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You have probably heard about diets that promise that you can eat whatever you want, not count calories and still lose weight. It’s a promise that has been seen countless times in diets, and they always seem to be fad diets that don’t work. What about one that has worked for people, though? That’s where we find the Shangri-La Diet, which was invented by a psychologist named Seth Roberts back in 2006.

Since then, many people have tried out the Shangri-La Diet, with many people finding success. So what is this diet all about, and how will you be able to lose weight? We look behind the science of the Shangri-La Diet, show you what you’ll be eating and how this popular plan can aid your weight loss goals.

Behind the Shangri-La Diet

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Roberts got the idea for the Shangri-La Diet back when he was a college student that was studying the behavior of rats. After seeing how saccharin caused weight gain for the rats, Roberts adjusted his diet so that he was eating food that were low on the glycemic index chart. It worked for Roberts as he ended up dropping 20 pounds, and in the process felt less hungry often.

The basics of the Shangri-La Diet were confusing for people at first, as Roberts suggested that you eat at least 100 calories per day (and no more than 400) of absolutely tasteless food. This includes olive oil or sugar water more than an hour after eating something with flavor. Roberts says that eating (or drinking in this case) something without taste will take your mind off of food with a lot of taste since you’re practically cleaning off your palate and don’t want to eat once you’ve consumed something without taste.

The biggest part of losing weight is the mental aspect, which is the main focus of the Shangri-La Diet. With Roberts having been a psychologist, he knows this and has figured out a way to help people lose weight by controlling their mind. By associating foods that can be higher in calories with poor taste, you’ll focus more on low calorie options with better taste. Once your weight has gotten to the point where maintaining weight makes more sense than gaining or losing, Roberts said your body will do its best to maintain that weight and your brain will have a brand new way of thinking about food.

Another interesting aspect of the Shangri-La Diet is how smells are used. Whenever you are eating foods that you would normally like, Roberts suggested closing your nose with a clothespin or something similar so that the flavor isn’t good. Smells are also associated with sabotaging some of your favorite foods by putting odd seasonings on them. There are a lot of small and strange details on the diet, but people claim that it works.

What’s on the Menu?

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With all of that said, the promise here is still the fact that you can eat whatever you want and not have to count calories. While there is no set menu that you should be following like some other plans have, there are still some suggestions. Let’s take a look at what a normal day might be like if you choose to follow the Shangri-La Diet. Keep in mind that you’ll have to use your olive oil between meals with at least 60 minutes in between.

Breakfast

  • Two cups of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes (200 calories)
  • One large banana (105 calories)

Lunch

  • Two slices of plain white bread (130 calories)
  • Three slices of turkey breast meat (66 calories)

Dinner

  • Three cups of pureed broccoli (90 calories)
  • Three slices of fried bacon (125 calories)

Snacks

  • Three tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil (120 calories)
  • One large apple (95 calories)
  • One large orange (86 calories)

Total daily calories = 1,017

All in all, that can be a pretty hard plan to follow. It will certainly take some time for your psychological state to get to a point where you feel that you are eating enough. Some that have tried this diet have said that the cravings for tasteful food were too much to overcome early in the diet, which makes this one pretty hard to stick with.

There seems to be a huge divide between people that say this plan does not work at all while others have said that it’s a plan that changes their mental state completely. There aren’t many studies to back up Roberts’s claims, though it really seems to depend on the person. It would be nice if there were more suggestions in terms of foods that you should be eating outside of just olive oil and sugar water.

What to Know About the Shangri-La Diet

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If the Shangri-La Diet has worked for you and you are able to get down to your goal weight, maintaining your weight loss can be a bit different. Once you get to that point, Roberts suggested that you eat 1,200 calories per day. That is a pretty low amount, and you may continue to lose weight by eating that much. Also, all of the calories are either from sugar water, fruit or just one large meal of 900 calories per day. That can be another hard diet to stick to.

Unfortunately, there aren’t too many resources for the Shangri-La Diet outside of the book that Roberts created. You can find it for pretty cheap at this point, but there isn’t a large online community like some of the other diets that we have reviewed. Sadly, Roberts passed away in 2014 at the age of 60 while hiking, so there won’t be another book released on the subject from the source, though there is plenty of information available.

There are detractors and endorses of the Shangri-La Diet, especially since exercise is not a part of the plan. While Roberts was active himself, there was never a big push for adding exercise. Most experts will agree that staying active while on a weight loss plan will not only help you lose weight faster, but will also make you healthier overall, increasing your lifespan.

Summing it Up

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With so much conflicting information and reviews out there about the Shangri-La Diet, it can be hard to want to give it a try. It doesn’t seem that eating extra virgin olive oil would have any negative effects on your health, though it does seem odd to want to actively swallow it down multiple times per day. Though Roberts claimed that the diet was nearly foolproof, there wasn’t much evidence behind it outside of personal experience and stories from those that lost weight on the plan.

Those that tried it out and lost weight swear by the Shangri-La Diet and suggest it to their friends, which is why the plan got so popular in the first place. It all really depends on how much you can stick to closing up your nose and eating food while also swallowing spoonfuls of olive oil. It doesn’t seem like something that you would be able to do for long term as you’d eventually get sick of it. If you’re really desperate, though, it could be worth a shot.

Where the Shangri-La Diet gets higher marks from experts is how safe it is overall. Unlike some diets, it’s pretty harmless and while you can eat whatever you want, the claim is that you won’t want to. It would be hard to say with confidence that the Shangri-La Diet is a plan that would work, especially if you really do take the “eating what you want” plan to heart. Some people end up just gaining more weight than they had before. Overall, it’s not one of the best diets that we’ve seen out there, but it’s certainly among the most interesting. And with how badly some people want to lose weight, we’re not surprised that so many have tried it out through the years.


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