shangri la diet feature review

The Shangri La Diet

A diet plan that lets you eat what you want? It doesn’t happen often! The Shangri La Diet promises weight loss without the hassle of overhauling your eating habits. Below I look at what this diet is and what all the fuss is about it.

What Is The Shangri La Diet?

The Shangri La Diet is a book written by Seth Roberts. Seth Roberts was a Psychology Professor at the University of Tsinghua University in Beiijing and an Emeritus Professor at the University of California, Berkeley.

The idea came to Roberts after reading a paper by Israel Ramirez on the effect of saccharin on weight gain in rats. Roberts then went on to try different variations of his idea before arriving at the Shangri La Diet. The variations included drinking vinegar and eating sushi.

The Diet was named the Shangri La Diet because Roberts believed his diet puts people at peace with food. Shangri La is a very peaceful place so the name reflected this well (See An Interview with Roberts here).

The book became a best seller and many people have endorsed/mentioned the diet including Entrepreneur Tim Ferriss (1).

The Logic Behind The Diet

The Set Point

Seth Roberts believed that weight is controlled by maintain body fat at s “Set point”.

When you become above this set point, you appetite decreases ands it takes less food to make you feel full.

Likewise, if you find yourself below this set point then you become hungry and your appetite increases. You find yourself eating more to feel full.

Roberts believes that certain foods could have an influence on the set point.

He believed strongly flavored foods could raise the set point while flavorless foods lowered it. So eating bland foods will help you lose weight (maybe because they taste crap?).

Roberts believed if you ate these flavorless foods in a set time frame (one hour after and before consuming flavorful food) then you could lower your set point and thus your weight. In the Shangri La Diet, Robert’s “food” of choice is flavorless oil and/or sugar water. He recommends picking a oil (extra light olive oil) which doesn’t have a strong flavour and having some every day to suppress hunger and lower you set point. He also doesn’t count sweetness as a flavour either.

How To Do It?

Robert’s diet includes rules that you have to follow to be successful. These are:

  • Take 100-400 calories of oil/sugar water a day
  • Have the oil/sugar water at least an hour away from eating
  • The sugar water should be consumed slowly over half an hour.
  • If the oil upsets your stomach, have less and build up your tolerance
  • If you haven’t lost weight after a month – increase you oil intake by 1tbsp

What You Can And Can’t Eat

You can eat whatever you want. That’s the beauty of this diet. In terms of what oil to choose, you need to pick one with little flavour like extra light olive oil or flaxseed oil.

The sugar water is just water mixed with white sugar.

Level of Effort Involved? 1/10

This diet is easy to follow because you can continue with your current diet. The only thing you need to do extra is add some oil in. You don’t even have to exercise/exercise more. I can’t think of a diet simpler than that!

Can You Do It If You Already Have Food Restrictions?

Yes because you are only adding oil to your diet, you aren’t changing anything else. Generally oil isn’t something that interferes with dietary restrictions.


  • Easy to follow
  • Isn’t strict so likely to continue to follow


  • Doesn’t encourage healthy eating habits
  • No exercise

Does It Work? Success Stories?

Roberts himself experimented with the diet to confirm his beliefs that it worked. He reported losing 35 pounds when he did the diet.

Although there are no studies to back up this diet, Robert’s has a page on his site with useful resources/papers that talk about the science behind his theories.

If you go to Robert's forum (2), you will see numerous stories of people having success with this approach too. There are also stories too that show that it isn’t a good approach for everyone.

Where Can I Find Out More?

​​​​​Seth Robert's Website

​​​Seth’s site has a lot of insight into the diet.  His forum is particularly helpful if you want to read about people’s experiences with the diet before giving it a go.

Seth haa a great page on his site of resources about the science behind his set point theory (3).

Interview with Seth Roberts

This interview with Seth is also very insightful into the diet.

​The Shangri La Diet

​Seth Robert's Book

​The Book will give you more insight into the science behind the diet as well as Robert's experimentation with it.

shangri la diet book

​​The Shangri La Diet

​​​Seth Roberts

shangri la diet book

​​The Book will give you more insight into the science behind the diet as well as Robert's experimentation with it.


The Shangri La Diet is certainly a diet that sounds a bit bonkers – all you have to do is consume some sugar water or oil and eat whatever you want and you will lose weight.

However there is some promise that it works with many testimonials cropping up around. So it could be something worth trying if healthy eating and exercise don’t matter to you – only weight loss.

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