A Bit About Banting

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by Martha Mukaiwa


Before his name became a verb, there were certain things William Banting just could not do.

Due to severe grossness of gut, the business of lacing up his boots lay quite beyond him. Plagued by boils on his buttocks he could scarcely sit and, to ease the pressure of considerable weight on his knees, he had taken to descending the stairs… arse first.

Assorted indignities aside, over 150 years ago, the British undertaker was entirely fed up. In the spirit of feverish fad dieters of the future, Banting had, ineffectively, tried various restrictions and regimes to aid in weight loss and finally happened upon a Dr William Harvey whom he called upon with a bout of ear infection.

Oddly, Harvey believed the source of Banting’s many ailments were caused principally by his obesity and subscribed little medicine beyond a corrective morning cordial but insisted that the undertaker abstain from eating bread, butter, milk, sugar, potatoes, parsnips, beetroots, turnips and carrots while avoiding champagne, port and beer.

Having existed on a dietary table of much bread, milk, buttered toast, plenty of beer, sugar and pastries, Banting surmised that obesity’s cure lay in a simple starving to death but Harvey assured him that there was still ample eat.

Embarking on Harvey’s diet inspired by Claude Bernard’s lectures regarding the management of diabetes, the previously unshrinkable Banting reduced almost 13 inches in bulk and 20kgs in weight within the first year.

He also enjoyed up to six to eight hours of unprecedented sound sleep, improved sight and hearing, he could tie his shoes and descend stairs with ease and enthusiastically declared that he had not felt better in 26 years.

As per legend, Banting was so amazed by the results that, in a bid to ventilate the subject for a better feeling of the afflicted, he penned the now famed ‘Letter on Corpulence’ in 1863.

Simply addressed to the public, the booklet, in the form of an open letter, expounded on the diet Banting followed through his personal testimony. Banting also offered a post-mortem on all the diets, fasts and exercise regimes he had endeavoured with little success.

Consuming four meals per day made of fruit, dry wine and meat and avoiding what he termed ‘insidious enemies of men’ also known as starchy, sweet and milk matter, Banting felt cured of debilitating corpulence and his pamphlet remained popular for many years. And, today, it forms the foundation for a number of modern diet plans.

A version of Banting’s diet currently doing the culinary revamp rounds in South Africa and bleeding steadily into Namibia like a Banting Approved cut of steak is Professor Tim Noakes’ Low Carbohydrate High Fat diet (LCHF).

Elegantly expounded upon in ‘The Real Meal Revolution’, a cook and myth busting book written by Noakes, a nutritionist and two chefs, the tome is a veritable Banters bible based on a list of foods to eat as much as you like, foods to eat less of and foods to have a funeral for.

For many, the diet’s championing of legendary forbidden foods likes butter, cream and cheese and all meats seems like a dream come true but detractors lament its high fat content and severe shunning of carbohydrates.

In response, on ‘The Real Meal Revolution’s’ website, Noakes and his team attempt to bust some dietary myths.

“This might come as a surprise, but of the three macronutrients in our diet (protein, fat and carbohydrates), only carbohydrates are non-essential for human life. We cannot function properly for more than a few days without eating fat; without an adequate protein intake we develop protein-calorie malnutrition within a few months,” says Noakes.

“But avoiding carbohydrate has no short- or long-term effects on humans, other than the (usually beneficial) effect of weight loss, especially in those who are the most overweight. While we need a constant supply of glucose, it can be produced by the liver from fat and protein and doesn’t need to be ingested as carbohydrate in our diets.”

In defense of this diet plan, Noakes and his team believe sustainable health of heart, sugar and cholesterol levels, weight and the repair of damage from inflammation requires a return to the past.

“Banting merely discovered what human beings were designed to eat: what early humans ate 200 000 years ago. Respected biologists, geneticists, paleoanthropologists and theorists believe that human genes have hardly changed since human beings began their journey on earth,” says Noakes.

“If you could put the entire human history into one day, we have only been eating cereals and grains for five minutes and sugar for five seconds, a very short amount of time in our existence. After the success experienced by William Banting on this low-carb, high-fat eating plan, the ‘Banting’ diet became the standard treatment for weight loss in all major European and North American medical schools. But in 1959 it was excluded from all the major medical and nutritional textbooks.”

Though the diet and many like it have been sucked into the mainstream of healthy living plans, the regime is especially recommended for those who suffer from type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. However, the authors maintain that the lifestyle change also improves energy levels, sleeping habits and mental acuity.

Like Banting and the hundreds and thousands of Banters currently embracing a modified version of his diet as championed by Noakes, for optimal results, forget rice, much fruit, bread, pasta, potatoes, sugar, flour, grains, cereal and processed foods and embrace cheese, eggs, leafy green vegetables, meat, seafood, butter and full cream.

The trick here, though it goes against years of dietary conditioning, is to shed fat… by eating it.


Banting in the City

If you’re Banting in Windhoek and need somewhere to stock up on ready-to-eat food for the week, Flaunt is your new brother in nutritional arms. Offering eat-in options at their restaurant as well as the possibility of Banting-on-request, Flaunt takes day-in-advance orders of ‘Banting Approved’ bread, cupcakes and whatever one’s healthy heart desires.

The deli also stocks products like brownie mix, almond flour, bread mix and Erythritol, a Banting approved sweetener.

Also aboard the Banting train is Caffé Brazza who have incorporated a Banting section into their menu and includes a cheesy, bacon, ham, mince and mushroom omelette, steak and a salad and a Banting coffee made with coconut milk… and butter.

For lazy Saturday Banters, Brazza offers a live band from 10h00 with an appearance by the Namibian Rugby team at around 11h30.

For Banters on the go, swear by Banting belle, Lize Ehlers, who has maintained her 25kg weight loss for over a year, recommends Old Continental’s revolving Banting dish of the month, Flaunt’s spinach salad and a nice cup of rooibos tea but never fruit juice and scarcely alcohol or anything ‘low-fat’ as that generally means the item is packed with sugar.

However, her absolute favourite Banting friendly food is a nice piece of barbecued sausage or steak with a slither of fat from Wilnors Butchery in Windhoek West. The butchery sells braai food every day and has live music at the end of the month.

“Wilnors wors makes my day,” says Ehlers.

“Perverted but real.”


‘The Real Meal Revolution’ advises that people with a medical issue should consult their doctor before embarking on the plan. The book is available at CNA. For more information go to www.realmealrevolution.com.

– martha@namibian.com.na; @marth__vader on Twitter and Instagram

This is is a syndicated post. Read the original at www.namibian.com.na

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