William Banting: The Father Of The Low Carb Diet
Popular books and modern day thinking refer to low-carbohydrate diets as new or even revolutionary. But, nothing could be further from the truth. You may even think that these low carb diets have been pioneered from futuristic and well educated medical men.
The truth is that we would probably never have heard of diets where people could lose weight eating fat if it had not been for William Banting, a 19th century English carpenter and also known as “the Father” of the low carb diet.
William Banting is known for the being the first person to promote the benefits of a low-carb diet, which was originally referred to as the “Banting diet”. His booklet ‘Letter On Corpulence’ published in 1863 is has been billed as the worlds first diet book.
How It All Started
Banting started to become overweight in his thirties. He was told by a surgeon to exercise more, but this only increased his appetite.
He tried many weight loss options from bathing in spa waters to the starvation diet. However, he efforts to lose weight were unsuccessful and eventually landed in the hospital for his weight.
Thirty years later Banting, at 5 feet, 5 inches tall weighed a whopping 202 pounds. At this point, he had given up on his weight loss. He sustained an umbilical hernia, his eyesight was failing and he was becoming increasing deaf.
Banting met an ear, nose and throat specialist by the name of Dr. William Harvey. Harvey had been attending lectures on the liver which led him to believe that certain foods play a compelling role in diabetes.
Dr. Harvey became interested in Banting’s obesity as much as his hearing loss and instructed him up foods that contained sugar and starch such as bread, butter, milk, sugar, and beer.
Several months later he was 20 pounds lighter and by the following August, he was down to 156 pounds. His eyesight improved, his hearing was restored and he was more energetic.
Letter On Corpulence
Banting documented his progress and wrote an open letter in the form of a personal testimonial addressed to the public. He called it the Letter On Corpulence. Banting self-published and never charged for both the 1st and 2nd editions of his letter hoping it would benefit working class people who didn’t have the means to recuperate following a hospitalization. It was a chronicle of his new diet of 4 meals/day which consisted of meat, fruits, greens, and dry wine. He eliminated all sugars, saccharine and starch from his diet.
His Letter became so popular that he began selling it to the general public upon the third publication. However, the scientific community considered Banting’s work as unscientific because it lacked a convincing theory about how the diet worked.
Ironically, Banting remained at a normal weight and lived a comfortably healthy life until he died in 1878 at age 81.
It took another half-century before investigative studies of his diet showed scientific evidence of its effectiveness.
First Dietary Clinical Trials
In 1928, Dr. Vilhjalmur Stefansson and Dr. Karsten Anderson conducted clinical trials and found that their participants felt better and had lower cholesterol when eating a low-carb diet.
Fast Forward 100 Years
Obesity was somewhat rare until the 20th century and remained relatively low until the 1980s’ Then obesity increased dramatically thereafter. By 1991, one in three adults in the United States was overweight. I was one of them. Statistically speaking that was an 8 percent increase of the population from just 10 years early despite that fact that American’s spent a whopping 33 billion dollars a year on weight loss.
Ironically, this all occurred in the face of increased knowledge and education about obesity, nutrition, and exercise. It happened although the fact that calorie intake has gone down significantly over the past ten years and exercise gyms emerged in cities across the country.
More people are cutting calories now than ever before in their history yet more of them are becoming overweight. It is no coincidence that obesity is sky-rocketing today. Dieticians still advise a high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet. The exact opposite of Banting’s diet.
Many studies have continued and variations of Banting’s Diet have emerged most notably the ketogenic diet which has been effective not only for weight loss but also for treatment of diseases including epilepsy, cancer, metabolic dysfunction, and Alzheimer’s.
My personal experience on keto includes almost total elimination of all medications, more energy, improved mental clarity and focus, reduction of inflammatory pain and significant reduction of fibromyalgia pain and symptoms.
Researchers are linking to Alzheimer’s disease with glucose intolerance in the brain and referring to this condition as Type III diabetes. The keto diet consisting of high fat, moderate protein and low carbohydrate consumption in with supplementation of exogenous ketones is now being utilized as a treatment to prevent or arrest this terminal disease over ineffective medications. Let’s hope this treatment proves to be effective for the cure for it.