Two very popular diets laid bare...


Paleo vs Banting | two great diets reviewed

Click the Visit website Button below to view one of our Banting diet recommendations...

Visit Website

The Great Paleo vs Banting Debate:

Hopefully, you have arrived at this Paleo vs Banting battle page after having already read my foundational article Fat vs Sugar – Cholecystokinin tells all“.  If not, step back for a moment and read it first for a full understanding of the detail behind many of the principled views that will surface in this discussion on Paleo vs Banting and how these two diets are individually relevant to the ongoing fat vs sugar debate.

Fat vs sugar banting fighting fit body

Creative Commons LicensePhotography.JPH via Compfight

For those readers that have already read my previous article , here is a high-level summary of the salient points that were made therein as a reminder :

  • Your body is designed to store <500g of carbohydrate for a typical 70Kg adult male. 80% of that carbohydrate storage resides in the muscle tissue and this is for very food reason – sugar is best suited in “kick-starting” your metabolism, but is very poor at sustaining it – as such, the sugar is best stored at the point where it is most readily able to serve your body’s immediate needs.

It is my opinion that this sugar storage in the muscle tissue, is very important even though it is such a minor amount of energy storage when compared with the body’s primary and preferred storage and vehicle for energy transport, known as FAT.

That’s right, FAT is nature’s answer as the BEST mechanism for storing and transporting energy around your body and it is for this reason that a typical adult male will store around 7Kg of FAT (double that for a typical woman) compared with the minisule storage of sugar/carbohydrate that I have already referred to.  Ask yourself why Nature could be so seemingly “dumb” to do this absurd thing if the common knowledge that “fat is bad for you” is correct. The simple answer to this conundrum is that Nature is always right and in fact “FAT is GOOD” – so good, that your body has developed the ability to quickly rid itself of any excess sugar in your system that is not used for the immediate duty of kick-starting your metabolism, and converts this excess sugar to (guess what) FAT!

Why? because FAT weighs 5 times LESS than sugar storage forms in your body for an equivalent energy supply – think about that – as you sit there now, whatever your weight is currently, if you kept your energy store exactly as it is and booted all fat in favour of sugar storage (if that was possible – Mother Nature fortunately forbids it) then you would literally DOUBLE in weight!!

So, fat makes us lighter… sounds like an oxymoron, but it is not.

The next important point that was established in my previous Fat vs Sugar article was that when you digest fat it stimulates the production of a hormone called cholecystokinin (CCK) that makes you feel full and stops your HUNGER – sugar cannot do that, so if you only eat sugar, you stay hungry and most probably eat more.

Dietary fat is digested very slowly and as such is uniquely positioned to be able to provide a steady supply of energy to your body over many hours – again, something that sugar cannot do. Importantly, fibre in your diet extends this slow digestion of fat – **this is a new point which I failed to make in my excitement in penning the previous Fat vs Sugar article , but it is a point of HUGE significance to some of the conclusions that I will make in this Banting vs Paleo debate. You will also soon see why I think that this is a factor that brings sugar (in Nature’s bountiful form of fruit and certain forms of juice) back into favour – so many nutritionists out there are currently giving fruits a bad rap, which is such a shame – Mother Nature went to so much trouble to create such beauty and then we shun it – that cannot be right –  who on Earth do we think all this beauty was created for, if not us? But more of that to follow in one of my upcoming article s the Great Juicing Debate** (link to be posted later, when I have finished writing the article ).

I then went on to explain how dietary fat, if anything is BETTER for you than fat produced in your liver, but whichever way that you look at it, all forms of absorbed and metabolised fat are (in my opinion) better suited than sugar to the function of the provision of extended energy supply in between meals.  Next, I tried my best to give cholesterol a bit of a better name (the poor soul has been so beaten up over the years, yet cholesterol is so critical to our survival that it doesn’t deserve such a bad rap – in case you missed it in my earlier Fat vs Sugar article , cholesterol is even critical to your SEXUAL appetite, so give it a bit of a break will you?) Nevertheless, I then went on to expand my views on cholesterol on the basis of common medical opinion being correct about the different forms of “good” and “bad” cholesterol, and found that this view actually stacks up well to further support the theory of dietary fat being more good than bad.

I ended off the earlier Fat vs Sugar article explaining that whilst your body can indeed do without sugar (as some pro-ketogenic nutritionists are quick to point out), that I didn’t think this was very clever and that following this route would put you on what essentially amounts to a continual “emergency survival kit”, which again I don’t think was ever Nature’s intention – so please, whatever you do don’t kick out all forms of sugar from your diet just yet!

So that was pretty much it : (1) “FAT is GOOD”; “SUGAR is important, but in small doses (and never in processed forms)”; (2) “Excess sugar will become fat anyway, so what’s the fuss?”; (3) “Cholesterol  is more important than we may think”; (4) “Whatever we choose to eat should support our natural rhythm between meals”; and (5) “Avoiding fat will keep you hungry and you will eat more than you need”.

That is the foundation then laid for this Great Paleo vs Banting Debate.

Preamble to the Paleo vs Banting debate :  There are many diets out there, but there is a level that precedes the categorisation of a formalised “diet” per se which can be considered more holistically under a regionally principal manner of eating, extending beyond the nutrition alone, to include the ambience, attitude and demeanour wherein meals are consumed.  The most studied and nutritionally-considered of these are (although, there are of course many other eating regions in the world) : (1) The Mediterranean Diet ; (2) The Japanese Diet
; and (3) The American Diet.  Yes, it is true : the American Diet has a huge following, but quite simply it is not worth writing more than a full sentence on it as it is clearly a dismal failure as far as OBESITY and HEART disease are concerned – let’s just say that there are very few nutritionists out there that currently would be prepared to stand up and shout the merits of the “Great American Diet” and how an “excess of sugar intake is the answer to the well-being of the entire human race“, lest they be made fools of themselves. No chance, let’s just leave it at that, shall we…  So, that leaves the Mediterranean Diet and the Japanese Diet as worthy of consideration.  Both of these have merit, given the longevity known to be associated with the people of those regions of the world, but they are not really very specific diets as such, rather being known for their eating themes and habits : The Japanese Diet for example, conjures up images of FISH and not much else, which is probably not really true, but very few nutritionists will argue against the good oils that are associated with eating fish and the benefits associated with this, so that’s something good for sure, it seems; The Mediterranean Diet makes us (or certainly me) think of a varied table including fruit, vegetables, meats and more, but more importantly perhaps, it is also strongly associated with a rhythm of a relaxed lifestyle with regular small meals, happy times and even some good wine and good friends – so, hey whichever way you look at it this it sounds pretty darn good doesn’t it?  (follow the links that I have provided to find out more about both of these diets if you wish).

Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean Diet e-Book

However, as I have already stated, these are more regional eating plans than they are really diets. As such, giving our nutritionists some credit they have dug deeper than this and searched for more biochemical/biological clues in our bodies to help define more specific nutritional diets, or specific eating plans.  In doing this it seems that 2 diets in particular have come up trumps (there are others, but these are the ones currently all the rage it seems) : (1) The Banting Diet ; and (2) The Paleo Diet – enter The Great Paleo vs Banting debate. Interestingly, both  of these diets reflect on the  American diet and all it’s problems as a very strong base for which consideration of an alternative diet becomes particularly relevant and meaningful. BUT, both the Paleo and the Banting diets also have a 3rd very interesting theme : both diets take us back to our ancestors, effectively reflecting on our lives as cave dwellers and they work up the virtues of this lifestyle and how this positively informs and reinforces the individual diets as they are today.  I like both diets (on the surface they are very similar after all, but there are fundamental separation differences that I will get into shortly), as both have meaning that resounds with the foundation of understanding that I have laid in my previous Fat vs Sugar article , but I also have ONE fundamental problem with both diets in that they take up what I see as an extremist and exclusionary stance which I struggle to identify with – both diets build up a solid wall that surrounds their definition and outside of which “thy shalt not flounder” – this doesn’t sit well with me, as I prefer a more balanced and moderated view of life and think that some of these barriers may in fact be poorly informed and could lead to a misguided approach to our eating plans going forward.  An example of this, is the exclusionary stance against fruit expounded by the Banting diet; or the disfavour of all “foods touched by modern Man’s methods“, regardless of food type or category, expounded by the Paleo diet.  Nevertheless, both the Paleo and the Banting diets have far more merit than disfavour and this leads me to provide a platform for each of them here – my intention is that you read through and decide for yourself the eating approach that you prefer.  I can strongly recommend both eating plans, but urge you to NOT be EXTREMIST in your approach – use the diets as a base to YOUR eating plan, but take heed of the caution that I provide along the way, in favour of some moderation.

Banting Diet:

The Banting Diet has been around for a long time and takes it’s name from a PATIENT (interestingly not the doctor or nutritionist that formulated the diet) that successfully overcame a massive OBESITY problem and published what was effectively his own story in 1864 in his “Letter on Corpulence”. The diet has recently hit the headlines fore-run by Professor Tim Noakes at the helm, a very highly regarded sports and nutrition biochemist who has uncovered the core secrets of this diet and why it works. The Banting diet comes out hard-hitting against ANY form of sugar and is hence particularly well-suited to anyone pre-disposed to sugar (glucose intolerant) and it comes across “like a boxer coming out of the corner, licking his wounds and eager for revenge”.

Professor Tim Noakes Paleo vs Banting

Professor Tim Noakes

Professor Tim Noakes himself admits to having spent decades talking up the biological virtues of a high carbohydrate diet, made famous in his book the Lore of Running, only to succumb to personal problems with weight management and diabetes – he claims as a direct result of these misguided virtues. So, Professor Tim Noakes has now “changed sides” and despises everything that he previously preached about sugars and carbohydrates being supposedly (mistakenly) good for us and as such, make no mistake his stance is exclusionist in this regard. I will come back to that and why I think this may be ONE aspect of the Banting Diet that is perhaps wrong, or at least limiting.  That point aside, let me state very clearly at the outset of this discussion that THE BANTING DIET IS A EATING PLAN THAT I CAN PERSONALLY VOUCH FOR if you are looking to lose weight. I am not at all overweight myself and never have been, but a short while ago I had developed a “middle-aged belly” that I desperately wanted to rid myself of and no amount of exercise, nor any other nutritional intervention was working.  I have a great deal of respect for Professor Tim Noakes, remembering him as a leader in sports biochemistry when I was still an eager student of the subject at university, so when he first started to speak of the Banting Diet, and released his hugely successful book The Real Meal Revolution, I listened intently.  I have to say that I never applied the diet 100%, but certainly applied the principles (probably 80%) and locked onto his theme of high fat intake and the elimination of all breads and cereals – I never eliminated all natural sugars for reasons that I will expand on shortly. WOW!  I have to say that this diet works – within weeks I had hit my target weight and body fat ratio that had eluded me and my annual medical check-ups for years, despite all previous dietary and physical efforts.  If you want to see fat literally drop off your body and still feel fantastic and never hungry in the process then believe me that THIS DIET WORKS – no question about it – and I can personally vouch for that.

So, before I call out what I believe to be the Banting diet’s main shortcomings (they are very few, so I am FOR the diet more than I am against it), let me explain why I think that the diet works, reflecting back to my earlier Fat vs Sugar article :

  • The Banting Diet is in favour of increasing dietary fat intake, at the expense of sugar.  This works, because it satiates your hunger (via the actions of cholecystokinin). It also works, because it supplies energy in a moderated slow-release pattern as the fat is absorbed more slowly in your gut, allowing you to extend the intervals between your meals. The moderated energy provision and satiety of hunger allows you to actually decrease your caloric intake, as you simply are not hungry when on this diet and hence you will consume less.
  • The Banting Diet is abhorrently against sugar intake. Even though I do have some concerns with this stance (to be elaborated on shortly) this actually works because beyond the immediacy of the need for sugar in target tissues, excess sugar intake is very poorly metabolised and hence is transformed into fat by your body, in the process creating unnecessary effort for your liver and adipose tissue.  The anti-sugar stance also makes the Banting diet particularly effective for glucose-intolerant individuals, either those that are pre-disposed to diabetes, or in the full expression of the condition.
  • The Banting Diet raises questions about the anti-cholesterol sentiment and very boldly “puts the question on the table” as to whether or not high cholesterol has any relevance to heart disease at all. Professor Tim Noakes cannot necessarily validate his questioning of this clearly yet, as significant studies are required to do so, but he gets a huge “RAH RAH” from me for raising the question. For clarity, I do not intend to expand any theory that high cholesterol is good, but I am of the view that opinion against cholesterol has become “warped” and it is high time that cholesterol gets recognised as an important component in our nutrition and consequently gets a bit more airtime for it’s critical importance in our body’s make-up and function.
  • The Banting Diet also works because it is so damn attractive – you get to eat all the “nasty” things that you previously thought were bad.  Hello Butter!  Hello Eggs and Bacon!  Hello Hearty Roasts! Good-Bye Bread! Good -Bye Cereal!

Real Meal Revolution

I Love the contrarian approach of the Banting Diet, particularly the way that it is packaged in the The Real Meal Revolution – the book unashamedly paints the picture that what society at large has been doing for the past 40 years doesn’t work, so we have to recognise that and do things differently in order to be able to move forward with a bit more success in our efforts against obesity and diabetes and our quest for greater personal health. Beautiful, thank-you for your boldness Professor Tim Noakes!

However, the Banting Diet also has a downside (in my opinion).  The Banting Diet is controversial and has many nutritionists and medical practitioners “up-in-arms” mostly relating to its pro-Fat stance – this is NOT where I see a weakness at all and for the reasons that I have expanded on in my article “Fat vs Sugar – Cholecystokinin tells all” I actually fully support Professor Tim Noakes opinion on this matter.  However, I have a different concern and this relates to the abhorrent stance against fruits as a form of sugar.  OK, I do accept that if you are in the throes of full-blown diabetes, then you must follow the advice of your medical practitioner in being very careful about your sugar intake, whatever the form.  But, not everyone is glucose intolerant – in fairness, Professor Tim Noakes does say as much, but many walk away from the book with the view that sugar is a complete “no-no”for following the Banting diet. For those of us that are glucose tolerant, I believe that there is still 80-90% of the Banting Diet that we can apply to tremendous benefit.. but, on the aspect on fruit, I urge you not to be extremist, for the following reasons :

  •   Whilst we do not need much sugar intake (in fact we can do without dietary sugar completely if we are prepared to exist on our “emergency survival kit” of ketone bodies), I do believe that your body has a preference for SOME sugar in the diet and that this is why it has gone to the trouble of storing 80% of your carbohydrate directly in muscle tissue.  Your body needs sugar for the immediacy of kick-starting your metabolism and physical activity, so please my advice is allow for an easy replenishment of these reserves with some dietary sugar intake (your body can manufacture it’s own glucose through the process of gluconeogenisis, but give it a rest will you?).
  • Dietary sugar in the form of fruits and vegetables, contains fibre as well, which apart from aiding digestion and general gut function, also usefully slows the digestion of fat even further than it’s already naturally slow rate.  This aids and extends the benefits of the fat already included in a good nutritionally balanced eating plan and as such, I do believe that the right balance is a moderate sugar intake in natural forms combined with a solid intake of dietary fat, the combined effect being mutually beneficial and somewhat synergistic.
  • Fruits and vegetables contain so many wonderful vitamins and nutrients that extend beyond the simplicity of a Fat vs Sugar debate – usefully, fat significantly aids the absorption of these nutrients, again demonstrating a synergistic benefit to some fat intake in combination with good and moderate natural dietary sugar intake.
  • Nature’s bounty is beautiful.  How dare we decide against this most wonderful provision that our Maker has provided.  Who on Earth is fruit meant for, if not us? So, simply for the enjoyment of it, please DO NOT exclude all fruits and vegetables from your diet.

That said, please DO AVOID all forms of totally unnecessary processed sugars – go for the good stuff and reserve your small sugar intake for that which gives you pleasure and your body delight! Take in sugar in the form of raw fruit and only slightly steamed vegetables – certain forms of juicing that preserves the fibre of fruit and vegetables is also great (more of that in a future article that I intend writing – to be linked here in good time).

Paleo Diet

Like the Banting Diet, the Paleo Diet has been around for a very long time – in this case, pretty much for ever as far as the human race is concerned in that the base claim of the Paleo eating program is that it is designed to replicate the diet of our Paleolithic ancestors – so, simply put, the Paleo Diet is the diet of Cavemen. This is indeed an intriguing thought, as it therefore leads us to the logical conclusion that the Paleo Diet is not some fad designed by diet doctors, self-serving nutritionists or the guy next door, but rather by Mother Nature’s wisdom acting through evolution and natural selection and the harmonised development of Man and Beast. If you are a scientifically-minded individual like myself, this definition and associated image of Cavemen, may very well have you close to losing interest, but that would be a mistake.  The Paleo Diet has been deeply studied and skilfully uses modern scientific knowledge to advance it’s merits. At the helm of the Paleo movement is Dr. Loren Cordain, Professor Emeritus of the Department of Health and Exercise Science at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, USA.  Reading through his promotional site for The Paleo Diet, you will very quickly establish that this guy is no fool – he really knows his subject, with his research spanning >20 years of focus on the evolutionary and anthropological basis for diet, health and well being in modern humans. Dr. Cordain is recognised to be the world’s leading expert on Paleolithic diets, having lectured extensively on the Paleolithic nutrition worldwide and with many scientific publications to his name that have collectively examined the nutritional characteristics of worldwide hunter-gatherer diets and the nutrient composition of wild plant and animal foods consumed by foraging humans.

Paleo vs Banting Dr Loren Cordain

Dr. Loren Cordain (Professor Emiritus)

Earlier, I had suggested that the Paleo vs Banting debate begins on a foundation of understanding that the two diets are actually quite similar.  On the surface, this may be true, but in reality the differences that exist are as solid as a wedge rammed between them.  Whilst the Banting Diet is somewhat fixated with the “Fat is Good; Sugar is Bad” stance, the Paleo Diet has at it’s core the position of whether or not the food that is included in the diet is of complete natural original (what we generally may consider as organic or free-range) and from the right group of foods to match an ancestral diet.  When one first glances through a Paleo vs Banting shopping list, one might be struck simply by the more subtle differences, such as the absence of fruit in the Banting diet and the inclusion thereof in the Paleo diet, but this is actually a very superficial comparison. The real difference between these diets is deeper and more fundamental than that.  Let me give you an example, to better understand the core difference : Both the Paleo and the Banting eating plans favour a dietary fat intake and both are pro eggs – on this basis, a common favourite accompaniment of eggs would naturally be bacon, would it not?

TRUE for Banting; FALSE for Paleo.

The core distinction here is not the fat content of the food itself, but rather that Paleo followers abhorrently avoid foods that have had any form of interference from Man.  So, in the case of Bacon, we know that apart from being most likely sourced from pigs that are raised in indoor feedlots, the production of bacon also includes the injection of all sorts of man-made additives, such as salt, nitrate/nitrite, sodium erythorbate/ascorbate and phosphates, yielding an adulterated product that is far different from the animal’s natural meat and fat content.  On this debate, the Paleo followers would even go further, considering the bacon as a selective cut of meat not representative of the general animal as a whole and would further look into the detailed nutritional differences between  bacon (a processed meat) and pasture produced pork chops (a fresh meat). So, a Paleo follower will not throw out the pig, but will be selective on how the pig was raised, and how the meat cuts are handled in their preparation.

Paleo vs Banting free range pig

Happy is the free range Pig!

Creative Commons License woodleywonderworks via Compfight

I have provided just one example, that hopefully highlights the core difference in approach between the Paleo diet follower and the Banting diet follower. The Paleo diet goes on to expound the view that humans are genetically designed to eat meats, fish, fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts and other foods that mimic the diet of our Paleolithic ancestors. What impresses me about the Paleo diet is that it is not just designed to mimic an ancestral eating plan, but it also goes more deeply into the science of this, “calling out” hard evidence for example on how fat composition of meats would differ dependant on the degree of free range, and then even homing in on the differences between domesticated fruits and their wild counterparts. The Paleo diet recommends both fruits and vegetables, which is a BIG PLUS (in my opinion) over the Banting Diet, and at the same time the recommendation is balanced and cautioned for people with sugar intolerance.

Part of my intention in this review, is not only to highlight the virtues of both the Paleo and the Banting diets, but to also “call-out” potential pitfalls – at least as I see them. In the case of the Paleo diet, my only concerns rest with the extremist approach in favour of free range and organic.  Don’t get me wrong on this, I cannot fault the thought and scientific arguments that favour free range and organic produce, but let’s be honest it is not always easy to follow something that is so strict, never mind the elevated cost associated with these specialty foods. So, my advice would be to follow the Paleo diets 100% if that is your persuasion and organic and free range is an important philosophical agenda to you. But, if you cannot afford nor have the time for the added difficulty that the free range and organic approach demands, then take the principles of the diet and apply them to what you have available. Sure, such an approach may not be 100% compliant to the core principles of the Paleo diet, but this approach is surely a darn site better than attempting to follow a fantastic diet that you end up giving up on, simply because of experiencing difficulty in the sourcing of ingredients, or for cost considerations.

Paleo Diet

The Paleo Diet Grand Collection


Summation of the Paleo vs Banting Debate :

So there you have it – the Great Paleo vs Banting debate concludes with a view that both eating plans are FANTASTIC!  They are very similar at first glance, but differ at a philosophical level to the point that in fact they stand quite sharply apart. In my opinion, both diets have significant validity at a biochemical level. The Banting diet impresses with it’s contrarian approach and if it is weight-loss and a general feeling of well-being that you seek, then the Banting diet is very hard-hitting in it’s delivery of positive results. The Paleo diet impresses in its longevity and depth of thought and scientific validity behind it’s arguments. From personal experience, I have found tremendous value in the Banting diet , but do find it a little bit limiting and linear in its almost devout focus on the Fat vs Sugar debate above all else, and I take some exception to the recommended exclusion of fruits on this eating plan. I find the Paleo diet to be more broad-based in it’s thinking and reaches a wider plate that more appropriately recognises the wonderful bounty of food and colour that Mother Nature has provided for us, yet I find the Paleo eating plan a little extremist in it’s uni-dimensional focus on free range and organic products –  not that I can fault the logic or the scientific basis of this stance, but I am not entirely convinced of the added value that this distinction provides in a general sense. My bottom-line recommendation is that both the Paleo and the Banting diets are excellent and I can recommend them both to you from a biochemical standpoint, with an assurance that you will gain benefit by following either of them, but my personal preference is for an eclectic mix of the principles contained in each of the 2 dietsYOU need to find the happy medium that suits your own personal stance on Life, your own physical and medical situation, and your particular preferences and financial resources – I do hope that I have given you enough information and substantiated opinion to assist you in reaching a sound decision on this. The links that I provide in this article to both the Paleo and the Banting diets, will take you straight to the best products representing the category, each of which are backed up by the knoweldge, experience and character of charismatic Professors that are clearly far smarter than I am, so whatever your choice, you are in very good hands…


Click on the link if you are looking for the original Fat vs Sugar article


Footnote to this article :

Readers are advised to consider the views expressed in this article , reflect on other opinions and medical advice, then make their own decisions – it is your body, so please make decisions regarding your nutrition with which you yourself can feel accountable. If you have anything to say about this article , please DO post a comment – I have an “open book” philosophy and I am always willing to learn and also happy to admit when I am wrong.  What I have posted here are largely my own opinions, based on my own established understanding and research.  If you agree with what I have to say, please say so and feel free to share this article link with your friends on social media.  If you disagree with what I have to say, please also feel equally free to say so in your comments such that readers can hear your alternative views and then decide for themselves.  Please just keep your comments polite and civil, as profanity and slanderous comments have no place on this site.

Good luck on your Fitness and Nutrition objectives!

Article Name
Paleo vs Banting | two great diets reviewed – CTJ | Hobbies – Crafts
Debate the merits of the Paleo vs Banting diets


Conclusion Rating
Make an informed decision about the Paleo vs Banting dieting debate; it's your body and well-being after all...
5 stars

There are no comments yet, add one below.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



Powered by Yahoo! Answers