Anston on The Great Aussie Bake Off.
Anston on The Great Aussie Bake Off.

Reality star unrecognisable before show

AT HIS heaviest, Anston Ratnayake weighed in at 170kg.

The star is one of the frontrunners on The Great Australian Bake Off , which is streaming its new season on Foxtel, and has wowed the judges with some of his obscure vegan dishes as well as his tasty conventional cooking.

But the Sydney student voice officer, 24, who turned vegan in 2014, looked very different before he stepped into the bake off shed, telling he was an obscenely overweight teenager who was regularly waking up in the middle of the night to have a cheesy six-egg omelette as a 'snack'.

"Honestly, I was not bothered. Being the way I was, was easier," he admits of his 170kg weight at the age of 18.

"One day I had to climb some stairs as the lift was not working and that is when it dawned on me that it could not get any worse. It felt like I had participated in a marathon.

"I loved eating fried food and drinking soft drinks, and mind you I am not saying they are the worst, but you need to realise what moderation means, and you need to listen to your body when it is saying 'enough'.

"I had to ask myself was I happy being obese? And the answer was a resounding no. So instead of complaining how hard it was and giving up, I had to start with small steps at a time."

Yes, that is actually Anston before he lost 100kg.
Yes, that is actually Anston before he lost 100kg.

Anston got rid of all fried food, oil, soft drinks and sweets and started doing cardio twice a week.

Over time, he increased it to six times a week and managed to shed 85kg in two years.

He now lives a healthy, balanced lifestyle and is the happiest he's ever been.

"It was liberating, 85 kilos off my back," he says.

"I felt like I had been imprisoned in my own body for so long and finally I was able to do everything I wanted to."

Get a 10-day free trial*. Stream Foxtel Now

When he managed to do the unthinkable and turn his life around, Anston knew he was capable of taking his lifestyle a step further and decided to turn vegan.

"I think veganism was a lifestyle choice after losing a lot of weight. I wanted to cut out additives, hormones in meat and purely base my eating habits on 'I want to know what I am putting into my body'," he said.

"So I just had to reboot my system, and it did not happen overnight.

"Veganism for me was a lifestyle choice based on wanting to know what I was eating and not because of an ethical or moral compass."

Vegans cop a fair amount of flak from the general public, mostly because the whole process seems too high maintenance.

And Anston admits cooking vegan food can be tricky but says it's easier once you know what you're doing.

"I am not going to lie, vegan baking can be difficult for the novice baker if you do not know the right substitute or what can you use to replace the buttermilk or an egg without affecting the bake," he says.

"(But) vegan cooking is very easy as it consists of you just replacing any animal-based products with plant alternatives, and these days you can find vegan substitutes in all groceries and big food retailers.

"Does this affect the flavour? Not at all. It all comes down to your seasonings. Vegan food is delicious and healthy. Do not blame the poor plant for a bad dish you made!"

View this post on Instagram

It’s vegan week somewhere in the world or I heard at the Great Australian Bake Off shed! Haha 🤯🤯 . Vegan Chocolate Tart with Salted Caramel and Banana. 😍😛😍😱🙂🙅🏻 . RECIPE ↘️↘️↘️ . Being a vegan, I do not bake a whole lot of vegan stuff, I just substitute the meat or non vegan products to whatever I have. It was a lifestyle choice and not anything to do with ethical killing or morals. Not all vegans are level 5! 😂😂 . RECIPE Base - 150 gms wholemeal flour, 5 tsp coconut sugar, 5 tsp raw cacao powder, 50 ml coconut oil, 30-50ml warm water. Caramel - 3/4 cup coconut sugar, 1/2 cup coconut milk, salt to taste. Ganache - 120 gms vegan dark chocolate, 100ml coconut milk. ~~ Method ~~ Mix all dry ingredients and rub in oil to form crumbs, add water slowly till the dough comes together, don't knead too much. Wrap and put in fridge for 20mins. Preheat over to 180C. ~~ For caramel ~~ put sugar on a flat pan and lets it melt on low heat, as the colour changes at the coconut milk, be careful of splatter and stir till all lumps dissolve- heat till you get the required consistency. (Thick) ~~ For ganache ~~ put the chocolate and milk in microwave and mix between bursts of 30 seconds. Cool to room temperature. To assemble - blind bake the dough with beads for 15 mins and then another 5 mins without beads. Completely cool the tart - put the ganache in and then the bananas. Set in fridge for a few hours and then drizzle with caramel. . . . . . . . . . #vegan #veganfood #vegansofig #foodporn #foodie #recipe #vegans #baking #veganpower #weightlossjourney #vscocam #caramel #chocolate #gymlife #bakeoffau #lifestyleblogger #healthyfood #healthybreakfast #foodie #foodporn #veganfitness #foodstagram #veganism #veganeats #foodphotography #vegandessert #vegancommunity #bakeoffau

A post shared by Anston Ratnayake (@aaanstons) on

Anston has made it nearly halfway through the popular baking show, hosted by comedians Claire Hooper and Mel Buttle and judged by Maggie Beer and Matt Moran. The Great Australian Bake Off airs across 10 weeks and features a group of bakers being put through a series of challenges in search of Australia's best amateur baker.

"All the bakers are wonderful and this season really consists of bakers that bake stuff that anyone at home can tackle with a bit of gusto," he says.

The contestants on season 4 of The Great Australian Bake Off.
The contestants on season 4 of The Great Australian Bake Off.

"I will continue baking and challenging myself whether I win or lose and, at the same time, continue my passion in student engagement on which I have a book coming out next year."

The Great Australian Bake Off is available to stream on Foxtel On Demand with new episodes airing on Lifestyle every Thursday at 8.30pm





BREAKING: Police called to pub after man attacks bar staff

Premium Content BREAKING: Police called to pub after man attacks bar staff

Police have been called to a South Burnett pub after a patron allegedly attacked...

SHOCK TREND: ‘Wrong sex’ bubs aborted

Premium Content SHOCK TREND: ‘Wrong sex’ bubs aborted

Qld parents are aborting babies that are not their preferred gender

Jetstar drops incredible $65 return sale

Jetstar drops incredible $65 return sale

Jetstar has just launched their “Return for Free” domestic flight sale, with some...