The Shangri La Diet

By Jim F

shangri la dietThe Shangri La Diet is absurd, ridiculous, and remarkable.

It is quite simply one of the most unusual weight loss books ever written. Author Seth Roberts presents his radical ideas without melodrama or hype, and comes up with a weight loss diet that is both controversial and intriguing.

The technique is simple:

  1. Consume 100-400 calories of sugar water and/or flavorless edible oil daily.
  2. Consume the sugar water and/or oil before or well after meals – at least an hour away.

The sugar water (a mix of white sugar and water) should be consumed slowly (over half an hour). Sugar water is flavorless despite being sweet (unlike soft drinks that have flavors added).

For the oil – Extra-Light Olive oil is recommended due to its lack of flavor.

That’s it!

No calorie counting, no recipes, no forbidden or restricted foods, no meal plans, and no deprivation.

Set Point

Roberts believes that weight is regulated by a system with a ‘set point’. If your weight is below your set point, then you will feel hungrier – and it will take more food for you to feel full.

It is possible to change your set point, and the basis of the Shangri La Diet is that set point can be lowered by eating a food that has little or no flavor – but still has calories.

Right about now your jaw will be hanging open like a fish gasping for water. The Shangri-La seems so farcical that any straight-thinking nutritionist might even dismiss it as a hoax.


The book explains – in some detail – the science and reasoning behind the diet, the authors own experiments, and various testimonies. The whole diet does in fact have the feel of an unfinished experiment.

Weight loss occurs because appetites are lowered, and the dieter is eating less. This book isn’t about building muscle and attaining 8% body fat – but simply about eating less and losing weight. What’s different to other diets is that the eating less is incidental.

A Bizarre Fad?

It’s bizarre, and it’s strange… but… I have an inkling that Seth Roberts just might be onto something.

The Shangri-La Diet is most certainly a paradigm-shifter of epic proportions. When our paradigms are challenged, we all too often respond with our own familiar dogma.

Roberts ideas deserve closer attention – but they must not be allowed to turn into a quick-fix mass-market fad diet. When this occurs uninformed people can embark on foolish dietary regimes without batting an eyelid. Roberts is an experimenter – and the diet must be viewed as such – one person’s experiments and ideas.

This is not a recommendation. The diet leaves some questions unanswered – it focuses solely on weight loss. What about the effect on metabolism or other health issues such as triglycerides or LDL cholesterol? How about diabetes?

The Shangri-La Diet, by Seth Roberts PhD (available at Amazon – 194 pages Hardback)


  1. Sue

    I wouldn’t do this.

  2. Betty White

    Can the oil be mixed with the sugar water?

  3. Kate

    Similar to the chaps who like the oil, I found the sugar water (one tbs in a 16 oz cup of hot water) – delicious. Perhaps because I virtually never allow myself any sweetened drinks. Is this going to be bad…and as I said earlier, I have had NO desire to forage or munch – and that was 3.5 hours ago. Have had a decaf but that’s all. Thoughts? I did not expect it to taste so pleasant. Perhaps I need to add more water?

  4. Kate

    AND…..what might YOU be selling. What a horrible judgement you made….”desperate lazy people”….at least every one of the letters I read prior to yours had good manners.

    What about ignorant, overly energetic people who don’t need to lose weight who troll websites for the so-called desperate, in order to abuse, or attempt to generate business for their own methods? Would you call anyone who bought into Your PRODUCT/ IDEA a name? You’d LOVE their desperation.

  5. Kate

    Don’t know, but my mom, my father’s brother (died of it at 38) and 2 out of 4 brothers have it, and I am about (in my mind) 40 pounds overweight…and the right age. I am borderline hypoglycaemic.I tried the sugar water about 2 hours ago, drank it like hot tea, and I have to say that I have absolutely NO desire to munch or snack or even cook a meal, which I normally do on Sundays. Just not thinking about FOOD. Keep asking questions.

  6. Kate

    I know…it seems stupid, but for people who are “addicted” to comfort flavours/foods, perhaps the key is to consume those calories in something that has the effect of making you feel sort of FULL, instead of setting off a binge. Also, it’s not hard to see that if you can’t eat anything else for an hour before and an hour after, you are automatically cutting down on your snack opportunities. If you personally don’t suffer from that (and it IS suffering to watch skinny colleague quaff vast amounts of free chocolate and cake and never gain an ounce)…..then you are fortunate. But science has proven that there ARE distinct genes that cause one person to WANT more food than another, and it is sheer hell if you want to do the right thing but your body betrays you. Thoughts?

  7. Kate

    Missy, I like your letter because it resonates with my own circumstances. However, there is no date on it, and I would like to know how you are getting along now. I read the book this morning and had my first sugar water about 1.5 hours ago – an hour after my breakfast. I have to say that my usual boredom induced, self-nurturing (How much can I like myself if I stuff with food, but can’t seem to stop when I am alone, as if I am going to get caught out eventually, so need to stock up when I can…) – is virtually absence. Either it is a profound desire that it work that’s kicked in, OR – it works? My mom and 2 out of 4 brothers are Type II diabetics. I am borderline hypoglycaemic. A regular ingestion of sugar water, sipped slowly might even help that, even if nothing else. So – can you tell me how you got on. If it cuts down my candy/pastry snacking, I will lose weight. I could live with one big meal a day – if I am not hungry in between. Why not?

  8. Nelly

    hi everyone..just found out about this diet and really want to give it a try…I am so bad with portion control and i get a lot of cravings!

    i just have one question: how many times a day do u have the olive oil? is it before and after each meal throughout the day or once a day?

  9. Nozza

    So the amazing secret of the diet is….if you eat c.100 calories between meals, you feel less hungry than if you don’t.