Introducing the Banting Diet!

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You probably have never heard of the Banting Diet being as it is not all the current rage. However, it is one that you should know about since it is effective for losing and managing your weight. I have said many times in writing and verbally, that our methodology for weight loss is really nothing new. Our methodology is just how we used to eat back in simpler times, and it greatly resembles the Banting Diet.

Who was William Banting?

William Banting was a gentleman referred to by the British Medical Journal as “Mr. Banting of corpulence notoriety.” He was a hefty man who at sixty six years of age, weighed in at over 200 pounds on a five foot five inch frame. In terms of the obesity of today, this sounds almost trivial. However, this was in London back in 1862 when obesity was not the norm. Banting had written “Although of no very great size or weight, I still could not stoop to tie my shoes, so to speak, nor attend to the little offices humanity requires without considerable pain and difficulty, which only the corpulent understand.”

All of us who have ever had a problem with our weight know exactly what Banting had experienced. We also know the feeling of not only not being able to bend over to tie our shoes, we also know that doing so can make it hard to breath too. We also know from the experience of being obese that it causes our joints to hurt, and can also cause an overall feeling of malaise. There is nothing good, nor healthy about being over weight, and we all know this despite the “Self Lovely” types who want to deny their weight is a problem.  That kind of thinking is ignorant at best, and delusional at the worst.

As a result of the problems associated directly with Banting’s obesity, he had to retire from his business as an upscale London undertaker. There was no history of obesity in Banting’s family, nor did he consider himself lazy or one who overate at the table. Yet in his thirties, he began slowly gaining weight as many of us are prone to do. Despite his best efforts at exercising to keep his weight down, Banting learned that we can’t out-exercise a bad diet. He kept gaining weight over the years to come.

Because of his continued weight gain, Banting consulted with the best doctors available in London at the time, and he did what many obese and desperate people do today. He tried purgatives and diuretics. Folks, there is nothing new under the sun. He took his dietary supplements of the day, and they did not cause him to lose weight no more than those of today will cause you to lose weight.

Enter William Harvey

Banting finally found someone who could help him in William Harvey. Harvey had recently spent time in Paris where he heard the physiologist Claude Bernard lecture on diabetes. Through Bernard, Harvey learned that the liver secretes glucose, and it was this glucose that accumulates in the blood of diabetics. From this information, Harvey formulated a diet plan for Banting to try. The foods involved in this diet were known to check the secretion of sugar in the urine of diabetics. It was also correctly believed that total abstinence from sugar and starches would do the same.

As Harvey wrote, “Knowing too that a saccharine and farinaceous diet is used to fatten certain animals, and that in diabetes the whole of the fat of the body rapidly disappears, it occurred to me that excessive obesity might be allied to diabetes as to it’s cause, although wildly diverse in it’s development; and that if a purely animal diet were useful in the latter disease, a combination of animal food with such vegetable diet as contained neither sugar nor starch, might serve to arrest the undue formation of fat.”

The diet given to William Banting by Harvey became known as the Banting Diet. Like I tell people all the time, there is really nothing new about what we promote at David’s Way in regards to nutrition. We advise all to abstain from eating foods with added sugar because of the well known and documented effects it has in our bodies.

Banting began his diet in August of 1862.

Bantings diet consisted of three meals a day in which he consumed meat, fish or game. His portions were usually five to six ounces per meal, with an ounce or two of “stale toast” or cooked fruit on the side. He avoided all foods with added sugars or starch such as “bread, milk, beer, sweets, and potatoes. (Note: this was in 1862, therefore I am not certain of the distinction between toast and bread.) Banting began this diet in August and had dropped 35 pounds by the following May and 50 pounds by early 1864. He wrote; “I have not felt better in health than now for the last twenty six years.” “My other bodily ailments have become mere matters of history.”

From the book by Gary Taubes, Good Calories Bad Calories:

We know this because Banting published a sixteen-page pamphlet describing his dietary experience in 1863–Letter on Corpulence, Addressed to the Public–promptly launching the first popular diet craze, known farther and wider than Banting could have imagined as Bantingism.  His Letter on Corpulence was widely translated and sold particularly well in the United States, Germany, Austria, and France, where according to the British Medical Journal, “the emperor of the French is trying the Banting system and is said to have already profited greatly thereby.”  Within a year, “Banting had entered the English language as a verb meaning “to diet.” “If he is gouty, obese, and nervous, we strongly recommend him to “bant,” suggested the Pall Mall Gazette in 1865.

In Banting’s day, many within the medical community did not know what to make of his diet. While there were many who were open minded, there were others who were skeptical. And then there were others who not only attacked Banting’s diet, they attacked him too. The editors of The Lancet were ruthless in insisting that Banting’s diet was old news. It was old news, however Banting never claimed it was anything new. The media of the time, along with medical professionals insisted that Banting’s diet had been thoroughly written about, yet it was news to him and others around the world who were suffering from weight problems.

Banting never took credit for creating the diet that carried his name, and after telling all about his success at losing weight, he did eventually ensure that William Harvey along with the three men he learned from got the credit for the diet. These French men were Claude Bernard, Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, and Jean-Francois Dancel.


This gentleman had been a lawyer and gourmand who wrote one of the most important books on food for the times. He published The Physiology of Taste in 1825. Brillat-Savarin claimed that after thirty years of dealing with obese people, he could identify the causes of obesity. The common thread he found between the obese people he dealt with was a diet of bread, rice and potatoes. He also recognized their problems with obesity were exacerbated by the consumption of sugar as well. The diet he recommended to people was one that demanded rigid abstinence from everything that is starchy or floury.


Dancel had been a physician and military surgeon who had publicly presented his ideas on obesity in 1844. He presented his ideas to the French Academy of Sciences and afterwards published a treatise titled “Obesity, or Excessive Corpulence, The Various Causes and the Rational Means of Cure.”

Dancel’s theories were based from the research that had been done by the German chemist Justus von Liebig, who believed that fat is formed in animals primarily from the ingestion of fats, starches, and sugars. Von Liebig also recognized that protein is the macronutrient that is used for the repair and creation of muscle tissues in the body. He theorized that “All food that is not flesh–all food rich in carbon and hydrogen–must have a tendency to produce fat.” Dancel’s belief on these principles was that they contributed to the only rational treatment for obesity. A part of his theory was also from his observations in the animal world that carnivores are never fat, while herbivores often are fat.

Banting’s Diet

The diet Banting popularized plays a pivotal role in the science of obesity and chronic disease.  The diet works, and is also known to allow people to keep their excessive weight off.  It is important also because it teaches that sugary and starchy elements of food are really the chief cause of obesity which we know is the cause of many, if not most preventable ailments of the modern world.

The creators of Banting’s diet recognized that fatty foods were crucial to the diet since they increased satiety. Being satiated leads to actually eating fewer calories which results in the decrease of body fat. This is also another tenet of David’s Way–we do not advocate eating fat free or low fat foods simply because of their lower fat content which does not always translate to fewer calories consumed.

Just quit with the modern fad diets and diet supplements.

When I began David’s Way to Health and Fitness, I had never heard of Banting’s diet. In fact, I only recently became aware of William Banting through my research on another topic. I have always maintained that our methodology, as far as nutrition goes, is nothing new. It is how many, if not most of us ate in decades past. Abstaining from sugar and simple carbs works for weight loss and weight management. If you are serious about wanting to lose weight and then keep it off, you must understand this to be true.

I understand there is an over abundance of diets out there which tell you that you do not have to give up sugar. But this type of wrong thinking is exactly why there is a 95% failure rate with dieting. Weight loss and management require a lifetime commitment. It isn’t something to just get through in order to go back to what made you fat in the first place.

Commit today to permanently lose excessive body fat by following us for absolutely free here at David’s Way to Health and Fitness.


Know Your Nutrition! Your Health Depends On It.

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