As an elite athlete, nutritionist and MiFitLife ambassador, Hannele Steyn gives us her expert opinion on the banting phenomenon.
The Tim Noakes lifestyle has caused a tsunami throughout the country .
I am a Geneticist/Microbiologist with a passion for nutrition. I also design and manufacture health products and try to help people to feel and look better by following a healthy and balanced lifestyle.
Everyone or at least, every second person asks me what I think about this "diet”. As a nutritionist I obviously have my own opinion, but here I am merely going to state a few things that we should consider before simply riding the banting wave.
As a rule, I do not believe in any “diet” as such, except if it is for medical or health reasons. Instead of dieting, I have always advised following a balanced lifestyle that will suit your circumstances so that you can keep it up, as well as going for the healthier choices in foods whenever you have the option.
The mistake a lot of people make is to think that balance means eating everything, but in moderation.
Balance in nutrition actually means, to eat the “correct” amount of the three major food groups (carbohydrates, protein and fat). It also means to eat the healthy options of these 3 groups.
Our bodies need a certain amount of organic proteins daily, a certain amount of the essential and good fats, as well as a certain amount of low glycaemic, natural carbohydrates.
To cut out refined foods, processed foods, simple sugars, trans fats and man made foods is 100% correct, and this is a major part of the banting lifestyle that I agree with wholeheartedly, but there are a few things that I am more doubtful about. Grains, for instance, contain important nutrients like Folic Acid which absolutely essential for pregnant women to avoid the changes of Spinae Bifidae in their babies.
Question: Why did people get scurvy?
Answer: From not eating enough fresh fruit
Question: Why did the cave man not eat lots of fruit and only lived off a few berries, as well as high fat and protein?
Answer: He couldn’t find a nearby Fruit ‘n Veg store and where he lived, there wasn’t a lot of fresh fruits. He was also a hunter and not a farmer or a very active person.
He hunted animals, ate it almost raw (not a lot of stoves in that time) and slept till the next meal.
The Eskimo people basically live on fatty fish, but they are not the best runners or cyclists in the world and their bodies need a lot of fat to sustain the cold temperatures. You also don’t find a lot of fresh fruits where they live.
The cave man also didn’t have the luxury of stuffing his face for years with sweets, processed foods, all kinds of sugars and trans fats, so he didn’t need this quick fix to cure himself of high cholesterol, diabetes and obesity.
Question: How easy will it be for the person who has been trying to lose weight by following every new diet, to all of a sudden, be able to sustain, even this, “easier” diet. If people have been telling them for years to cut out sweets and chips, coke, wine, etc and they couldn’t do it, how long will they be able to leave it now?
Answer: I don’t know, we will have to wait and see, because if you are going to eat this high fat diet, AND go back to the, “real”, bad eating habits, you are gonna pick up even more weight
I am not agreeing or disagreeing with the banting revolution. There are positives and negatives and each individual will need to make up their own mind and take into account their personal circumstances. From my own perspective, I cannot live without the amazing, fresh, from the earth fruit and vegetables, like watermelon, bananas, mangoes, apples, tomatoes, corn....can you?