Back To Banting Basics

Two years ago I was a radio presenter and once a month we had Prof Tim Noakes come onto the show to talk about Low Carb High Fat eating – now more commonly referred to as “Banting”. Over the last two years, we have seen it grow from a seldom spoken about school of thought to a massive movement that has swept across South Africa, impacting people in all corners of the country.

The book that became a national best seller “Real Meal Revolution” was first introduced to me on 6th September 2013.  Prof Tim bought a mock up of the book into the studio….little did they know that it would be published and republished and republished…

Book coverAs I was in the privileged position of sitting in the studio as the presenter of the Rise and Shine show, I  gleaned an enormous amount of information from our discussions. Prof Tim is a scientist, so he largely spoke from a scientific point of view. During our onair conversations, I learned the following:


This is not the “Tim Noakes” diet. It’s not a short term, temporary weight loss plan that you go on and then go off. Of this you must never say, “I’m dieting!”  The Banting way of eating has got to become a way of life.  By eating LCHF, you may find you lose weight quickly, which if you need to, is great, but for your health, you should view it as a marathon and not a sprint.


Some people are thrilled at the idea that they can have seemingly unlimited fat, but don’t be misled by what that means.  To start with, it doesn’t mean you can eat anything that you think is ‘fattening.’ Cake is fattening. You have to learn the difference between fat and carbohydrates. Carbohydrates (including sugar)  are found in almost everything  we eat. They are there in differing amounts. Some are high in carbs – others low. Overt carbohydrates include all and any bread containing flour, any (and that means ANY) cereal that comes in a box or a bag, all rice (brown, white, sushi, etc), pasta (even wholewheat); any baked treats such as cake, muffins, croissants, pastries, biscuits;  any form of sweets such as chocolates, wine gums, peppermints etc; And  potatoes eg. chips, fried, french, crisps, mashed, roast; carrots are high in carbs, sweet potatoes are as well. Fruit are high in carbs, but I’ll get back to fruit and veg in a moment. All of the above are carbohydrates and beginning with everything out of a packet or a box, you start eliminating them from your diet. eg. No more sugar in coffee/tea. No more fizzy drinks, flavoured dairy products – yoghurt, milkshakes etc. Wine is high in sugar. You can wean yourself off all of this stuff. It doesn’t have to happen overnight, but to improve your health in the long term it does have to happen. Most ‘health’ products that come in tins for making up of meal substitute ‘shakes’ are high in carbohydrate. Most weight loss programmes that include “low fat” anything, are high in carbohydrate. All ‘low fat’ products in the store fridges or on the shelves are high in carbohydrate. Avoid them!


Carbohydrate makes you fat! Fat doesn’t. The basic principle of this is that when you eat a stack of carbs, your body uses those carbs for energy and stores the fat you eat…. where does it store it? Around your waist! The ‘beer belly’, the ‘big gut’ – that’s where the fat is stored. To get rid of that fat, stop eating carbohydrates. Eat more fat in your diet, so the body uses the fat for energy. Almost all food contains some carbs, so that’s why this lifestyle is LOW CARB, because you cannot get away from eating some carbs. Food that contains high fat & protein include eggs, meat, fish, full cream, unsweetened dairy products such as double cream Greek yoghurt, butter, cheese, raw macadamia nuts and almonds, avocado pears, coconut oil and milk,  olives and olive oil.  It is from all of these products that you will get the energy required to run your body.

Avocado, in cross-section


When it comes to oils, watch what you buy. Olive oil and coconut oil are the ones you want. This applies even if you are not LCHF. Sunflower oil is out! Also, rather fry food using butter. Olive oil undergoes an unhealthy change when heated beyond a certain temperature.  Dump margarine altogether. Butter is better.


One of the biggest problems people have with this way of eating is they FREAK OUT when Prof Tim says anything vaguely close to cutting out fruit! So here are the facts of fruit:
Fact: fruit is LOADED with sugar and therefore carbohydrate.
Fact: the sugar in fruit is better than refined sugar.
Fact: the sugar in fruit will hinder you from losing weight.
Fact: fruit should be limited in LCHF!
Fact: you don’t need to cut out ALL fruit from your LCHF eating plan! But, if you are diabetic, the less fruit the better. If you are wanting to reduce carbs drastically, the less fruit the better. If you are healthy, normal, non diabetic, but wanting to embrace a LCHF lifestyle, you need to count the carbs in the fruit you eat.

You also need to count the carbs in fresh vegetables. All fresh vegetables grown above the ground are great for LCHF eating. If it’s a root vegetable (eg grown below the ground – potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots etc), limit quantities. The exception to this rule is butternut, which is a carbohydrate veg grown above the ground.  When it comes to fruit, the berry family reigns supreme! Apples are okay. Bananas are loaded with carbs (I did not say they are ‘bad!’ I said they are loaded with carbs!)


Many times it has been said that Banting eating is individual to each and every person who tries it. What works for Prof Tim doesn’t work for me. What works for me, won’t work for you. Each of us are unique. I can’t stomach biltong, but it’s certainly high protein and good for LCHF. There is balance to be had in embracing this eating plan. And guess what? YOU are responsible for finding it. Not Prof Tim and not – certainly not me! This is YOUR body. Only you know how you feel when you eat what you eat. So experiment with it. Cut carbs and sugar. Replace those with protein and some fat. Don’t go overboard on the fat if it freaks you out. Eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full. There are enough foods in the LCHF shopping basket to keep you satisfied. One of the great things about LCHF  is you don’t go hungry. The onus is on you to research LCHF.


With you taking responsibility for your own LCHF journey, one of the most important habits to get into is reading labels. When you pick something up in the supermarket that is packaged, read the label to see how much carbohydrate it contains per 100g. You’re aiming for food stuff that contains less than 7g/100g. The less the better. If you are serious about counting carbs, you need to work out the carb content of every mouthful you take. I think in our onair conversations, we have spoken about the average person aiming for about 50g of carbs per day. If you are diabetic, less.  So the only way to do this is to know how many carbs are in the food you eat. To find that out, use the internet and just put ‘carbs in an apple’ in your search engine. …voila…Carbs in an apple

Carbs in an apple

This is why counting carbs is so important. If the idea of not eating fruit freaks you out, eat the fruit, just count the carbs that are in the fruit. I had someone say, “Helga I just love my provita – I have three with avo on – can I carry on eating them?’  Google provita carbs and you find 3 have 15g of carbs. If it’s important to you, eat them and reduce the carbs somewhere else. Rather make seed crackers.

The other important factor to consider is your energy needs. If you find you have reduced carbs to 50g per day and you are sluggish and lacking energy, clearly you need more! On the converse, if you find you are eating 50g carbs per day and not losing weight, clearly you need less. What works for others, may not work for you.


As I have progressed along my LCHF journey, I have found myself trying to engage with my stomach to find out if I am hungry or if there is something else I’m needing. I sometimes find myself thinking, “my mouth feels as if it should be doing something.” I’m not hungry. Maybe I’m thirsty, tired, irritated, stressed, hormonal, anxious or any other number of emotions. Deciding whether you are actually hungry or if it’s something else results in  controlling your appetite. Once you’ve figured out that you need something other than food & that need is met, you’ll find yourself eating less.


During our on-air conversations, from time to time, this came up under a different guise. Prof Tim  started this LCHF journey because of his familial history of diabetes. He is diabetic so he takes LCHF  very seriously. His father died of diabetes and he doesn’t want to follow suit! So on the spectrum of “How Important This Is To You”,  Prof Tim could be considered to be the extreme end of the spectrum. He is very healthy as a result. Every single person is somewhere on this spectrum. Some are really not interested but most people who I have encountered are somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. They are disease free (eg no diabetes), but they usually are overweight and the desire to shed unwanted kilogrammes has led them to this lifestyle. They, like me, want to do their best, but also want the odd snack, the birthday cake, the roast potatoes and rusks to dunk in hot chocolate on cold winter nights.  We know where we are. We are trying to find the right balance. We know what to do and we are trying to take responsibility for our health. But we need to be careful, weight loss occurs when the carbohydrate levels are low enough.

The people that worry me the most are a HUGE number of people at the wrong end of the spectrum. They are unhealthy, obese, have diabetes & high blood pressure and they don’t really care what they eat. You see them sitting in cars outside cafes/fast food outlets having stocked up on chips, fizzy drinks, chocolates and fast food as their main source of dietary nutrition! They are the people we are trying to reach. The point I am making is that we are all somewhere on the spectrum, and if on air, Prof Tim has come across as extreme, it is because he has experienced this lifestyle change as a life-saving change. And he is not alone. Thousands of individuals with symptoms of ‘metabolic syndrome’ have benefited from Banting and are so glad they made the change.

Finally, whatever happens, when it comes to what you eat – OWN IT – take responsibility and live with your choices.

I hope this has helped!

And in the words of Solomon:

“Go, eat your food with gladness…”  (Ecc 9:7) 🙂

God bless you loads!

In His Grip,

Helga xx 🙂

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