Ath­lete and chef Jonno Proud­foot’s brain­child, The Real Meal Revo­lu­tion, led to a sea change in the way we eat in South Africa.

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The Real Meal Revo­lu­tion man with a plan

from the out­set, Jonno Proud­foot was a man with a plan. This am­bi­tious swimming chef was on a mis­sion to swim from Mozam­bique to Mada­gas­car – with­out a wet­suit or flip­pers. Not sure where to start, he googled renowned ad­ven­turer and chef David Grier, and what would be­come The Mad Swim was born. ‘My friend Thane Wil­liams and I hoped to get some ad­vice from David. He pro­posed that we part­ner with his char­ity, Miles for Smiles, and they would find spon­sor­ship and help with project in­fra­struc­ture. In re­turn, we had to raise the cost of our project, or more, for Miles for Smiles, which pays for cor­rec­tive surgery for un­der­priv­i­leged chil­dren born with cleft palates.’

‘Thane, who did it with me, is a model – out­ra­geously chis­elled and good-look­ing. So I thought he could pull a mod­el­ling cam­paign or some­thing to­gether and I could write a cook­book about the food I eat while train­ing. I’d al­ways been in­ter­ested in sports nu­tri­tion and thought I’d go into sports cook­ing. My wife (then girl­friend) had lost 20kg fol­low­ing Tim Noakes’s ad­vice and that got my at­ten­tion. I’d also heard that peo­ple per­formed so much bet­ter ath­let­i­cally on LCHF. At that stage, there were no of­fi­cial guide­lines or any­thing pub­lished. So I de­cided to write a bant­ing cook­book to raise money. I started fol­low­ing Tim on Twit­ter and, quite for­tu­itously, on that same day, he tweeted that Sally-Ann Creed was SA’s pre­mium Pa­leo nu­tri­tion­ist.’

Sally-Ann agreed to meet him. ‘I told her about our Mad Swim mis­sion and the book I wanted to write. I asked her to email Tim to ask him to write a short fore­word. At first we didn’t hear from him, but then he sug­gested we meet for

My wife (then girl­friend) had lost 20kg fol­low­ing Tim Noakes’s ad­vice and that got my at­ten­tion.

cof­fee. I was wor­ried I didn’t have enough street-cred, so I took David Grier with me. I asked what they wanted to do, think­ing I’d get to add some ideas. Tim just said, ‘Well, you called the meet­ing!’ I thought, ‘Jeez!’ but went for it, telling them my con­cept and how we’d do it – I’d thought about the frame­work a lot. Tim would write the fore­word, Sally-Ann the lists and David and I, the recipes.’

The book went to print on 9 Septem­ber 2013 – 63 days from the day they started writ­ing it. ‘It was hard to find a pub­lisher brave enough to do it in such a ridicu­lously short time, but we found that in Quiv­ertree. They printed their largest print run ever. It launched on 19 Novem­ber and sold out that day.’

Though RMR has seen ex­plo­sive suc­cess, there have been chal­lenges and sur­prises along the way. ‘Tim was ab­so­lutely fear­less. He said, “We are go­ing to sell 100 000 copies and we are go­ing to change the world.” I re­mem­ber sit­ting there, think­ing, “We prob­a­bly are!” The big­gest chal­lenge has been find­ing the right part­ners in such a fast-grow­ing business. As a busi­ness­man, my best part has been the thrill of such rapid growth and the re­ward of run­ning a business that re­ally ben­e­fits peo­ple. It’s spe­cial when peo­ple tell us at a book sign­ing how they’ve come back to health.’

Even though Jonno switched to bant­ing for per­for­mance pur­poses, the per­sonal ben­e­fit in­cluded 10kg weight loss. ‘I was swimming a lot and could only keep go­ing for so long. But with bant­ing, I had con­sis­tent en­ergy lev­els that didn’t peak and trough. You know that 3pm nap you need after lunch? I didn’t need it any more!’

The Real Meal Revo­lu­tion has ex­panded into all sorts of ar­eas, in­clud­ing an on­line bant­ing course that teaches cook­ing the bant­ing way and ed­u­cates par­tic­i­pants on the bant­ing life­style. ‘Peo­ple are fat not be­cause they’re lazy to ex­er­cise, but be­cause they’re lazy to cook.’

They will soon launch a prod­uct range in line with their phi­los­o­phy – ni­trate-free ba­con, grass-fed meat, the works. Plus, the cook­book will go into more than 20 coun­tries in 2015. First South Africa, then the world. ‘I’d like Real Meal Revo­lu­tion to be the coolest diet in the world. I think it teaches peo­ple to love food rather than fear it. I’d love to change peo­ple’s minds about diet and make it some­thing they want to do rather than some­thing that’s for “those peo­ple”.’

Q: What do a typ­i­cal day’s meals look like?

A: For break­fast, I’ll have three boiled eggs or a pack of ba­con fried in but­ter or a lekker cheesy omelette. Some­times, if I re­ally don’t feel like cook­ing, I’ll have a bul­let­proof cof­fee or a fat shake. Lunch – I might have a few pieces of fatty bil­tong or half an avo with a squeeze of le­mon and some black pep­per as a snack. For din­ner, my wife Kate and I love green vegetables in but­ter. I love asparagus and ten­der-stem broc­coli with but­ter, parme­san and le­mon juice and then a pro­tein. We’re both chefs, so we like it a bit more in­ter­est­ing but those are the fun­da­men­tals.

Q: What’s your num­ber one bant­ing hack or trick in the kitchen?

A: It’s tough – there are quite a few! The one is cour­gette noo­dles. If you’ve got the right peeler or shred­der, then you’ve got cour­gette spaghetti or cour­getti (as I like to call it) in no time. I love cour­getti car­bonara or bolog­naise. The other is keep­ing fat. Ev­ery time I cook ba­con or some­thing fatty I put the fat in a jar to use again when I cook. It makes ev­ery­thing de­li­cious.

Q: What’s your favourite bant­ing food?

A: It’s be­tween cauli-rice and bant­ing mayo. Store-bought mayo is made with seed oil , which causes in­flam­ma­tion. It’s no­to­ri­ously un­healthy. But bant­ing mayo, made with co­conut oil or macadamia oil or what­ever good oil you choose, is glo­ri­ously healthy and as­sists weight loss. So when you eat it, you feel good about eat­ing it and on top of that it’s de­li­cious. Then cauli-rice, in the same way, is ba­sic but you can do it Span­ish paella style, as an In­dian pi­laf, or just mixed with herbs and used as taboulleh.

Q: How do you come up with new LCHF recipes?

A: Ev­ery time my wife and I get bored, there’s a burst of cre­ativ­ity. We’re also guided very much by what our au­di­ence wants.

Q: Do you bant strictly?

A: I bant prob­a­bly 80% of the time – strictly dur­ing the week, but if there is a carb go­ing around on week­ends, I’ll have a bit be­cause I’m not in­sulin resistant to the ex­tent that I could be type 2 di­a­betic. I mean, if our hosts are serv­ing us potato bake, we’ve got to be po­lite! [ laughs] But I try to steer clear of wheat es­pe­cially; it re­ally messes my stom­ach up. We just eat real food – we’re not pedan­tic but we just don’t buy stuff that’s high in carbs.

Q: Did you find it dif­fi­cult to switch from high carb to low carb?

A: Yeah! It was tough. You grow up on toast with tuna and toasted cheese sand­wiches. So giv­ing up bread for me was out­ra­geous. I’ve never re­ally had a sweet tooth so that wasn’t too dif­fi­cult.

Q: What do you miss most?

A: Pizza. I flip­ping love pizza. If I cheat, it’s on wood-fired pizza. It’s my ab­so­lute favourite thing on earth to eat. I also miss pie. I’ll be hon­est, when I drive the N2, that’s when I cheat and stop at Ou Meul Bakkery for a pie.

Q: What ad­vice do you have for peo­ple who are mak­ing the switch?

A: Go cold turkey at first. Things like xyl­i­tol and fake breads and low carb pas­tas – don’t even go there. That is there for when you ab­so­lutely can­not go another minute with­out a slice of bread. Be­cause you’re try­ing to break a habit, you need to get used to eat­ing food with­out bread. Low­carb bread is not the same – you won’t re­ally en­joy it. Try to ig­nore sweet­ness com­pletely, then you’ll get over it quicker. Xyl­i­tol is a great sweet­ener but I’m a purist.

Q: If you have crav­ings, what is your crutch?

A: I just take it and suf­fer. If you feed your­self when you should and have enough fat in your diet, you shouldn’t crave too much after the first two weeks.

Q: What change would you most like to see in the world?

A: I think way too much en­ergy is spent grow­ing food to cope with the pop­u­la­tion boom. We chop down forests and screw the world as hard as we can. So, I sup­pose the change I’d like to see is the re­duc­tion of hu­man im­pact.

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