The Banting diet dates back to 1862 and was touted as an almost miraculous way to treat obesity. Although slightly modified, it regained popularity in 2013 as a low carb, high fat (LCHF) way of eating.

The diet limits the intake of carbs almost entirely. It also promises to revert type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, as well as improve your energy levels and sleep quality — all while causing drastic weight loss.

For some, the Banting diet becomes a way of life, but for others, limiting their carb intake is far too restrictive and unsustainable in the long term.

This article reviews the pros and cons of the Banting diet and tells you whether it works for weight loss.

Diet review scorecard
  • Overall score: 2.85
  • Weight loss: 4
  • Healthy eating: 2
  • Sustainability: 2.75
  • Whole body health: 2.25
  • Nutrition quality: 3.5
  • Evidence-based: 2

BOTTOM LINE: The Banting diet eliminates one food group almost entirely. However, it encourages eating wholesome foods over processed ones, and its multiple communities may provide the needed support to sustain the diet in the long run.

According to an older review, the Banting diet was first prescribed to William Banting in 1862 by Dr. William Harvey as a weight loss diet (1).

William Banting’s success with the diet led him to write a booklet that popularized the low carb strategy for weight loss, to the extent that the word “banting” became the name of the method, as well as a verb.

Recently, Tim Noakes, a South African scientist and professor, brought the method back into the spotlight after trying the Banting diet himself, writing the book “Real Meal Revolution,” and launching a program with the same name. His take on the diet is referred to as Banting 2.0.

The original Banting diet included four daily meals, which mainly comprised protein and restricted carbs — 1 ounce (30 grams) of dry bread in every meal and 2–3 ounces (60–90 grams) of fruit as a snack. It restricted bread, beans, butter, milk, sugar, beer, and potatoes (2).

However, Tim Noakes’ approach is slightly different.

Banting 2.0 divides the process into four phases — observation, restoration, transformation, and preservation — and offers multiple food lists and structured meal plans to simplify the low-carb approach.

It still restricts carbs to some extent, and its macronutrient composition resembles the keto diet, with less than 5–10% of your daily calories coming from carbs, 65–90% from fat, and 10–35% from protein.

Still, both versions of the diet promise extreme weight loss, higher energy levels, improved sleep quality, reduced feelings of hunger, and increased feelings of overall well-being.

This article focuses on Noakes’ newer version of the Banting diet.

The Banting diet is a LCHF diet, which according to research, can be very beneficial for certain populations, including people with diabetes or prediabetes — or just anyone who needs to manage their blood sugar levels and is looking to lose some weight (3).

According to the 2019 consensus report from the American Diabetes Association (ADA), there are multiple eating patterns considered acceptable for managing diabetes, but specific dietary recommendations have the most evidence for improving blood sugar management (4).

The consensus recommendations include reducing overall carb intake, prioritizing nonstarchy vegetables, minimizing added sugars and refined grains, and preferring whole over processed foods — changes that are implemented in the Banting diet (4).

Despite this, evidence is still mixed regarding LCHF diets and type 1 diabetes. Some argue that it may increase the risk of hypoglycemia or blood sugar levels that are dangerously low. Therefore, it is best to consult a medical professional before implementing any changes (3).

Furthermore, the Banting diet’s website advises pregnant people and kids under age 10 not to follow the diet. However, to err on the side of caution, anyone who is breastfeeding or under age 18 should also avoid the program (5).

Finally, the diet limits pulses and plant-based protein supplements, which could make it challenging for people who are already following vegan or vegetarian eating patterns.

The Banting diet is divided into four phases that are meant to ease the transition into a LCHF way of life.

While you may follow the diet on your own, there’s an online course available for those who want to dive into it with a structured and personalized Banting meal plan.

The course offers a step-by-step guide, recipes, optional daily support from a coach, and weekly mindset workshops to help manage temptations and make the transition smoother.

Phase 1: Observation

During this 1-week phase, you’re supposed to follow your current diet without making any modifications.

It encourages you to track and journal everything you eat to figure out how you respond to food.

Phase 2: Restoration

The restoration phase is meant to restore your gut health and get you used to the Banting way of eating.

This phase may last 2–12 weeks, depending on your weight loss goal. Overall, you should follow it for 1 week for every 11 pounds (5 kg) of weight you want to lose.

During this time, you’ll be introduced to a series of food lists. You’re meant to eliminate all foods from the Red and Light Red lists and instead rely on those on the Green and Orange lists.

One plus is that there’s no calorie counting or portion control in this phase.

Phase 3: Transformation

The transformation phase introduces you to the original Banting diet.

It takes your newly developed eating habits and cuts your carb intake to achieve ketosis, which is meant to get you into a rapid fat-burning mode.

To make this possible, the method encourages you to stick to foods on the Green list, while adding those on the Orange list to the no-go foods — along with the Red lists mentioned before.

This third phase lasts as long as it takes you to reach your desired weight, and you should track your meals for a couple of days every two weeks.

Additionally, the phase includes “lifestyle hacks,” such as intermittent fasting, exercise tips, and sleep and meditation to avoid reaching a weight loss plateau.

The transformation phase is supposed to improve mental clarity, sleep, acne, and skin irritations, as well as even eradicate joint pain.

Phase 4: Preservation

This final phase, which is supposed to last indefinitely, starts once you’ve reached your desired weight. It’s meant to help you maintain your new weight in the long run.

This is a more flexible phase, as you’ll be able to reintroduce foods that are not allowed in the previous phase. The goal is to determine which ones you can safely eat without gaining weight.

Again, there’s no food tracking during this phase, and you may follow the food lists as follows:

  • Green: no limitations
  • Orange: eat in moderation
  • Light Red: hardly ever or on special occasions
  • Red: never
  • Gray: it’s up to you

You can always return to the previous phase if you feel like you have lost control of your weight.

The Banting diet provides multiple food lists to eat and avoid.

Green list

This list includes foods that you may eat without restriction.

  • Fruits and vegetables: leafy green vegetables, artichoke hearts, aubergine, asparagus, bean and Brussels sprouts, broccoli, green beans, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, chard, courgettes, cucumber, endive, fennel, garlic, germ squash, kale, leeks, lemon and lime, lettuce, mange tout, mushrooms, olives, onions, okra, palm hearts, peppers, radicchio, radishes, rhubarb, rocket, shallots, spinach, spring onions, snap peas, tomatoes, and turnips
  • Meat, fish, and poultry: all meat, poultry, fish, seafood, offal, and naturally cured meats (i.e., pancetta, salami, parma ham, bacon, jerky, coppa (capocollo), and biltong), eggs, homemade bone broth, and cheeses, such as Brie, Camembert, Gorgonzola, Roquefort, mozzarella, feta, ricotta, Cheddar, Gouda, Emmental, Parmesan, and pecorino
  • Drinks: caffeine-free herbal teas, flavored waters, and plain water
  • Condiments: all kinds of vinegar and fermented soy sauce or tamari
  • Fermented foods: coconut yogurt and kefir, kefir butter and cheese, kimchi, milk kefir, naturally fermented pickles, and sauerkraut
  • Fats: any rendered animal fat, avocado, butter, ghee, cream, coconut oil, fruit and nut oils, mayonnaise, and seeds

Orange list

According to the method, foods on the Orange list offer multiple health benefits but may hinder your weight loss journey if consumed without restriction. Thus, foods on this list are meant to be enjoyed in moderation.

  • Nuts: all raw nuts and sugar-free nut butters
  • Dairy: milk and milk substitutes, cottage and cream cheese, full fat yogurt, and sour cream
  • Fruits: apples, apricots, bananas, blueberries, blackberries, cherries, clementines, fresh figs, gooseberries, granadilla, grapes, guava, jackfruit, kiwi, kumquats, litchis, loquats, mangoes, nectarines, orange, papaya, pears, peaches, persimmon, pineapple, plantain, plums, pomegranates, quinces, raspberries, starfruit, strawberries, tangerines, tamarind pulp, and watermelon
  • Drinks: caffeinated tea and coffee
  • Legumes and pulses: all legumes, alfalfa, beans, chickpeas, and lentils
  • Fermented foods: water, kefir, and kombucha
  • Fruits and vegetables: beetroot, butternut squash, baby corn, carrots, calabash, cassava, celeriac, corn, edamame, golden beets, Hubbard squash, jicama, parsnips, peas, potatoes, pumpkins, rutabagas, spaghetti squash, and sweet potatoes

Light Red list

You should hardly ever consume foods on this list.

  • Smoothies and vegetable juices: fruit and yogurt smoothies without frozen yogurt or ice cream, as well as vegetable juices without added fruit juice
  • Treats and chocolate: dark chocolate (80% and above), dried fruit, honey, and pure maple syrup
  • Gluten-free grains: amaranth, arrowroot, buckwheat, bran, gluten-free pasta, millet, oats, popcorn, quinoa, rice, sorghum, quinoa, tapioca, and teff
  • Flours: almond, coconut, corn, chickpea, pea, and rice flours, polenta, and maize meal

Red list

This is probably the most important list, as it includes the foods you should never eat.

  • General foods: fast food, foods with added sugar, chips, and sugary condiments, such as ketchup, dressings, and marinades
  • Sweets: all confectionery and non-dark chocolates, artificial sweeteners, agave, canned fruit, coconut sugar, cordials, fructose, glucose, jam, malt, rice malt syrup, sugar, and golden syrup
  • Gluten: barley, bulgur, couscous, durum, einkorn, farina, graham flour, Khorasan wheat (kamut), matzo, orzo, rye, semolina, spelt, triticale, wheat, and wheat germ
  • Grain-based products: all commercial breaded or battered foods, breakfast cereals, and all crackers
  • Drinks: energy drinks, soft drinks, commercial juices, commercial iced teas, flavored milks, and milkshakes
  • Dairy-related foods: coffee creamers, commercial cheese spreads, condensed milk, ice cream, and commercial frozen yogurt
  • Fats: butter spreads, canola oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil, margarine and shortening, rice bran oil, and sunflower and safflower oil
  • Processed meats: highly processed sausages and meats cured with sugar

Gray list

The Gray list contains foods that fit the Banting diet but would slow your progress, so they’re left to your discretion.

  • Treats: Banting baked goods and sugar-free ice cream
  • Sweeteners: xylitol, erythritol, isomalt, stevia powder, and sucralose
  • Drinks: all alcoholic beverages, protein shakes, and supplements
  • Vegetarian proteins: naturally fermented tofu, pea protein, and processed soy

While there’s no research on the Banting diet itself, there’s plenty of scientific evidence supporting the LCHF approach for weight loss.

When restricting carbs, the body is stimulated to maximize fat oxidation to meet energy demands. This means that LCHF diets rely primarily on fats to produce energy (6).

Research suggests that there may be two different mechanisms behind the LCHF diet’s success — increased feelings of fullness and a specific metabolic advantage (7, 8).

Studies show people on LCHF diets given unrestricted access to foods don’t necessarily consume more calories than people on low fat, high carb (LFHC) diets because they tend to perceive less hunger, and thus, reduce their overall food intake (7).

Additionally, LCHF diets usually lead to a higher protein intake, which also promotes feelings of fullness, and fewer cases of rebound hypoglycemia or low blood sugar levels, a common cause of hunger in those following high-carb diets (7, 9).

Regarding the alleged metabolic advantage, scientists attribute it to either an increased thermogenic effect from the protein intake, a higher protein turnover for gluconeogenesis, or loss of energy through the excretion of ketones in sweat or urine (6, 7).

The thermogenic effect of foods is the energy needed to digest, absorb, and dispose of its nutrients, while gluconeogenesis is the production of glucose from fats or proteins.

Also, by eliminating foods on both Red lists, you’re more likely to lose weight faster, since processed and sugary foods are associated with excess weight (10, 11).

Finally, the lifestyle hacks mentioned above, such as intermittent fasting, can also contribute to weight loss, as it has been shown to increase metabolism and help burn more fat (12).

Following an LCHF diet like the Banting diet may lead to other potential health benefits.

Improved metabolic markers

LCHF diets may help reduce risk factors for both type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Scientific evidence shows that they may reduce fasting insulin and blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity, which is why LCHF diets are gaining popularity as potential first-line treatments for type 2 diabetes (7, 13, 14).

They also seem to decrease triglyceride and high blood pressure levels, increase HDL (good) cholesterol and reverse nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (6, 7, 15).

For example, in one 12-week study in 26 people with excess weight, those following an LCHF diet improved their glucose, insulin resistance, triglyceride, HDL (good) cholesterol, and HbA1c levels compared with those in the HCLF group (16).

The HbA1c test — or glycated hemoglobin test — measures your average blood sugar levels over the past 3 months, and it’s used as an evaluation tool for blood sugar control in people with diabetes.

However, longer-term, prolonged high intake of fats paired with decreased fiber intake (due to lowered grain consumption) could also negatively affect heart health.

Focuses on wholesome foods

By restricting processed and

sugary foods, the diet almost automatically leads to a higher intake of wholesome, more nutritious foods.

High intakes of processed foods are associated with increased oxidative stress and inflammation, leading to the development of non-communicable chronic diseases (NCD) like cancer and heart disease and thus increasing the risk of mortality (17, 18, 19, 20).

On the contrary, healthy eating patterns that focus on increasing fruit and vegetable intake seem to decrease the risk, as their nutrients help reduce oxidative stress and inflammation (17, 21).

However, the highly restrictive nature of this diet alone outweighs the potential pros. There are other, better, ways to focus diet on whole foods without following a diet as restrictive as the Banting one. For example, focusing on plant-based or high fiber eating patterns could prove better options.

While the Banting diet offers numerous health benefits, its potential downsides cannot be ignored.

Highly restrictive

Aside from eliminating processed and sugary foods, the Banting diet’s food lists also restrict grains and limit fruits, legumes, dairy, and nuts.

Evidence shows that consumption of those food groups may be beneficial for the prevention of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer (22, 23, 24).

Additionally, by restricting legumes, dairy, and nuts, and classifying tofu as a “gray area food,” the diet makes it difficult for vegans and vegetarians to follow the plan.

Finally, the restrictive nature of the diet can make long-term maintenance difficult, which could end up hindering its effectiveness.

However, some may find that the support from online communities or the course’s coaches and webinars is all they need to keep them going.

Long-term evidence is lacking

While the benefits of an LCHF eating pattern like the Banting diet seem promising, there’s not enough human evidence to support its safety in the long run (6, 13).

Some human and animal studies suggest potential adverse long-term effects of LCHF diets on LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and blood vessel elasticity, which may be detrimental to heart health (12, 25).

However, more research is needed to understand how low-carb diets affect heart health over longer time periods.

Therefore, some believe that the potential downsides of following this type of diet in the long term outweigh its potential benefits.

Here’s what 3 days on the Banting diet would look like while following Phase 2 (Restoration phase):

Day 1

  • Breakfast: 2–3 eggs — scrambled or fried — with avocado, cheese, tomato, and bacon; bulletproof coffee is also allowed
  • Lunch: grilled fish fillet with sweet potato wedges and vegetable stir-fry
  • Snack: Greek yogurt and macadamia nuts
  • Dinner: a serving of protein of your choice — beef, pork, chicken, or fish — served with sautéed vegetables, a side salad, and cauliflower mash

Day 2

  • Breakfast: 1/4 cup of Banting granola — toasted nuts and seeds with some spices — with yogurt and 1–2 hard-boiled eggs
  • Lunch: a large grilled chicken salad with cottage cheese
  • Snack: apple slices with nut butter
  • Dinner: salmon fillet with avocado and grilled asparagus

Day 3

  • Breakfast: coconut milk smoothie with mango, papaya, and a handful of nuts
  • Lunch: beef fajitas with grilled onions, mushrooms, and peppers, and a side salad
  • Snack: 1–2 cups (240–480 mL) of bone broth
  • Dinner: pulled pork lettuce wraps with a side of roasted chickpeas

Although snacks are included, the program’s advice is to avoid snacking and instead increase your previous meal’s fat intake to curb hunger.

People highlighted as “success stories” on the Real Meal Revolution website say the Banting diet made them feel healthier, more confident, and energized after joining the program and reaching their weight loss goals. Some stories involve someone’s past struggles with weight loss and how the Banting diet improved their quality of life (26).

In the success stories, customers also said they liked feeling as though they weren’t alone during the process thanks to the program’s videos, workshops, team of professionals, and community.

On the flip side, some users reported having trouble canceling their subscriptions.

Despite the positive success stories, health professionals’ opinions on the diet seem mixed.

The ADA recommends following a similar — but less restrictive — approach for blood sugar management. However, others find that LCHF diets are not superior to higher carbohydrate diets for weight loss, and thus blood sugar control (3, 4).

Here’s how the Banting diet compares to other popular diets (27, 28, 29):

Banting dietKeto dietMediterranean dietPaleo diet
Type of dietlow carb, high fat dietvery low carb, high fat dietprimarily plant-based, but some white meats and healthy fatswhole food-based diet that mimics what humans ate in the Stone Age
Pros• may aid weight loss
• could reduce risk factors for diabetes and heart disease
• may aid weight loss
• might improve insulin sensitivity and blood pressure
• improves heart health, blood sugar control, brain function, and memory• may aid weight loss
• could reduce risk factors for diabetes and heart disease
• might reduce symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
Cons• restricts highly nutritious and beneficial foods such as legumes, nuts, dairy, and fruits
• vegans and vegetarians may have trouble following it
• may lead to micronutrient deficiencies, fatty liver
• can increase the risk of kidney stones in the long run
• no specific guideline for what comprises the diet, making it hard to follow
• it may be impractical for some
• restricts nutritious and beneficial foods such as legumes
• may be costly and hard to follow for vegans and vegetarians
Foods to eat• vegetables
• meat
• fermented foods
• animal fats
• avocado
• nut oils
• seeds
• animal-based proteins and fats
• nuts and seeds
• healthy fats
• low carb fruits and veggies
• green leafy vegetables
• legumes
• nuts and seeds
• fresh fruits
• whole grains
• olive oil
• seafood
• poultry
• dairy and red wine in moderation
• meat
• tubers
• nuts and seeds
• nut and vegetable oils
• fruits
• vegetables
Foods to avoid• highly processed foods
• sweets
• dairy products
• grains and flours
• fruit and vegetable juices
• dairy, nuts, fruits, and legumes are limited
• grains and starches
• sweets
• most fruits
• legumes
• tubers
• other restrictions on alcohol
• red meat
• sweets
• refined grains and oils
• trans fat
• highly processed foods
• dairy
• grains
• legumes
• highly processed foods
• sweets

Can I exercise on Banting?

Yes. The Banting diet recognizes the many health benefits of exercise. In fact, it even suggests a couple of exercise tips among its “lifestyle hacks” to avoid reaching a weight loss plateau. Therefore, you are free to exercise if you want to while following it (30).

How much weight can I expect to lose on Banting?

The Banting diet doesn’t promise a specific weight loss goal. Instead, it encourages people to follow phase 2 of the diet for 1 week per every 11 pounds (5 kg) between their current and desired weight.

The diet suggests then following phase 3 for as long as it takes to reach the desired weight (31, 30).

Can you combine Banting with intermittent fasting?

Yes. Intermittent fasting is another one of the diet’s lifestyle changes meant to encourage weight loss if needed.

Some suggested intermittent fasting methods include the 5:2 fasting, in which you eat normally for 5 days and fast for 2, the 16:8, which consists of fasting for 16 hours and eating during an 8-hour window, and the 24- or 36-hour fasts (33).

However, this would be very restrictive calorie-wise and could be unsafe for extended periods for certain people.

The Banting diet is a type of low carb, high fat (LCHF) diet that mostly restricts starchy, processed, and sugary foods, instead promoting the intake of wholesome ones to lose weight rapidly.

Though there’s no scientific evidence on the diet itself, studies on LCHF diets suggest that they may enhance metabolic markers for heart disease and diabetes.

Still, the diet is highly restrictive, and there’s not enough evidence on the long-term effects of LCHF diets in humans.

Therefore, maintaining an intake of wholesome foods and reducing your intake of processed ones while shifting to a moderate-carb diet may be a more sustainable yet efficient weight loss approach.