The Banting Diet is a method of weight loss that promotes a low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) diet. It was first developed by William Banting, a formerly obese undertaker, who was the first person to embark on the diet, and it has since been made popular by author Tim Oakes in his book The Real Meal Revolution.

How Does The Banting Diet Work?

The Banting Diet has four stages to follow in a simple step-by-step formula. These are:

Observation: This is perhaps the easiest part of the Banting diet. Before you make any nutritional or exercise changes, note down your body measurements (weight, waist size etc.) and then spend one week recording data about your lifestyle. Simply observe and note down everything you eat in a week, to become familiar with your own typical eating patterns and tendencies. The thinking behind the Observation period in the Banting diet is that anything that can be measured can be improved and that it is beneficial for participants to have a good idea of their eating habits before they begin to change them. The Observation stage last for one week no matter your age or weight and it also give participants a chance to read through the Banting diet material so that they are familiar with the steps ahead.

Restoration: Phase two of the Banting diet begins with eliminating the foods from the Red list and the Light Red list in the Real Meal Revolution ‘Real Lists’. After you have removed the foods that are not nutrient-dense, you reintroduce foods known as ‘fertilizers’- foods that encourage restoration of your gut lining and the natural gut flora. The Restoration phase lasts for one week for every 5kg between your current weight and your ‘Awesome’ weight and its purpose is to ‘soften’ the introduction to a low carb diet and minimize any potential negative side effects.

A typical daily meal plan on the Restoration phase may look like this:

  • Breakfast: Bacon, eggs, mushrooms and rocket followed by coconut yogurt and a herbal tea.
  • Snacks: Sparkling water, a banana and a handful of nuts
  • Lunch: Smashed avocado and grilled chicken breast with mixed beans and green salad. A few apricots and a handful of grapes.
  • Snack: Fruit salad of papaya, raspberries and strawberries.
  • Dinner: Chickpea and lentil curry with spicy green beans and garden peas.

Transformation: Phase three of the Banting diet is ‘Transformation’. The Banting principle is not to encourage ‘quick fixes’ and fast one-time weight loss, but to encourage and equip participants to make lasting transformations to improve their overall health. The Transformation phase is designed to push your metabolism and encourage weight loss by following a good foundation laid out in the Restoration phase. Participants can eat unlimited foods from the Green List and keep to limits on the Orange A list. The Orange B, Red and Light Red lists are to be avoided at this point in the nutrition plan. Halfway through the Transformation stage (which takes as long as it takes to get to your ‘Awesome weight’) there are some additional factors introduced to speed up results. This phase encourages your body to burn its own fat as fuel and uses cutting-edge research to design the nutritional plan. It has been shown to improve sleep patterns, increase mental clarity and energy levels and even help skin clarity.

A typical daily meal plan while on the Transformation phase might look like this:

  • Breakfast: An omelet with spring onions, tomatoes and mushrooms and a flavored water.
  • Snack: Diced mango
  • Lunch: Homemade lentil dhal with sprouted salad
  • Snack: Diced pineapple
  • Dinner: Mexican chicken with tomato salsa and shredded cheddar

Preservation: Preservation is the fourth and last stage of the Banting diet and is designed for people who can make small changes to their diet without it having a lasting negative effect on their health. During this stage you will find out which foods you can eat without gaining weight, and which are more of a problem for you personally.

You will not need to follow the guidelines with regards to the quantity of foods you eat but will need to keep adhering to the ‘top tier’ guidelines with lists of foods to be avoided completely, eaten occasionally or consumed whenever you like.

These guidelines are as follows:

  • Green List: “Eat as much as you like”. The Green List includes foods such as most vegetables, caffeine-free drinks such as herbal teas, coconut oil and seeds.
  • Orange List: “Exercise self-control”. The Orange List includes foods such as nuts, milk and milk substitutes, and most fruits and vegetables not on the Green List.
  • Light Red: “Hardly Ever”. The Light Red list includes foods such as smoothies, popcorn, rice and flour.
  • Red: “Never Ever”. The Red list includes foods such as anything with added sugar plus natural sugars such as coconut sugar and artificial sweeteners as well as gluten.
  • Grey: “Your decision”. The Grey list includes foods such as sugar-free desserts, Banting baked desserts and alcoholic drinks.

A typical daily meal plan during the Preservation stage might look like this:

  • Breakfast: Fruit salad with Greek yogurt and a cup of fruit tea
  • Snack: An apple with almond butter
  • Lunch: Brown rice with marinated tofu and sweet potato
  • Snack: A few squares of dark chocolate and some berries
  • Dinner: Thai prawn curry with coconut milk and a raw green bean and papaya salad.

If you happen to gain weight during the Preservation stage simply switch back to Transformation until you are back at your Awesome weight!

The 10 Golden Rules of the Banting Diet

Along with the color-coded food lists, here are the top 10 Golden Rules that the Banting diet recommends you follow if you wish to speed up weight loss even more:

  1. Eat enough vegetables – This is because vegetables are low in calories and high in vitamins, minerals and fibre, meaning that you fill up on good stuff rather than sugar and carbs.
  2. Be aware of carbs disguised as proteins – Legumes, baked beans, peanuts and quinoa are all high in carbs and will slow down fat burning.
  3. Keep snacks to within the foods from your permitted food lists – for ideas check out the online recipe videos.
  4. Eat enough fat – It is a myth that eating fat makes you fat; in fact it helps the body use fat as fuel and ensures satiety after meals, preventing snacking.
  5. Listen to your body – When you are full, stop eating and if you don’t feel like eating, don’t. The aim is to rebalance your appetite and to learn to listen to your body’s own cues.
  6. Don’t eat too much protein – Although the Banting diet is low-carb, it is not high-protein. Following the Banting diet properly should not increase your protein intake massively, if at all.
  7. Avoid overeating fruit and nuts – Fruit contains sugar and although it also has plenty of fibre, sugar is fairly high in calories. In the same way, nuts are nutrient-dense but also high in calories which can prevent weight loss.
  8. Control your dairy intake – Dairy can encourage inflammation and water retention and also contains sugar in the form of lactose.
  9. Keep a PMA (Positive Mental Attitude) – Use the Banting diet’s goal-setting tools to help keep you motivated and on track during your dieting journey.
  10. Learn to read labels – often packaged foods that are marketed as a ‘healthy’ option are full of sugar and artificial sweeteners. If you couldn’t have made it at home yourself, chances are it’s not a great diet food.

Conclusion

The Banting diet is a popular and well-organized program for people wanting to lose weight with a low-carb, high-fat diet. It offers good value for money and an easy to follow step-by-step plan with plenty of accessible resources, recipes and community support. It is a good option for people wanting to lose a significant amount of weight in a fairly short amount of time and those looking for a long-term healthy eating plan.

Hannah Canavan
Hannah Canavan
Researcher at DietProbe
Hannah is a health and lifestyle journalist with a passion for veganism and nutrition.
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