22nd of March 2014

The Easiest Way to Lose Weight: The Shang-ri La Diet

What is it?

The Shangri-La diet leads to weight loss through consuming flavorless foods that diminish appetite. It was developed by Seth Roberts, a psychology professor at Tsinghua University in Beijing and a professor emeritus of psychology at the University of California at Berkeley.

Who Is It Good For?

People with a lot of weight to lose, who are OK with losing it slowly, and don’t really want to change the types of food they eat.

Who is it not good for?

People who are already lean or in good shape.

Why does it work?

The theory is that your body regulates itself to keep body fat at a certain point, known as the set point. When bodyfat is below the set point, your appetite increases; when bodyfat is above the set point, appetite decreases. By consuming foods that decrease your set point, your appetite will naturally decrease, leading to weight loss. Roberts says that eating food without a strong flavor to calorie association lower your set point.

How do I do it?

There are 2 main ways of following the Shangri-La Diet:

1. Fructose water
One method of consuming flavorless calories is fructose water – Roberts say “be cautious about drinking sugar water for long periods of time, such as years. High blood sugar levels, which occur if you drink sugar water quickly, slowly damage your body.”

2. Extra-light olive oil
A couple of tablespoons of extra-light olive oil also have very little flavor but have the same appetite-dulling effect as fructose water.

Roberts recommends that you eat (bodyweight in lbs x 2) flavorless calories per day – at least an hour away from any other food. This can either be in between meals, at bedtime or first thing in the morning.

One other method is to eat all your food while wearing a nose clip. By eliminating smell, much of the flavor in your food disappears, reducing your appetite.

These methods generally reduce your appetite and reduce the amount you think about food, therefore making it much easier to lose weight.

That’s it really. It’s very simple. Any other questions are all answered in this Q&A that Seth Roberts did. It’s compatible with other diet plans if you want (although obviously drinking fructose water isn’t paleo or slow-carb compliant) as the main impact is to naturally decrease appetite.

More Resources

What makes food fattening? (pdf) – unpublished research where Seth outlines his bodyfat set point theory
Interview with Seth Roberts
Success stories
Excerpted chapter from Four Hour Body talking about Shangri-La Diet (pdf)
Case study
Good discussion of Shangri-La diet on Less Wrong – covers the good and bad points
NYT magazine piece on Seth – discusses the SLD on page 2

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