London’s Low-Carb Diet Fad of 1865

Dr. Robert Atkins didn’t invent low-carb dieting.  William Banting (1797-1878) sparked a low-carb diet craze in London with his low-carb weight-loss diet, first published in 1863.  Even that probaby wasn’t the first low-carb diet.

According to Wikipedia, Banting was a distant relative of Frederick Banting, the co-discoverer of insulin in 1921.

Mr. Banting attributes his successful program design to a “medical gentleman,” Mr. Harvey, of Soho Square, London. 

Click to read Mr. Banting’s 1865 “Letter on Corpulence” at Internet Archive.

Steve Parker, M.D.


Filed under Weight Loss

8 responses to “London’s Low-Carb Diet Fad of 1865

  1. Beverly Williams

    Article cannot be found when you try to access the link.

  2. Thanks for pointing out the bad link, Beverly.

    I think it will work now. I had transcribed two zeros as two letter “O”s.


  3. Beverly Williams

    Sorry, Steve…..still no go.

  4. Dan

    Considering the back in the day diets were a lot lower carb than they are now I would be interested in how low carb these older diets were.

  5. Steve Parker, M.D.

    Hey, Dan.

    [“Hey” is a Southern U.S. greeting.]

    I scanned Banting’s letter and note that it includes more fruit and farinaceous items (flour) than you’d see on, say, Atkins diet induction phase.

    “Farinaceous” and “saccharine” are words Banting uses. Probably in common circulation in London 150 years ago. “Rusk” is an item on his diet, but I haven’t looked it up yet.


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