The Shangri-La Diet was developed by Seth Roberts, PhD, a psychologist who discovered that he lost weight when he was in Paris, where he was frequently drinking soda water between meals. Because he felt full all the time, he ate less. Roberts began experimenting with drinking sugar-water and light olive oil between meals and lost 50 pounds. He called his new weight-loss plan the Shangri-La diet because it allows you to make peace with food.
“The Shangri-La Diet is an appetite control diet. It involves taking in calories in the form of sugar water or extra-light olive oil as a way of resetting your body’s hunger level, similar to how you would reset a thermostat,” explains Yvette Quantz, RD, sports and lifestyle nutritionist at Food Therapy, LLC in Lafayette, La.
The Shangri-La Diet: How It Works
Roberts believes that we all have an internal “set point” that represents the weight our body wants to be. By consuming small quantities of sugar water or light olive oil during the day, he says, you can turn down your set point. The Shangri-La Diet also claims that highly flavorful foods push up your set point and create hunger cravings that make you gain weight. To avoid these cravings, this weight-loss plan suggests bland, tasteless foods. You can even put a nose clip on to avoid being stimulated by the smell of food.
The Shangri-La Diet: Game Plan
There is no Shangri-La Diet menu. Your weight-loss plan is to include about 300 calories in the form of light olive oil or sugar-water taken between meals. Meals can be mashed vegetables and any blended foods. Fruit is recommended as a frequent snack. Here are the rules for the Shangri-La Diet:
- One hour before or after a meal, drink sugar-water.
- If you want to lose about 20 pounds, use one tablespoon of sugar in your water.
- If you want to lose 20 to 40 pounds, use two tablespoons of sugar.
- If you want to lose more than 40 pounds, use three tablespoons of sugar.
- Take up to four tablespoons of light olive oil during the day as needed to control hunger.
The Shangri-La Diet: Pros and Cons
“The olive oil and sugar water may cut down your appetite and help you feel full,” says Quantz. Other pros for Shangri-La Diet are that you don’t need to count calories, there are no forbidden foods, and this weight-loss plan will not add much expense to your budget.
“I have actually tried the Shangri-La Diet on a few of my patients,” says Erika Schwartz, MD, a physician and life coach in New York City, and author of several best-selling books on nutrition and wellness. “The results did not prove to be encouraging unless they followed an overall balanced diet that I recommended.” Other drawbacks to Shangri-La include:
- The diet is meant to be bland and tasteless.
- Shangri-La says nothing about including exercise as part of your weight-loss plan.
- There is no evidence that sugar water or olive oil is any more beneficial than other low- calorie, between-meal snacks to control your hunger.
The Shangri-La Diet: Short-Term and Long-Term Effects
If you don’t mind bland and tasteless food, and you have no problems eating with a nose clip on, the Shangri-La Diet could be a short-term option for you. But neither of our nutrition experts would recommend Shangri-La as your long-term weight-loss solution.
“In the long run, people got bored with the Shangri-La Diet and having to remember to take the olive oil,” says Dr. Schwartz.
“I would not encourage anyone to try this diet. If sugar-water and olive oil help you control your appetite, you could incorporate that into your long-term weight loss plan, but only if you do it as part of a well-balanced, healthy diet,” adds Quantz.