Banting Basics: Three Common Mistakes People Make When Starting A LCHF Diet

I will have the double bacon cheese burger with no bun please

The above quote being a common saying in restaurants around South Africa as the Banting Diet grows in popularity.

 If you’re not sure what Banting is, it is a diet that follows a low carb, high fat (LCHF) premise.

A British undertaker by the name of William Banting was put on a high-fat, low-carb diet to lose weight, which counterintuitively yielded results and subsequently the "Banting Diet" became famous.

I don't identify myself as following the Banting diet, even though most people think I do. The bane of my existence is people asking me, *insert heavy South African accent* “so, are you like following the Banting diet hey?”

The reason I refrain telling people I'm "Banting," is the majority who follow the Banting diet, are doing it completely wrong or have no knowledge of why it actually works.

I think used in the right context and with specific, minimal/low-cooking methods, a LCHF diet can be effective for increased endurance and strength—at least, this has been the case with me.

Three Things You Need To Understand Before Banting:

1. Don't confuse banting With Keto

Most people start banting to get into ketosis without knowing what ketosis is

I know, it sounds like a disease, right? But, you will hear me mention ketosis throughout this blog.

Ketosis is a state where your body utilizes primarily fat (either from your body or the food you consume) for energy instead of glucose. In other words, It mimics a fasting ideology without you actually having to fast.

Another mistake people make when beginning to Bant, is over-consumption of protein. I used to eat a plain chicken breast or steak without any veggies or salad thinking it was healthy because hey, no carbs = no fat, right? Not only was this kicking me out of ketosis (by a process called gluconeogeneis, in which the liver converts amino acids into glucose), it was also making me feel sluggish and lethargic because I was receiving no energy from fat.

If I had that same chicken breast in a large salad with tons of extra virgin cold-pressed olive oil, then I would most likely remain in ketosis.

It is very possible to be Banting but not be in ketosis, in which case, you will have hard time. Sadly, this is most of the people following a LCHF diet. Your body will likely be working overtime to convert all the excess protein into available energy.

How can banting benefit you?

There is science to suggest that Banting (when you are in ketosis) can increase endurance and maintain or increase muscle mass. No wonder the best athletes in the world are now eating a LCHF diet -- Djokovic and LeBron for starters. This is because ketosis has an anti-catabolic effect -- when ketones are present in the bloodstream, it will prevent your muscles from “eating” themselves like cannibalistic savages.

ONE THING YOU MUST UNDERSTAND; you cannot go from being carb-adapted to jumping straight in the cold water with fasting and ketosis -- well you can, but you will have a miserable time -- it’s a process.

When can banting be non-beneficial?

Again, only my opinion, but I cycle between mild-ketosis and a paleo-ish diet -- otherwise known as The Bulletproof Diet. I don’t have a way to measure whether I'm in ketosis (yet), but the increase in mental clarity and lack of cravings suggests that I am in nutritional ketosis.

I think most woman struggle on extremely low-carb diets. Thyroid issues can arise as noted with my mother. Going low-calorie and low-carb isn’t the best of ideas, either, at least if you’re planning on feeling great. You need to eat more than you’re used to on LCHF diets due to the powerful hunger-suppressing effects of fat. 

Adding a refreed once a week where you eat higher amounts of carbs to strategically kick you out of ketosis can help in this case. Try adding some sweet potato or white rice to your diet if you are already Banting.

2.Consuming Highly Processed Fat and Protein is NOT Banting

Eating processed garbage like sausages and cheese may follow the LCHF protocol that Banting advocates, but…and this is a big but, you are exposing yourself to highly carcinogenic and toxic food that could be just as bad as a high-carb diet.

I have a good laugh when I come across Instagram accounts with the words "keto" somewhere in the handle (go on instagram and type in "keto" to see for yourself). Here you will see beautiful images of biltong (beef jerky) and diet sodas with captions like "That Keto Life #HEALTHY"

That's not healthy in my opinion, that's just straight up laziness paired with misguided information. Only as a last resort while traveling I will grab some biltong and nuts, but generally I stay away from the GSFT -- the Gas Station Food Trap.

Please explain to me how processed food such as diet sodas and cheese-filled salami's make their way into a healthy lifestyle? You may lose initial weight but I promise it won't be beneficial in the long term.

But josh, you eat bacon?

Yes, most bacon is processed and includes added preservatives like brown sugar (check your packaging if you eat Woolworths meat). But, when I do buy bacon, I make sure it is from pasture-raised pork that is preferably uncured.

Don't be afraid of bacon, but always go for quality. #QUALITYOVERQUANTITY

3. Carbs Are Not The Enemy

What provokes an insulin response? This is a question you need to ask yourself when consuming carbs on a LCHF protocol like Banting.

Again, I will stress this; carbs are not the enemy; in fact, if used correctly, carbs can be extremely beneficial.

The amount of times people ask me what do I eat if I eat no carbs is beyond frustrating. Firstly, vegetables are carbs, and I eat studious amounts of vegetables. Secondly, even if I didn’t eat vegetables, the calories from the fat keeps me full, which is why I don’t need to be following the “you-must-eat-three-meals-a-day-with-snacks-in-between” bullshit response from every nutritionist on the face of the planet.

When it comes to carbs, it's all relative and personal. By this I mean depending on your metabolic body type and activity level, this will determine how much carbs you will need. If you are sitting at a desk for 9+ hours a day then I would say carbs should be the last thing on your mind. If you are training 3-times a day for a triathlon, that's a different story.

Just be smart and listen to your body. However, there are fundamentalsyou must not break which I covered in my last post.

Just to clarify, I have nothing against banting -- I think it can be transformative for individuals that struggle with weightloss. Tim Noakes has done an amazing job at promoting a lifestyle that is holistically beneficially to the masses.

All I ask is that you be mindful about everything. Watch how you cook, where you buy and what you buy. Check labels, ask the waiter and never be afraid to say no.

People that are Banting, specifically in South Africa, think it's a great excuse to eat braai (BBQ) meat everyday and not exercise -- there is no short cut when it comes to health. It's a lifestyle commitment.

Once again, thanks for reading, and I hope you have an awesome week.