William Banting - The Original Low Carb Author

Thursday, May 13, 2004
I came across some interesting information today that I thought I might share.

His name was William Banting and he is considered to be the father of the Low Carb diet...according to this article. He wrote a Letter on Corpulence about his battle and victory over obesity. In this article/letter he outlines the many "diets" that he went on to lose weight. He visited many doctors and exercised regularly, all to no avail.

Then he went to visit Dr. William Harvey - and ENT doctor and all that changed:

Harvey's advice to him was to give up bread, butter, milk, sugar, beer and potatoes. These, he told Banting, contained starch and saccharine matter tending to create fat and were to be avoided altogether. The word 'saccharine' meant sugar.

When told what he could not eat, Banting's immediate thought was that he had very little left to live on. Harvey soon showed him that really there was ample and Banting was only too happy to give the plan a fair trial. Within a very few days, he says, he derived immense benefit from it: the plan leading to an excellent night's rest with six to eight hours' sleep per night.

For each meal, Harvey allowed Banting:

up to six ounces of bacon, beef, mutton, venison, kidneys, fish or any form of poultry or game;
the 'fruit of any pudding' – he was denied the pastry
any vegetable except potato;
and at dinner, two or three glasses of good claret, sherry or Madeira.
Banting could drink tea without milk or sugar.
Champagne, port and beer were forbidden and he could eat only one ounce of toast.

On this diet Banting lost nearly 1 lb per week from August 1862 to August 1863. In his own words he said:
“I can confidently state that quantity of diet may safely be left to the natural appetite; and that it is quality only which is essential to abate and cure corpulence. . . . These important desiderata have been attained by the most easy and comfortable means . . . by a system of diet, that formerly I should have thought dangerously generous.”
After 38 weeks. Banting felt better than he had for the past 20 years