Banting on a Budget: Can It Be Done?

Shrink your waist without shrinking your bank balance

The low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) lifestyle has consumed detractors and disciples alike since the release of The Real Meal Revolution last year. The major feature of Banting is that it’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle – and lifestyles need to be maintained. But a common complaint from would-be Banters is that carb-free eating is expensive. It doesn’t seem like a viable way of living for most average earners. Sure, it might work for the first few weeks – but when staples such as flour and sunflower oil are replaced with almond flour and coconut oil, it inevitably takes its toll on the bank balance.

Related: You Can Have Your Carb and Eat It

‘The real point here is not that Banting is expensive but rather that it’s very cheap to be unhealthy,’ says Jonno Proudfoot, chef and recipe developer for The Real Meal Revolution. ‘If you stop and reassess how much you’re eating from time to time, you’ll notice that you can eat much smaller portions of food and stay fuller for longer.’ This is the beauty of Banting: less food eaten means less money spent. The theory is that because Banters are always satiated, they’ll eat far less and save money by not snacking.

Related: 5 Tips to Help You Prevent a Snack Attack

A shrinking bank balance is not an unavoidable result of your shrinking waistline – as long as you stop trying to re-create carbs. Proudfoot says that Banting becomes unnecessarily expensive when carb-free bread, pasta and cakes come into play. ‘My recommendation would be to forget fake carbs altogether,’ he says. So stick to the dietary basics – fatty proteins and vegetables – and Banting should be no more expensive than your current diet.

Related: 5 Hacks to Help Your Money Management Mess

There are some ingredients that no Banting pantry can be without. Karyn Gronn, a Johannesburg weight-loss coach for Banting Buddies, suggests butter, sardines, eggs, mince and marrowbones as inexpensive essentials. ‘Mince is hugely versatile – and you need to buy the “cheaper” version, not the extra lean (and more expensive) kind, because you want to have the healthy fat that comes with it,’ she says. So an LCHF diet doesn’t require regular trips to your specialist health shop – you can Bant quite easily on readily available products such as eggs, butter and full-cream milk. And according to Proudfoot, vegetables are the most vital ingredients for your bantry. Banting doesn’t incorporate much fruit, so veggies are the main source of nutrients. Keep your fridge stocked with fresh greens – or grow your own!

Everything’s better with butter – including the Banting lifestyle. It’s the one word that unites every successful Banter, and the one ingredient you must never forego. It not only makes food taste better but it also keeps you full. Bizarre as it may seem, hard-core Banters even put it in their coffee instead of milk: unsalted butter and a dash of coconut oil in your morning java tastes amazing and keeps you satiated until evening.

Related: Bean Real: How to Wean Yourself off Caffeine

Let’s debunk a popular myth right now: Banting is not – repeat, not – a high-protein diet. Trying to eat high-protein is one of the ways your lifestyle becomes more costly than it should be. Banting is a low-carb, medium-protein and high-fat way of life. Protein is the most expensive, but if you keep to your high fat you will manage on your budget. Also, when eating LCHF, the protein components are cheaper – buy meat with the bone and skin for a cheap and Banting-friendly fix.

The best way to make the lifestyle sustainable – and budget-friendly – is to become inventive in the kitchen. Shop at local farmers’ markets so your fridge is always filled with fresh (and cheap) ingredients. Grind your own nuts to make flour for an occasional treat. Experiment. Mix and match. Proudfoot recommends keeping a ‘dripping jar’ – a collection of the animal fat that runs off during cooking. The fat can be reused later for frying or an extra punch of flavour. Buy stuff in bulk; batch and freeze meals; learn how to use everything you have so nothing goes to waste (for example, use excess veg in soups or stews, or use leftover stew as omelette filling for lunch). As Banting popularity soars, many ingredients are available online for surprisingly low prices – so it definitely doesn’t have to cost a fortune!

Related: The Good and Bad of Online Diets

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