Best Introduction to the Shangri-La Diet?

A long thread at Mark’s Daily Apple may be the best introduction to the Shangri-La Diet. It is dramatic (people object, people say the diet is crazy), varied (many voices, many sorts of data), responsive to feedback (questions and objections are answered) and no doubt more convincing than my book (because it isn’t by me). The helpful elements include:

1.  An introductory success story (from a woman named heatseeker) that I have already blogged about.

2. Someone makes a common Paleo objection — it works because of macronutrient ratios. “You have stumbled on the perfect macro ratios for you!” Heatseeker says this is unlikely because she barely changed her macro ratios. She answers many other questions and objections (e.g., “how do you choke down the coconut oil?”).

3. Someone says it didn’t work for them (“neither did anything else”).

4.  Link to a talk by me  (“You Had Me at Bacon”) that puts the diet in the context of my other work, such as the effect of pork fat on sleep.

5. Link to in context.

6. Emphasis that the flavorless calories can be anything so long as they are flavorless (i.e., have no smell, which can be achieved by eating them nose-clipped). As heatseeker says, she lost weight via flavorless fat, I lost weight via flavorless sugar, so the success cannot be due to the fat. It is more complicated than that.

7. A confident naysayer: “I started eating less and now I’m lean for life. It really is that simple.”

8. Link to a scientific paper by me about the underlying theory.

9. Heatseeker says: “I would say that after four years of eating according to TPB [The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson], and 2-3 years of really strict adherence, absolutely every promise made by Mark came true–EXCEPT the fat loss.” That Diet X works better than a credible alternative (in this case, TPB) is more interesting than the observation that it works better than nothing.

10. A link to me talking about “what food makes my brain work best“. More context.

11. “Has been incredibly easy to follow, even while at work,” says someone who is not heatseeker.

12. Independent discovery: “38 years ago our gym teacher had one of the overweight girls (we had 2) in gym class doing this! By the time we hit our Christmas break she had lost most of her pudge!! This is a true story. I remember because the girl’s parents were not informed and the gym teacher almost got fired for ‘experimenting’ on the said pupil. What saved her was people finding out that the girl had been caught by the teacher barfing up her lunch in an effort to lose weight (bulimic) so to keep her from going down that path and to gain her trust as a confidant etc she helped her by showing her a method she herself had used to control hunger which was eating a fat source between meals. Fantastic eh??? I had never heard anything quite like this until I read this thread.”

13. Bonus side effect: “Last night I slept through the night! Completely! I did not even slightly stir for any reason. . . . I have not slept through the night in YEARS!!!!!!” More reason to think that lack of certain fats impairs sleep.

14. Psychological effect: “What is happening here with the SLD? I feel calm and neutral to food.” You may remember research that suggested self-control is like a muscle. One similarity is the more you use it the stronger it gets. Several people have said that as soon as they started SLD, they were able to overcome other addictions, such as smoking and coffee. Maybe this is because years of struggling with food, day after day, had left them with very strong self-control. Before SLD, their self-control was exhausted pushing away urges to eat.  As soon as SLD got rid of those urges, their very strong self control made it easy to quit smoking or whatever.

15. Two reluctant yea-sayers: “I coincidentally started trying this as a gesture of support for a desperate friend of mine . . . The whole concept is ludicrous and it’s probably just placebo effect . . . I’m kind of embarrassed to admit that this has worked for me. 10 lbs down” (Person 1). “If there weren’t so many people saying this works for them, I’d think it was the stupidest thing in the world” (Person 2).


7 Replies to “Best Introduction to the Shangri-La Diet?”

  1. I see plenty of advice to the effect that losing weight can reduce the HbA1c of diabetics, even to the point of apparently curing them. Do you have many/any people attributing such a result to the SLD?

    Seth: No, haven’t heard many stories like that.

  2. Hi Seth. Hello from Mexico!

    I stumbled upon SLD while reading Freakonomics a couple of weeks ago and I have been doing great. It’s a life changing thing and a total revolution. But I will write to you about that in a couple of months, after I get more results with my experiments.

    I am writing here because of coffee. A few hours after I started SLD (almost 2 weeks ago) my cravings were gone, but not the craving for coffee. I love it and I have invested time and effort to become an “expert”.

    I would drink up to 3 liters of coffee in a regular morning.

    But not today. Just as my craving for food disappeared a week ago, my craving for coffee is gone today. I just had a couple of cups.

    So here’s a crazy and non-scientific theory of mine: Could it be that the cravings for coffee (and other substances) vanish because people doing SLD learn to disassociate taste from food? Or taste from substances? Since taste is no longer in the picture, could it be that coffee loses importance?

    I don’t know. Just some thoughts.

    Seth: Thanks for your comments about SLD. That’s good to hear. Your experience with coffee is fascinating. Here’s another possible explanation: Part of your craving for coffee came about because you drank coffee with food. The taste of the coffee became associated with the calories in the food. Take away the food — because you are eating less — and the craving for coffee gets weaker.

  3. Interesting compilation of info/comments. Any data or thoughts on whether a fat works better/the same/less well than using a sugar as you did when you devised SLD?

    Seth: Good fats work much better than sugar because of the positive side effects (better skin, sleep, brain, less inflammation). Sugar does not improve skin, etc. I have blogged, with data, many times about the last three (sleep, brain, inflammation). The skin improvement produced by the fat is obvious.

  4. Thanks Seth. I was thinking the same thing, that the fats (the right ones) are good for you in other ways. The down side is that a sugar source, before mixed with water, is much more portable than most fats. Which makes the diet easier for travel and work.

  5. in my life the “calm and neutral to food” effect is more important than the weight loss. (but i’m only mildly overweight.)

  6. seth, while i have your ear, one question i always had was why the size of the window was supposed to be an hour. how did you arrive at this – why isn’t it half an hour or 45 mins or two hours or 15 mins or whatever?

    Seth: Rat studies suggested the flavor and calories must be ingested no further apart than an hour to become associated. It’s meant to give the idea rather than be ironclad. I forget the details of the studies.

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