I’ve been reading about Banting’s diet for at least six years. Thanks to Tim Noakes in South Africa, it’s seeing a mini-surge in popularity. William Banting published his Letter on Corpulence in 1863. Eating like him to lose weight is sometimes referred to as “Banting.” It’s one form of a low-carb diet and considered a precursor to the Atkins diet.
Form your own opinion of what William Banting may have eaten by reading these:
- Evelyn Kocur’s analysis
- Leigh Peele’s analysis (see also the comments)
- elisaannh’a analysis (sorry for the dead links)
- William Banting’s Letter on Corpulence
In terms of macronutrient calories, here’s my rough back-of-the-envelope synthesis of Banting’s diet:
- 20–25% carbohydrate
- 25% protein
- 20–25% fat
- 25% alcohol
- 1800–2000 total calories
For the 200 lb (91 kg) man that Banting was, 2000 calories would almost certainly have been a calorie-restricted diet. Leigh estimated he was eating at least 2800 cals/day at baseline before losing weight. I don’t doubt that.
In summary, Banting drank a lot of alcohol (even more than on the Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet), and ate fairly low-fat, moderately carb-restricted, and relatively high protein. In other words: low cal, low carb, low fat, high protein, high alcohol.
His weight loss, assuming it wasn’t a hoax, came from calorie restriction. Something about that combination of macronutrients apparently allowed him to stick with the program and maintain a 50-lb (23 kg) weight loss. Protein is particularly satiating. Your mileage may vary.
I’m concerned that 25% of calories from alcohol would displace more healthful micronutrients.
PS: Fun Fact: William Banting was a distant relative of Frederick Banting, the co-discoverer of insulin in 1921.
PPS: My diets are healthier than Banting’s, thanks to 150 years of nutrition science since then.