (2100 ...

Are foods labelled "low-fat" really healthier?

Coffee Calories / Here’s what’s in your cuppa (350ml):

News by email