Ten Years of Weights, Including Two Years on the Shangri-La Diet

Here’s a new graph I’ve made of Alex Chernavsky’s data. In 2001, he started weighing himself and recording his weight with the hope that it would help him lose weight. His data shows several interesting things:

1. Long walks really helped. The walks lasted 1.5-2 hours. They weren’t sustainable but the weight loss they caused lasted a remarkably long time — years, apparently, in the sense that it took years to regain the lost weight.

2. A low-carb diet worked well, but only at first. Alex lost a lot of weight initially but then started to regain it. Just before he became vegetarian, he was regaining weight quickly. I don’t know if this is typical. The popularity of low-carb diets has not been matched by availability of data about long-term effects, where by “long-term” I mean four years. Even though low-carb diets are 150 years old (Banting wrote in 1863).

3. The Shangri-La Diet is working better than other alternatives. There’s a difference between (a) showing that a diet causes weight loss and (b) showing that it works better than other ways of losing weight. In this comparison, it appears more sustainable than long walks and the weight loss it causes appears more sustainable than the weight loss from a low-carb diet.

Alex originally used Shangri-La Diet principles by ingesting 4 tablespoons of flaxseed oil washed down with water. (Details here.) He lost weight but then started to slowly regain it. I suggested he increase his intake of flavorless calories so he started to eat 1 tablespoon of coconut oil (about 100 calories) each day with his nose clipped. He stopped slowly gaining weight.

I asked Alex why he has persisted weighing himself so long. He replied:

I had at best a vague idea of what I wanted to do with the data.  When I was in graduate school [in neuroscience], I enjoyed plotting the results of my experiments, so I thought it would be fun to have a dataset that consisted of my own weight measures.  After I started the SLD, I had a more-concrete reason why I needed to collect the data.  I explicitly set out to test the diet.



9 Replies to “Ten Years of Weights, Including Two Years on the Shangri-La Diet”

  1. I’ve had success on and off on the shangri-la diet. I usually stop because of stress in life leads me back to old habits of anxious snacking and bad habits of diet soda and smoking at nigh cut into that 1 hour window of non-flavors. I’ve tried every diet imaginable, but really do prefer the SLD due to it’s simplicity, cost effectiveness and only small amounts of exercise. My only curiosity is whether or not it works because of the aspect of our paying more detail to our diet and true hunger or the actual flavorless calories. All in all, I do want to enjoy my food, and seem to be losing out on the positive effects of tasty foods. Also, is it the fat content that suppresses appetite.

    Lately I have found my best formula in a long time. I take about 10 grams of fish oil first thing in the morning, then a couple of eggs with some cheese on Scandinavian Bran Crispbread. This combo leaves me filled and satisfied throughout the day. Only diet soda, tea and maybe some peanuts during the rest of the day. I’m single and work nights, so it has not been a social problem. I would imagine I’ll continue to make changes, but I have lost 25 pounds since early January. I usually weigh around 250 and am 6′ 2″. I do want to add the SLD in combination again and see what happens.

    By the way, my sleep has been much better than in a long time. I think the vitamin D and late sleeping has been beneficial, along with the high Omega 3 content, which I take for my bipolar. I will add the SLD and give a later update.

    Thanks Seth.

  2. Hi Seth!
    I have just read your book and I could not put it down!! I had been complaining recently that no one had yet made sense of the whole weight loss puzzle. People have got close but no one has put all the pieces together to make a coherent theory.
    And then I find this book – it is a mind blower and truly does make sense of all the facts about weight loss, everything fits and makes sense in this theory.
    I really do believe you’ve hit the nail on the head. I’m so glad you have because I had set myself a project to figure it all out – but I could never have come up with this – as it’s coming from a different angle to the purely physiological.
    Quite honestly – I think you ought to be up for a Nobel prize or something – this information will be priceless to millions – once it becomes better known.
    I had just started ‘The Carbohydrate Addict’s Diet’ book before I read this and this is probably the second closest thing I have found to getting the full picture after your book.
    Your theory makes sense of all the observations about food cravings described in their book, for example; MSG , which intensifies flavours, leads to intense food cravings and weight gain.
    Totally brilliant – it’s all starting to make sense 🙂
    Thanks so much – reading your book is one of the best things I’ve ever done!
    I’ll be back to post my own success with the diet – started yesterday and definitely noticed some appetite suppression already.

    Seth: Thanks, Johanna, that’s nice to hear. From your lips to God’s ear.

  3. Dr. Roberts,

    When I consume 2 tablespoons of coconut oil at a time, it doesn’t feel right and I get a stomach ache. Is there a way to consume the coconut oil in one fell swoop and somehow mitigate this mild nausea? I imagine the issue is consuming the oil on an empty stomach, but isn’t that the point?

    Thanks for your blog!

    – Ross

    Seth: The issue may be lack of the right enzymes for digesting it. Your body doesn’t make enzymes it doesn’t need. Start with a tiny amount of coconut oil — that doesn’t cause a stomach ache — and gradually work up to 2 tablespoons.

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