The Ratchet Diet – In a Nutshell

The beauty of the Ratchet Diet is its simplicity.

Unlike all the other diets where you lose weight, but sooner or later the weight just comes back, the Ratchet Diet uses the power of the ratchet to stop you slipping back.

Hi I’m Hans Ratzenburger and I am excited to tell you about this diet system that I invented based upon the simple, yet powerful Ratchet mechanism.


Hans Ratzenburger

Anyone who has watched a truck driver tighten down a massive load using a ratchet strap would have been astounded at how the massive load is held in place by these reinforced straps that are tightened by hand using the Ratchet apparatus.

The secret is that force is applied in one direction only and each time the strap is tightened to the next position, the operator can relax, and even have a cup of tea if he so desires, before returning to the job in hand and tightening the ratchet another notch.


I watched this happening one day while waiting at a truck stop on the Hume Highway to Melbourne, Australia, and thought to myself …

“Why cant I apply the principle of The Ratchet” to the challenge of losing weight and managing my own weight?”.

I thought about that for many years and one day while filling in a financial spreadsheet the answer struck me like a bolt of lightening.

I could indeed apply the Ratchet principle to weight loss.   All I needed to do was to replace the mechanical Ratchet mechanism with a logical mechanism in the shape of a spreadsheet or calendar. I would simply set my next Ratchet setting in the paper or online tool and then manage my diet so that my weight was always under the current Ratchet setting.

Losing weight is the easy part.   Even the most obese person loses weight occasionally, but then they put it back on and usually they put more back on than they lost.

With the Ratchet System you would lose weight and keep it at your new Ratchet setting until you were ready to move it down another notch.

I had finally cracked the problem of Yo-yo dieting that bedevils all the other diets.

So what are the components of the Ratchet Diet?    Read on ….

Start-up Activities

Medical Precautions:

  • See your Doctor and obtain his or her approval for you to embark on a diet.

Take your starting measurements:

  • Weight
  • Height
  • Waist (around belly button)

Set your targets:

  • Overall Target: A Waist to Height Ratio of 50%. (So if your height is 180 centimetres your target waist will be 90 centimetres)
  • Weekly Target: Set your Ratchet Weight for week one of the diet.  This will be your starting weight plus one kilo and rounded up to the next closest kilo.  (e.g. your starting weight was 98.5 kilos.  Adding one kilo gives you 99.5 and rounded up gives you a starting Ratchet Weight of 100 kilos.  This gives you a buffer for fluctuations due to water retention.) 

Weekly Activities

Sunday Evening:

  • Go to your smartphone calendar and set the view to weekly
  • Calculate your Ratchet Weight for the next week by subtracting one kilo from the previous week’s Ratchet Weight. (NOTE: Skip this step if you failed to meet a Ratchet Weight during the week and had to extend the current Ratchet Weight for an additional week)
  • Enter the Weekly Ratchet Weight in the top cell of your smartphone calendar for each day. 
  • Take your weekly Waist measurement
  • Enter your weekly Waist measurement in cell two of your smartphone calendar for each day of the next week. (Your waist measurement changes very slowly so that daily measurements are meaningless for our purposes.  Only weekly measurements can give us useful feedback on progress)

Daily Activities


  • Weigh yourself in the morning – enter your weight in cell three of your Smartphone Calendar for today
  • Check that your weight is less than your Weekly Ratchet Weight
  • If your weight is less than your Weekly Ratchet Weight, then you will eat normally for the day (e.g VCLD Shakes and Vegetables)
  • If your weight is higher than the Weekly Ratchet Weight, then you will eat nothing until the evening. (This is a form of Intermittent Fasting)


  • If you did an Intermittent Fast today, then weigh yourself again.
  •  If your weight is less than your Weekly Ratchet Weight, then you will eat normally for the balance of the day (e.g VCLD Shakes and Vegetables)
  • If your weight is higher than the Weekly Ratchet Weight, this is an indication that your rate of weight loss is too ambitious.  Go to your Smartphone Calendar and extend your current Weekly Ratchet Weight for an additional week.
  • Go to bed before midnight

Food Guidelines – Diet Phase


  • VLCD (Very Low Calorie Diet) products (e.g OPTIFAST) in accordance with the manufacturers’ instructions.
  • Vegetables  – unlimited (except for Potatoes, pumpkin and sweet potato)  
  • Water according to thirst
  • Tea and coffee in moderation


  • Sugar (Cakes, Ice Cream, Candy, Doughnuts, etc.)
  • Grains (Oats, Cereals, Crackers, Bread, Pasta, Pizza, Rice)
  • Seed Oils (Sunflower, Canola, etc.)
  • Processed foods (Anything that comes in a box or can)
  • Fried food
  • Alcohol
  • Beans (legumes)
  • Starchy vegetables (Potatoes, Pumpkin, Sweet Potato)
  • Fruit
  • Nuts
  • Meat, Fish, Fowl

Food Guidelines – Maintenance Phase


  • Red meat (Beef, Lamb, Pork, etc.)
  • Poultry (Chicken, Turkey, Duck, etc.)
  • Fish – all types
  • Vegetables  – unlimited (except for Potatoes, pumpkin and sweet potato)
  • Water according to thirst
  • Tea and coffee in moderation

In Moderation:

  • Fruit
  • Alcohol
  • Starchy vegetables (Potatoes, Pumpkin, etc.)
  • Nuts


  • Sugar (Cakes, Ice Cream, Candy, Doughnuts, etc.)
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Fruit
  • Grains (Oats, Cereals, Crackers, Bread, Pasta, Pizza, Rice)
  • Seed Oils (Sunflower, Canola,  etc.)
  • Processed foods (Anything that comes in a box or can)
  • Fried food

How The Ratchet Diet Works

  • The Ratchet Weight  is not a target.  It is the mechanism by which weight is reduced at a sensible rate of one kilo (approximately two pounds) per week.
  • The end goal of a normal Waist to Height Ratio, is a recognised metric that is associated with good health and reduced risks that are linked to obesity.
  • By NOT setting a Target End Weight, the dieter is spared the guesswork of what their ideal weight should be.   Your ideal weight is a very subjective figure which is different for everyone depending upon genetic background, age, body shape, muscle mass, bone density and water retention.
  • By NOT setting a Target End Weight, the dieter avoids the danger of becoming obsessed with weight loss for the sake of it, which would put the dieter at risk of developing an eating disorder
  • By aiming for a normal Waist to Height Ratio, the dieter is aiming to be healthy rather than thin.   Being too thin is almost as bad a health risk as being obese, so we don’t want to overshoot with our weight loss and swap one problem for another one.
  • In the Diet Phase you will consume only VLCD (Very Low Calorie Diet) foods and vegetables.  This approach  provides a powerful weapon to smash through the barriers and plateaus that  destroy progress on other diets.  This is a brute strength approach which appeals to the dieter who is fed up with the wimpy approaches used by most of the other diets.
  • In the Maintenance Phase  you will only eat healthy and nutritious whole foods.  This will ensure that your body can recognise the quantity of food eaten and the nutrients contained in it and automatically control how much food you consume.  Dieting will no longer be required.

What is a Ratchet?



  1. Whenever I buy a pack of two chicken breasts at my local supermarket, the package contains one large and one small fillet. As an ignorant townie, I wonder if any country-dwelling readers have spotted one of these lop-sided crosses between Audrey Hepburn and Jayne Mansfield (or for the younger generation, Sienna Miller and Kelly Brook) scuttling around in a field?

  2. My partner and I stumbled over here from a different website and
    thought I might check things out. I like things i see so now i am just following you.
    Look forward to exploring your internet page yet again.

  3. Hey there, I think your site is bloody fantastic. Every time I come to the site I learn something new about fitness and health. I just wanted to give you a quick heads up!
    Superb blog!

    Also visit my web blog :: CristyBWalts

  4. I don’t know if it’s just me or if perhaps all others experiencing the same thing, but since following your instructions and losing lots of weight my love life had totally turned around. I am being approached by men while out shopping, exchanging phone numbers and having the best sex that I have ever had. Thank you Hans for your help and advice.

  5. Please let me thank you for this website.
    You have some really good articles and I feel
    I am becoming a better person for reading these articles.

  6. Hi, I truly do think it is a great web site.
    I stumbledupon it 😉 I am going to return yet again since i have book-marked it.

  7. OK I’m in. I have tried everything else so why not give this diet a try.

  8. Fat Lives Matter

    What do you dudes think about Donald Trump and his attitude to fat people? I went to this rally where Donald Trump was speaking and I yelled at him “The poor people are on food stamps because of you, you big schmuck”
    Next thing you know I am being manhandled by security and thrown out of the event on my ass. Then do you know what he said?
    He said “You know, it’s amazing. I mention food stamps and that guy who’s seriously overweight went crazy.”
    I work as a school teacher and we don’t get much time to eat healthy food. I eat all the same muck and shit that we feed the kids so of course I am a fat man. In fact I don’t call it fat, I call myself a “big man”. I keep hearing politicians saying that we need to look after the little people. Well you can blow me if you think that I am going to go along with that. What about the big people like me? Don’t we deserve some respect as well. Donald Trump can kiss my fat tush!

  9. Thought you might be interested in a study of the impact of breathing exercises on weight loss. This study started when we discovered experiments were first performed by Greek physicians who tried various potions and ointemtns to clear breathing passages.

    Dating from the st century CE these potions were stored in glass containers that held various ointments and unguents designed for medicinal use. Some were in surprisingly good condition for their age.

    Also dicovered by Ronald Zieveski MD MHA Medical Director, was that these doctors were treating primary pulmonary diseases. For example COPD airway obstruction by forcing open the airwaves, despite some limitations in this approach. These limitations would not have affected the differences we observed between case and control groups and therefore would not affect the overall results or conclusions.

    Treatment was also used to by these ancient doctors to help patients with such severe brain damage that it prevented them from breathing.
    Findings are neither sensitive nor specific.

    A side effect was chronic flatulence due to the presence of excessive gas in the stomach and the intestines. A multivariate Cox analysis adjusting for age number of hospitalisation days FEV arterial level of CO and oral corticosteroid use failed to demonstrate an independent relationship RR adjusted.Small ulcers canker sores appeared on some patients gums.

    This is an interesting study, still in its early stages.

    But for now, the overweight person should look into doing some relaxation and deep breathing exercises as part of an overall, holistic approach to improving their health.

  10. I have been trying to lose weight using Optifast but had no proper system. This looks like the missing link that I have been searching for. Will try the Ratchet Diet and see what happens.

  11. This is one of the best web sites on the internet for the overweight person like myself. I have been trying to lose weight for nearly a decade without success. I love popping into this blog for the latest inspiration and funny take on the crazy world of dieting.

  12. excellent post, very informative. I wonder why the other specialists of this sector do not notice this. You should continue your writing. I’m sure, you have a great readers’ base already!

    I say this as a person who does not actually need to lose weight myself but someone who does visit a lot of blogs and recognises a class act when I see one.

  13. I am a married woman in my mid 40s with a very large (Double D) bust. I have heard that often when women lose a lot of weight one of the first places the weight goes is from the bust area. do you have any advice for me about this? I desperately want to lose the weight off my bum and hips but my bust is one of my best “assets” so I really don’t want that to get any smaller.

    any advice would be most welcome before I commit to this diet.

  14. I started a low carb diet many years ago and felt some very unpleasant symptoms

    I got dizziness and headaches and similar symptoms during the first week of my diet. I think my body was adapting to a very low carb diet. I was told that these symptoms usually go away in a few days.

    Due you think there is a possibility that I might have been dehydrated or maybe just low on salt. Someone told me that when starting a very low carb there is extra loss of salt and fluids through the kidneys in the first weeks, until the body adapts. I tried drinking some extra fluid and putting some extra salt on my food during the first week and this helped a bit.

    I have been taking blood pressure medication? Should I see my doctor before I start on this low carb diet so he can adjust my dosage case my blood pressure drops too fast and I get dizziness?

  15. A great site and a great post.

    I am a lurker on this site and have learned a lot. Keep those posts going.

  16. I have just come off the Atkins diet where I managed to lose quite a bit of weight but eventually lost my direction and put it all back on.

    This diet cant be any worse than all the other diets so here goes nothing. Fingers crossed that this diet is the one !

  17. I have lost nearly one stone of weight in the past month following your advice so I am sold on the diet.

    Are you planning to release a book that would put all of your ideas in one place?

  18. The Rear of The Year

    You have all heard the joke “does my bum look big in this dress?”

    Well my bum looks big in any clothing and even bigger without clothing !!! If I start to follow the Ratchet Diet how do I know that I wont just lose the fat everywhere else and still have a big bum?

  19. Hans I am really pissed off.

    I am a guy who has the gift of the gab and have no trouble chatting women up at work and at play.

    But over the past decade I put on shit loads of weight and now weigh over 130 kilos. When I chase the ladies now I am like my pet dog when he chases cars. If he ever caught one he wouldn’t know what to do with it.

    I am at the end of my tether. Is this a genuine diet or are you just some guy taking the piss for a laugh?

  20. So let me see if I get this. The diet itself is nothing new, basically a way of eating less food than the body needs on a daily basis so that you burn through your fat reserves.

    The main thing that you seem to have added is the mental tool of the Ratchet. I guess that all that is when we think about it is a sliding target. I think the power or your system is that by conjuring up the image of a ratchet that always goes forwards and never slips backwards, you seem to turbo-charge the self-discipline and motivation of the dieter.

    I have been on this diet for a few weeks now and it is probably the first diet that I have lasted more than two weeks without having a cheat day or losing my focus.

    It seems like a simple and obvious idea but I have to admit that its working for me.

  21. I am still not totally sure of how the ratchet mechanism works but I can see that if I cut out drinking alcohol and eating sugar I would lose weight without doing much else. In fact I would be fitter because those things are real poisons. I am seriously considering giving this diet a try over the next few weeks.

  22. Where have you been hiding this website? I have wasted the last 5 years buying hundreds of useless diet books and trying every diet under the sun with no success.

    I haven’t tried your diet yet but it just makes so much sense that I really believe that this is finally the one.

    I am starting on the ratchet diet today.


  23. You remind me of a chap at work who is always going on about diets.

    I will pop back from time to time to see what is happening here. I don’t need to lose much weight myself but I must admit that I am intrigued by your approach. Do you have any testimonials to back up your claims?

  24. I am loosely following your guidelines. I cant get hold of Optifast but am trying it using Optislim. it looks like it should still work. Will let you know.

  25. Hi Big Kev,

    You have given me an idea.

    I have been planning to feature the diary of someone using the Ratchet Diet so that people can follow the progress, the steps involved and any “traps for young players” so that other people can learn from observing your weight loss journey.

    If its OK with you I will bump your membership up to Contributor and you will be able to start posting every day about your progress on the Ratchet Diet,

    Let me know if that suits you.


    • That sounds like a good idea to me Hans. Publishing my progress online will be a good motivational spur to keep me on the straight and narrow. Let me know via email what I need to do re logging in as a contributor and what format you want my posts to be in.

  26. Hi there Hans,

    I have been following this blog for awhile now and I notice that you are changing the focus from posting semi-serious articles about diet and fat and moving the site’s direction more towards being the go-to place for people wanting to get serious about weight loss and fitness.

    I have just come off a horror 12 months where my weight has been up and down more often than a bride’s nightie. It has been a very unpleasant roller coaster ride and ended up on my last day of a family beach side holiday with me weighing in at 109.2 Kilograms. That is a new record for me. I have never weighed 110 kilos in my whole life and that was looking very likely.

    I drove back to my home town of Canberra and did not eat that day. Starving myself got me back to 108.6 which is still bad but at least the weight was now heading in the right direction.

    It is now Saturday 13 February 2016, almost one month since that shocker of a weight and I have made some good progress.

    After returning from my holiday I came back to this blog and re-read your advice. I went straight out and bought several boxes of Optifast.

    I immediately cleared my fridge and cupboards of any bread, sugar, jam, biscuits, beer, wine, and ice-cream.

    I have been pretty diligent so far but by no means could you say I have been following the Ratchet Diet guidelines to the letter. There have been slip-ups due to family crisis and celebrations and to overcome those slip ups I sometimes had to impose a strict fast on myself to get back on track.

    Today all the hard work finally paid off and I “Cracked the Ton” for the first time in over 12 months. I finally weighed in under 100 Kilos. The actual weight was 99.4, and to be fair, that was after eating zero food yesterday and then going on a 1.5 hour walk in the local hills in sweltering midday heat.

    I am officially starting the Ratchet Diet this coming week and will try to adhere to it with 100% compliance.

    I have lost 10 kilos in one month using a combination of the Ratchet Diet and “White Knuckle” diet methods. I know I cant keep that pace up, so its time to come on board the Ratchet Diet express and settle down into a comfortable rate of one kilo per week weight loss.

    I will keep you posted on my progress,

    Yours in fat,
    Big Kev

  27. I just found this site. I am just over all the rubbish diet books and plans on the market. Usually they just say the same thing in slightly different ways and then pad the book our with a whole lot of useless recipes.

    This diet is like a breath of fresh air. I am starting on it today. Just got back from my local pharmacy with a car load of Optifast shakes and bars.

    Here goes nothing! I will keep you posted on my progress.

    • Freda Furtwängler
      Freda Furtwängler

      Congratulations on taking that first step on your diet. I bet you are going to be surprised at how nice those Optifast shakes taste. Don’t forget to mix them in a blender and throw in a few ice blocks to make a delicious creamy milk shake.

      You have definitely taken the firsts step down a road to a new slimmer and healthier you.

      Best Wishes,

  28. I have read on a few other sites that these extreme diets can result in side effects like hair loss. Have you had any feedback from people following your diet about them losing hair or other unpleasant health issues?

    I am very keen to lose weight fast, but not if it will make me bald.

  29. I am confused about why you ban artificial sweeteners on this diet? I used to do Weight Watchers and they don’t mind you drinking diet coke etc. because it has zero points and helps lower your food intake for the day.

    • Hi Adelle,
      The artificial sweeteners are OK during the diet phase because you are mainly living on VLCD Products during that phase and some of these products actually contain either artificial sweeteners or even sugar. (They have to add something sweet to make those shakes taste so good).

      But long term use of artificial sweeteners is not good for you.

      Once you graduate from the Diet Phase to the healthy eating Maintenance Phase you want to be phasing out all sweet things.

      The only way to spend the rest of your life in good health and maintain your weight loss is to lose that sweet tooth for once and for all.

      I wish there was some other way, but sadly once you have been obese for any significant length of time you will have developed very bad eating habits and done quite a bit of damage to your internal organs (e.g. the kidneys, liver and pancreas).

      Some of that damage is reversible, but only if you eat healthy foods and avoid toxic foods for the rest of your life.

      Good Luck with your dieting,

  30. I started in the diet last week and lost nearly three pounds, but we had visitors last night and ended up having pizzas and a few cold beers.
    What is the deal with these sort of cheat days or slip-ups on the Ratchet Diet. do we just soldier on? Should I reduce my food today to get on track?

    • Hi Griffin,

      Sorry to tell you this, but there is no “Deal” with cheat days on The Ratchet Diet.

      Even one binge day is enough to throw your diet off the rails and send you back several days or even a week in your progress.

      Think of it like playing snakes and ladders. You struggle to work your way up using various sized ladders and then you land on a huge snake and slide all the way back to the start of the game.

      Don’t play Snakes and Ladders with your diet!


  31. Hans,
    I notice that your diet bans alcohol during the diet phase. that surprises me.
    Loads of studies have said that alcohol, and particularly red wine, is heart healthy in moderation. Why would the diet ban wine?

    • Hi Big Tony,

      You are correct about the studies that say that some alcohol in moderation is heart healthy and assists with some aspects of health. But here at the Ratchet Diet Clinic, we have seen countless dieters fail due to the negative effects of drinking alcohol.

      Forget the problem of the calories in the alcohol, the unhealthy food that often goes with alcohol, and the effect on the metabolism of drinking alcohol.

      We have found that people who cannot quit alcohol for the duration of a diet have bigger problems. This diet requires more willpower than your average diet. A lot more will power.

      If you are unable to stop drinking alcohol for a few months to attain your ideal weight and achieve super fitness, then you need to address your alcohol problem before even considering a diet.

      I believe that these guys are quite helpful

      Thanks for your question and please come back to this site and resume your diet when you have dealt with your alcohol challenges

      Good Luck,

  32. Hans Ratzenburger
    Hans Ratzenburger

    Don’t go mad on the water. Too many articles suggest drinking gallons of water. If you follow the advice here and remember to drink water when you are thirsty you should not have too much of a problem with over-hydration.
    The fat will come off eventually and the water weight will be irrelevant at that stage.

  33. How does hydration and water weight work here? What if you haven’t put on fat but instead were just more hydrated than normal? Thanks!

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