The Banting Diet: What to eat on the high fat and low carb plan

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  • The Banting Diet has been around since the 19th Century, so how can it help you today in the 21st Century?

    The original Banting Diet is named after 19th century undertaker William Banting who used the plan to overcome obesity in the 1860s.

    Thrilled by the changes he saw in his body, Banting penned a booklet called Letter On Corpulence, Addressed To The Public which detailed the diet. He outlined how he lost weight while eating meat, green vegetables, fruits and dry wine and explained how he avoided sugar, starch, beer, milk and butter.

    The modern version of the Banting Diet has seen a rise in popularity in recent years.

    What are banting diets?

    The Banting Diet works by increasing fats and decreasing carbs, choosing low carb recipes for example – a process that should encourage the body to burn fat. While following the plan, individuals are allowed to consume around 1900 calories a day.

    A long-term solution rather than a short-term fix, it aims to reduce hunger by making it easier for the individual to eat fewer calories. By cutting out most grains, processed foods and sugars, it’s claimed the Banting Diet also helps balance blood sugar levels.

    According to Professor Tim Noakes in the book The Banting Pocket Guide, the diet can be tailored to suit different needs.

    He says: ‘The level of carbohydrate intake can be adapted to the individual, and for those who are concerned about the consumption of too much saturated fat, there is the alternative of using monounsaturated fats like extra-virgin olive oil.’

    How to start the Banting Diet

    Because there aren’t lots of tricky recipes that need to be followed, there’s not much an individual has to do to prepare to commence the Banting Diet.

    But before heading off to do a weekly shop, those wishing to give it a try must have a clear understanding of what can and can’t be eaten.

    To keep low-carb meals interesting, it’s worth coming up with a seven day meal plan to help you stay on track. That way, you’ll be less likely to reach for convenience foods.

    You also need to have the willpower to stop snacking on sugary treats. Abstaining from alcohol is also encouraged – so no nightly glass of red wine if you wanting to stick to the Banting Diet!

    What to eat on a banting diet

    The Banting Diet revolves around foods rich in good fats, a moderate amount of protein and fewer carb-dense products.

    Below is a snapshot of what foods dieters are encouraged and discouraged from eating when following the Banting Diet:

    Unlimited foods on the banting diet:

    Eggs All meats, poultry and game Seafood
    Tomatoes Leafy greens Cabbage Cauliflower Courgettes
    Avocado Aubergine
    Butter Olive oil Coconut oil Firm cheeses like cheddar and gouda Still/sparkling water
    Caffeine-free tea

    Things to eat in moderation on the banting diet:

    Nuts Soft cheeses like mozzarella, feta and ricotta
    Milk and milk substitutes Beetroot Berries Pineapple Carrots Parsnips Peas Sweet potatoes
    All legumes Lentils Caffeinated tea and coffee

    Things to avoid eating on the banting diet

    Marinades, ketchup and salad dressings that aren’t sugar-free Canned fruit Sweets and chocolate Canned fruit Energy drinks Ice cream Commercial breakfast cereals Battered foods such as fish and chicken nuggets Honey Chocolate Popcorn Quinoa.

    Does the banting diet work?

    The Banting Diet can benefit pre-diabetic people as insulin production is reduced and fat-burning is increased, according to Alix Woods, a nutritionist at Quest Nutra Pharma.

    Natures Plus UK nutritionist Michela Vagnini also supports this idea by citing the findings of new research conducted by the University of Michigan.

    ‘The study found that high-carb meals sustain insulin resistance, the cause of pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes,’ she explains.

    ‘It also concluded that eating three low-carb meals within 24 hours lowered insulin resistance by more that 30% which has huge implications for type 2 diabetes patients and those who are pre-diabetic.’

    Another two plus points for Michela are that calorie counting and pre-branded foods are not required, unlike on other weight loss plans such as Weight Watchers or the Atkins diet.

    Both experts, however, have pointed out that the Banting Diet doesn’t come without a few disadvantages.

    ‘It is not a balanced diet and is nutritionally unsound, as it contains very minimal whole grains and dairy, no fruit and mostly all animal fat,’ comments Alix.

    ‘It has also been found to increase LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol, which may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.’

    Alix goes on to reveal that women may find the Banting Diet particularly testing due to the fact they have less serotonin than men.

    She continues: ‘It influences mood, especially among female dieters. Many have said they more irritable – this is because of the lack of carbohydrates, which ‘starves’ serotonin levels or the happy hormones in the brain.’

    For Michela, anyone wishing to try the Banting Diet should think about the fact that it doesn’t allow for much in the way of fibre-rich foods, which can protect an individual from constipation and bowel cancer.

    ‘People on Banting diet can find good benefits for weight loss but need to supplement with extra fibre like psyllium husks to avoid constipation,’ she tells us.

    ‘But why not include more fibre rich foods to not rely on a supplement.’