5 reasons why you should be on a balanced diet and not Banting

A scientific study conducted by researchers from Stellenbosch University found that there is no difference between weight loss in people who follow low carbohydrate diets when compared to those that follow balanced diets. Dr. Celeste Naude and Professor Jimmy Volmink joined us in studio to unpack the science behind dieting.

Here are five reasons why you need to pay attention to this study and should probably be on a balanced diet rather than a high fat, low carbohydrate diet - commonly know in South Africa as a Banting lifestyle.

1. Energy in vs. energy out

Dr. Naude explains that this study set out to determine how the effect of a low carb diet compares to the effect of a balanced diet when it comes to weight loss. The study pooled results observed in over 3,000 overweight and obese people for up to two years, and found that the people on the low carb diet didn't lose any more weight than the people on the balanced diet. All participants were given the same amount of energy (calories). Dr. Naude says this is important because it allowed them to evaluate whether the actual mix of carbohydrates, fat and protein in a diet influence weight loss, independent of the calorie intake. Results show that weight loss is the result of reduced energy (calorie) intake regardless of the proportions of carbohydrate, fat and protein that make up the total energy content of the diet. WATCH:

2. The long term effects of low carb diets are unknown

At the moment there are no studies that can outline the long term effects when it comes to low carbohydrate/Banting diets. Although Scandinavian researchers have started to do research to find out what the long term effects are, there are not yet any solid results. WATCH:

3. Banting diets are impractical and unsustainable

Professor Volmink says they don't agree with the Tim Noakes approach because of the uncertainty about the long term effects and safety of the Banting diet. This diet is also inaccessible and the foods that are recommended on low carb diets are too expensive for most of the world. Dr. Naude adds that besides cereals and grains, dairy, nuts, fruits, vegetables, and most whole foods also contain carbohydrates and advice to drastically reduce carbohydrates means also restricting intake of these nutrient-rich foods. This results in a dietary pattern that is not aligned with the pattern known to reduce long term risk of lifestyle diseases. She rather recommends a balanced diet with a more moderate intake of a variety of good quality foods to meet nutrient needs, including healthy carbs, fats and protein and adequate vitamins and minerals. An example of a balanced diet looks like the graph below - actual proportions will vary from person to person, but maintaining energy balance (not eating more calories than you need) is critical for everyone for a healthy weight and to prevent weight gain.

(Image supplied by Stellenbosch University)



4. This study was conducted on people representative of the real world

Prof Tim Noakes told the South African Press Association, that this study wasn't representative of the real world. Dr. Naude and Prof. Volmink respond to these allegations. WATCH:

5. Your diet should be easy to follow and consist of nutrient-rich, good quality food choices

The South African food based dietary guidelines have been developed specifically for our population, Dr. Naude and Prof. Volmink believe that this is the best route to go for achieving a balanced, nutrient-rich diet, with emphasis on preventing excess calorie intake to maintain a healthy weight. WATCH:

Are you on a diet? If so let us know in the comments section below. Is it working for you?

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