In case you are someone who stays in the loop when it comes to new diets and nutritional practices, then you have probably already heard of the banting diet, or banting for short, a diet where you eat almost no carbohydrates but high quantities of fat. Everyone is talking about it. It is the latest new thing in losing weight and staying fit. But what exactly is it and is it really that new?
Well, for one, it is not a new diet by any means. The western world was exposed to a diet which involved eating nothing but animal-based foods low on carbohydrates and high on animal fats was in the first half of the 20th century when an Icelandic-Canadian explorer by the name Vilhajmlur Stefansson and his friend volunteered to eat such a diet for an entire year at Bellevue Hospital Center as an experiment. They were fine.
If we go even further back in time, we will find a man called William Banting, a casket maker from England who went on a diet which included earing only meat, a pittance of dry toast, tea and 2 to 4 drinks of wine and/or port per day. He lost a ton of weight and popularized the so-called Banting diet.
Somehow, for some reason, someone remembered Banting some time ago, with Professor Tim Noakes making it particularly popular with his book The Real Meal Revolution. The principle is the same as the historic Banting diet – eating extremely low levels of carbohydrates while increasing the intake of fats, most prominently animal fats. It is not entirely exclusive when it comes to carbohydrate, as 5g per every 100g of food is accepted.
The idea behind this is that by switching to mostly fats, your body will learn that fat is the source of energy and that it will start breaking up the fat accumulation in your body more efficiently, thus leading to weight loss. If you reach this stage, your body has gone into ketosis, a process where fat is broken down for energy.
The modern banting diet is much less restrictive than historic examples, also involving a lot of vegetables and actually introducing some carbohydrates here and there. While there are people who are swearing by it, we believe it is still too early to give our opinion.