Ready to do the banting diet but feeling lost? Overwhelmed by conflicting information? Unable to get started? Learn what banting is and is not; and how to structure a successful banting diet.
You may have heard some buzz about how strict and difficult the banting diet is, and how many people try and fail. We contend that these complaints and the fallout are largely due to a flawed approach by people who follow cookie-cutter approaches.
If you google “banting diet”, you’ll get bombarded by a dizzying amount of multimedia information, some of it excellent (like Jonno Proudfoot’s Real Meal Revolution), and some of it highly questionable (we won’t mention those icon-smile-o ).
Simply exposing yourself to this information overload can create stress, anxiety, potential booby traps, and failure. Consequently, our goal with this Quick Guide to the Banting Diet is to give you a proven roadmap you can follow.
Why Health Enthusiasts Choose The Banting Diet
When you constantly need to be functioning at your very best – both mentally and physically – low-carb banting and keto diets consistently outperform other diets. Here are some of the things you’ll experience when following a banting eating plan:
✅ Burn Fat Fast. If you’re looking to shed excess body fat and lean down FAST, then banting and keto are exactly what you need.
✅ Supercharge Your Energy. Studies have shown that ketones are a more efficient fuel source than glucose, providing more energy per unit of oxygen.
✅ Increased Mental Clarity. Due to the fact that banting calls for the reduction of sugars and processed carbs, being in ketosis gives you a significant boost in mental clarity
✅ Better Sleep. The lowering of blood sugar levels as a result of eating low carb has been shown to greatly increase the quality of your sleep.
✅ Clearer Skin. The banting and keto diets have a high level of fat and help improve dry and irritated skin, keeping inflammation to a minimum.
You might be thinking… this sounds too good to be true! However, if you start following a personalized banting diet, you can potentially revolutionize your health just by enjoying delicious foods.
Think of this as a way to feel better and embark on a guided health journey that will benefit you in the long run.
What Is the Banting Diet?
According to Professor Tim Noakes the Banting Lifestyle advocates:
- A diet high in healthy fats and low in carbohydrates (‘carbs’).
- Eating only real, healthy and fresh foods.
- Following a nutritionally dense diet comprising meat, fish, eggs, nuts, healthy fats, and a variety of vegetables and fruit.
- Eliminating additives, chemicals, preservatives and other harmful ingredients.
What Banting Is Not
Banting or low-carb-high-fat (LCHF) is a LOW carb, not a NO Carb, way of eating.
While we know that humans do not have to eat carbohydrates to be healthy and energetic, the banting diet does not advocate the complete elimination of carbohydrates. The best level of carbohydrate consumption varies from person to person and depends on the individual’s metabolic condition. 
- Banting is not vegetable and fruit free. Banters eat a good variety of healthy whole vegetables, primarily those that grow above ground.
- Banting is not a high-protein diet. It’s a moderate-protein diet.
- Banting is not a fat feast. Banters omit unhealthy processed fats and focus on whole natural fats. Carefully controlling consumption.
- Banting is not dangerous. Very low-carb, high-fat diets (ketogenic diets) have been used since the 1920s to treat illnesses such as epilepsy and no harmful effects have resulted from a long-term ketogenic diet.
- Banting is not either low carb or keto. It is both. Successful Banters cycle through at least four low carb phases which include a keto phase. Scroll down for more info.
The Banting Diet is NOT a Quick Fix
Banting is NOT a diet, it is NOT a fad and it is definitely NOT a short cut to weight loss. It is a shift from how you are currently eating to a new way of living; in short, it is a lifestyle change. – Prof Tim Noakes
Most importantly, banting is NOT a one-size-fits-all eating plan…
You need to remember that there is not such thing as a one-size-fits-all lifestyle or diet. Each one of us is unique and our nutritional needs must be treated as such. – Prof Tim Noakes
We’d like to help you avoid the hazards of most one-size-fits-all approaches; that’s why we’re sharing this uniquely pragmatic approach to banting and ketogenic eating. Following this approach will protect you from the pitfalls of those questionable programs that befall so many ill-prepared and misinformed banting and keto enthusiasts.
Here’s how a successful banting diet is structured…
The Four Phases of The Banting Diet
Reduced to its simplest and most fundamental level, losing weight permanently is about switching the body’s energy metabolism from a preference for carb-burning to a preference for burning fat.
What sets all successful banting and weight loss diets apart from the unsuccessful ones is that they follow a structured way to manage the transition from your previous dietary and health behaviours to a way of eating and living that offers amazing and sustainable results and forms the basis of a new, life-changing lifestyle.
There are four phases in adopting the banting diet:
- Planning and Preparation.
- Rebalancing = Resetting your metabolism.
- Shedding = Weight loss.
- Sustain = Weight management.
Each has a specific purpose. The first two are designed to get your mind, metabolism, and your digestive system fighting fit, and to ease you into weight loss; this will enable you to limit potential side effects, clear your mind and prepare your body for sustainable weight loss over the long term.
The third focuses on strict low-carb eating for maximum fat burning; this is where the most dramatic action happens, though it is not necessarily the most critical phase.
And the all-important fourth phase allows you to maintain the great foundation you’ve now built – for life.
Let’s look at each in a little more detail…
Phase 1: The Planning and Preparation Phase (Observation Phase)
Duration: 1 – 3 days.
Please, even if you are really anxious to get started with your banting diet, don’t skip the planning process. Habit research shows that when people jump from contemplation (thinking about the change) straight to action (making the change) they’re less likely to see the change through.
Why? Because you’ve not taken the time to prepare, mentally or physically – and in the banting and weight-loss game, that spells trouble.
Even if you’re not the planning type, you really want to have at least the first few days of meals planned.
First, it’s economical, ensuring you’ll buy only what you need and won’t have to throw away food you ended up not eating. But more important than that, we want to do everything we can to keep our brain happy during what is sure to be a tumultuous ride, because . . .
The brain loves a plan.
Back in the 1920s, a Russian psychologist discovered that incomplete or interrupted tasks tend to “stick around” in people’s brains, distracting us and stressing us out. This preoccupation with things left undone requires so much cognitive effort that it keeps our brains from focusing on other (more important) things. I suspect you’ve all experienced this – the distraction, unease and restless sleep that comes from the half-completed paper due next week, the work project you’re behind on, or the email you really need to send tomorrow.
Now, let’s apply this to your banting diet.
You’re ready to start the program. You’ve got some friends supporting you. Of course, you plan on grocery shopping for some nutrient-dense reset compliant food. But you’re going to play your meals by ear. After all, how hard can it be? A hunk of meat, fill your plate with vegetables, add some fat.
Simple. Not so simple for your brain, which senses there’s some unfinished business here.
What, exactly, will you eat? Will Monday’s dinner make good leftovers for Tuesday’s lunch? You have an early meeting on Wednesday, what can you make for breakfast in under ten minutes? What the heck will you do with the Brussels sprouts you bought, anyway? This uncertainty makes your brain very unhappy, which makes distracted, stressed and unhappy.
Don’t underestimate how different your plate is going to look from how you used to eat, even if you used to eat pretty healthily. There’s no more picking up pizza when you’re really tired, unwinding with a bottle of wine after a long day, or relying on a wholegrain bagel to get you through your mid-afternoon meeting.
You cannot eat raw Brussels sprouts in a business meeting. Well, you could, but that would be weird, and not very tasty.
You really need a plan.
Do the following BEFORE you start (or restart):
- Define your “why”. Why are you going banting?
- Set a goal. What do you want to achieve?
- Set your start date. Circle it on your calendar.
- Go public. Scientists studying change and habit say that if you share your commitment with friends and family, you are much more likely to stick to it.
- Build your support team. Finding the right support network will be critical to keeping you motivated, inspired and accountable during your program. They don’t have to do the diet with you – they just have to support your efforts.
- Get your house(hold) ready. This means cleaning out the red list and junk food and creating a structured plan to work around family members not participating in the program.
- Plan some meals. This is where the fun starts. And there are many resources out there to help with this. Whatever you do, don’t follow them blindly. If you eat exactly what others tell you to eat, how will you learn to meal plan, food prep, handle “food emergencies” and learn new cooking techniques? (Trick question – you won’t.)
One more thing on meal planning: if you really want to nail this you’ll have to invest in a proper meal planning app. Period! The following all have free and paid options:
- Banting Meal Planner. The only option featuring banting specific recipes and meal plans. Free option plus a paid option at a very affordable once-off fee.
- Diet Doctor. Free option plus a paid option at about R150 per month.
- Carb Manager. The free option is utterly useless. Their paid option is about R150 per month.
- For more recipe inspiration explore our Banting Pinterest Boards.
- Create your grocery list and go shopping.
Phase 2: The Rebalancing/Restoration Phase (Metabolism Reset)
Important: If you take medications for diabetes or high blood pressure, be sure to speak with your doctor before beginning the banting diet, as they will probably need to be adjusted.
The goals of the Rebalancing Phase are:
- Remove sugar and gluten from your diet along with all Red List foods.
- Restore the health of your gut by reintroducing foods that will feed your gut bacteria and help restore your gut lining. 
You may see significant weight loss in this phase but since that is not the goal you shouldn’t be concerned if you don’t shed any centimetres around your waist.
I’m often asked whether this phase promotes the state of high fat-burning called nutritional ketosis. Sometimes it does, but it’s not the specific goal. Ketosis is the purpose of the Shedding Phase.
Ketosis is a state in which the body is relying on high amounts of fat for energy, along with ketones, a fuel source the body converts from stored fat.
The rebalancing phase is sometimes referred to as a moderately low-carb diet, but it’s not. Instead, it’s more like a re-setting phase for your gut, immune system, and hormones.
It is not the purpose of this phase to restrict calories or to severely restrict carbohydrate intake. It merely restricts the toxic and non-compliant foods. Just eat as much as you want from what you’re allowed and avoid what’s restricted.
Focus an having fun sharpening your meal planning skills, testing new recipes, and creating your own Banting Cookbook.
Your only job during this phase is to focus on making good food choices, You don’t need to weigh or measure, you don’t need to count calories, you don’t need to stress about buying organic, free-range, or local. Your only job is to eat good food.
This is where you get your head around a life without gluten, sugar and refined carbs – similar to the eating patterns of our ancient ancestors. A focus on building your metabolic flexibility and repairing your gut lining by including fibre rich and nutrient-dense foods contributes to the main aim of this phase: to prepare your body and mind for the next phase while avoiding potential side effects.
Results: By the end of this phase you should experience some or all of the following:
- Weight loss and centimetres lost – though it’s not the intention of this phase
- Improved, more stable mood
- Sunnier disposition
- Improved focus and mental clarity
- More energy
- Improved athletic performance
- Ease or disappearance of irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, abdominal bloating and other gut and bowel complaints.
- Reduction or disappearance of acne and skin complaints
- Better sleep
- Better biomarkers
It’s not uncommon for devoted enthusiasts to drop 4 to 6 kgs total, including 1,2 – 3,5 kgs excess body fat, during the rebalancing phase.
Duration: Minimum 3 weeks. You can switch to the shedding phase after 3 weeks or you can add another week for every kilogram you want to lose. Maximum 12 weeks.
Lists: You can eat from both the green and orange lists. The light red and red lists are off-limits. The grey list is a grey area – you decide, but we encourage you to regard is as off-limits in this phase.
Meals Per Day: Three meals per day. You may have a snack in-between meals but it should be the exception, not the rule.
Average Daily Carbs: Between 50g and 100g. Great for beginners, and the Preservation Phase if you are insulin resistant.
Phase 3: The Shedding/Transformation Phase (Weight Loss)
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit. – Will Durant
The goals of the Transformation or Shedding phase are:
- To burn fat and shed centimetres. To achieve this carbohydrate intake is dropped to below 20 or 50 grams a day – depending on how active you are.
- Hone your ability to switch between burning fat and burning carbs for fuel – like our ancestors did.
Duration: Minimum of 3 weeks. Add another two weeks for every kilogram you want to shed.
Experts agree that to attain the highest standard of metabolic efficiency your first genuine nutritional ketosis should be a rock-solid effort of between 3 and 6 weeks.
The rebalancing you’ve mastered in the previous phase will enable you to effortlessly attain this six-week goal.
Apart from hitting the 6-week gold standard your aim in this phase is on getting you (and your kitchen) keto-adapted.
You’ll do this with the help of a new banting and keto-friendly recipes and meal plan templates. Your meal planning app will have everything you need.
Results: By the end of this phase, you’ll experience the same results as the Rebalancing Phase, just more pronounced. Plus, you’ll start shedding serious centimetres around your waist.
Duration: Minimum of 3 weeks. Add another two weeks for every kilogram you want to shed. If you are insulin resistant this will probably become your maintenance phase.
Lists: You’ll eat predominantly from the green list with a rare occasional forage into the orange and grey lists. The light red and red list are off-limits.
Meals Per Day: Three meals per day. No snacking allowed. Skip meals when you are not hungry. Meal spacing, a.k.a. Intermittent Fasting is a standard practice in this phase and many of the Fat-Burning meal plans are specifically designed for this.
Average Daily Carbs:
- Transform (Accelerated Weight Loss): Between 25g and 50 g. If you are an athlete or a very active person you’ll be able to burn fat with these meal plans.
- Fat Burning (Fast Fat Loss): Below 25g. If you are less active or a sedentary person you’ll want to focus on these meal plans.
Phase 4: The Sustain/Preservation Phase (Weight Maintenance)
The banting diet plan is a lifelong eating strategy rather than a rigid short-term weight loss protocol.
Goal: The last phase is about finding the optimum low carb – keto combination for your body and lifestyle. It is not so much a phase as the rest of your life. Once the previous three phases have made a significant impact on your health, your waistline and your life, all that is now required are for you to maintain your good eating habits.
By the time you reach this phase, you will have a clear understanding of your carbohydrate tolerance (insulin resistance) and your new metabolic flexibility and repaired gut biome will simply need periodic loving priming and attention.
Note: Some people may never reach the Sustain phase due to severe insulin resistance or other health problems; as a result, Shedding is effectively their maintenance phase.
Duration: 12 – 18 weeks. Then switch to another phase for a few weeks to keep your metabolism primed.
Lists: You’ll eat from the green, orange, and grey lists, with a rare occasional forage into the light red list. The red list is off-limits, always.
Meals Per Day: Three meals a day. Snacking is allowed but not encouraged.
Average Daily Carbs: Between 100g and 150g.
Mastering this eating pattern is like discovering a hidden superpower that stabilizes your energy, mood, and brain function all day long, because you have readily available stored energy to burn – even if you skip meals. – Mark Sisson, author of The Paleo Cookbook.
Give The Banting Diet At Least Six Weeks
Whoever you are, whatever your situation, what we ask from you is simple: give the banting diet a shot for at least 6 weeks.
For some of you this will be an easy transition; for others – we can’t lie – it’s going to be tough. However, you all will benefit from these simple changes, and you will in ways you cannot imagine.
Your only job during the first six weeks is to focus on making good food choices and cooking them to perfection. You don’t need to weigh or measure portions, you don’t need to count calories, you don’t need to purchase everything organic, grass-fed, pastured, or local.
Just follow a delicious low carb Banting diet plan… for six weeks straight. Your only job? Eat. Good. Food.
We often hear the question, “Will the Banting Diet work for me?” we then offer the Zen-flavoured answer, “Only if you do it.”
 The Banting Pocket Guide by Tim Noakes