Banting diet basics for beginners: where do you even start?

low carb banting diet

The banting diet is a low-carbohydrate, high-fat (LCHF) diet, named after William Banting, the first person to do it. He was an undertaker living in England in the 1800s. A lot has changed since then, but the basics of the diet haven’t.

In short, the banting diet promotes a low-carb, high fat and moderate protein way of eating. Fat is critical and getting lots of it will help you make it work.

In South Africa, the banting diet has been popularised by Professor Tim Noakes in his book The Real Meal Revolution.

Now, like with any other sort of eating, the lifestyle is disputed. Before you consider adopting a banting diet, you must consult your doctor. That’s where you start.

If your doctor has given you the OK for adopting a banting diet…

Look, we’re not here to sell his books, but if you are a complete newbie, The Real Meal Revolution is actually a very good starting point. The recipes are ace and it’s pretty good at spelling the dos and don’ts out for you. Because changing your lifestyle can be overwhelming.

But if you’re not quite ready for a lifelong commitment…

And the banting diet is a lifelong commitment, so don’t kid yourself. In fact, it’s less of a diet and more of lifestyle. And it’s important to note that it won’t work for everyone.

low carb banting diet

If you just want to test the waters (persist for at least month to see how you adapt), check out banting’s really red list here and follow this rule of thumb:

General foods allowed:

Avo, low carb fruit, any dairy (yes even cream and butter), leafy green vegetables, eggs, meat with fat and fish – especially oily fish.

General foods to avoid:

High carb vegetables and fruit, anything processed, anything with added sugar, bread oats and pasta.

Tips for getting started on your banting diet

Remove all temptation: get rid of things like crisp, cookies and sweets. Replace them with things that are allowed – nuts but not peanuts), biltong, pickles, olives and even cream cheese (full fat, please!).

  • Understand the difference between hunger, boredom, and thirst. You might think you’re hungry, but you might also just be bored or thirsty. Learn to distinguish. Eat only when you are hungry.
  • Don’t be fooled by the low-fat fad. Low fat often means added sugar. Opt for organic and full fat as far as you can.
  • Be careful with the oil you use. While oils do contain plenty of fat, not all of them are allowed on the diet. Coconut oil is best and you can use olive oil, but on a low heat – don’t deep fry it!
  • If you’re just starting out, cut back on the alcohol. Spirits (vodka, rum, gin, tequila, whiskey, Scotch, brandy and cognac) are generally carb-free, and dry wines and bubbly are okay. Just be careful with your mixers – remember they can’t contain sugar.
  • Watch your protein intake. It’s easy to stuff your face with protein, but be careful. This way of eating advocates for moderate protein intake. Familiarise yourself with the nutritional value of food.




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