This "new version" of "The Banting Diet" remains the basis for many weight loss diets today.
Banting knew the diet was not restricted in fat or cooking preparation although it did not contain butter or pork. Only starch and sugar was restricted. Butter and pork were eliminated because at the time it was believed they contained starch. Today, we know that is not the case.
Banting lived to the ripe old age of 81 at a normal weight. He never stopped disputing the fact the Neymeyer version (low fat) of his diet was inferior to the one that had so improved his life.
Low carb eating has been deemed “a fad” when it’s been around for nearly 150 years!
In the years to follow, Banting’s book, “Letter on Corpulence” (Corpulence meaning obesity) spread worldwide. During the 1890’s in America, Dr. Helen Densmore prescribed her version of a low carb diet to her patients describing it as “a diet from which bread, cereals and starchy food were excluded”. She recommended to many sedimentary dieters that eating one pound of beef, sheep, or fish a day with a moderate amount of “non starchy vegetables” would be sufficient for them to achieve weight loss.
Densmore was openly critical of her peers who criticized Banting’s diet. She often stated that even as her fellow medical professionals were benefiting from the wonderful results the Banting diet had on reducing obesity, they still continued to condemn it.
In 1906, Dr. Vilhjalmur Stefansson, a Harvard anthropology teacher, later to become famous in polar exploration, conducted a self-experiment in one of his expeditions to the Arctic. Having to spend a winter in the Artctic with Eskimos, Stefansson took the opportunity to explore their eating habits of meat and fish only, joining them in this unfamiliar way of eating.
Eskimos would stew their fish briefly. Fish that had been washed down with water. Finding that method repulsive, Stefansson decided to broil his. The results were not good. He became dizzy with signs of malnutrition, leading him to believe there had to be other nutrients in the water that were benefiting those eating the fish "the Eskimo way”.
Adjusting to the “Eskimo Diet” Stefansson found himself in perfect health and not fat at all. This led him to become interested in the high protein, high fat and low carbohydrate eating theory and how the so-called “balanced” diets of the day were really going in the wrong direction. Like Banting, however, no one took notice of his theory or experiment.
Several years later Dr. Stefansson and a colleague, Dr. Karsten Anderson returned to the Antarctic to undergo research for the American Museum of Natural History. They were supplied with everything they would need, including being offered food supplies to their liking. They both declined and chose to live naturally off of meat they would kill or fish they would catch. The project, originally slated for one year, ended up being a four-year stretch for the two doctors. During this time both men remained healthy and vigorous, only cementing Stefansson’ s conclusion that the Banting diet was correct in it’s conclusion that humans could exist and actually thrive on carbohydrate restriction and the absence of calorie counting.