There are numerous trending eating plans. Some have been around for years, but the popularity to follow a certain lifestyle had grown since the 2000’s. Mopani Pharmacy consulted our highly recommended Livewell Registered Dietician and Diabetes Educator, Natalie Grobler. She helped us to break it all down, into edible pieces, so to speak. Here is what you need to know about the famous Keto, Banting, Intermittent Fasting (IF) and Plant-based eating plans.

Q: What exactly is the Keto eating plan?

The Keto, or Ketogenic diet, has been around since the 19th century. It is a high fat, low carbohydrate diet. The fat in the eating plan metabolised is turned into ketones. With little to no carbohydrates, your body starts burning fat for energy.

Q: What would your diet look like, following the Keto eating plans?

There is no specific requirements or plan, as long as your daily intake consists of about 5-10% carbohydrates, 10-20% protein, and 70-80% fat of your total energy requirement.

Foods that are allowed include animal and plant-based fats and oils, nuts, seeds, avocados, coconut, butter, hard cheese, full cream milk and yogurt, green leafy veggies, unsweetened spices and herbs and dark chocolate.

Avoid food such as grains, beans, legumes, fruit, alcohol and high sugar mixes, starchy veggies, sweets, milky chocolates, rusks and biscuits, low fat or fat free milk and sweetened yogurt, and all basting and marinade sauces.

Q: Are there any dangers to following the Keto eating plans?

The increase of ketones in the blood can cause ketoacidosis. Ketones produce acid which can become toxic. If you are healthy, your insulin will prevent excessive production. However, every person is different and metabolises fat differently. It is best to follow this eating plan under the advisement of a dietician or your doctor, especially if you plan on following it for a long time.

Q: What are the benefits?

The Keto eating plan can help to boost your metabolism in the short term, decrease your food cravings and appetite and burn more energy. Compared to low fat diets, it fares better in improving blood pressure and total cholesterol.

Q: What should you consider before attempting this diet plan?

It can be difficult to maintain the diet, try planning out a weekly menu to see if you can manage it. The cost of following the diet can be a shock, as you are relying on more expensive items to fill your lunch box, rather than staple foods. Your body will also need to adjust, you may experience headaches, constipation, mood swings or irritability. There are also the health risk of kidney stones, osteoporosis and gout, as well as micronutrient deficiencies. You may thus need to supplement with a multivitamin.

Unfortunately, there is not enough long-term research available to predict the effects of the eating plan over time. It is not clear if the health benefits exceed the risk, and it could negatively impact chronic conditions such as kidney and liver disease. We also don’t have enough data to know how this diet will affect pregnant or breast-feeding women, infants, children or teenagers.

The exact combination of carbs, fats and protein needed for the eating plan to work, will vary from person to person. You might take a while to figure out the correct combination before it starts to work.

Q: How does the Banting eating plans differ?


It consists of 5-10% carbohydrates, 20% protein and 70-75% fats. It looks very much like the Keto eating plan. However, there is no carb or calory counting – it is all about what you eat, not how much.

It works on the premise of moving back to whole foods. It takes a ‘Clean Approach’ to eating, with whole, unprocessed, fresh and nutrient-rich food from all the food groups.

Q: What is considered ‘clean’?

Meat, seafood, eggs, green leafy veggies, butter, ghee, firm and hard cheeses, some oils, herbs, spices and herbal tea.

Q: What is considered ‘bad’?

 Starchy, grainy or processed food such as pasta, bread, rice, pap, crackers, potatoes, corn, sweet potatoes and legumes. Sugar, raw or processed as well as fruits. Dairy products like milk, yogurt, soft cheeses and cottage cheese. Processed meats, seed and vegetable oil and artificial sweeteners.

Q: What should be considered before attempting of this eating plan?

It has the same implications as the Keto plan, as well as the same health risks as well. Additionally, it can cause weight gain as it is not calorie controlled. There is very little scientific evidence done on the plan. Stellenbosch University released a study in 2014, stating that Banting is neither healthier nor more efficient for weight loss that other eating plans.

Q: Tell us about intermittent fasting?

eating plans

Intermittent fasting (IF) does not restrict your food choices or intake at all. All that matters, is when you eat, cycling between periods of eating and fasting. There are a few types, however most focus on limiting your food intake to a specific time period of the day. This period is typically between six and eight hours.

If you decide on 16/8 intermittent fasting, you will restrict your food intake to 8 hours of the day and abstain from eating during the remaining 16 hours. You may only drink water, coffee or other non-caloric beverages during the fast.

Other types involve fasting for 24 hours, once or twice a week, or cutting your calorie intake to 500kcal per day for a few days per week.

Q: Does this work for weight-loss?

You lose weight if your insulin levels drop. Your fat cells are then burned to be used as sugar. If you restrict your window of eating, you may naturally decrease your calorie intake. Think of it as, not eating such a large dinner because you are full from lunch, and that late-night snack falls outside of the eating window. This in itself, may help you to lose weight.

It is very important to eat as much healthy food as possible though. It will not work if you consume calorie-dense foods.

Q: Are there other benefits?

IF is also linked to improved heart health, reducing bad cholesterol, supporting blood sugar control and decreasing inflammation.

Q: What to consider before attempting IF

For most healthy people, this could be a healthy long-term lifestyle. However, for children, adults with chronic illnesses, pregnant or breast-feeding women and diabetics should consult a dietician or their doctor. IF may also be more effective for men than women, as their body fat is stored differently. Men and women’s insulin is also regulated differently.

Athletes can safely practice this eating method, but it is best to plan meals and fast days around intense workouts to optimise their physical performance. For example, if you have fasted for too long, you might feel too faint to complete your workout. Shorter fasting before a workout can help burn more fat during a workout. It is recommended that you eat a combination of carbs and proteins within 45 minutes of your workout.

Q: What is a vegan diet?

eating plans

This refers to an eating plan that does not contain any animal product or by-products (No, you can’t have cheese anymore). It consists of all vegetables, whole grains, raw tree nuts, seeds and fruits. To make up for the lack of protein as no meat, cheese or dairy is included, a variety of beans, legumes and protein powders are included.

Q: What are the benefits of this eating plan?

Your meals will have a higher content of fibre, folic acid, vitamins, minerals and healthy fats. Primarily, it will lower your risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers.

Q: What should you consider before attempting this diet?

There is an increased risk for nutritional deficiencies, especially vitamins B-12 and D, calcium, iron, zinc and omega 3 fatty acids.  For every nutritional benefit, there is a nutritional deficiency risk. This can affect bone, muscle and blood health. You will have to monitor this with a healthcare professional, and make use of supplements.

Q: Will the diet help you lose weight?

You will only lose weight if your energy intake is lower than the energy you burn. Ultimately, a vegan is just as likely to become overweight if they have a sweet tooth, or divulge in too many carbohydrates.

In conclusion

All of these eating plans may work, or they may fail, but none are without risk, and they should all be followed under the advisement of a healthcare professional. Every body is different, therefore it may take specialised care and planning for you to achieve, not only a diet, but a lifestyle choice that works for you.

For more information or an appointment, you may contact a registered dietician from Livewell at Mopani Pharmacy Ilanga Mall (013 742 2225).

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