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Tim Noakes’ controversial “Banting” diet has spread across South Africa like a wild fire – and in its wake, questions are being asked. Is a low carb diet sustainable? Is it good for my long term health? Will I lose weight by avoiding carbs? Read what Patrick has to say about the “Banting” diet.

Q: Mr Holford, is Tim Noakes’ Banting diet for everyone and anyone?

A: No and Dr Noakes himself actually agrees with this – that a low carb diet is not for everyone. He admits that he has been misquoted by the media and mis-interpreted by people who are unhappy with the state of their health. Dr Noakes’ new dieting regime is not designed for the average South African. It is a specific eating plan intended for diabetics and those whose bodies have lost the ability to control their blood sugar levels (those at risk of developing type-2 diabetes).

Q: Can my body really function properly without carbs?

A: By eating a carbohydrate free/ very low diet, a DIABETIC may be able to kick-start the correct functioning of the pancreas which controls the levels of insulin in the bloodstream. However, this type of EXTREME diet is only advised for a few weeks and under strict medical supervision as the very real risks associated with a low-carbohydrate diet include breast cancer, decreased bone mass, added stress on the kidneys and low moods. Why low moods? We rely on energy carbohydrates for energy “to feel good”.  My answer is therefore NO.

Q: In your opinion, is “Banting” sustainable? Or just a quick fix?

A: It is very important for individuals to find the diet approach that works for them – instead of just following the mainstream without any proper research into how their body will respond. The big downside to most low carb diets is their reliance on animal and dairy protein. A high intake of these is linked to increased cancer risk, especially of the breast and prostate – which is what makes me cautious of following low carb diets on a long term basis. I am not against low carb, low GL diets. They have their place, but I see no evidence that they are more effective than my  low GL approach which is much easier to stick with in the long term and has proven results for both health and weight-loss.

Q: What other research suggests that there might be health risks associated with “Banting”?

A: There are plenty. Published recently in the international PLOS ONE journal, a study reviewed the results of 19 international scientific trials which found that Noakes’ “Banting” is neither healthier nor better for weight loss than a balanced weight loss diet. Following the findings both the Heart and Stroke Foundation of SA and the Association for Diabetics in SA together with various other health groups including the Scientific Advisory Board on Weight Management in the UK have issued warnings of possible health risks associated with this diet.

Q: Why then did the diet work so well for Tim and so many others?

A: Tim Noakes discovered four years ago that he is “carbohydrate resistant” with a predisposition to developing adult onset diabetes thanks to his genetics and to years of advocating a high-carb, low fat approach to health. He switched to the “Banting” way of life and has reported a significant improvement to his health.  The reason that the diet works is that low carb diets really do stabilize your blood sugar levels- but while it is a step in the right direction, it’s not enough to make a big difference in the long term. One step further is my  low-GL diet, which factors in both the quality of carbs and the quantity, which also balances your blood sugar levels but without the extreme restriction on carbohydrates.

Q: What then do you suggest as an alternative diet that works?

A: I, as always, suggest a low-GL approach to eating – where slow-releasing carbohydrates are eaten together with proteins and plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and nuts and seeds. I continue to advise this diet because scientific research continues suggest that it is more effective than any other diet. I have listed 19 separate studies on my website – you can read all of them here: https://www.patrickholford.com/advice/low-gl-for-weight-loss

The latest scientific review of 6 studies showed that ‘Overweight or obese people lost more weight on a low Glycemic Load diet and had more improvements in lipid profiles than those receiving conventional diets.’ The review compared the results of six well designed trials comparing low GL diets with conventional diets based on reducing calories. Other benefits were greater loss in body fat, reductions in bad ‘LDL’ cholesterol, and increase in good ‘HDL’ cholesterol.