- I sleep much better
- My teeth always feel cleaner
- Hugely reduced cravings for sugar/cakes/chocolates - I am talking major reduction here - I don't think of these sweet things at all any more and I used to think about them daily!
- My weight is stable even with far less exercise
- No more blood sugar lows - and of course no more highs either - I feel very constant throughout the day
- Virtually no hunger. Yes, I get hungry, sure, but the hunger is a different kind of hunger as opposed to the hunger I felt on carbs and lean protein. This hunger is a gentle whisper, tapping me on the shoulder politely and saying "Excuse me, I don't want to interrupt you right now, but when you're ready, can we please eat something?" Whereas my low-fat hunger was a tiger roaring at me to "Find food NOW!"
- I feel calmer and don't think much about food.
- I look leaner (except my tum) even though the scale might stay the same. I believe this is due to inflammation going down but I am not trained in anything (yet) to say for sure.
- Gas and bloating are very rare - almost a thing of the past.
- My thrush has completely cleared up and gone (I was constantly on medication for thrush)
- My skin is less dry
- The food is DELICIOUS and I don't feel deprived at all! I truly believe I could eat this way, with no cheats, for the rest of my life. (Bearing in mind that for me, as I am not insulin resistant, I am allowed a bit of fruit.)
- I am allowed to eat a huge variety - and foods that I wouldn't have though of before - like livers, bone marrow, roasts and the skin on the chicken.
- The fat in each meal allows for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.
- I no longer eat "empty" calories or manufactured, processed foods of any kind and I have managed to eliminate sweetener!
- Cramping. This con seems to have resolved itself with taking a Taurine supplement, so I may remove this. But for now it's real to me, as I suffered terribly with this the first time I Banted and there was no solution until a friend of mine recently mentioned that Taurine was helping her with cramping (and she eats a gym-diet) and that I should try it.
- Reduced desire to exercise - sort of. This con is somewhat a middle ground thing because some days I do want to exercise, but I find that because I don't feel I need to exercise to lose weight or burn off a sugar-laden piece of cake, I am more practical about exercise and will do it when it's convenient if I get time. So possibly this is a pro?
- Cooking mostly all meals at home, from scratch. This is, for me, the only real and true con. This way of eating is very labour intensive - chopping, preparing, cooking and then washing up all those greasy pots and pans.
- My jelly-belly. It looks like my belly area is softer and squishier. This does bother me somewhat.
Bear in mind that these are just my own pros and cons, and not a full or universal list. Now, let's look at the typical gym-diet that would be given to anyone doing a USN 12 week challenge or going with a personal trainer or following a body-building competition diet. Now this way of eating is also, arguably, lower in carbs, in that they don't promote a lot of carbs - it's more moderate carbs - and "good" carbs such as apples, sweet potatoes, brown rice and oats. And depending on your body - you could have around two to four servings of these good carbs in a day. Protein is almost unlimited on this diet - but very lean protein. I reckon around six servings or so a day. Fat is almost non-existent. A teaspoon or tablespoon here and there, but most cooking methods are steaming, grilling and baking or poaching - no fat required.
- Initially, I lost weight easily on this diet, but this could arguably be a con because it's not sustainable. And believe me, I tried. So the weight-loss worked well initially then, I couldn't keep my weight down and found that it climbed if I just ate wrong food for a short time.
- Cooking is really easy - grill a steak and steam some veg for supper. And the cleaning up is easy - no grease to wash off.
- I felt, at first, very clean and healthy eating this way.
- My stomach was super lean at my leanest weight - abs were showing at one point
- Having a big cheat meal on a weekend - that was lovely and fun. But again, arguably this is a con as cheat meals were usually refined carbs and bad fats.
- Constantly hungry
- Always thinking of food
- Never feeling full or satisfied
- Bloating, gas, diarrhea at times
- Limited in what I could eat - I got very bored of the same old food. Grilled chicken or fish with broccoli on repeat - ugh!
- Fat free yoghurt and skim milk - very disgusting - and most of the foods were dry and bland.
- I became very dependent on artificial sweeteners to flavour everything. Now, I don't necessarily believe that the small amounts we ingest are that bad, I also don't think having sweetener five or six times a day is good either, and that used to bother me.
- Protein shakes, bars and other supplements that take the place of a real meal are just not what I thought healthy eating was about. It seemed fake to me. Where in the wild would man ever down so much protein in one sitting (ie: from a shake?). Something just seemed wrong to me about that. Not to mention that most brands of protein bars contain both sugar and trans-fats!
- I was ALWAYS craving chocolate, cakes and sweet treats. My sweet tooth got worse, not better!So I ended up cheating with these really high-sugar foods, really bad, wheat and sugar-laden cheats - and they would sometimes be twice or more a week if I was battling to maintain my clean-eating.
- I felt deprived a lot of the time
- I would look at the lean foods and sigh in disgust after a while, not wanting to face another grilled chicken breast and steamed piece of broccoli again!
- Not a long-term, sustainable way of eating.
- I am not an expert, but I got a feeling that going too low-fat was starting to mess with my hormones. There is research to show that this does happen.
There is a lot that one could say about both these ways of eating. I felt that the low-fat eating was also not good for my child. Whereas I am convinced that moderate Banting for children is very healthy. By moderate Banting, I mean, children can freely and happily eat off the orange list as well as the green list. But everything is good for their growing bodies.
Funnily enough, when I put it all into lists like this, it seems overwhelmingly obvious that Banting, or LCHF, is the right way of eating. What do you think?
It also seems obvious that the "Gym Diet" is not for health, only for getting lean fast, and should be looked at as a temporary diet, not a long-term one. Banting is for long-term health, with weight-loss as a pleasant side effect for most. But it seems clear from my own lists that Banting will make me and my family healthier and happier.