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The Banting Cure: How to Lose Three Pounds a Week by Eating Less Sugar
Everyone agrees that something must be done to tackle the obesity epidemic. High on the list of planned government interventions is the imposition of a large tax on sweetened foods and beverages. In America, a powerful medical lobby is pushing for a 40 percent tax on all store-bought colas. It is believed that this simple action would reduce the average energy consumption per per capita by 1,200 calories per day, which equates to a loss of just over three pounds of excess body fat per week. This is a tempting move for politicians to make, as the tax would raise tax revenue by an estimated $2.5bn (£1.6bn) a year. The development of refined sugar has been one of the most devastating revolutions in human culinary history. Today one-sixth of our caloric consumption is supplied by sugar, which when first imported from the West Indies was as expensive as caviar, and was therefore stored like tea in locked caddies. Now we eat as much sugar in a fortnight as our ancestors ate in a year two hundred years ago. Today, it is among the cheapest and most appealing forms of quickly absorbed energy. Most animals are tempted to indulge if given sugary foods. If rats are given food that is bland but highly nutritious, they eat just enough to balance their energy needs; but they will overeat and gain weight if given chocolate and biscuits. Horses, bears, and ants show the same fondness, and so do human children, who, from the moment they enter the world, can be made to smile by giving them something sweet to eat.
Food manufacturers take advantage of this inherent passion and make sure their junk food is loaded with sugar and fat. An often recommended way to lose weight is to stop eating all foods advertised on TV, as these are invariably heavily loaded with sugar. Researchers claim that anyone who limited themselves to eating only foods advertised in the media would consume more than 25 times the recommended daily intake of sugar. By doing so, today’s marmalade donut becomes tomorrow’s middle-aged spread. Instead of eating hyper-tasty cookies, candies and cakes, we should stick to eating natural foods. These provide a wide range of essential nutrients and are slower to digest, making it much easier for the body to decide when it has had enough.
This was the discovery of William Banting, the nineteenth-century undertaker who made a fortune selling elaborate coffins to the Duke of Wellington and other members of the London gentry. In 1862, at the age of 65, Banting weighed 202 lb, which was clearly too high for a man who was only 5 feet. 5 inches tall. Over the years, he had tried a wide variety of diets, from fasting to spa treatments, diets and rigorous exercise regimes. Everything failed. When his health finally declined, probably because he had developed type 2 diabetes, he consulted Dr. William Harvey, who was then one of Europe’s most prominent physicians. Harvey put him on a low-sugar diet, and a year later he was 46 pounds lighter, losing weight at a rate of about a pound a month. He had lost 12 centimeters around his waist, slept better and could easily go up and down stairs. Such was his miraculous transformation that he wrote Letter on Corpulence (1863), which was the world’s first diet book. In it he said: ‘I can state with certainty that the quantity of diet can be safely left to the natural appetite, it is only quality that is essential in reducing corpulence.’ Reduce your sugar intake as much as possible and you too can achieve the same results.
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