Banting for Beginners

All you wanted to know but were too busy enjoying your sarmie to ask. By Leah Deventer

1. What exactly is Banting?

Banting is a low-carbohydrate, high-fat (LCHF) diet, named after William Banting, the first person to do it. It’s recently been made popular by Professor Tim Noakes in his book The Real Meal Revolution. The idea is that this way of eating makes your body switch from burning carbs for energy to burning fat.

2. So is Banting just another a high-protein diet like the Atkins Diet?

No. This is a common misconception. The focus is on increasing fat and decreasing carb intake in your diet. Your protein intake should be moderate.

3. Everyone says I won’t have to weigh food and I can eat as much as I like. Is this true?

As long as you eat the right types of fats (mostly animal fats) and minimal carbs (avoid anything with a carb content of more than 5g per 100g; sugary food is a no-no) then you can eat until you’re full. However, use your common sense, and don’t overeat! With meat, stick to no more than 80g with any meal.

 4. What ratio of vegetables, fats and proteins should I be trying to stick to?

This is tricky, but the rule of thumb is 50/50 meat/veg. Your fat should be included in that. As fat suppresses the appetite, you’ll know if you’re eating enough by how soon after a meal you get hungry again. If you eat breakfast and are hungry again before lunchtime, you need to up you fat intake at breakfast. Ideally, you shouldn’t need to eat more than twice a day, but that does take some getting used to.

5. How am I supposed to know what I can and can’t eat?

Of course: just follow the green, orange and red lists in The Real Meal Revolution. Green-list items contain less than 5% of carbs per serving, orange-list items contain less than 25g of carbs per serving, and red-list items are all no-nos. These websites are also useful: Low Carb is Lekker, Real Meal Revolution, No Bun Please, Biltong, Butter and Bacon and Diet Doctor.

6. I keep hearing about ketosis – it sounds like a disease! What is it?

For Banters, this is a bit like achieving Nirvana! If you avoid carbs and eat enough fat your body goes into ‘ketosis’. Put simply, here’s what it means: when your body is starved of carbs, it starts to burn fat for energy. This process creates ketones in the body; ketones are essentially indicators that you have gone into fat metabolism instead of glucose metabolism – assuming you’re not underweight, this is good! To get into this state of ketosis, you need to eat around 50g or less net carbs per day. Remember, it’s not essential to go into ketosis; a less strict form of Banting may be enough for you.

7. How do I know if I’ve reached ketosis?

A Ketosis Monitoring Device (or Ketone Sticks) can tell you instantly if you are in ketosis. Buy them here.

8. What’s the best alcohol to drink?

Alcohol isn’t encouraged when Banting, as although you can get low-carb drinks, they still contain empty kilojoules and will likely slow down your weight loss. If you are going to drink – and let’s be realistic, you probably will indulge from time to time – then be smart about your tipple selection! Spirits (vodka, rum, gin, tequila, whiskey, Scotch, brandy and cognac) are generally carb-free, and dry wines and bubbly are okay. Just be choosy about your mixers – remember, no sugar!

9. Is it true that eating dairy slows down your weight loss?

Some people are more sensitive to dairy than others. If you hit a plateau in your weight loss, try cutting it out and you should start losing weight again.

Download the 10 Commandments of Beginner Banting from The Real Meal Revolution here.

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