The Banting Diet: Why This Lifestyle has Proved So Popular


Jess Spiro

Banting. LCHF. Keto. Noakes diet. Do you hear these words thrown about nearly every day? Yes? Do you know what they mean? No? You’re not alone. The revolutionary banting diet seems to have taken South Africa by storm, and while normally we are wildly skeptical of diets, this one must have some merits if it’s remained so popular. So, if you’re a little unsure of what exactly the banting diet is all about, we’re here to shed some light on the matter.
banting diet

First things first, what is the banting diet and where did it come from?

One thing is for sure, banting is no new-age diet. It was named after William Banting, an obese British man, who in 1862 visited his doctor, William Harvey. Harvey proposed a radical eating plan that was high in fat and low in carbohydrates. It’s reported that Banting had such success in losing weight this way that he wrote an open letter to the British public, the “Letter on Corpulence”, which was widely distributed. As more people started following this eating plan to lose weight, the term “banting” or to “bant” became popularised.

The banting diet was brought to mainstream attention in SA by Professor Tim Noakes, through his book ‘The Real Meal Revolution’. In it, he promoted the theory of following a high fat, low carb eating plan that would encourage your body to switch from burning carbs for energy to burning fat.

Scientifically, it’s believed that your body goes into a ketogenic state, where your body no longer burns carbs but burns fat instead. It is often, incorrectly, associated with the fad-80s ‘Atkins’ diet, which is high fat and low carb but also promotes high levels of protein. The Banting diet encourages a mid-level intake of protein.

So what can and can’t I eat on a banting diet?

Followers are encouraged to eat lots of animal fat, which means butter and cream, as well as lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. Meat and healthy fatty fish are allowed. What’s not allowed are carbohydrates in any shape or form. No bread, no refined sugar, no grains and even certain nuts are discouraged.

Why is the banting diet so popular?

Unlike most diets, where you’re required to weigh things, replace meals or basically starve, the Banting diet allows you to mostly get on with life as normal. Provided you’re eating 50/50 meat (or protein) and veg, then you’re allowed to eat until you feel satisfied. And, as fat makes you feel full, you’re able to include lots of healthy fats into each meal, so you don’t feel hungry after eating. One big no-no is sugar, however, which means anything prepackaged is ruled out.
banting diet

What are the benefits of the Banting diet?

Well, weight-loss can be a good thing for some people and regular diets can be extremely restrictive, which ultimately can set you up to fail in the end. The thing about Banting is that you can decide what to eat and what not to eat. It also promotes whole foods, as opposed to fast or processed foods, which is great. Any diet that’s encouraging you to eat fresh vegetables deserves some recognition. The high fat aspect may be misconstrued, as it doesn’t mean you can eat fatty desserts all day but it does mean you can embrace healthy oils and fats such as coconut oil, avocados, fatty fish and butter.
banting diet

What are the negatives?

Some healthcare professionals are not convinced with that the diet terms ‘good’ and ‘bad’ foods. Beetroot, for example, is packed with nutrients but is considered a forbidden food on the diet. Furthermore, increased fat intake could lead to higher cholesterol in some followers, which can be a major health concern. The point here is, people are different and their bodies, so what works for one person, might not work for another.

So, if this has opened your eyes to what the diet is, where it comes and how it works, and you’re keen to try, heed this warning: speak to your doctor or dietitian beforehand. As we’ve mentioned, every single person is different and the diet might need to be tweaked for you. If you’re still not convinced, that’s cool too. We might not be rushing off to bant, but we’re certainly going to embrace the healthy, wholefood and fresh produce aspect of this diet.

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