Oh, that dreadful word. Overweight. It encompasses a multitude of stages, from “puppy fat” to “morbidly obese”. The next associated dreaded word is Diet. They always go hand in hand, don’t they? “I’m overweight, I must go on diet.” I am. I must.
But this article is not about me. It’s about the controversial low carbohydrate high fat (LCHF) diet in the form of the re-emergent Banting Diet that has people losing weight quickly without either starving or needing to increase their exercise levels. (I am not averse to exercise – I’m just very limited, being in a wheelchair with limited muscle strength.) Banters, i.e. the people following this plan, eat as cavemen did before the advent of starchy and sugary foods; they ate protein and plants, i.e. fruit and vegetables. It’s a life-long commitment, this eating revolution.
“The Real Meal Revolution” is a book containing information about the latest Banting eating plan and recipes, co-authored by a professor, a nutritionist and two chefs – one of whom is an extreme adventurer. This revolution isn’t something new, it’s appeared before in different formats as, for example, the Paleo Diet and the Atkins Diet. Connected to this way of eating is the prevention/relief of two baddies: insulin resistance and carbohydrate intolerance. If you have one of these, starches and some carbohydrates are not for you.
Dr Phil Maffetone, a clinician, developed a survey and two-week test to assess carbohydrate intolerance. Although some weight will be lost in the two weeks, the real purpose of the test is to see whether your symptoms (bloating, fatigue, etc.) disappear. The test is not a diet, Dr Maffetone has devised an eating plan for long-term success.
There are, of course, many doctors who consider a high fat diet a danger to cardiac health but people with low good cholesterol levels and high bad cholesterol levels have seen these levels return to normal while on a LCHF diet. It is important, though, to see your doctor before you embark on a dietary change to ensure that you do not already have any medical conditions that could be aggravated by a high fat diet, e.g. inherited hypercholesterolaemia (high LDL blood cholesterol).
So, back to Banting. I wanted to know why it’s called the Banting diet, and discovered that it’s named after William Banting, a corpulent undertaker (to the rich, royal and famous) in England, who lived 1796-1878. Banting had previously tried to lose weight through exercise and cutting back on his eating but he actually put on more weight. His overall health was poor, he slept badly, he had to walk down stairs backwards because it was easier on his joints, and his hearing deteriorated. He consulted an Ear, Nose and Throat surgeon, Dr William Harvey, who determined that Banting’s failing hearing was due to his excess weight and recommended changes to what he ate based on Harvey’s research into how fats, sugars and starches affected the body, after hearing a theoretical lecture on the role of the liver in diabetes. Harvey’s recommended diet had no name. The reason why it’s called the Banting Diet, and not the Harvey Diet, is due to Banting having written a “Letter on Corpulence, Addressed to the Public” that detailed his journey, diet and success. The first two editions were given freely, but the third and following editions were sold. A short man at 1,52m, his weight loss over 12 months was 22.7kgs and his waistline reduced by 31cms. His hearing did improve too.
Yes, I am going to Bant using the guidelines in The Real Meal Revolution. My body naturally prefers protein and vegetables and I can easily forego rice, potatoes, bread and pasta. My downfall, however are sweets, chocolates, biscuits and cakes. They will be far more difficult to avoid but I’ll do my best to shun them.