Tim Noakes and the Banting diet

Strictly speaking, it’s not correct to call Cape Town sports scientist Prof Tim Noakes’ low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) diet ‘Banting’, but he doesn’t mind if you do.

The eponymous William Banting was fat – a heavily overweight, ailing British undertaker who ate low carbs on the advice of Dr William Harvey in 1862. Banting lost weight and felt great. Harvey wrote about it, but under pressure from medical colleagues, modified the diet into high-protein, low-fat. German physician Dr Wilhelm Ebstein took it to Europe, and changed to high-fat, low-carb after realising the key was replacing carbs with fat, not protein, as fat reduced hunger more effectively. So it’s more correct to call Noakes’ diet ‘Ebstein’, or ‘ketogenic’.

Banting may be here to stay, with Banting restaurants, meals and products popping up all over. Here, Noakes gives clarifying fundamentals, followed by an idiot’s guide to his LCHF diet.

Banting may stick in South Africa, where it is a culinary ‘revolution’, with Banting restaurants, meals and products popping up all over the place. Here, Noakes gives clarifying fundamentals, followed by an Idiot’s Guide to his LCHF diet.

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Tim Noakes’ LCHF diet

Cape Town sports scientist Prof Tim Noakes is in great shape. At 65, after four years on his low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) diet, his energy levels are stratospheric, and his running has improved spectacularly.

“I don’t run as fast as I ran in my 20s, but I’m running faster and further in training, and with more enjoyment than I did 20 years ago,” he says.

He hasn’t gained a gram of the 20 kilograms he lost in the first two years on the diet, and his health is excellent. Noakes has type 2 diabetes (it’s in his family history) and developed it despite religiously eating the recommended high-carb, low-fat diet for 33 years that experts told him would prevent diabetes. He controls it well with diet and medication, and could probably do without the drugs, but says he prefers to have “perfect blood glucose control.”

He sleeps like a baby, and no longer snores – for which his wife Marilyn is deeply grateful. He also no longer falls asleep in front of the TV. All other ailments – recurring bronchitis, rhinitis, migraine and irritable bowel syndrome – have disappeared.

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