A revolution by definition is a fundamental change that takes place in a relatively short time. I know the team behind the book ‘The Real Meal Revolution’ never expected their revolution to be so big and go viral in the way that it has. Read up more on the Banting Basics.
Prof. Tim Noakes is behind the science of the book and he says, ‘the beauty of this lifestyle is that you can find out if it works for you in the first few weeks and you can make the decision to stay on it for yourself. You can’t always believe the power of the anointed, the professor telling you this is the only way to do it. You have to find this out for yourself.
I can’t tell you 100% why this diet works so effectively but it cuts out messaging to the brain that is trying to make you eat too many calories and that is carbohydrate driven and we know that. Carbohydrates drive hunger so if you are always eating carbohydrates, you will always be hungry.’
We gathered some burning questions from members of the various banting groups and posed these to the Prof. Here are his answers.
Q What is ketosis in simple terms and does everyone on the banting lifestyle go through it?
Ketosis is when you cut out carbohydrates and protein dramatically. Your body starts to produce and release more fat and the liver turns that into ketone bodies which are a replacement fuel for glucose. It is a better fuel so your brain and muscles start burning ketone bodies instead of glucose because you are not getting much glucose in. This is a starvation response without which humans would not have survived.
You don’t have to be ketotic to benefit from this diet. Most people will go through mild ketosis. As soon as you eat more protein you will get rid of the ketosis. We are all a bit different. It is very difficult to stay in ketosis on this diet; you have to eat so much fat. You have to go from cutting all carbs and not much protein and lots of fat. Most people don’t, they eat quite a lot of protein and not as much fat that you need for ketosis.
ON THE FITNESS SIDE
Q Is banting enough for weight loss or do you have to have an active lifestyle and exercise?
Exercise can’t control weight if your nutrition is wrong. You can’t outrun a bad diet. When I was 32 I was running 160kms a week to control my weight now I control my weight by cutting carbs and I now weigh the same as I did 32 years ago, and all I have done is just cut the carbs.
Q What are the best supplements for mountain biking for an insulin resistant woman and when is it best to take these, before during or after?
If you are insulin resistant you will benefit by going on this diet and that really will make you a much better athlete and you just take water. If you are fully adapted, you take water or you eat protein and fat so you can snack on what you would normally in the day. So, if it’s cheese or macadamia nuts then that’s what you have on the bike as well. We have had people that have gone 300 kms without eating on this diet so when you exercise; you just burn your fat.
Q There are certain symptoms that people have complained about while living the banting lifestyle e.g. tummy not regular, bad breath, nausea, light- headedness. Are these temporary conditions?
Constipation. You have to get the right fibre content in your diet and we find that psyllium husks are really good. I eat a product called Life Bake Bread, it is so full of fibre, everyone should be eating it because it is so good. Find a product that is full of fibre and your bowels will be regular.
Bad breath is unfortunately a symptom of ketosis. The worse the breath the more ketotic you are. There is no solution; you just have to be wary of it.
Light headedness would be low blood pressure. That is a good sign because your blood pressure is now coming down.
Q Why do women not lose weight as easily as men?
I am not sure whether this is true. Jonno Proudfoot (co-author of the book) says it is just a phenomenon that men are now talking about it more often and admitting they are losing weight and women have always talked about it.
The brain responds slightly differently to the stimuli. So with men, the reason why the diet works is the hunger goes and you just reduce your calories.
If woman are struggling they are not reducing their calories so although they are eating more protein and fat and taking out the carbohydrates it is not getting the same effect on the brain.
I think you should then actively restrict for a time, maybe fast and eat less frequently until you get the brain to reconsider how it is working.
ON THE HEALTH SIDE
Q Is there a list of medical experts that can help us answer some questions that we might have or who we might be able to see?
You need to go to our website www.originaleating.org. They are slowly getting doctors, dieticians and other professionals listed there.
Q When you are insulin resistant, is it a good idea to eat only when you’re hungry?
Absolutely, if you are insulin resistant you have to keep your insulin levels down because insulin is what causes damage to the body. There are two theories about what causes the disease, the one is the cholesterol theory, the other is the insulin theory and this to my mind is what makes sense.
If you are insulin resistant you always over secrete insulin whenever you eat, even eating protein you tend to over secrete insulin so the less frequently you eat the better.
Q Is it good for people with high blood pressure?
Absolutely, insulin resistance underlies a whole series of diseases of which high blood pressure is one of them and our medical approach is to ignore the underlying cause which is the insulin resistance and the low carbohydrate diet replaces the drugs. The drugs do not work, they might lower your blood pressure but they make no difference to your long-term health. You have to treat the cause and the cause is a high carbohydrate diet in people that are insulin resistant.
Q My doctor insists on me taking cholesterol medication for my increasing cholesterol so torn between taking it or just continuing with the diet.
No women should be on cholesterol lowering drugs because there is no evidence that cholesterol is a risk factor in women. The only women that should be having their cholesterol checked is if they have a family history.
If you are a normal woman with the average history of heart disease you shouldn’t have your cholesterol measured and you must not statins because they have not been proven to work in women.
They have only a marginal effect in men, but they have no effect in women. Women must get up and say we refuse to take statins.
Q A common problem today seems to be gall bladder issues. Should they do banting or not?
Gall bladder disease is caused by a high carbohydrate diet and if the gall bladder doesn’t work properly you get these stones that form.
And what happens when someone changes their diet the gall bladder starts working properly and it starts to expel gall stones and then they get problems.
A guy wrote to me the other day about a massive gall stone attack he had because the gall stone finally passed down and that was a problem. Fortunately he was not sick enough so he can continue.
Gall stones are caused by carbohydrates so as soon as you go on a high fat diet you are going to reduce the production of gall stones but you are going to expel them as well and that can cause problems.
Q What is your stance on the LCHF lifestyle in relation to pre-existing conditions?
It is a treatment for all those, diabetes, hyper- tension, and obesity.
Insulin resistance is the underlying problem, and in my view 60% of people have insulin resistance of varying degrees. I am extreme, others are less extreme but you will eventually get those conditions, one or more of them, they are all the same disease, they are all connected. We treat them as separate diseases and we never address the existing problem.
Q What role do doctors play? Is this a ‘ignore your doctor, change your doctor because it will work’ or should you listen to your doctor first?
I don’t want to sound like I am against doctors but they have to look at the information, we were not trained in nutrition and that is the problem, and the dieticians are not trained in this new thinking.
Q Any advice for gout sufferers? Not finding much that specifically addresses the unique problems involved (e.g. minimum protein intake).
Gout is caused by sugar and fructose (that is the evidence), not protein. So, if you have got gout it is one of those insulin resistant diseases from high carbohydrates so cut the carbs.
ON THE FOOD SIDE
Q What is your day to day eating meal
I eat very little now; it is normally eggs for breakfast plus some other fat and protein. Lunch is usually nothing. I snack on nuts, biltong and cheese during the day and the evening meal is normally lots of green leafy vegetables and fish or meat.
Q I have noticed a lot of people seem to want ‘cheat days or meals’ (real pizza, bread, ice cream, etc.) why is this and do you recommend it?
If you are a really healthy person and not insulin resistant and you were overeating on carbohydrates that is fine, a few cheat days do not matter.
If you are insulin resistant you actually put your metabolism back three or four days and so you have to gear up your system again. Just remember that sugar and carbohydrates are addictive and it depends how addicted you are.
Q What proteins would be good for vegetarians? It appears banting bodes well for people who are not vegetarian.
My view is that the healthiest diet is a vegetarian who cheats. I feel you need eggs, dairy and meat in your diet. The vegetarian diet is very healthy but it lacks protein from animal sources.
Q Should carb limits for kids be the same as adults or can we let them have bit more from Orange list than we would?
They can have more but they mustn’t have sugar and the problem is sugar is everywhere.
Q Water, how important is it and how much should we be drinking?
Drink as much as you like. We usually recommend about 2-3 litres of fluid a day. Obviously no sugary drinks.
Q Lastly, tell us about your foundations.
All the money I ever get for my writing and speaking goes to our 2 foundations. The one is for sports science research; we fund a senior lecturer that is doing fabulous work with muscles and why we get weaker with age.
My goal is to help the scientists prove that insulin resistance is a perfectly normal condition as long as you don’t eat carbohydrates. The plan is to raise money to make South African nutrition research world class.
Read my story in What I Love About Banting.
Adapted from my original article on Spice4life.co.za