Banting. It’s the new word in weight loss. This due in no small part to it being wholehearted embraced by world-renowned sports scientist and medical doctor Tim Noakes. Here’s the low-down on the what, why and wherefore of the so-called Banting Diet.
It may be trending right now, but banting is nothing new. In fact, the Banting Diet (more correctly, the Harvey-Banting Diet) is named for one-time morbidly obese carpenter and undertaker to the British Royal family, William Banting (1796-1878). Mr Banting struggled with his waistline – and his health – trying every diet in the book to shift the extra pounds. Eventually, he stumbled across a winner, suggested to him by one Dr Harvey – cutting down on the pastries, cakes, puddings, potatoes, breads and beer he liked so much, and eating instead a simple diet of meat, veggies and fruit. This sensible approach to watching what he popped into his mouth not only helped him slim down but improved his health, as well. So excited was he that he publicly endorsed his newfound diet with a testimonial and the catchy advertising tagline, do you bant? And so ‘to bant’ became a verb and the banting approach quickly became the standard for treating overweight and obesity…until the 1950s, when it was replaced by a new low-fat, high-carbohydrate theory.
Roll forward the clock, and Professor Tim Noakes of the Sports Science Institute of South Africa is now doing some banting of his own. Explains Noakes in his new book The Real Meal Revolution, the low-carbohydrate, high-fat Banting Diet is no fad but a rational and reasonable lifestyle choice – backed up by science – which will not only help maintain an ideal weight but keep diet-related ills (particularly pre-diabetes or Type II Diabetes), at bay. According to Noake’s new website, originaleating.org, this is banting in a nutshell:
- There are no meal times or portion sizes – but only eat when you are hungry and stop when you are satisfied
- It’s a low-carb diet, but users are guided in setting carbohydrate levels appropriate to their own needs
- It’s a no-sugar diet – including no grains and very little fruit
- It’s not a high-protein diet but a high-fat, medium protein one
- Embrace fat – the body needs it.
According to originaleating.org, banting is based on the ‘original diet’ of homo sapiens sapiens (that’s us), i.e. the one on which we have evolved to thrive the most. The natural hominid diet includes that which we would have come across whilst hunting and foraging – meat, root vegetables, nuts and berries, for example. Conspicuous by its absence – grains. These carbohydrates only became part of the hominid diet tens of thousands of years later, when humankind turned from hunter-gathering to a pastoralist lifestyle. Crucially, too, early hominids (and hunter-gatherer peoples around the world today) seek out fat to sustain health. Say experts, cutting down on fat and protein in favour of grains (carbs) simply makes no evolutionary sense for the human body.
While you may be thinking banting is the answer to your weight loss dreams, do pause for a moment and ponder this:
- Our early ancestors were far more active than we are today, quickly burning up what they consumed in physical activities
- Since food was less readily available than it is today, regular overeating was unheard of amongst our hominid forebears
- When it comes to shedding the kilos, there’s no substitute for regular exercise!
- A little bit of what you fancy and everything in moderation are good maxims to live by
- Never embark on any weight loss regime without consulting your doctor, first
The Banting Diet is vehemently anti-sugar, targeting it as Public Health Enemy, No. 1. Whilst the high-fat component of the Banting Diet is being hotly contested amongst doctors and dieticians, most agree that limiting sugar intake is beneficial. Before you shovel another spoonful of sugar into your mouth, stop! Use it as a sugary body treat instead! Head on over to a day spa for an all-over sugar exfoliation, or make your own sugar body scrub. Here’s how:
- Throw a cup of brown sugar into a mixing bowl
- Add some oil (one part oil to two parts sugar) – use olive oil, almond oil, coconut oil or Vitamin E oil
- Mix well with a spoon
- Add a few drops of an essential oil of your choice
- Mix some more.
Then run yourself a nice, warm bath. Take a spoonful or two of your sugar scrub and rub into all over your body in circular motions. Pay particular attention to the soles of the feet, knees and elbows. Rinse off, pat dry, et voilŕ! Smooth, silky skin!