The Ballast Diet
Morrison and welcome to the Breakfast Radio Show.
Thank you for
inviting me onto your programme.
a revolutionary new weight loss scheme, the
Ballast diet, thats been enthusiastically
embraced by both celebrities and the public alike.
Before I ask you more
about that, can I enquire about your
professorship? Our researchers havent been
able to identify your university.
I dont think I
have one. I got the title for twenty dollars from
an American website.
In that case, what
are you a professor of?
They didnt say.
You havent had
any training in medicine or nutrition then?
Thats true. I'm
totally unqualified to express any opinions on
moving on to the subject of your
influential diet, one might have been forgiven
for thinking that there was no room for yet
another dieting system on bookshop shelves. The
market should already have been saturated with
such schemes as the Atkins diet, the
Mediterranean diet, the 5:2 diet, the Dukan diet,
the Paleo diet, the Alkaline diet, the Cambridge
diet, the South Beach diet, the Slimming World
diet, the Slim-Fast diet, the LighterLife diet,
the WeightWatchers diet, and the Rosemary Conley
diet to name just a tiny percentage
of the weight management schemes available. Why,
then, has the Ballast diet achieved such rapid
In order to answer
that question, its important to understand
the principles underlying weight loss. All
successful diets are based on the first law of
That sounds very
The first law of
thermodynamics simply states that the total
energy added to a system is equal to the energy
expended by that system plus the energy it stores.
So how does that
relate to weight loss?
In human terms, it
means that the calories consumed by a person must
either be expended in some way, for example
burned to produce energy, or be stored as body
tissue such as fat. Roughly speaking, there are
three thousand five hundred calories in one pound
of fat. If a person expends that many calories,
over and above those consumed, that person will
lose one pound in bodyweight.
You make it sound
It is very
simple. Dieting schemes dont usually
mention the first law of thermodynamics, however,
as it has an equation and some mathematics in it.
They, rather patronisingly, fear this may cause
the eyes of many slimmers to glaze over.
I still dont
understand how all this science can help people
to lose weight surely its necessary
to buy expensive slimming products and pay money
to attend classes in order to actually shift the
The first law means
that, if one discounts radical approaches to
calorie loss such as liposuction or medication
that reduces fat absorption, ordinary people have
two ways in which they can generate a calorie
deficit. One is to eat fewer calories, and the
other is to take more exercise. All diets, prior
to the advent of my Ballast diet, paid some
attention to exercise, but were primarily based
on reduction of calorie intake.
Why was that?
Its because the
body is extremely efficient at processing food
in order to burn the calories in one
normal sized slice of fruit cake, an average
person would need to run for nearly an hour. No
practical amount of normal exercise can keep pace
with an uncontrolled calorie intake.
But the diets I
mentioned earlier all seem so different.
The current plethora
of diets are all fundamentally the same. Their
differences are essentially psychological. Each
attempts to disguise a calorie deficit in a way
that encourages slimmers to stick to the diet.
Some schemes have even hidden the concept of
calorie deficit to such an extent that slimmers
have to follow diet plans in much the same
ritualistic manner as religious disciples. A
successful outcome, therefore, seems more like
magic than science and the slimmers have
no real grasp of what happened or why.
'I thought there'd been
scientific research to show that different diets
affected the body in different ways.'
There has, and they
do. Some regimes are more metabolically efficient
than others, for example, but those effects are
marginal in comparison to the effect of
maintaining overall calorie control. Diets dont
succeed or fail because of some minor effect on
the rate of metabolising fat its all
about whether a slimmer can stick to any one of
them for long enough.
I understand that the
Ballast diet is radically different from all
those other schemes.
The Ballast diet
differs from all the others available because it
creates weight loss primarily by burning calories
rather than by reducing calorie intake.
But I thought you
said that was impractical.
Many slimmers will
recognise the fact that as they become lighter,
it becomes less easy to shed the pounds. The
major reason for this is that when a body is
lighter, it requires less energy. A person who is
two stones heavier than his or her neighbour
requires extra energy to carry that additional
bodyweight rather as if he or she was
carrying a rucksack around all day. An average
person walking for thirty minutes burns roughly
the same number of calories as his or her
bodyweight in pounds.
So how does the
Ballast diet make use of that fact?
The Ballast diet
requires additional, external weights to be
carried by a slimmer until bodyweight loss occurs,
and then for that external weight to be
maintained by ballast until the target bodyweight
Don't some obese
people eat very large amounts of food
beyond that for which exercise can compensate?
At higher weights,
the ballast prevents movement, and so, in extreme
cases, the slimmer is unable to reach the fridge
until some initial weight loss has occured.
How do slimmers carry
the ballast around?
For small weight
corrections, this can be achieved by, for example,
carrying bricks in the bottom of a shopping bag
or rocks in pockets. For larger corrections,
belts and even full body suits are available from
my company. These can be filled with water or
sand to create the desired level of weight
compensation. I think part of the appeal of this
approach follows from the fact that a human body
has roughly the same density as water. This means
that by using water ballast in a body suit, a
slimmers physical size can remain constant.
An existing wardrobe will still fit, therefore,
all the way through the diet.
'One of the most popular
elements of your Ballast diet is that slimmers
continue to eat as much as they want of whatever
they like. Doesn't that mean that when their
targets are reached, they'll be significantly
overeating for their new weights?'
'It takes as long to gain
weight as it does to lose it. People don't notice
that fact as they're generally not struggling to
gain weight. A maintenance programme comprising
one week with ballast and one week without will
generally maintain a target weight. Alternatively,
continuing to carry fifty percent of the original
ballast weight at all times avoids the need for
two sizes of wardrobe. Wearing, sometimes,
several stones of ballast also develops
incredibly strong muscles and cardiovascular
fitness which is another advantage of this
This is clearly
brilliant, Professor Morrison. The one thing I
dont understand, however, is that you claim
to be totally unqualified to express any opinions
on this subject. Despite that, everything youve
said sounds as knowledgeable, scientific, and
credible as explanations given by those promoting
other popular diets.
Thats a very
interesting point you raise there, but Ill
leave it to your listeners to draw their own
conclusions on that one.
Thats all we
have time for, so thank you very much for joining
us, Professor Morrison.