Counting calories and kilojoules on the Banting diet

Today on The Ask Prof Noakes Podcast we chat to Prof. Tim Noakes about cutting carbs on the LCHF Diet and failing to lose weight. We get some ideas of what we could be doing wrong and how to go about the diet to help us shed those unwanted kg’s.

Victoria Decker submitted her question on podcast today. Victoria says she has cut her carbohydrate intake to around 35 -40%, and she wants to get that to 25%. She has been following the Banting diet for about 3 weeks, she has lost roughly 1kg.

She uses the MyFitnessPal app, as you suggested, to track everything she is eating and drinking while on the Banting diet. It says that she should be eating 5 021kj a day. If she eats less than that – the app says she won’t lose weight.

But reading and listening to everything that has been spoken about here on the podcast, she seems to think that if she reduces her kiljoule intake more – she will lose weight.

Can you please give her an indication on what her kilojoule intake should be a day. She weighs 100kgs and doesn’t do much exercise.
Prof Tim Noakes: We tend to say that if you are eating right, you don’t have to count calories and that you will lose weight just by eating to hunger. It doesn’t work in everyone – I appreciate that. But we are trying to get away from this idea that that number – the 5000 calories a day – is accurate.

Should you be counting calories when you’re following the Banting Diet?

It’s not accurate. It is really a thumb suck. However it was calculated, even using computers and even going to the laboratory – we can’t really tell what your daily energy expenditure is and your requirement is.

The only way you can work it out is to get your brain working properly so that it directs you to eat when you are hungry – and so you eat the right number of calories. I would think that that calorie intake sounds a little high.

I think also she is trying to eat 25grams a day, not 25%. 25% would be a very high carbohydrate intake for her. I hope that she is not making that error, and aiming to eat 25% a day. On 25grams a day, eating only to hunger, eating twice a day, not 3 times a day, would probably get her weight loss going on the Banting diet.

We do know that there are some women who struggle to lose weight on the Banting diet, and that is because they continue to over eat calories. For some reason the brain does not reduce their hunger as much as it needs to. So they continue to overeat.
I am reluctant to tell Victoria that she should reduce her calorie consumption. I’d much rather she got the right foods which then tell her how much she really needs. But I agree, 1kg weight loss in 3 weeks is a bit disappointing.

Reducing calories should not be the focus on the Banting Diet

In addition to everything else I have said, I would advise Victoria to cut back on the fat in the diet a little bit, particularly the dairy. Dairy can be an issue. See if she increases the protein a bit if that works to help her lose hunger and lose weight. Eat to hunger. Eat only when you hungry – don’t sit down to eat 3 meals a day. You don’t need that ever. And see what happens.

Also, see if you can fast for more than 12 hours, and on occasion – fast for 24 hours. I think that starts to get the weight loss going much better if you fast a bit. That would be my advice to Victoria to get her weight loss moving.

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