Besides caring about tigers-and-not-java--and the problems that creates when we're trying to pay attention, learn, and remember--our legacy brain does something else we all struggle with--it thinks you won't get much to eat all winter, so it better store it up while it can. Given how interested we are here into hacking and creating workarounds for the legacy brain issues, a new diet book that claims to take this approach got my attention. We like good stories better than good science and, for dieters, this is a damn good story: a little sugar or oil each day can lead to significant, long -term weight loss.
Kathy Sierra recently blogged about her positive experience with the Shangri-La diet (no link love from me). I have just received a free hardback copy of the Shangri-La Diet by Seth Roberts, courtesy of the US publisher, Penguin. So basically some guy wrote a book on using control to lose weight, slapped a fancy name on the cover and promoted to influencers like yourself? I suspect the effectiveness of this diet has nothing to do with nutrition and everything to do with psychology.
The two hours a day abstention period is a device that allows the dieter to practice not eating.
During the two hours free of stimulants you are likely to become re-tuned to your body's signals of hunger and thirst. The Shangri-La diet basically says there is no problem with eating crappy food with little nutrional value.
Personally, I just don't believe in quick diets, that promise lots of weight loss without any effort.
I know that eating Bad food won't make one healthy, but I also know that eating too much Good food will still make you fat.
Ah, so if I understand this correctly, it does talk about what food to avoid, and what food is good for you. I read this last night, then woke up this morning thinking -- I know just how to describe this: supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! This year I've been trying more excercise, which is good, but my weight has been constant -- presumably I just eat more as I burn more calories.
When I first read about this diet I thought it was rubbish, but now that I see smart people defending it, I am intrigued.
I think the unhealthy part of this diet is that you'll consume (according to one of the links you posted) 300 calories of nutrient-less food. So off course, I strongly believe in the fact that forcing yourself not to eat for two hours, if you don't do that naturally everyday, can help you reduce the feeling of hungriness and therefore help you get slim. I think some of the people criticising the diet seem to forget that the most straight-forward diet (eat less, eat healthy, exercise more) simply does not work for everyone. In contrast, the Shangri-La diet, if it indeed works as advertised, makes losing weight pretty much automatic. Shangri-La diet is, if you don't mind computer programming terminology, somewhat orthogonal to aspects such as healthiness and exercise etc. Tell me: what harm could it possibly do to add a tablespoon of sugar or oil a day to my healthy diet?
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License. There are many ways to lose weight in a short period of time but most of them demand great sacrifices and starvation. Dozens of different diets focus on one thing but mostly ignore the fact that your new way of eating must become a permanent habit of a lifetime. If the diet is too strict, and you are constantly hungry, the diet will not be a permanent habit, because no one in the world has such a steely will to suffer for a lifetime. In a month you will lose a few pounds, but then you will return to old habits and regain the old weight.
The group of sugar and simple carbohydrates (starch) contains foods that are difficult to control and that people are eating in large quantities: pastries, packaged sweets, white bread, rolls, donuts, pasta, cereal, sweet and soft drinks, potato chips, crackers.
The essence: Eliminating sugar and starches from your diet will reduce insulin levels, reduce your appetite and help you lose weight without starving.
Each meal should have a source of protein and at least one fresh fruit or even better, vegetables. Many nutritionists do not recommend fruit for the sugar it contains but it does not make sense for several reasons.
Another reason is that fruit contains many vitamins, minerals and other irreplaceable substances, and the third reason is that fruit contains a lot of fiber and is therefore much more saturated than some artificial sugary foods. From the fresh fruits, the best choices are plums, peaches, oranges, apples or strawberries. From sources of protein, it is recommended to consume beef, chicken, fish, seafood and eggs.
Protein is the macronutrient that most contributes to the feeling of satiety and therefore the friend of every person who wants to lose weight.
From low-fat vegetables, the recommended ones are: broccoli, cauliflower, kale, spinach, Brussels cabbage, chard, lettuce, cucumbers, carrots, celery.
In other words, for almost all adults (especially in the US), our brain wants us to be weigh more than our conscious mind wants.
The claims are outrageous, the "plan" is absurd and counter-intuitive, but when the publisher sent me a copy of the book I figured it wouldn't hurt to try it.
But this is not food aversion--while nothing beckons you or even sounds particularly good, everything tastes just as wonderful as before. Some people claim it had no effect (I have a suspicion that some of the folks for whom it doesn't work weren't actually doing it with the kind of rigorous adherence to one simple rule that's required). Nothing with any flavor of any kind is allowed--NO EXCEPTIONS--during that period, including brushing your teeth. I heat up the water, dissolve the sugar, and sip it over a half hour like really weak, sweet tea. There are a lot of subtle variations and tweaks and tunes, and recommendations based on how much weight you want to lose, etc.
However, it would have come to my attention because of the similarity of our approaches--hacking the legacy brain. I have absolutely NO authority in this field--this is simply my personal thoughts about it. Often eating becomes a way of self-expression, possibly the only part of their lives they can control. But I think a lot of what you said is probably a big part of it, especially that you don't have to do anything. Almost nobody thought the Head First books could possibly work--regardless of the research behind it--and today they represent half of the O'Reilly bestseller list on their main page. You'd be surprised how effective this strategy is plus you get the bonus karma points for not causing suffering.
American people have such bad eating habits that they need to trick themselves not to eat ANYTHING FOR TWO HOURS.
The overwhelming majority of overweight people just don't have the willpower of sticking with such a diet. For millions and millions of people, too much weight itself is the most acute health problem. Suppress the appetite this way and you'll eat less, take in fewer calories and lose weight. Or in this case, the proof of the pudding is in not necessarily wanting to eat the whole thing.
If you do not have the will to go to the gym and lift weights, then at least cycle or walk whenever you can. If you make a habit of walking, you will burn at least 200-300 calories a day, but do not worry about it at all.
On this day, eat ice cream, candy or whatever your heart desires, but it must be just one day.
If you can do it without this day, that is, to completely remove this food from your life, that would be even better.
In other words, you know that feeling you have after you've eaten a huge dinner and you think, "I'll never eat another bite ever again" -- this so-called "diet" makes that feeling happen much earlier, after a much smaller meal. I wanted to try it because it's fascinating, seems impossible to believe, and MAINLY for the claim that by reducing cravings, it helps you make better eating choices. So, again, if you're going to try it, I'd definitely get the book despite finding most of the information about it on the internet.
Indeed, within a week of getting the book, I was sent a related link by fellow blogger Scott Reynen who thought I might be interested. By saying eat what you want the diet is giving the dieter permission to have a normal relationship with food. Without really thinking much about it, it takes away the associations your brain makes with certain foods, and you quit wanting them.
I'm just saying, start with eating healthy, never skip breakfast, only eat healthy snacks and excersise three times a week. It does sound outrageous, but I also know that a good deal of why we overeat is partly psychological.
But come winter I just gain it all back as my resolve to maintain a speciality diet cracks.
While I love your blog, the Head First book I read (Design Patterns) did do not work for me at all.
If you are eating a low calorie diet, you should make sure that all calories are full of vitamins and minerals.
Let's be honest, in any other part of the world, not eating for two hours is just something you do everyday. There are exceptions, of course, but the fact is that the western world does a have HUGE (sorry for the pun) obesity problem.
If we cannot make you laugh, somehow we will build a time machine, go back in time, and make sure you get your time back. And since the Freakonomics guys were recommending it, I figured there had to be something interesting.
My goal on this "diet" was that when it was time to eat, I wanted to find carrots and broccoli as viable an option as Ben and Jerry's. And the research might turn out to be complete crap--some believe it might even be some kind of elaborate hoax. I do not use Amazon affiliate links, so I am not benefitting in any way from recommending the book here or elsewhere, and I have no relationship with the publisher or author. Learn to cook, instead of eating microwave food, and eat more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fish,.. The heart of it is tied to the brain registering calories without flavor, and the associations it makes. It's pretty much the opposite of things with community support and involvement like, say, Weight Watchers or Atkins. If you still don't feel a lot more healthier and slimmer after 2 months, then Shangri-La might be usefull. On the other hand, I did not find losing weight all that hard (I lost 100 pounds by eating healthier and exercising more). If you're following this diet, at least make sure to eat very healthy (lots of vegetables and fruit) and consider taking a multivitamin. It is not an artificial appetite supressant; it works by using your body's natural appetite supressant--the desire to keep you at a particular weight. That hasn't completely happened (although cravings have virtually disappeared), but within three days, I was actually forgetting to eat. But I have two other friends on it now, and after five days, they've noticed the effect as well. Eat whatever you want, do whatever you want, just take in the extra calories from either the sugar or the oil, and there's nothing more.
And if at least part of what Chris says is right, it's an easy way to get people to make a positive change. You might think you're funny, but are you funny enough to have your content featured on our site?
For the last ten days I've had to remind myself--as a purely cognitive activity--that "this is probably a good time to eat something." Is there a danger that I'll become too thin?
So I'm not so much recommending it (since that would require more time) as reporting my thoughts about it, my short-term experience, and why I find it so fascinating. Behaviour can mark your allegiance to something just as much as a t-shirt or tribal scarring can. The main problem is not that we eat way too much, but that we eat crappy food and we eat it way fast. Exercise is always the better way, especially combined with eating less processed food, etc. I drink a lot of water and certainly have more than a 2 hour window of not consuming anything but water. This is beneficial in this case because you will loose weight and be healthier but also because you will promote the book to your friends, the authors and publishers are happy as well.
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