The food they recommend in The Real Meal Revolution is far more palatable than Banting’s kidneys, mutton and “a rusk or two”. On the “green”, go-for-broke list are cheese and eggs, all green, leafy vegetables plus any that grow above the ground, and all meat and seafood – not to mention butter, ghee, avocado and mayonnaise. Grains, along with such high-carb foods as potatoes and rice, are off the menu, as are processed food, soya products and sugar.
But after reading The New Atkins for a New You, which promoted a low-carb lifestyle, Noakes took a punt and rid his diet of carbohydrates. His weight loss was so dramatic – 1st 10lb in eight weeks – and his running times so improved, that he wrote about it in a 2012 article called Against the Grains. This caught the attention of Sally-Ann Creed, a Paleo nutritionist, and Jonno Proudfoot, a chef who was training for a 285-mile swim.
For Noakes, the conversion to Bantingism came about quite unexpectedly. Emeritus professor of exercise and sports science at the University of Cape Town, Noakes had for most of his life followed the dietary advice adopted throughout most of the Western world in the late 20th century: avoid saturated fat and go big on grains and cereals.
Revolution also pays tribute to a 19th-century undertaker from London who experienced such extreme weight loss that his name became synonymous with low-carb dieting. In 1862, #William Banting (obese at 5ft 5in and 14½st) eschewed the typical Victorian diet of beer, bread and potatoes, and cut out sugary, starchy carbohydrates. Within a year he lost over 3st. Banting wrote about his diet and before long “to bant”, a verb meaning “to lose weight by practising Bantingism”, had entered the Oxford English Dictionary.
The chocolate fat shake, made with full-cream milk, butter, coconut oil and coconut cream is recommended as an appetite suppressant by The Real Meal Revolution (TOBY MURPHY)
Noakes, Creed and Proudfoot prescribe a low-carbohydrate, high-fat (LCHF) diet that is, they acknowledge, far from new. They credit the eating habits of early humans, the hunter-gatherers who ate wild animals for fat and protein but consumed few grains – a proposition familiar to anyone well-versed in the Paleo diet. But while Paleo is low on carbs, the Revolution goes even lower, and includes dairy in its eat-your-fill list – a no-no for Paleoites.
The Real Meal Revolution, published here on 30 July, has become a bestseller in South Africa since it came out in 2013. Flicking through its #recipes, it is easy to see why. The ingredients lists are a mouthwatering roll-call of forbidden fruits: cream cheese, Parmesan, streaky bacon, pork belly ribs, thick Greek yogurt and coconut cream. Oh, and lashings of full-fat milk.
Now a new book by three South Africans, the scientist and ultra-marathon-runner Professor Tim Noakes, the nutritionist Sally-Ann Creed, and the chef Jonno Proudfoot (above, left to right), is about to be published in the UK. It explains how we can load up on butter, cheese and cream, while staying healthy and – miraculously – losing weight.
Their report, released in May, declared eating cholesterol-rich foods has very little bearing on the amount of cholesterol in your body. If the US government adopts its advice, it could mean a reversal of the dietary information given to Americans since the 1960s. Big news if you’ve been itching for a fry-up.
Fat, if the past year’s headlines are anything to go by, is no longer the enemy. It’s back on the menu (the trend for butter-laden Bulletproof coffee, anyone?), back in our kitchens (low-carb “fat bomb” recipes abound), and even back in the good books of US government dietary advisers.