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  #1   ^
Old Fri, May-19-06, 08:17
ubizmo's Avatar
ubizmo ubizmo is offline
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Plan: mumble
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Location: Philadelphia, USA
Arrow Road to Shangri-La

I've been reading about Seth Roberts's "Shangri-La diet" (henceforth SLD, but not to be confused with the "Steak Lover's Diet") and I thought this would be a good place to think out loud. This isn't strictly a lowcarb thing, but it has interesting implications, maybe.

For those who haven't heard about it, the SLD isn't actually a "diet" in the usual sense of the term. It's a technique for supressing appetite. It involves consuming tasteless calories at least an hour before a meal, and this should also be at least an hour after eating anything. That is, it's done in the middle of at least a 2-hr window of time between eating anything at all.

The tasteless calories could be in the form of sugar dissolved in a glass of warm water--I believe Roberts himself used granulated fructose, and has taken a good deal of heat for this dubious choice. Also, from what I've read, dilute sugar water doesn't work for a lot of people. Alternatively, one could use pure fat. Roberts suggests extra light olive, a couple of teaspoons. And that's essentially the whole diet. He claims that doing this blunts appetite and resets the body's setpoint, so that one will simply not want much food at meals.

That's the method. Now the theory behind it...

Roberts is a research psychologist. His theory is that there is an association between flavor, energy, and appetite. The completely unrevolutionary idea is that flavors stimulate appetite, i.e., when we eat a flavorful food and then "reward" the body with calories/energy, we set up a reinforcement to keep repeating the act. This, Roberts argues, makes sense in a setting of scarcity, as he imagines the paleolithic era to have been.

So one way to make use of this principle would be to eat only bland foods, with little variety, because variety itself is a way of heightening the flavor stimulus. There was some discussion about this recently in the "Anchell diet" thread, concerning the seemingly arbitrarily restricted list of non-meat food options. It may also be relevant to the all-meat diet discussions and the experience of those who find that *any* veggies give them cravings.

Roberts considered the bland food approach, but recognized that he, and most people, would be unable to eschew flavorful foods permanently. It's one thing if your environment *forces* bland foods upon you, but most people will not willingly accept that austerity.
Anyway, keeping to the fat-based version of the SLD, the premise is that taking in flavorless fuel a few times a day weakens the connection between flavor and energy, so that when one does eat, one wants less. Roberts himself claims that doing this actually resulted in too much weight loss, but even now, his ad libitum daily intake is only about 1200 calories, mostly taken in a single meal, with a couple of pieces of fruit during the rest of the day. That seems like pretty extreme caloric restriction to me, but I guess the point is that it's his ad libitum setpoint, while following this plan.

It's interesting to me that critics of LC diets often charge that they work by limiting food choices and variety, and by the satiety-inducing property of fat. I think there are good reasons to restrict carbs that are independent of weight control. Maybe the SLD in conjunction with an overall LC plan would work well.

Last edited by ubizmo : Fri, May-19-06 at 08:30. Reason: an afterthought
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  #2   ^
Old Fri, May-19-06, 11:55
Nancy LC's Avatar
Nancy LC Nancy LC is offline
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Plan: Paleo 99.5%
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Is this the guy that does all the self-experimentation?

I'm confused why sugar water would be considered bland. It is sugary, not bland. Hmmm...

In some regards, I think this is why the Meat and Egg diet works so well. It really shuts my appetite off and I think two things do that... lots of protein and bland food.

My only problem with this method is that I seem to have a limit to how long I can do this before it ends in a binge.
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  #3   ^
Old Fri, May-19-06, 13:02
HappyLC's Avatar
HappyLC HappyLC is offline
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Plan: Atkins
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I've been wondering whether I should start a thread on this. I'm glad someone did. I started the diet on Monday (using Extra Light Olive Oil instead of sugar). My appetite was greatly diminished almost immediately. I have lost 3 pounds so far.

I'm still lowcarbing, since lowcarbing has "cured" my IBS, eczema and ADD. I just wasn't losing weight.

(BTW, there's an old thread on this diet here.)
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  #4   ^
Old Fri, May-19-06, 14:00
Jaeger Jaeger is offline
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The SLD and the S-LD may have more in common than we think. Perhaps the S-LDs flavorless fuel is a low pyruvic acid former like any of the SLDs lossoyhdrates.
Quote:
http://themysterioustraveler.blogsp...nline-hoax.html

The evolution of an online hoax?

What better way to study the evolution of an online hoax than to create one? I can't help but wonder if that's what the new Shangri-La Diet is all about. It has all the earmarks of a harmless hoax with Bay Area techno roots:

a lone-ranger Berkeley psych professor with a hip, geeky appearance
a harmless diet regimen that won't get the experimenters sued
"seeding" of diet endorsements by high-traffic bloggers such as Creating Passionate Users
a book about the diet on Amazon

By following reader comments on the various blogsites where the diet is being discussed, and traffic to various blog pages about it, hoax researchers could easily track the rise (and eventual wane) of interest in it. It would also be possible for them to follow the effects when the glacial print media finally get the idea and the diet (or a debunking of it) hits the mainstream.

Of course, the first major report on the diet was in the print media, specifically an article by the Freakonomics folks in the New York Times in September, 2005. But that focused more on the researcher's highly personalized approach to self-improvement (including diet) than on the diet itself.

I think the Calorie Lab website puts it all perspective:

On the face if it, if you had to cook up the ultimate stereotype of a wacky fad diet for use in a comedic novel or film, the Shangri-La Diet would fill the bill. While were not necessarily saying it wont work, the one-man lab rat nature of its development is far from proof of its effectiveness. And it suffers from the key flaw of most fad diets, in requiring a lifetime of somewhat unnatural behavior (e.g., calorie restriction) that, even if you yourself can maintain, will eventually drive the people around you crazy. On the other hand, if you are on the verge of deciding to undergo bariatric surgery, it might be worth a try before permanently modifying your body.

What do you think?
posted by mysterious traveler at 10:32 AM
|

2 Comments:

Well, it works for me, when nothing else has, so if it is a hoax, it is a strange one. It has worked for my friends and family as well. Drop by my blog, read the diet posts.
By Stephen, at 9:37 PM

It's not a study of internet folklore diffusion. After all, this is a psychology professor, not an anthropology professor. It's a mass study of the placebo effect.
By Anonymous, at 3:06 AM

Well if I was going to try it, Id go with expeller-pressed coconut oil dissolved in warm water for the flavorless fuel. Thats what Mary Enig and Sally Fallon use to suppress appetite in their book Eat fat, lose fat.
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  #5   ^
Old Fri, May-19-06, 14:12
dina1957 dina1957 is offline
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I remember not letting my kids have any candy or sweets before a meal, because it supresses appetite. May be it does make sense, gotta try coconut oil version.
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  #6   ^
Old Fri, May-19-06, 14:35
santabarb santabarb is offline
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Well. if steaks and grapes don't do it for me, I'll fall back on the virgin coconut oil, or extra virgin light olive oil, according to what's on hand. But I'm keeping it as an emergency back up plan.
Thanks once again for leading the way in cracking this weight loss dilemma, ubizmo and jaeger. Your posts are valuable.
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  #7   ^
Old Fri, May-19-06, 14:43
HappyLC's Avatar
HappyLC HappyLC is offline
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Plan: Atkins
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaeger
...Id go with expeller-pressed coconut oil dissolved in warm water for the flavorless fuel. Thats what Mary Enig and Sally Fallon use to suppress appetite in their book Eat fat, lose fat.


Is it really flavorless? I would definitely try it if it were.


Quote:
Originally Posted by santabarb
Well. if steaks and grapes don't do it for me, I'll fall back on the virgin coconut oil, or extra virgin light olive oil, according to what's on hand. But I'm keeping it as an emergency back up plan.


I didn't make it past 3 days on Anchell, lol. I don't like feeling deprived. I'm really enjoying the oil thing since I can eat whatever I want, but I really, really have no desire to overeat at all. It's different from a feeling of fullness. I used to binge-eat well past fullness. This is more a feeling of just having NO interest in food at all after satiety is reached. I know it's only been five days for me, but I've never experienced this feeling before, so I'm quite hopeful.
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  #8   ^
Old Fri, May-19-06, 17:24
ItsTheWooo's Avatar
ItsTheWooo ItsTheWooo is offline
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There is a lot of issues I have with this theory. Right now, though, I'll stick to this one. If it is true that you can unlearn the association between nutrition and flavor (a stupid theory IMO) ... what effect would calorie free highly flavorful food have?

We've had fake food for many decades now - foods that taste like they're loaded with sugar and fat but actually are not. If this theory is correct - that flavor paired with tons of energy teaches the body to associate flavor WITH rich nutrition, thus leading to capitalization on that by increasing hunger - isn't it true that drinking diet soda would "break" or at least confound the association just as much as drinking bland oils?

We see from observing dieters this is not true. The more you reduce calories in food, while also loading it with taste sensations that are pleasing, the more people eat. Diet food does NOT teach the body that taste is a poor indication of nutrition, which, in theory, it should.

This implies to me (and it is very obvious) that taste (and it's superior texture) -> nutrition is hard coded in our genes. It cannot be learned or unlearned, and at best controlled by eating LESS often (like once or twice a day) or from fewer foods (example, a low carb basic diet).

Also, the shangri-la diet seems to be ignoring the fact that oil is NOT a "flavorless food". Even though we cannot perceive a vivid taste, research shows we CAN detect the presence of fat in food through other means. If we reason the smart body wants to capitalize on ample nutrition, and if we recognize the body CAN detect fat as a nutritious substance (it can), then the idea that drinking oil before meals helps you to eat less for this theory is ridiculous.

Oh, I don't doubt eating oil before meals helps you to eat less at meals. But, it's quite simply only because FEW substances reduce the rate of gastric emptying, blood sugar response, and increase satiety the way fat does. If the shangri-la diet recommended an oil and vinegar drink, the results would be even more spectacular because vinegar is both calorie free AND potently cleanses the palate (vinegar, like fat, reduces blood sugar and gastric emptying thus increasing satiety and fat burning capabilities).

Fructose water? That one's strange. All I can assume is that since fructose is extremely low GI, yet also a carbohydrate (thus instant energy), it is a good way to quickly stop hunger and induce a metabolic fed state WITHOUT contributing to the insulin roller coaster that a glucose drink would. Few things quickly take away hunger than a surge in energy before your body starts cranking out the insulin (and then, once that happens, your hunger grows and grows as lipolysis and GNG is suppressed to near nothingness as you peak with the hypoglycemic episode).
If you go into a meal like that (fed, yet, without risk of dramatically becoming hyperinsulinemic thus hungry later) ... it is reasonable to assume you'll eat less at that meal.

Basically the diet, IMO, is a gimmic. It is a way of tricking you into getting your metabolism to control its insulin and hunger without uttering the unsexy words "don't eat freaking starch and sugar" . Ultimately, like all fads, it is too silly, the rules too pointless and vague to really work out long term.
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  #9   ^
Old Fri, May-19-06, 17:31
kwikdriver's Avatar
kwikdriver kwikdriver is offline
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There was a thread on this already, if anyone wants to see it.

http://forum.lowcarber.org/showthre...ight=Shangri-La
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  #10   ^
Old Fri, May-19-06, 17:38
HappyLC's Avatar
HappyLC HappyLC is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kwikdriver
There was a thread on this already, if anyone wants to see it.

http://forum.lowcarber.org/showthre...ight=Shangri-La


I already posted this link. See above. (Third post in the thread.)
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  #11   ^
Old Fri, May-19-06, 17:46
HappyLC's Avatar
HappyLC HappyLC is offline
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Plan: Atkins
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ItsTheWooo
.
Basically the diet, IMO, is a gimmic. It is a way of tricking you into getting your metabolism to control its insulin and hunger without uttering the unsexy words "don't eat freaking starch and sugar" . Ultimately, like all fads, it is too silly, the rules too pointless and vague to really work out long term.


If it's a silly, ridiculous gimmick, how do you explain the people who have lost 25, 30, and 50+ pounds on this regime?

You might want to ask these questions of the author of the diet, Seth Roberts, at his forum.
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  #12   ^
Old Fri, May-19-06, 18:03
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kwikdriver kwikdriver is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HappyLC
I already posted this link. See above. (Third post in the thread.)


Sorry, missed it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by HappyLC
If it's a silly, ridiculous gimmick, how do you explain the people who have lost 25, 30, and 50+ pounds on this regime?

You might want to ask these questions of the author of the diet, Seth Roberts, at his forum.



There are people who swear by the cabbage soup diet, but it's still a gimmick. I'm skeptical about this, particularly the sugar water thing. Roberts is making a lot of money from his book, like many, many people have in the past, and many, many people will in the future. And that's OK, but the fact that there's so much money in the new diet business leads me to assume something is fraudulent until proven otherwise. Most diets are gimmicky -- it's a fact. The 7 day diet. The dessert diet. The flavor theme diet. The same color food diet. And on and on.

What makes me suspicious about this is there's no real science behind it, just some psychological theorizing. There's science behind low carbing; it explains why people overeat and how they can stop, in a verifiable way. This is just some guy's psychological theory, and there's no science I can look at to check it out.
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Old Fri, May-19-06, 18:18
HappyLC's Avatar
HappyLC HappyLC is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kwikdriver
\There are people who swear by the cabbage soup diet, but it's still a gimmick. I'm skeptical about this, particularly the sugar water thing. Roberts is making a lot of money from his book, like many, many people have in the past, and many, many people will in the future. And that's OK, but the fact that there's so much money in the new diet business leads me to assume something is fraudulent until proven otherwise. Most diets are gimmicky -- it's a fact. The 7 day diet. The dessert diet. The flavor theme diet. The same color food diet. And on and on.

What makes me suspicious about this is there's no real science behind it, just some psychological theorizing. There's science behind low carbing; it explains why people overeat and how they can stop, in a verifiable way. This is just some guy's psychological theory, and there's no science I can look at to check it out.


Have you read the book? This is the least "diet booky" diet book I have ever read. He includes failures as well as successes in his case histories. I would suggest reading it before condemning it.

I must say I'm surprised by this attitude, coming from a lowcarber. I'm reminded of the old "weight loss on Atkins is all water weight" nonsense. I doubt a person could lose 25 or 50 pounds following a "gimmick" diet.
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Old Fri, May-19-06, 18:31
kwikdriver's Avatar
kwikdriver kwikdriver is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HappyLC
Have you read the book? This is the least "diet booky" diet book I have ever read. He includes failures as well as successes in his case histories. I would suggest reading it before condemning it.


I'm not condemning it, and no, I won't read the book: I've found what works for me. If this works for someone else, that's great, I'm happy for them. I'm happy for someone who makes WW, or low fat, or anything else work for them, too. But I'm still skeptical about anything -- not just this diet, anything -- that I can't verify with science, that can't be falsified. This can't be falsified, at least not in any practical way. That doesn't mean it's bad, it just means it isn't for me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by HappyLC
I must say I'm surprised by this attitude, coming from a lowcarber. I'm reminded of the old "weight loss on Atkins is all water weight" nonsense. I doubt a person could lose 25 or 50 pounds following a "gimmick" diet.


Every diet book has its success stories. They are a necessary part of the marketing plan.

Just because something works doesn't mean it isn't a gimmick; just because something is gimmicky doesn't mean it's without value. Gimmicks have value, and in fact, I believe all popular diets are gimmicky to some extent. Just naming a diet is part of the gimmick in many cases. What in the world does the SBD have to do with South Beach? What does the Hamptons Diet have to do with the Hamptons, and so on?

Last edited by kwikdriver : Fri, May-19-06 at 18:39.
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  #15   ^
Old Fri, May-19-06, 18:46
HappyLC's Avatar
HappyLC HappyLC is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kwikdriver
I'm not condemning it, and no, I won't read the book: I've found what works for me.


You are not obliged to read the book at all, unless you are going to criticize. How do you know there's no science behind it if you haven't read the book? This sounds kind of like criticism/condemnation to me -

"There are people who swear by the cabbage soup diet, but it's still a gimmick. I'm skeptical about this, particularly the sugar water thing. Roberts is making a lot of money from his book, like many, many people have in the past, and many, many people will in the future. And that's OK, but the fact that there's so much money in the new diet business leads me to assume something is fraudulent until proven otherwise. Most diets are gimmicky -- it's a fact. The 7 day diet. The dessert diet. The flavor theme diet. The same color food diet. And on and on.

What makes me suspicious about this is there's no real science behind it, just some psychological theorizing. There's science behind low carbing; it explains why people overeat and how they can stop, in a verifiable way. This is just some guy's psychological theory, and there's no science I can look at to check it out.
"


Quote:
Every diet book has its success stories. They are a necessary part of the marketing plan.


I think you misunderstood me. I said the book contained quite a few failures as well as successes. The book sounds more like a guy reporting on the findings of his research than a "diet guru" using the hard sell.

Look, I'm not here to argue with anybody, or to fight Seth Roberts' battles for him. I just get annoyed when anyone makes assumptions and/or criticizes something they really haven't investigated.
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