Banting Basics: The what and why

I thought a good way to kick off the year was to review the basic principles of Banting and give a short explanation as to why they are important. Here are the ‘rules of the game’.  Play by them and you will taste victory. Let these 10 principles guide you towards control over your cravings, improved general health, more energy and effective fat loss.

Weight loss and optimal health takes consistent effort and most importantly it requires us to take responsibility over our food choices – and yes we also need to exercise a degree of willpower and restraint. Taking responsibility is often the biggest hurdle one needs to conquer before progress can be made. Excuses just lead us further away from our goals and the truth is, no-one can do it for you. These principles should help you to get things on track.

(1) Eliminate sugar

Sugar harms the metabolism, contributes to inflammation in the body and can hinder your weight loss progress. Yet many struggle to eliminate it from their diet. This is because sugar triggers a release of dopamine that lights up the brain’s reward centre like a Christmas tree. This is what gets people addicted and makes sugar such a tricky habit to kick. Going cold turkey might be what is required.

Consuming large quantities of sugar on a regular basis can lead to tooth decay, insulin resistance, and further down the line diseases such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. It is therefore advised that sugar be drastically reduced and possibly even totally eliminated from one’s diet. One can have xylitol, erythritol or stevia for sweetening foods and drinks where necessary.

(2) Say goodbye to grains

The most common varieties of grains are wheat, corn, oats and rice. Besides being high in fat-promoting carbs, grains also interfere with enzymes that we need for good digestion. The gluten in grains can damage the lining of your small intestine leading to leaky gut syndrome, which allows particles of food to pass into your blood stream (where they don’t belong). Having leaky gut is known to be the root cause of allergies, digestive issues and autoimmune problems. By cutting out breads, rice, pasta, sugary baked goods etc, you will naturally reduce your carb intake, which greatly facilitates stable blood sugar and fat loss.  Replace those carbs with lots of colourful veggies packed with fibre and water which fills you up.

Studies have shown that a no-grain diet can lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, promote weight loss, alleviate acne, end digestive disturbance, promote good heart health, increase fertility and dramatically improve energy levels.

(3) Avoid processed food and seed oils

Most processed foods in grocery stores come from laboratories, not nature. Excessive amounts of these foods can cause weight gain and lower your immunity by disrupting your gut flora.  Junk foods containing seed oils, like sunflower and canola oil, cause inflammation, one of the leading causes of chronic illness.  Studies show that refined sugars, processed flours, seed oils, and other artificial ingredients are responsible for the plague of heart disease, dementia, neurological problems, respiratory failure, and cancer the modern world is experiencing today.

For these reasons Banting advocates the consumption of real wholefoods from nature. Shop in the fresh produce sections and avoid the centre aisles with their rows and rows of brightly coloured packaged products. Include a good quantity of healthy fats like butter, ghee, coconut oil, avocado, and olive oil. These fats are good for your brain, hormones and will help you to feel satisfied hours after meals.

(4) Choose quality

Cows are designed to digest grasses. This is why they have a 4-chambered stomach. Today, the majority of meat and dairy come from factory-farmed cows that are raised on corn and given growth hormones. Sadly, since cattle aren’t meant to be eating corn, it turns their stomachs unnaturally acidic. Acidic animals become sick animals who have to be fed large amounts of antibiotics. When we consume their meat we ingest the antibiotics and hormones, which damage our microbiome and cause hormonal imbalances. Grain-fed meat is also high in inflammatory omega-6’s..

You might need to re-prioritise your budget as grass-fed meat and dairy can be more expensive than conventional meat, but in light of the above it is worth trying to do what you can.

(5) Keep fruit to a minimum

Fruit should be regarded as nature’s sweets and eaten only occasionally.  Eating too much fruit can very quickly pile on the extra kilos and can even give you a fatty liver.  Fruit juice has also been targeted as a cause of diabetes and pancreatitis.  It’s something we should never drink. For a natural sweet treat Banting recommends sticking with low sugar fruits like berries.

(6) Be wary of dairy

There are 3 main problems with dairy. It contains casein, lactose and hormones. Food intolerances can stress the body and cause fat gain.  Lactose contributes to raised blood sugar levels and if one is insulin resistant the effect can be even more pronounced. Since the purpose of milk is to grow baby cows into big cows, even the organic, free-range, grass-fed varieties contain growth hormones. These bovine hormones mess with the delicate balance of our own hormones, which can lead to weight loss resistance and acne.

The good news is that because butter is mostly fat, very few people have an adverse effect from it.  If you find butter is a problem, use ghee (clarified butter). Try making your own coconut or almond milk to use as a milk substitute. The internet is full of recipes.

(7) Think twice about alcohol

When you drink a glass of wine for example, your body identifies the alcohol as a toxin and your liver works hard to eliminate it as fast as possible by preferentially burning it for energy. In essence, while you’re working to burn off the alcohol, the burning of fat from body fat stores or dietary fat is halted. Alcohol is also full of empty calories that add up very quickly when one over–indulges. If your main goal is fat loss, be aware that alcohol will slow down your progress.

If you are going to drink, keep the amounts to an absolute minimum and stick with dry wines and spirits like whiskey and vodka. Remember to drink lots of water to avoid becoming dehydrated.

(8) Don’t eat soya

Soya is not a health food. It is genetically modified, causes weight gain, and is toxic to the thyroid gland. Soybeans contain compounds, which have been found to cause hormonal imbalances in the human body by mimicking the sex hormone estrogen.  Because of this your risk of breast cancer increases with the consumption of soya. Soya is also a heavily sprayed crop and Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup has been implicated in causing miscarriages.

(9) Stop snacking

Snacking between meals keeps blood glucose and insulin levels raised. For those wanting to lose weight this is not helpful. We want to keep insulin levels consistently low throughout the day so that fat can be unlocked from our fat cells and used as energy.  Aim to eat 2 or 3 satiating meals a day with no snacking in-between. This also gives your body time to properly digest your food between meals. Snacking is often just a habit or something to keep us busy when bored.

(10) Experiment for yourself

We are not all the same. What works well for one person might not work as well for another. You will need to figure out what version of an LCHF/Banting lifestyle is going to work well for you. Will it be a Ketogenic diet or one slightly higher in carbs? Intermittent fasting or does 3 meals a day suit you better? Can you include a little fruit or does that cause your sugar cravings to return? Can you incorporate dairy or does that stall your weight loss?  Does alcohol interfere with your willpower and cause you to make poor choices regarding food?

Part of the journey is in figuring out the answers to these important questions. You will need to put in the work and be tenacious in your self-discovery, but once you figure it out, you will be on your way towards a slimmer and healthier you.

Please note: This is not a complete list of Banting principles. An excellent resource to find out more is the book, The Low Carb Creed.


Article written by Nicky Perks for Lose It magazine (Volume 22)

Thanks to Sally-Ann Creed for her work in educating us about Banting and the miracles that good, healthy food can do for one’s health.

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About Nicky Perks

Passionately sharing information about the paleo/primal, high fat/low carb lifestyle that will rock your world! I am on my own journey to good health and a slim body. My goal? To enjoy the ride as life on this beautiful planet is just too short to do it any other way.

Posted on January 30, 2018, in Primal 101 and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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