Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Archive: Jan-MidApril 2006

Common posting area

The comments below this post are a "common area" where people can post on all things related to the diet. If you wish to have your "own space", see the related posting above. Comments from 2005 are in a separate archive posting further down on this page.


This blog blogged into existence as a temporary home for discussion of how I and others are faring on Seth Roberts' Shangri-La Diet. A summary of his methods can be found at Calorie Lab at

All who are interested can just post their progress and notes or follow mine as we try out our interpretation of Seth Roberts' unusual weight loss techniques. (I say "interpretation" as his book is not yet out, so our practices are gleaned from what he's posted online.)

This blog is not affiliated with Seth Roberts: it was simply created by an interested dieter, who had previously followed the Freakonomics blogs and posted there as Masa'il and American Mom in Malaysia. (I'll go by Annie now.)



Blogger Masa'il said...

"Pick-up post" from the 2005 archive:

Leftblanc said...

Down to 198.5 since my last post in mid-December.

Not much else to report. I am using light-tasting oil once in the morning, sugar water about 2-3
times a day plus a couple of good meals, few snacks.

It's remarkable that one thanksgiving dinner, one xmas
dinner, two rounds of hannukah latkes and a night of indulgent eating on New Year's, I'm
down 7 lbs for the entire holiday season. Unheard of.

And I don't think butter or honey would have worked for me. Oil and sugar water work.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006 8:46:40 AM

Wednesday, January 04, 2006 12:53:00 PM  
Blogger Masa'il said...

"Pick-up post" from the 2005 archive:

Granada 271 said...

Hey Leftblanc, you've lost about 27 pounds since you started, and I've lost 18 (I started a month later than you, just with oil 2x a day). Congratulations on breaking the 200 lb threshold.

I'm noticing something similar with regard to bingeing or overeating every now and then. That is, it doesn't seem to hold back my progress when I do it. Do you think this has something to do with the part of Robert's research regarding "new" flavors that you don't eat very much? He basically says flavors we don't often taste (hence, holiday foods or special occasion meals, etc.) don't make us fat. Do you think that's what's going on here? Because I feel like I ate more than usual also over the holidays, but don't seem to have gained any weight (and you lost some!).

Here's to keeping it going in 2006.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006 9:21:11 AM

Wednesday, January 04, 2006 12:55:00 PM  
Blogger Masa'il said...

"Pick-up post" from the 2005 archive:

Emily said...

Hmm, those posts from "kim" and "daniel" look suspiciously like comment spam.

Well... time for a new start. My health is back to normal, and I'm back from a long vacation.

I lost 12 lbs over 3 months of being completely inconsistent with this diet. I wonder what I can do if I put my mind to it commit myself to being consistent?

I'm going to try canola oil and sucrose water. I have gotten a little more used to canola oil, it no longer makes me gag, but I still feel compelled to chase it with a good quantity of water. I will post something when I figure out the amounts that work for me.

Thanks for the updates everyone. It is inspiring to see your progress.

Happy New Year

Tuesday, January 03, 2006 12:39:08 PM

Wednesday, January 04, 2006 12:56:00 PM  
Blogger Emily said...

Argh, blogger lost my comment. That will teach me to hit ctrl-c before I hit preview or post.

Anyway, I've lost 2 lbs in a week, which is pretty darn good. I'm still having trouble being consistent, but that's just the way it will be.

I'm going to eat one small meal and one big meal, and in between I will use sugar (sucrose) water or oil as necessary, being sure to keep an hour separation between flavored and unflavored calories.

Here's to being lighter in 2006 than I've been in years!

Thursday, January 12, 2006 2:32:00 AM  
Blogger Stephen said...

I've been very disciplined on forcing myself to swallow the olive oil. Started with sugar water twice a day, eventually moved to olive oil and am now taking olive oil once a day.

I try to take it aroug 2:30, but if I forget I just force myself to take it when I remember and just don't eat until at least an hour or so afterwards.

So far, 25 lbs, down from 16 when I blogged about it at

DDixteen pounds the first thirty days, nine pounds the next thirty days. I had a plateau in there where I was losing only a half pound a week for a couple weeks until I dropped from twice a day to once a day.

Any updates from anyone else?

Thursday, January 12, 2006 11:45:00 AM  
Blogger SFC said...

For me a very easy 20.5 lbs in 15 weeks. I've pretty much reached my goal, I'm happy to say.

Thursday, January 12, 2006 9:42:00 PM  
Blogger granada271 said...

For me, about 18 pounds in three months. About 6 to 8 pounds from my goal. It's all been pretty easy for me too.

I have a question I'm hoping Dr. Roberts could answer for me and anyone else who has noticed this: what is happening when we go off the diet, and yet it doesn't seem to affect our progress? In some cases (see leftblanc's blogs), it even leads to a new low.

In his paper, Dr. Roberts has suggested the two modes, "feast" and "famine" which our body's metabolism uses to determine when to lose fat and when to store it. Perhaps the "famine" mode that we're in right now takes longer to get out of than we think. Or maybe when set point is low, an occasional binge session or overly large meal no longer affects us the same way. I'd love to hear some theories about this phenomenon. I've gone down three belt noches since I've started, but haven't figured out why this progress hasn't been ruined over Christmas or Thanksgiving. If anything, my one or two overeating sessions seemed to kickstart me into a new weight loss phase.


Thursday, January 12, 2006 10:45:00 PM  
Blogger granada271 said...

Just to recap for anyone who hasn't read the paper: Roberts says the "famine" mode is when our body has determined it is time to "spend down" our fat stores. That's where those of us taking the oil or sugar water are now. The "feast" mode is when we're tasting an abundance of strong flavors, telling our body there's lots of food around and that it's time to "stock up". Perhaps there's a net effect to all this that we haven't thought of. Considering that feast and famine periods lasted several months when we were cavemen, perhaps finding the occasional honeycomb or high calorie item during the "famine" period wasn't enough to tell our brains that we were effectively out of it. Hm...

Thursday, January 12, 2006 10:51:00 PM  
Blogger granada271 said...

And also, if you see Stephen's comment, he reached a plateau and had to bring DOWN his dosage of oil in order to start losing weight at the pace he was at before. Is this related to what I was talking about? So much science, so little time...

Thursday, January 12, 2006 10:58:00 PM  
Blogger Leftblanc said...

Granada, just to clarify, I didn't go off the diet. I ate normally through the holidays but continued with oil and sugar water in between meals.
I've lost about 28 lbs since September, including 7 through the holiday period. The last two weeks
I seem to have plateau-ed with no
real change in my behavior or the weight. It's hard to say what is going on, but I have learned not to worry about it too much. Not worrying is the best feature of this diet.

Friday, January 13, 2006 7:02:00 AM  
Blogger molly said...

QUESTION: Of the four people who seem to be the most successful on this diet -- Leftblanc, Stephen, sfc, and Granada 271, what is your gender? I'm assuming Stephen is male, and I seem to remember that Leftblanc is also. And you other two?

I'm still struggling to lose my holiday weight. I'm down about 7 pounds from my starting weight but I need to lose 5 more just to get back to my pre-holiday weight. And then I want to lose at least 10 more. I'm doing a lot of "emotional" eating when I'm not really hungry. Gotta get a handle on that. Maybe I'll temporarily "up" my dosage of oil or sugar water and see it that helps.

Anyway, I'm wondering, are men doing better on this diet than women?

Sunday, January 15, 2006 4:33:00 AM  
Blogger SFC said...

Interesting question on gender. I'm male.

FWIW: I have said on either this forum or the CalorieLab forum, that for me, two things have worked well: 1) doing about 1/4 of my NORMAL weight maintenance calories as sugar water or oil. For me, this is about 550 calories; and 2) making the flavorless calories the FIRST 550 calories of the day. My hunger is much more suppressed on days when I start with the flavorless calories, and I typically come in at between 1,300 and 1,600 caloroies for the day. On weekends, when I often start with breakfast or coffee with creamer and sweetener (i.e., flavorful calories), and then switch to oil or sugar water after that, I want to eat more throughout the day, although I still usually come in at or below my maintenance calorie level. Not sure if it's a physical or a psychological thing, but it's definitely something I've noticed.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006 12:18:00 AM  
Blogger granada271 said...

I'm male too. But I don't think that should make much difference, since in the studied provided in the Roberts paper, the subjects were both male and female, and had the same or similar results. With the mice tests referred to, they don't say the gender of the mice unfortunately.

Anyway, I agree with leftblanc, in that you should not worry about success or failure with this. Just do it, keep a record of your progress and make small adjustments along the way. I recommend not weighing yourself every day or even every week (I don't even own a scale, I just weigh in at a friend's house once a month). Your weight will go up and down while you're doing this, so day to day swings could have the unintended effect of discouraging you, when what they really may be are ups that occur before a new low.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006 2:31:00 AM  
Blogger Stephen said...

Yes, I'm a guy (sorry it took me so long to check back in).

What I have found to be important is to obtain the mental shift that the diet brings. After you have a grasp on the mind-set, which almost every naturally thin person I've known shares (you will learn to recognize things they say as a part of your internal voice), it helps.

I also have a very simple food plan I follow. I was eating more, but just didn't feel like it after a while. My target is to make sure I am getting enough protien.

Two eggs, two pieces of bread. (Breakfast. I also take a multi-vitamin, fish oil and calcium).

Yogurt with sugar, sandwich with one teaspoon peanut butter, one teaspoon jam (sometimes I don't feel like all the peanut butter). I have this for lunch and for dinner.

If I get a craving for something sweet I have a diet soda.

I started on sugar water (the oil made me gag), started taking some oil when I had to be places where rest room breaks were not an option, and now use just oil.

At first I'd mix up a two liter bottle with hot water and two-thirds cup of sugar. By 10:00 it would be cool and I'd drink half of it, the other half at 2:30. I gave myself an hour and a half without flavor on either side of the water.

When I couldn't drink the water I'd take a tablespoon of oil, but my control would be really rocky. I have to admit, I was hungry all the time, but I just didn't feel like eating at all. My breakfasts were larger than they are now (three slices of bread, also 6 ounces of orange juice), but eventually those shrank.

It was pointed out to me that I probably needed two tablespoons of oil to replace a liter of sugar water and that solved all the issues.

Eventually I hit a plateau where I was losing a half pound a week. After two-three weeks I cut back to two tablespoons of oil once a day instead of twice.

I generally get to the oil by 4:00 p.m. (I tend to get busy and forget), but I take it in one dose, in the afternoon. I'm now losing about two pounds a week.

I also attend OA, which helps me understand the mindset I've switched to (some people in the group have it, some don't and I can listen to the difference).

I stick to what works for me and have given myself a lot of "buffer." Getting a proper mindset seems more important than weight loss as this is something you want to stick with.

I'll note that I have a fair amount of muscle mass (I lift weights twice a week) and I've started walking again. The exercise helps in every way. But that only alters how fast you lose weight. Raw numbers for a guy over 200 lbs are going to be greater than for a woman in the 150 range. If nothing else, fat on its own needs calories to sustain itself.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006 8:13:00 PM  
Blogger Chantal said...

To Stephen:

You mention that you started taking some oil when you had to be places where rest room breaks were not an option... How do you take your oil without drawing attention to yourself? It seems to me that sugar water would be the easier thing to consume when no rest room breaks are available...



Wednesday, January 18, 2006 12:05:00 AM  
Blogger Chantal said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006 12:05:00 AM  
Blogger Stephen said...

I just drink the oil from a small bottle that I have marked at 2 tablespoon increments.

The problem is that if I drink a liter or so of fluid, I'm going to need to leave the room more than once to let it exit. Oil is much easier to take a little in at a 2:30 break or while driving or something.

I can't drink sugar water in court, so if I just go in the hall at the 2:30 break and drink down a liter of fluid, it is more noticable than drinking two tablespoons of fluid.

The two tablespoons don't find me wanting to take a break before 5:00 or 5:30. A liter of water does.

Today I've got a deposition starting at 3:00. I'll drink the oil just before I drive down. I won't need a break. If I drank sugar water I surely would. I just can't hold a liter of fluid for three hours.

But, you are right. If I could hold it, then drinking a liter of what looks like water is less conspicuous than drinking something that looks like oil. But the oil drinks a lot faster.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006 2:54:00 AM  
Blogger Stephen said...


is still getting posts.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006 2:54:00 AM  
Blogger SFC said...

I have also mixed the sugar water and oil together in a running/biking water bottle -- a tablespoon or two of oil, and maybe a third of a cup of sugar water in 24 oz or so of water. Before I drink from it, I shake it up so the oil gets somewhat dispersed.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006 5:12:00 AM  
Blogger michelle said...

Congrats to everyone who survived through the holidays. As I mentioned earlier, travels knocked me off the routine, and I'm still struggling to get back into the swing. Pleasantly, however, I've also noticed less of a gain from winter binging than in previous years. I've not been doing any sugar water or oil since early Dec., and have been eating atrociously (wondering if the excess is related to the "famine" of the previous months), but only put back on about 3-4 pounds.

I've found that this doesn't work for me if I approach it casually. I can't just do a little sugar here or there as time permits or the mood hits -- it has absolutely no effect on my eating. I did best when I got into a groove with the same amount of sugar at the same time each day.

Prompted by sfc's idea about starting the sugar first thing in the morning, I evaluated the past two months and noticed that I also do better if I can get the calorie hit in before I do any bulk eating. (I can't skip breakfast entirely, but if I can exercise restraint at that time, then the rest of the day goes more smoothly.) May be psychological; not wanting to waste a good start.


Wednesday, January 18, 2006 5:38:00 AM  
Blogger Stephen said...

I've found that this doesn't work for me if I approach it casually. I can't just do a little sugar here or there as time permits or the mood hits -- it has absolutely no effect on my eating. I did best when I got into a groove with the same amount of sugar at the same time each day.


Wednesday, January 18, 2006 8:44:00 AM  
Blogger Emily said...

My schedule is totally inconsistent from day to day, so I'm having trouble being consistent with anything. Some days I'm on my feet all day, some days I'm not, so my calorie requirements vary as well as my time.

My food consumption is WAY down, even on days when I forget to have any sugar water or oil.

I am still trying to stick to 2 meals per day: one small and one regular sized. I think my success would be greater if I could establish some sort of routine with the sugar and/or oil, but so far I am slowly losing.

The biggest difference for me is that "hunger" has changed. I feel hungry at times, but it is extremely easy to igore. I try to eat on a fairly normal schedule, but a couple of times I have gone too long and started to feel jittery and shakey, at which point I make it a priority to get some calories. In the past, if I got to this state I would get an migraine later in the day without fail, but lately that hasn't happened. When I started this oil and sugar water plan fresh in January, I did have a couple of days with headaches. This happened to me in September too. It stopped after a couple of days.

Eating has definitely become something of a maintenance issue for my body, instead of whatever it used to be. I know people who only eat once per day and who forget to eat, and in the past I thought they were crazy. Now I'm almost one of them.

I have an easier time recognizing when I'm full and I rarely crave sweets after dinner. It used to be that if I got truly hungry, I would overeat. Now when I get hunger pangs I can ignore them or eat something small to satisfy them.

This is all extremely good news for me. I still enjoy food, but I feel like I have control like I've never had before. A small quantity of something I'm craving is more than enough to satisfy me. It's wonderful.

I am using oil and/or sugar water when I remember between meals, and a few times I have had a post-dinner hot cup of sugar water to quell dessert cravings.

I'm 15 lbs down from starting almost 4 months ago, and one pound above my lowest weight in early December.

Oh yes, and as my name implies, I'm female. I think my gender has little to do with my success/lack-thereof since consistency is such an issue for me.

Thursday, January 19, 2006 1:32:00 AM  
Blogger Emily said...


Your comment about mixing sugar, water, and oil together is interesting. I still find oil extremely repulsive, although it no longer makes me gag. I have started taking fish oil capsules for various reasons, but I don't think I can swallow the 12 that I would have to take to get the 120 calories from one tablespoon of oil.

I have noticed that the oil doesn't seem as effective at filling me up. Maybe I need the volume of the water as well as the calories that I get from sugar water. Maybe there is a difference in the rate at which the body processes calories from sugar versus oil.

Maybe mixing sugar water and oil is a good solution for me. I'll try it and see.

Thursday, January 19, 2006 1:43:00 AM  
Blogger SFC said...

Tim Beneke, a friend of Seth Roberts, has lost 100+lbs -- in part using the oil/sugar water 70lbs, and then, in part, with a modified approach, another 33lbs (after having platued on oil/sugar water). From the postings I read, Tim went to getting something like 75% of his calories from flavorless sources, and as I'm sure is obvious, for nutritional reasons alone, oil and sugar water might not be the perfect long-term choice. Instead, he began mixing up a what-he-said was tasteless concoction of brown rice, almond meal, flax seed meal,dry non-fat milk, garbonzo bean powder, potato flour, and soy protein powder and consumed something like 75% of his calories from that source. Obviously not as convenient as sugar water or oil, but probably a more nutritionally balanced approach. Anyway, thought I'd throw that out into the discussion.

Thursday, January 19, 2006 2:40:00 AM  
Blogger Masa'il said...

Great to see folks are still succeeding! And still posting! I couldn't care less about "having a blog", but man, it's great to hear from all of you! So inspiring, and such a dead-on mirror: really uncanny!

Like Emily, I've been inconsistent with the diet: mostly no diet the last month or so, up four pounds. This took me to 178 from 174 (192 in Sept). I was starting to look flabby too--had gotten used to my "new" 174 body shape. So, time to get serious again...

As usual, two days after starting the diet the 4 pounds fell off. Then I got sick and couldn't eat for a day: another pound gone, but perhaps not permanently. Now I'm well and on the diet again, and we'll see how it goes.

Regardless of final results in the experiment that is this diet, Roberts' method has totally changed my life food-wise and kicked any other weight loss method's ass. "Eat well and exercise" is simply NOT the fully correct answer for me (and others like me, I'm sure). I've eaten well--much whole foods, much organic, mostly vegetarian, lots of fresh, very little junk, even for snacks--for over a decade, and even exercised athletically for most of one year. I still completely believe in eating well and exercising (moderately!), but these alone were nowhere as potent in making change as Roberts' method has been.

I no longer snack or even wish to snack. I regularly put half-eaten meals in the fridge, saying, "Ugh, I'm full." I eat a few small handfuls of bittersweet dark chocolate chips after a meal occasionally when I wish, and that's nice. Otherwise, they stay nicely in their jar. Almost nine months after my second baby, my weight has fallen to the level it took me nearly two years to lose after my first, despite LESS exercise and MORE access to food (I was a lecturer before, and got lots of walking and use of the university pool: only sedentaryish housewife now, and the fridge is right there, as are the chocolate chips).

So, great! More control, more "freedom from eating" (definitely better than "freedom to eat" in my book, though apparently I've got some of that as well), less fat. I'm resuming the diet consistently to see how much more of this unhealthy weight I can lose. I'm out of "obese" now, and trying to get lower within "overweight". The day I can post and say "normal"... Well, that'll be great.

Regarding gender, I learned that men generally lose faster than women due to having more high calorie-burning mass: muscle, bone, etc (fat cells need less calories). Tall/very muscular women can lose in that trend as well. (But the short and the female among us are the longest-lived: some consolation for that side, perhaps!)

So, hey, anyone read the article following my sig? I'm scratching my head. Katz's approach definitely relates to Roberts'. But how? Does "Roberts" work because of "Katz", or vice versa, or both because of something else? Or one work better?

I jumped on Roberts' theory/method because it made so much sense and also fit in with stuff I believe in. Katz' stuff also seems to make sense and fit in. His method has the advantage of certainly being more "natural" anthropologically: our ancestors definitely would have had "apple days", "pig days", etc. Actually, most of those would have been weeks of roughly-the-same-flavor, as harvests of this or that came in, some critter or another was slaughtered and eaten up, etc., with days of flavor-change coming from a hunt or a traded food, etc. Katz's method has another seeming advantage in no definitely-strange drinking of sugar water or oil... However, it doesn't seem to address the concept of the set point. Does that matter? Would "one-flavor" days (or weeks?) work as well or better than sugar water/oil? What about in combination?

I'll research and think, and if anyone comes up with anything, please post! Perhaps someone who is "on track" with their weight loss--not me yet--could spare a week or two to do some method experimentation with "Katz" and "Katz + Roberts" and let us know? :)


From Yahoo! News....

Limiting Flavors May Be Key to Weight Loss

By Lindsey Tanner, AP Medical Writer

Wed Jan 18, 4:15 PM ET

Forget counting carbs and calories. Obesity researcher Dr. David Katz says the way to lose weight is to limit flavors.

Katz, director of Yale University's Prevention Research Center, says people stop eating when the brain's appetite center registers "full." But eating lots of flavors promotes overeating because different sensors must register full for appetite to subside, Katz says.

The typical American diet "is a mad cacophony of flavors," Katz said this week during a book-tour stop in Chicago.

Instead, Katz advocates flavor-themed meals — an apple day, for example, or a sesame day, even an occasional chocolate day.

The idea is perhaps less boring than it sounds. For example, pineapple day features pineapple juice and cereal for breakfast; pineapple-walnut chicken salad and crackers for lunch; pineapple shrimp, bulgur, sauteed peas and tossed salad for dinner; and caramelized pineapple rings for dessert.

The theory and practice are detailed in Katz's new book, "The Flavor Point Diet," based on a little-publicized phenomenon called sensory-specific satiety. That is the term used to describe the way food becomes less palatable when enough of it is eaten. Adding a new flavor renews the process, numerous studies have shown.

Katz, 42, the trim, youthful medical contributor to ABC News and a nutrition columnist for Oprah Winfrey's magazine, tested the diet on 20 people for 12 weeks and said they lost an average of more than 16 pounds.

Jonathan Link, a 34-year-old information services specialist from New Milford, Conn., was one of them. Link — who was 5 feet 9 inches and 183 pounds, with high cholesterol — was skeptical at first.

"I thought, `Oh, that's disgusting, you have to eat peaches all day,'" Link said.

But Link said the diet was surprisingly varied. He lost about 20 pounds early last year and has kept it off by permanently changing his eating habits.

"By week two, I started getting stuffed. I couldn't even finish dinner because I was feeling so full," Link said.

Katz recommends 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days. His flavor theme builds on the diets many nutritionists advocate — lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and nuts; fish and poultry for protein; limited fat; and healthy snacks.

Brown University researcher Hollie Raynor, who has studied sensory-specific satiety, said many diets are based on a more extreme interpretation of the concept, including ice cream diets, soup diets and diets that severely restrict carbohydrates.

Whether Katz's diet works because it limits flavors, or because it promotes healthy eating and exercise, is unclear, Raynor said. "If you're eating healthy and exercising, you're going to lose weight," she said.

Susan Burke, chief nutritionist for, a weight-management Web site, said there is some validity to Katz's flavor theory. "Jumbling flavors at any one meal can trigger you to eat more," Burke said.

"Whether or not the science will bear out that this actually is the cause of the weight loss" is unclear, Burke said. But she added: "At the very least, this program you can be assured is going to be nutritious."

Thursday, January 19, 2006 5:11:00 PM  
Blogger granada271 said...

I've read about this diet too, but it actually seems to just be another take on the Roberts theory. If you change the flavor of your foods, making them unfamiliar, it lowers your set point. The "flavor point" that Katz talks about is just the "allestesia" that is discussed in the Roberts study. It seems you can reach this point (where you're full and don't find eating this food pleasant any more) in a number of ways: alternating flavor of foods, lowering set point with oil/sugar water or flavorless foods, etc.

I don't know if his theory about "complex" flavors being more fattening makes any sense. What is a "complex flavor"? Can a flavor be qualified that way? Maybe he means strong flavor, in which case, he's just reading from the Roberts study.

Thursday, January 19, 2006 9:35:00 PM  
Blogger Masa'il said...

Ya, granada, after my initial research I'm leaning to the same conclusion.

But I think there may be something there with the "complex" flavors: perhaps just in terms of triggering eating.

One thing Katz said makes no sense a-tall: that the Indian diet is one with "balanced" flavors. That man must know a totally different cuisine than I do. All our dozens of Indian family friends must be cooking the wrong Indian food: it's nowhere near "balanced". And Indians have great difficulty with obesity and diabetes, as well.

Another question for the ladies: Every month when menses comes I eat extra on the diet: I'm just extra hungry, even after sugar water or oil. You experienced the same or not? I think I just need extra nutrition for blood replenishing...


Thursday, January 19, 2006 10:52:00 PM  
Blogger SFC said...

In addition to Dr. Katz, another researcher, Dr. Alan Hirsch, a noted psychiatrist who has done extensive research into smell, suggests that changing the flavor of foods affects food consumption(through setpoint?) and, therefore, weight.

I think most of us have the experience that eating certain foods (or kinds of foods) and certain eating patterns just trigger more eating. As Roberts, et al, suggest, I can easily believe it's flavor-related. My prediction is that there will be an upswell in discussion and research around this topic / approach to weight control, both in the scientific community and the culture at large.

Friday, January 20, 2006 2:17:00 AM  
Blogger Annie said...

Annie, I agree with you that women probably have certain days when they eat more, though my days don't correspond to menses but to ovulation. And Molly, I do think women struggle more on this diet than men do in part because of hormonal cycles that affect hunger. During ovulation I have about two days of voracious hunger for chocolate, cheese, and meat. Even on this diet, I find myself unable to control binge desires during such periods. Worse, my mind knows that the sugar is helping me suppress my appetite, so it keeps telling me not to take my sugar doses so that I can eat more. This is very hard to fight, but it's only a few days, thank heavens.

I should introduce myself. My name is also Annie, but to prevent confusion, please call me annieJS. I'm a Korean-American woman living in Illinois, and I'm about to turn 32. My top weight was 260, but I got down to 195 via traditional diet and exercise. That's where I plateaued for a year, yo-yoing from 191 to 198 despite cardio, strength-training, and eating right. Binge-eating (not just hormonal ones) from all that self-deprivation would come for a day or two and ruin a week's worth of careful effort. I first read about this diet when a friend sent me the link to the New York Times article last fall. A lightbulb flickered on over my head. I had always noticed that sugary snacks had the effect of dulling my hunger--I just never thought to utilize this. In fact, I'd cut most of the sugar out of my diet! It's so wonderful to have found this blog. I have been reading old posts like crazy and have tons of things I'd love to share, but I'll bring them up as topics come up so as not to overwhelm the blog. Since I've started the diet I finally broke through the 190 "brick wall" that I'd almost given up on, and am now at about 185 and still losing. This would have happened faster except for an elective surgery that set me back, and then the holidays took their toll.

I will say for now that I depart quite a bit from the original diet in that I have found it just as effective to get my sugar from fruit or food. I know this flies in the face of the flavorless component of the diet, but flavor doesn't seem to make a difference for me. The key, I learned after experimentation, is that I must start the day with at least 20 grams of sugar. Any less, and the appetite suppressing effect is lost. After that first dose, I only need 10 gram sugar "boosters" throughout the day to maintain my hunger reductions. 20 grams of sugar is about 2 tablespoons of sucrose, or 1 large banana, or 1 large piece of pineapple, etc. I refer to a nutrition book to measure sugar grams, and I always read labels.

This discovery came about gradually. I started with the sugar water, which worked. Then I experimented with orange juice, which, to my surprise, also worked. I then moved to hot milk with almond syrup in it, and that also worked. Eventually I tried varying quantities of fruit before I learned that for me, 20 grams was the cut off point. I also learned if that sugar wasn't a big part of my first meal of the day, the diet didn't "take" as well even if I had a lot of sugar later. What does not work for me is chocolate. I don't know if all the complex compounds or the fat in chocolate increases my hunger, but even with 20 grams of sugar in the chocolate, it does not suppress my appetite at all.

I look forward to sharing my progress and reading about all of yours!

Friday, January 20, 2006 5:00:00 AM  
Blogger Emily said...

Hmmm... several of you are mentioning that having the sugar first thing helps for you. I think I'll try that. That would also probably help me establish a routine. If I make a point to get it in first thing, then I'm not going to get caught up in things and forget to get it in later.

I tried the sugar/water/oil mixture, and it is not a good option for me. I tried 25 grams of sucrose in 700 mL of water with 2 Tbs. canola oil. Maybe it was too much oil, but it just seemed to prolong the unpleasant oil experience for me. I think it is best for me to keep on swallowing the oil as quickly as possible. It is hard to describe my aversion to oil... it's not the texture. I hate the smell, and the taste is just like the smell.

About the woman issues: I don't experience any increased hunger or cravings at any specific time of the month, but I am on birth control pills which might be messing up or suppressing some of that. I do find that I don't lose weight during the week of my period, and sometimes actually gain. I attribute that to water retention. Things seem to even out after that week is over.

As far as women having more trouble losing in general, I've always thought that was true. My husband can drop 10 lbs in a month just by making a conscious effort to eat less, although he usually lapses from that strategy after a month and yo-yos around those 10 lbs. He thinks I'm nuts for trying this "Shangri-La Diet", but if I have dramatic success, I can probably convince him to try it too.

Saturday, January 21, 2006 5:37:00 AM  
Blogger molly said...

The Katz diet is interesting, but seems ridiculous to try long-term or to use for maintenance. Who can put together a "theme" meal plan every day? It doesn't take into account eating out in restaurants or at a friend's house. The beauty of the Shangri-la diet is its simplicity. You can eat whatever you want -- but you want less than you normally would. Maybe some sort of modified Katz diet along with the Shangri-la diet would help some people with occasional hunger pangs? Anyway, interesting theory in the abstract, but not very realistic in practice.

Beyond the once-a-month water weight and hormonal fluctuation issues for women -- I think women's bodies tend to hold onto fat more tenaciously. There must be a Darwinian issue having to do with achieving successful pregnancies and providing nutrition to offspring when the female carries a layer of extra fat.

I'm having trouble establishing a routine like some others have mentioned. Also, there are days when I think, "Gosh, if I don't drink the oil now, then I can replace that 120 calories with a cookie after dinner!" Big mistake. Like anything else, a lot of it is mental. And this needs to become second nature, because I'm going to have to do it the rest of my life, if I want to keep the weight off.

One more thing... I've found that eating foods with a lower glycemic index helps with the hunger pangs. Seems ridiculous with the amount of sugar water I'm drinking, but whatever works.

Saturday, January 21, 2006 6:22:00 AM  
Blogger Stephen said...

When I mix oil and water I drink the oil and then wash out the non-flavor of it with the water.

I no longer snack or even wish to snack. I regularly put half-eaten meals in the fridge, saying, "Ugh, I'm full."

That is the best part of the diet.

I just went on vacation wth my wife to celebrate our 21st. Days out of town, eating out every meal and celebrating. I lost another half pound.

Left food behind and did not care.

I'm looking forward to the book -- I think the people I'd like to share the diet with, who really don't hear me when I explain it, will be able to respond to the book.

Monday, January 23, 2006 10:05:00 PM  
Blogger Leftblanc said...


Yes, I am male. I do periodically plateau on the diet and agree that the days I lose most are when I stick with oil/sugar for much of the day (maybe a banana or something light for lunch) and eat just one big meal in the evening.

As of today, 194 lbs, down from 226 lbs since September. It bounces up and down by a half pound or more (some of it is water weight) from day to day. Some days it seems to backslide. I don't worry about it.
I do agree that a big bottle of sugar water is more filling sometimes than the oil. But I worry about too much sugar spiking. I also
have a unique problem in that I don't get enough sleep, and more waking hours seems to equal more calories consumed. If I wake up later, and start the sugar/oil later and then postpone eating until later... well, I lose more.

Good luck.

Thursday, January 26, 2006 10:02:00 AM  
Blogger Annie said...

How are people doing in terms of energy levels on this diet? I'm noticing some more fatigue at the end of the day than usual, though that could be from many factors such as the winter weather, stress, etc. So I'm curious as to how others are feeling from day to day.

Friday, January 27, 2006 10:38:00 AM  
Blogger Emily said...

I think my energy level is pretty normal for me. The days when I'm tired usually coincide with less sleep or a more physically demanding day.

I weigh in every day, and my weight has been bouncing around a lot. I am charting my progress, and the overall trend is down, so that is encouraging. It's not going down as fast as I would like, but it's going down. From data taken over the last 20 days, I think I should lose about 2.5 lbs per month. I think I will try to experiment for periods of a few weeks with different amounts of sugar water and see what happens. I think I will up my sugar water to 500 kcal and divide it for morning and afternoon for a while and see if that helps. Ideally I would like to lose 6-8 lbs. per month. I think faster than that may be unsafe.

Overall, if this is the best I can do, then that's fine. This will still result in dramatic results if I can keep it up in the long term.

Friday, January 27, 2006 10:38:00 PM  
Blogger michelle said...

It's taken me a while to get back in the swing, but I'm happy to say I've re-established a nice routine. I fell into a good rhythm in the fall and lost 15 pounds, then lost the momentum with the holidays.

Interestingly, my new routine is completely different from before, and like many of you I'm skipping breakfast, which I never thought would work for me. Light lunch and about 8 tbsp sugar over several hours in the afternoon. Normal dinner.

I was back on sugar water consistently for about two weeks before stumbling on this schedule. Nothing happened during the first two weeks but now that I'm in the groove I've lost 3 pounds in the past week. This only seems to work for me if I get this kind of day-to-day regularity going.

Not sure how it affects my energy. Dealing with twin toddlers here at home so I never have enough energy or get enough sleep.

Snack-wise, I find I'm craving good stuff, too. Nuts are really appealing to me, but in reasonable quantities.

For those who haven't seen dramatic results, I'd recommend experimenting not just with quantity but with timing. Arranging for the sugar water at a point when I'd normally be hungry turns out to be easier for me to manage.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006 4:13:00 AM  
Blogger bobo2191 said...

does anyone know the effects of the oil with mindset. A few of us here who have been on the diet now for a month have experienced a better mindset. Was wondering about depression? Could this work? Something to look at I suppose. If anyone else has noticed this please share.

Thursday, February 02, 2006 3:28:00 AM  
Blogger bobo2191 said...

and also forgot to add other effects we've noticed. Shinnier hair and skin not as dry. The way we're seeing's a win - win option all around. One of us has lost 2 dress sizes and the myself and one other atleast 1 dress size down since the middle of December. It's all good. (and we are straight oil intakers)

Thursday, February 02, 2006 3:44:00 AM  
Blogger Atropenia said...

I started at 225 lbs and I've been on this for about 45 days and lost over 20 lbs to reach 205!!! I am using oil (2-4 tablespoons) per day, and inconsistently (maybe about 3-4 days per week). In addition I am eating a low GI diet and avoiding all packaged-processed foods and minimising carbs aside from 3-4 portions of whole grain pasta / "good" carbs per week. So, this is probably helping. If others on the diet try to combine low GI w/ the oil I think you'll find your weight loss to be even faster.

Thursday, February 02, 2006 3:47:00 AM  
Blogger molly said...

Michelle, I'm having your same experience exactly. Great results in the Fall, then I was undone by the holidays. Took me a while to get back into a routine, but finally I've managed to get a grip in the last couple of weeks, and I'm losing steadily again.

I had one odd experience. The sugar water seemed to stop working for me. Maybe it was psychological, I don't know. But I was getting very hungry an hour or so after. I switched back to fructose and upped the amount to 2 ounces (200 calories) from my normal 150 calories of sugar in water. So far so good. Eventually I'll try the sugar water again and see if it works. Oil continues to work too.

Two other anecdotes: I've become a popcorn fiend. I really crave something salty and crunchy in the afternoon. I eat low-fat microwave popcorn. Also, I've found I sometimes develop a hunger headache in the afternoon if I've limited myself to a couple of pieces of fruit for lunch. Normally this headache would accompany gnawing hunger pangs and would only be alleviated by eating. Now, there aren't any hunger pangs, but I still get the headache. Not a huge problem, but kind of a drag. Anybody else had this symptom?

Saturday, February 04, 2006 9:16:00 AM  
Blogger Annie said...

Molly, for how long a period did your hunger increase? I find that I'll have several days to a week during each cycle when my hunger is much sharper, so more sugar is needed to control my hunger. After that period is over I can go back to the old amount.

I have plateaued, so I went back back to plain drinking sugar water a week or so ago. Today I noticed something I have noticed before. I was making a sweet Asian-inspired salad dressing in the blender and dipping a spoon into the mixture to taste it now and then. I don't think I tasted more than a teaspoons's worth of the dressing, but afterwards, despite not having eaten for a few hours, I wasn't hungry at all.

I've noticed a similar phenomenon when I'm baking. Licking the beaters, tasting a bit of lemon curd, or trying one cookie will often kill my hunger for many hours. Perhaps I don't eat these things enough to recognize them as food?

What is most startling is that these are very small tastes--not anywhere near the two tablespoons of sugar I take in the morning, yet they kill my hunger just as effectively, if not more. I think that lends credence to the new taste theory. Certainly these are not foods I eat often. In fact, the salad dressing was a new recipe.

Saturday, February 04, 2006 9:36:00 AM  
Blogger Stephen said...

I'm now down 32 pounds since November 13 or so when I started the diet.

I have to admit I'm probably not the best example for what I eat.

2 eggs and 2 slices bread for breakfast.

Yogurt, peanut butter & jelly sandwich for lunch (l tsp peanust butter, 1 tsp jelly or less).

Same for dinner.

1600 to 1700 calories a day, 50 grams of protien (non-fat yogurt, sweeten with sugar, using oil right now, even if it makes me gag).

Still losing a pound or so a week.

I lose another ten pounds and I go back to a sport I loved from just walking and doing weights.

I can see why there isn't much discussion about the diet. It works and is simple. Once you get into a routine that works, there isn't much else to add.

I do try to eat lettuce and chicken breasts (chicken salad, no dressing) when I'm caught out at lunch.

When I'm out with my wife, I eat tomato soup and split a sandwich or something.

The sandwiches I make at home are a far cry from the 3 tablespoons of peanut butter I used to use. The peanut butter is going to last me forever and the small jar of jam has lasted me a couple of months so far.

I used to drink diet soft drinks when I had cravings for something sweet, but now I've gone to just drinking water and it works as well.

Thursday, February 09, 2006 8:35:00 AM  
Blogger seth roberts said...

The Shangri-La diet book is almost done – last thing to do is check the page-proofs corrections. It will be published in April. I want to thank everyone who posted here. Your postings made writing the book much easier. To me, this website was like a new kind of scientific tool. What it lacked in precision it made up in sweep. Anyone could post; you could do the diet however you wanted; and you could write about any of its effects. In contrast, a conventional experiment (such as a clinical trial) has a narrow range of subjects, a tightly-controlled protocol, and relatively few outcome measures. Not to mention a very high price.

When I was a boy I was in Little League. One day I was playing center field and a fly ball was hit right at me. I hardly had to move – and I dropped it. Ugh. Reading this website, day after day, felt like the exact opposite.

Thursday, February 09, 2006 11:40:00 AM  
Blogger Masa'il said...

I agree with Stephen on the reason for not posting much. The diet definitely works; my success and lack thereof depends on the extent I've been following the methods consistently.

The packed holiday season here just ended: until the upcoming Baha'i Ayyam-i-ha and New Year, that is! I'm again "back on the diet" until the next holiday. Having intermittently used the methods during the Nov-Feb "Deepavali-Christmas-Chinese New Year-tons of wedding and baby celebrations" period kept my weight pretty stable. Right now I'm just up 2 pounds from my lowest weight, and I think that's coming off since I re-resumed yesterday. Hopefully I'll have news to report in a week or so!

Seth, thank you for not "clamping down" on us prior your book publication! Some authors would have done so. Your not-requesting us to discontinue our dialogue shows your character. Thanks for that, in addition to finding and sharing these great methods. I'm glad the blogging has been useful!

Here's to a successful book launch and a result in improving folks' lives and weight loss research. If you need someone to help with promo in Asia, let me know! ;) I'm freely telling folks about your methods, but people across the ethnicities are deeply skeptical about oil and sugar: yet they're still having problems with obesity and diabetes NOT using the methods! Hopefully your book will help create some receptivity.

I hope folks will keep blogging!


Thursday, February 09, 2006 2:45:00 PM  
Blogger SFC said...

I have reached my initial goal, which was a loss of 20 lbs. Took 13 weeks. I might lose another five, but haven't really committed to that yet.

Over two weeks, I did an experiment, which was to try to create a completely flavorless, but more nutritional drink than just sugar water or olive oil. I tried various combinations of water, almond meal, powdered milk, garbanzo bean powder, whey protein, and powdered egg whites. Couldn't really get anything suitably flavorless, and by the end of the first week, I noticed I my evening appetite and snacking had gone way up, so have gone back to sugar water and olive oil. I would be interested in hearing if anyone else has tried other non-sugar/oil substitutions with any effect.

Friday, February 10, 2006 12:41:00 AM  
Blogger molly said...

AT LAST! I'm back down to my pre-Christmas weight. 13 pounds down from the start of the diet. So I'm back on track and hoping to stay on.

I've been doing fructose water exclusively for a while now, and it's been working great -- possibly the best of the Big Three (oil, sugar water, or fructose water). I started with 2 oz. in one liter of water, twice a day. Then went down to 1.5 oz. Now down to 1 oz. twice a day and having no trouble staying on a 1200 calorie per day program.

I'm thrilled for you guys who have lost so much weight. Still not convinced that there isn't a gender component at work here though. All you women out there -- what's your weight loss total in pounds and as percentage of body weight? As I said, I'm down 13 pounds which is about 9% of my starting body weight. I know it doesn't necessarily make sense that men can lose more/faster than women on this diet, but this diet is so counter-intuitive to begin with, maybe there's something to study here. Looking at it from the caveman point of view, is there some reason the male hunter-gatherer might be more susceptible to the lack of taste in food than the female child nurturer? Is this a "caretaking" response -- in other words, the male stops eating to leave more nourishment for the female and offspring, thus ensuring his genetic immortality? Does a woman benefit from being hungry in order to support reproduction and lactation?

I've pre-ordered my copy of Seth's book through Amazon. Can't wait to see it.

Saturday, February 11, 2006 10:24:00 AM  
Blogger seth roberts said...

Thanks, Molly.

Two unrelated comments: 1. When I submitted my long self-experimentation paper for publication, one reviewers wrote (warning: long quote ahead):
Fascinated by his mention of fructose water as a weight loss mechanism, I implemented a modest level of fructose in my drinking water. Although my beginning
concentrations were considerably lower than even his last and lowest level (I was concerned about blood sugar levels) I encountered a very
different reaction - pains in joints that are ordinarily all pain free. Using a standard design of fructose, no-fructose, etc., in a matter of two weeks it was clearly demonstrable that I have a strong
sensitivity to fructose (at least in the powered form I used). This
relationship (like a number of Roberts' appeared to be causal) and like many of his, was quite surprising. Moreover, like Roberts I am able to speak authoritatively about pain in joints because over a 20-year period I have monitored the health of individual joints on each hand (codes for each joint, a variety of indicators of pain - at least three
measures on each joint, etc.). Distinctive patterns of pain accompany
certain additives in food. Eliminating the offending additive
eliminates the difficulty. Adding the offending element back into the diet immediately (within hours) reproduces the difficulty. I
assiduously avoid any food that produces a measurable reaction.

In summary, there are probably enormous individual differences in reaction to foods, as well as to other elements in Roberts' fascinating programs. This is not an argument against his approach. In fact, an approach such as his, with an informed citizenry contributing data, may be the only way for us to ever recognize the full range of differences
among individuals on health and psychological dimensions. Birdsource
( permits individuals
throughout the country to make contributions to observations on the
locations of birds. Enormously more is known about the migration of species than can be learned from other more formal scientific sources. I can imagine and much approve of a new contribution to health issues provided by an expanded application of Roberts' method.

"Informed citizenry contributing data" -- that's those who posted here.

2. Annie, how can I get in touch with you?

Sunday, February 12, 2006 8:56:00 AM  
Blogger Masa'il said...

I agree about the male/female thing, Molly. I'm at 18 pounds off, also about 9% of starting weight. I still suspect it's the usual "men (the buggers) lose weight more readily than women" phenomenon, but perhaps it is specific to this diet.

Seth, my e-mail is aehend, at

Dieting interrupted by nasty sore throat and cough going around here in Malaysia: still hope to report more results soon.


Monday, February 13, 2006 7:49:00 PM  
Blogger Annie said...

Congratulations on completing your book, Professor Roberts. I will certainly buy it. I have already recommended the diet to others and hope this revolutionaizes weight loss. I'm assuming that you wanted masai'il's contact info, but just in case you (or anyone else) were wanting to reach me, my e-mail is EatFrootLoops at

Molly, I'm down to 185 from 195 back in September. The holidays, surgery, and other setbacks caused the slow loss. I've also discovered these last few days that during ovulation, the sugar simply does not work. It might help, but my binging has been quite bad for a short period. Then today, miraculously, my hunger vanished again after two tablespoons of sugar this morning. I know this is hormonal. Another complication is that despite eating only 1600 calories a day plus exercise on my period, I could not lose weight. Usually I'd lose 2-3 pounds during the week. It's quite frustrating because that leaves only about two and half weeks per cycle where I can lose weight, and part of that time is losing the weight I gained during the other one and a half weeks. But I firmly belive that part of the solution to this problem is knowing what the problem is. I can work with this, but it's definitely not very Shangri-La for me.

I may be experimenting with oil soon. The one time I tried it I vigorously shook one tablespoon of canola oil in a jar of warm water and gulped it down. It didn't seem to work, but the canola oil does have a distinct flavor that made my nose crinkle. I bought some light olive oil and will try that next, straight (hopefully).

Tuesday, February 14, 2006 9:17:00 AM  
Blogger seth roberts said...


email to came back.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006 2:11:00 PM  
Blogger Masa'il said...

Sorry that try didn't work, Seth. It's the correct address, though, and I'm still receiving messages, if you'd like to try again?

Still quite sick, so no diet news now.


Wednesday, February 15, 2006 10:37:00 PM  
Blogger Annie said...

There's a cover up for the book! That must be new, it was a gray box there before. How exciting.

I tried a tablespoon of oil twice yesterday. While I was able to keep my calorie intake to 1200 yesterday, I'm not quite sure if the oil works as well as the sugar. I certainly know that I feel different on it. The stuff does make me gag a little, but worse, even the light olive oil has a slight olive oil flavor. I love extra virgin olive oil and would hate to start associating that flavor with gagging.

Today I stirred the oil with warm water and a bit of sugar to try and hide the taste. So far the oil is proving to be rather troublesome. I may try the same mixture through a straw next time.

Sunday, February 19, 2006 1:48:00 AM  
Blogger Stephen said...

Thought I'd check back in. I'm down about 33 pounds since September. That is only about 14% (I started at around 240, I'm at 207 now).

The weight lifting finally shows. I've maxed a number of the machines at the gym, but now the muscle definition is starting to show.

Interestingly enough, people are now starting to ask me about the diet and a number have talked about starting it.

I'll post back if I get feed back from them.

I'm really pleased. I'm going to buy some copies of the book to give to people. I find that many people just can't hear me if I talk to them, but they can believe it if they read it.

Kind of like my six-year-old who didn't believe me, but believed Gary Larsen's book ....

Monday, February 20, 2006 6:17:00 AM  
Blogger Stephen said...

Something I'd like to read is the various oils people have had success with.

I've seen clarified butter (un-salted), heavy cream, canola, flax and extra-light (not extra-virgin) olive oil.

I haven't had the nerve to start experimenting. I want to lose just a little more weight first.

Monday, February 20, 2006 6:23:00 AM  
Blogger Masa'il said...

Stephen, regarding the oils,

I tried the ghee and cream. In those days, I didn't lose, though both, as well as coconut milk, did seem to curb my appetite. And the fact that I didn't gain despite chugging cream or coconut milk was a fascinating and happy discovery.

I tried each only for a few days, though, and it seems that "new" fuels need a few days of adjustment, which I didn't fully provide. And because those experimenting days coincided with the holidays and lots of cooking, I think my dietary context was rather unfair to the new fuels.

So my results for those fuels are very inconclusive as to whethey they work. (But the results do conclusively suggest that Shangri-la-ers can happily enjoy lots of heavy cream and coconut milk in various forms, as long as they aren't focused on losing weight.)

I too need to lose weight seriously again before experimenting some more: though down 18 pounds, I'm still about 15 pounds above a truly healthy weight. I've gone back to the old standards until I'm unstuck and down a bit further.


Monday, February 20, 2006 2:13:00 PM  
Blogger Annie said...

Stephen, I've now tried canola oil and light olive oil, and I don't think either work as well as sugar for me. I tried to match the oil calorie content to the same calorie content as the sugar I'd been taking, but I suspect I need more oil for it to work. I'm unwilling to take in more calories to get the same result.

Had a European soda today that worked quite well, probably because it's a new flavor. But I'm beginning to believe that sour plus sweet has a better effect than sugar alone. Will keep experimenting.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006 2:18:00 PM  
Blogger Chantal said...


I've posted here a while back, and then abandoned the sugar water (my parents are both diabetic and I was getting very nervous). Plus, it was leaving me ravenously hungry during the hour before lunch.

After experimenting on and off with oil, I think I finally found what works for me: 2tbs of oil taken an hour after breakfast.

It's too soon to report weight loss, but I did notice a decrease in appetite on days when I consume the oil in this way.

The main reason I'm writing is to warn you against alcohol. I've noticed that it stimulates appetite on this diet -- especially wine.

I never noticed that alcohol stimulated appetite when I'm not on this diet, but now whenever I drink, I want to eat... a lot! Even if it's just a glass or two of wine.

I'm a regular drinker, and now I'm convinced that if I curb my consumption of wine, I might have better success on this diet.


Tuesday, February 21, 2006 11:02:00 PM  
Blogger SFC said...

On the alcohol topic, I would concur based on my experience, and also add that Barbara Rolls, Ph.D, a dietary/nutritional research professor at Penn State has shown that alcohol does get stored very quickly as fat, and that despite high caloric density, it does not mitigate appetite. Other researchers have shown similar anti-losing effects of alcohol. Here's a link to a page with some discussion of the alcohol/weight topic:

Thursday, February 23, 2006 12:46:00 AM  
Blogger Diana said...

Like most of you, I came across the diet completely by accident, and I am willing to give it a try. I started this morning (4 pack of sugar with 1 litter of water, twice a day). Amazingly, I am not feeling like eating (although I am a bit hungry). I am also experiencing a light headache, but I guess this is normal from the posts I have been reading. Dieting is torture for me (well, I guess for most people). But whatever the reduction of the calories is, I often feel ravenous, so that is why Seth's diet seem very promissing for me. I guess I weight around 63kg and would like to lose 11kg. I intend to run a marathon in June (and a half-marathon in 10 days!) so I really need to be as ligth as possible. I am curious on how this diet works for people that do lots of exercices, especially running.
Is any of you in a heavy aerobic exercice programme? How does it fell? Any special tips?

Thursday, February 23, 2006 6:10:00 PM  
Blogger Masa'il said...

Hi, Diana. Good to see someone new trying the diet! Keep it up: it definitely seems to work. The only question seems to be how long it continues to work, in what "tweaked" way, for each person. I can't say anything regarding regular exercise; sorry!

General update: As I wrote before, I restarted the diet, then got waylaid by a nasty cough/throat thing, then re-restarted. Pre-restarting, I was carrying around 2-3 pounds of what I believed was temporary weight over my low weight of 174. Immediately upon restarting, those pounds indeed fell off. I've been having a solid breakfast, then coconut oil (I made my own, not-so-successfully, so it seems to work but is icky) at lunchtime, then an earlyish solid dinner. I'm only two solid days into the diet again now, and already a little below 174, so I'm optimistic about starting a new losing trend!

Also, I puttered around in the pool with the kids and hubbie on the first day back on the diet: I think this helped my body get rid of the extra water weight, as swimming (or even just kicking and floating around in water) helps your body rid itself of extra fluids, due to hydrostatic pressure. I'm going to try to continue the swimming, along with some proper non-kid-interfered exercise, thanks to inspiration from you exercise bugs posting here.


Thursday, February 23, 2006 6:56:00 PM  
Blogger Masa'il said...

I'm definitely losing weight again: day 3 back on the diet, and I'm down to 172 flat (and fat clearly gone), from a low of 174 previously. If this "sticks", that's 20 pounds, and over 10% body weight, lost since starting the diet!

Seth, if you're still reading this blog:

Do you really think the weight loss on your diet is linked with calories consumed?

Yesterday my two "solid" meals included normal foods like eggs, chapatis, potatoes, tomatoes, oatmeal... But also a lot of high-cal foods: about 1/4 cup of coconut milk, 1/8 cup of high-quality dark chocolate chips, 1/8 cup of sour cream, about 1/3 cup of full-fat plain yogurt, nearly full cream in my coffee, and anything that was cooked was cooked in butter. Plus my coconut oil for your diet. In other words, I'm eating like a tropical dairy maid, yet losing fat.

I haven't counted my calories, and I am still breastfeeding and "burning" calories that way, but what I've been eating still seems like what would traditionally be regarded as a lot of calories, specifically from fat.

I'm wondering: could consuming MORE high-quality natural saturated fats, like avocado, olive oil, nuts, coconut, cocoa butter, and dairy/animal fat, encourage our body to drop its fat reserves faster? When the body perceives that there is a steady flow of useful fats, it no longer needs to hoard? Or there's something good in those fats that helps with weight loss? (Think of natural tropical and Mediterranean diets: very high-natural-saturated-fat...)

Or is it that as long as I follow your diet it doesn't matter what I eat? Or is it really calories after all, and I'm still not getting too many?


Friday, February 24, 2006 12:02:00 PM  
Blogger Emily said...

Hi all,

I haven't posted in a while because I still haven't managed to establish a routine with the sugar and/or oil. It doesn't seem to matter, though. Using mostly sugar water for a while seemed to train me to eat less in general, and I'm continuing to eat far less than I was before even on days when I forget to have sugar water. I feel full, and I'm losing weight. I'm so thrilled! I think that at some point I might need to be more consistent about the sugar water again once my weight gets down far enough that my current amount of calories is too much.

diana, I used to get headaches at first when I started with 400 kcal of sugar water and 400+ calories less total intake. I think it was just my body getting used to not getting its huge calorie rush every few hours. My headaches were minor, happened in the afternoon, and continued for about 2 weeks. Then they stopped. I used to get migraines if I went without eating lunch until after 3pm or so. It was pretty much something I could plan on. Now that doesn't happen if I don't eat on time, I can eat whenever I feel like it (which is less often than before). What a strange change - I'm not complaining!

anniejs, I can't seem to find a good oil that works for me. If I rely solely on oil, I get hungry, and I still find taking oil really disgusting. There's some smell/taste I can't describe, and now I smell it everywhere - in mayo and salad dressing for example, where I wasn't aware of it before. Yuck. Oh well, if I cut back on those things it's not a bad thing. I got to a point where I could tolerate canola oil, but sugar water is so much easier for me.

I am 17 pounds down after almost exactly 5 months (with a big health roadblock during that time) and 5 pounds down since I've been on track again in 2006. Kind of slow progress, but for doing practically nothing, I'm pleased!

Friday, February 24, 2006 11:25:00 PM  
Blogger Diana said...

Annie and Emily, thank you for your clarifications!

Emily, the headaches are gone, but I am feeling a bit bloated...just like if I had been in binge. Has anybody experienced the same thing?

Just a quick up date on how my diet is going. I am definetely less hungry, which is strange considering the fact that I increased my exercice routine. For this part, the diet certanly works.

I am statisfied with less food, but like some of you, I felt cravings for something crunchy and salty, so I had some carrots with very little salt.

I haven't weighted myself, and I don't think I am much thiner, but I guess is just to soon to notice antything and I am not all that heavy. I will give it a week on the sugar water, then a week in the oil, and see how it goes.

I have to say that I am still confused with the concepts of "bland" food, "new flavors" etc. So, if I got it right, bland food makes you thin, as well as new flavor. What about new flavors that are not bland? I would guess most new flavors are not bland, since we are not used to them - so they can be quite strong. Or I am just misunderstaning the concept of bland, as English is not my first language?

Saturday, February 25, 2006 12:16:00 AM  
Blogger seth roberts said...

Masa'il, I think the weight loss is due to calorie reduction. That's because the sugar water and the oil produce roughly the same results. Maybe drinking oil would cause your body to decide it needs less fat but I can't see why drinking sugar water would do that.

Diana, now and then I feel almost uncomfortably full on this diet -- it might be described as "a little bit bloated." When I began this diet I often had feelings of fullness I had never or rarely had before and that was one of them.

You also wondered about bland and new food. The food you eat can be bland OR new. Doesn't need to be both.

Saturday, February 25, 2006 3:18:00 AM  
Blogger Annie said...

Diana, I felt bloated early on in the diet too. If you wait it out it may decrease. If not, you might cut your dose down a little bit until you find the lowest effective dose for you. As for exercise, the diet made me tired in the first few weeks, but that passed. I did a full body weightlifting workout plus some cardio this morning after some sugar water and felt great.

Emily I'm with you on the oil issue. I really didn't want to start disliking oil, so I've stopped it. The thought of taking it every day really discouraged me. Right now I'm on two tablespoons of sugar in warm water twice a day. I should probably take more becaues my hunger is only just barely under control now, but so far I'm managing.

I'm right on the cusp of 180! Can't wait to break below that number. It will be the lightest that I've been since high school.

Saturday, February 25, 2006 11:28:00 AM  
Blogger Irving said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006 3:58:00 AM  
Blogger Irving said...

I'm wondering what the advantages/disadvantages are of using fructose vs. regular sugar? Also, if progress is slow should the consumption of water with sugar or fructose be increased?

Thank you,

Tuesday, February 28, 2006 4:00:00 AM  
Blogger seth roberts said...

Irv, sucrose is easy to get, fructose is not. But fructose has a lower glycemic index than sucrose.

Your question about how much is harder to answer. You can call me at 510.418.7753.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006 8:50:00 PM  
Blogger Irving said...


Thank you for your reply. I have been off and on the diet for a while (since around Christmas) using fructose. I am happy to report a weight loss of about 6 pounds. I think I just need to be more patient and more consistant in following the diet. I am looking forward to your book.

Thank you,

Wednesday, March 01, 2006 12:08:00 AM  
Blogger molly said...

Welcome Irv. I've tried oil, sugar and fructose, and had good luck with all, but I'm currently using fructose exclusively because it seems to work the best. The fact that I can take an hour or two to sip the liter of water helps keep me away from food, and the hour-long wait period afterwards also helps. I'm going to be traveling soon (ski trip) so I may go back to oil simply because it's easier.

I found fructose locally at Whole Foods, but it's also available on ebay, believe it or not. A purveyor of natural foods, spices, etc. has a "store" there. I've settled on 200 calories of fructose in water twice a day, although some days I cheat and only have the first dose. Also, somewhere along the line in this blog, someone mentioned that fructose has a laxative effect, which for me seemed like a plus. I find that if I eat only 1200 calories a day, I get constipated. Lack of a "critical mass" if you'll forgive the expression.

I've plateaued a bit this week. I'm lurking on the cusp of crossing over from 140 to 139. A large leap mentally. I remember going through the same thing as I went from 150 to 149.

I get headaches too. I stopped eating breakfast for a while and would develop a whopper of a headache at around 2 pm. So now I'm eating a small breakfast - an apple or banana and I'm doing better.

I've given up drinking alcohol almost completely. I went out for dinner with a group of friends a couple of weeks ago and had some red wine, and that was the first I'd had in a long time. (And I overate by the way). One of the significant things about this diet for me has been that it has taken away my taste for wine. I used to have a glass or two virtually every day. Now, I just don't have the taste for it I used to. I've had the same experience with coffee. It's weird.

Onward and downward!


Wednesday, March 01, 2006 7:35:00 AM  
Blogger Annie said...

Molly, thanks for the note about "critical mass," lol. I was having some trouble despite lots of fiber and now I realize it may be from reducing my calorie intake. Hmm.

A good tip for anyone who goes to bars and clubs--order club soda with a syrup flavor you've never tried before or even one you have, if you must. Not only are you getting a refreshing drink, the sugar usually acts as an appetite suppressant. Cherry syrup in club soda did the trick for me during the holidays. Good tip for ice cream parlors and coffee shops too.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006 12:56:00 PM  
Blogger Stephen said...

"order club soda"

I've started to do that, ever since I read the research that linked artificial sweetners to weight gain.

Calories without flavor = weight loss.

flavor without calories = weight gain.


I broke 205 and am now at 34" belts. I continue with the excercise and plan to take up a sport again.

Thursday, March 02, 2006 11:45:00 AM  
Blogger Emily said...

I have also experienced the "critical mass" problem. Maybe I should give fructose a try!

About feeling bloated: I used to eat until I was overly full all the time. Now I can't do that. If I hit the point where I feel just full, that is almost too much for me and I feel that way for hours and it feels uncomfortable. I guess I am still figuring out how much food I really need and how much is excess. Maybe it would help to eat 3 smaller meals instead of my current one medium and one large meal.

Friday, March 03, 2006 10:06:00 PM  
Blogger Stephen said...


I still have the cookies and candy in the pantry and see them all the time, but rarely reach for them. Before I was a slave to my sweet tooth, now I just wave them by.

This is exactly the kind of mental change I've noticed.

Just had pizza for dinner. Had one slice, no breadsticks.

I'm happy, I'll drink some water. At the movies, I may eat two kernals of popcorn, and I'll be finished with it. It is amazing. The sanity is almost as good as the weight loss.

I'm buying several copies of the book when it comes out for friends and such, and I'm going to encourage Seth to put up a paypal button so I can just send him the face amount of a book or two to say thank you. I'm hoping others will as well.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006 8:37:00 AM  
Blogger AGNOSTIC said...

Anybody seen this?
It's canola/olive oil individual packet for sale.

Friday, March 10, 2006 1:47:00 AM  
Blogger Stephen said...

Agnositc -- unfortunately those are extra virgin, not extra light (and advertised for their taste -- ouch).

Also, a bit pricy. I get a superlarge container at Costco or SAMS (two from each) and it looks like one will last me six months. I then fill a small squeeze bottle that I've marked off with permanent marker on the side at 2 tablespoon increments. Total price: under five dollars for six months worth.

At two tablespoons a day, these packets would cost me seven dollars a day.

Now, if they could get them down to fifty cents or less, I'd expect to see them in grocery stores and office malls just like I see Atkins/South Beach stuff.

Monday, March 13, 2006 1:06:00 AM  
Blogger seth roberts said...

Has the diet worked for you? My publisher is looking for people who have had success with the diet and will talk to media (TV, newspapers, and magazines) about it. If you might be willing to tell your story, please contact me at or 510.418.7753.

Thursday, March 16, 2006 5:58:00 AM  
Blogger Stephen said...

My in depth update at:

Saturday, March 25, 2006 7:48:00 AM  
Blogger Masa'il said...

Thanks for that useful and inspiring update, Stephen!

I'm still stuck at 172-174, despite pretty much following the diet in terms of two meals, plus sugar water or oil. The losing trend that I thought would recur hasn't yet.

Some thoughts...

-Is it really a "male" diet? Could I be doomed to only partial success (plateauing at 18-20 pounds) due to my gender?
On this, my only answer is a skeptical "I don't think so". And "I hope not". There are things I can still do better to try to really make this work. So I'll rule this out for now.

-Could it be because I'm breastfeeding?
Same as above... While there is some evidence that women's bodies hold on to surplus weight while breastfeeding (for the obvious "stockpile" reasons), at at least more than 25 pounds extra fat on my frame, surely my body can be persuaded to let more of it go, if not all of it. And breastfeeding is a great time for steady gradual weight loss, due to the extra calorie burn.

-Is it the foods I'm eating?
I think this is half of it. Stephen, your success is in the context of not just taking regimented oil/sugar and limited mealtimes (which I'm also doing) but also following a strict and sensible diet plan. There is no doubt that I lost my first 18 pounds while free-ranging in the fridge for my meals, though keeping the meals low-GI and low extra taste. However, it seems that will not be enough from now on. I'll have to come up with streamlined, reliable meal plan that provides the needs of a vegetarian nursing mother (I need more nutrients, especially calcium, fat, and protein, than a quite large man!) without the extras.

Again, Stephen's weight loss is in the context of regular exercise. This is bloody difficult to come by in my position: a stay-at-home mom to preschooler and baby, plus part-time writing/ consulting from home. Most exercise methods are unfeasible in my context. However, some would work: those that don't require me to leave my flat, could be performed with minimal suit-up and suit-down periods, and can be done with the kids around. I think the best to fulfill this is aerobics, especially using the Konami Dance Dance Revolution video game / pad setup, or dancing to my kid's Mandarin kid dance videos. In-flat, no suit-up, and I can do this around the kids--and they'd like it. Adding weightlifting seems important (and I love weightlifting and did it regularly before the 2nd kid came), but I'll have to do this when the kids are asleep or my husband can watch them. I could at least count on the dancing, though.

So I'll have to do these things: buckle down with an eating plan, and buckle down with exercise. Once I've tried these solidly for two weeks, then I'll know whether I'm doomed to being stuck at my current fat loss or not.

Any other ideas to help me or others stuck like me? What about the rest of you women? Your thoughts?


Saturday, March 25, 2006 7:43:00 PM  
Blogger seth roberts said...

Annie, here's a suggestion: eat less familiar foods. (Familiar flavors raise your set point more than new flavors, says my theory.) This can be done several ways: 1. Eat less packaged food. Packaged food has exactly the same flavor each time so it becomes especially familiar. I don't see you eating lots of packaged food, Annie, but some people do. 2. When you eat packaged food, add a variety of flavors so that it tastes less familiar. 3. When you cook, use unfamiliar combinations of spices or other flavorings. Overall you move from getting pleasure from familiar flavors to getting pleasure from texture, appearance, novelty, and complexity.

There's a whole chapter in my book about what to do in this situation -- when you stop losing weight via oil & sugar water. It has 8 suggestions.

Monday, March 27, 2006 3:35:00 AM  
Blogger Stephen said...

but also following a strict and sensible diet plan.

I confess that I am very rigid on what I eat. The same thing, almost every day, every meal like a fixed script. My calories are below my maintenance calories at my ideal weight, so I expect that I will get there.

As things slowed down, I increased my exercise. Ninety minutes of judo twice a week has really added something, though it means my weights are down to once a week most weeks. I'm about to start forcing myself to walk more.

But the fixed diet plan has helped, though I make changes (e.g. in the types of bread and what I eat with them. Different jams, now different lunch meat and lunch meat/cheese combinations. Two slices of lunch meat is only 40 calories. No mayo, no dressing, no mustard).

My diet is also very bland.

Finally, I make a lot of subtle changes in the yogurt, which is easier than it seems. I buy different kinds of yogurt and blend them. Yes, they are all non-fat yogurts (which seems really filling to me), but different brands, and they taste different.

I used to drink a lot of diet soft drinks, that is what I used to get me through cravings for something sweet. Liters and liters (I'd buy two liter containers, and blend flavors that would blend, like A&W rootbeer and Cream Soda).

Now I just drink water, I've lost my taste for diet softdrinks. I used to have a couple teaspoons of butter in my breakfast, now I'm down to just a smear or some PAM to keep the eggs from sticking and having a little orange juice -- and I change the brand and type all the time (I keep buying whatever is on sale).

So, it is very rigid, but it also has a constant flow of changes.

Monday, March 27, 2006 12:17:00 PM  
Blogger Stephen said...

I have to note that I haven't been under 200 lbs or wearing size 36 pants (or my tailored HSM suits) since 1992.

It is really neat. I look forward to every Saturday/Sunday (which is when I tend to check my weight) even if I'm now only losing a pound or so a week.

I don't have the nerve to just free range eat. Maybe when I'm closer to my ideal.

Monday, March 27, 2006 12:22:00 PM  
Blogger molly said...

Annie, As I've written before, I too wonder about the male/female disparity in weight loss. I'm also stuck at a weight that's starting to feel very much like the dreaded "set point." I did very well weight-wise on my ski trip. I ate pretty heartily, but I also burned a bazillion calories per day, so I was able to hold the line to only one pound gained. Then I came down with a really nasty cold and abandoned the diet for a variety of reasons -- gnawing hunger pangs (perhaps due to cold medicine?) boredom, feeling sorry for myself, and not wanting to make a taste association with the sugar water when I couldn't wait the requisite hour before needing cough medicine or lozenges.

(Which reminds me of a question I've had for a while. In terms of eating and taste association -- I've been waiting an hour BEFORE starting the sugar/oil as well as after. Is this necessary?)

Back to the topic -- I suppose the only fair way to judge male vs female weight loss is as a percentage of body weight. I've leveled off at around 9 to 10%. I'd like to double that. At the rate I'm now losing (when I'm very very good - I lose about a half pound a week) it'll be autumn before I get there.

If I were to point to my biggest fault around this diet, it's eating out of boredom, or "emotionally." On way too many occasions, I'm not hungry, but I eat anyway. Generally some sort of "snacky" thing. The busier I am, the less this is a problem. And I always crave a sweet taste after a meal -- this has been a lifelong issue. I've been satisfying this with a little 100 calorie pudding cup or low cal chocolate flavored protein bar.

I think, based on Seth's comment, I'm eating too many packaged foods. I religiously write down everything I eat, and I find it easier to keep track when the calorie count and serving size are written right there on the package. Like Stephen, I eat a lot of cold cut sandwiches/wraps. It's interesting that Stephen is having so much success when he doesn't vary his food choices and tastes that much. Maybe even just a tiny variation does the trick.

I'm going to launch a new taste program this week -- can't wait to see if that works on my set point. Any suggestions for spices or combinations? I'm not much of a cook. Baked potatoes would seem to lend themselves to lots of different spices and condiments, but potatoes are off the map for GI.

With a little prodding, I volunteered to be interviewed by journalists for Seth's book. Any other takers out there? I figured it was the least I could do...

Sorry about the rambling nature of this post -- I think I'm a little high on Robitussin.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006 4:11:00 AM  
Blogger molly said...

Leftblanc, are you still out there? How's it going? Haven't heard from you in a while. You managed to lose a lot of weight despite a very unstructured way of eating. As a self-described "non-dieter" you seemed to do remarkably well without counting calories or worrying too much about what you were eating. Basically, it seemed like you just ate smaller portions. Do I have that right? Keep us posted!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006 4:15:00 AM  
Blogger molly said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006 5:46:00 AM  
Blogger molly said...

Okay, I'm walking through my kitchen trying to put together new combinations of foods and I'm wondering if I'm doing this right. Let's say for instance, I've eaten a tortilla (many times) before, and I've eaten raspberry jam (many times) before. But I've never had raspberry jam on a tortilla. Is that the right idea? Or is it more the art of seasoning? Cinammon on pizza, or cumin on scrambled eggs? Or all of the above? I have to say, it's a pretty funny experience to walk around trying to come up with new combos -- "hmmmm... raisins wrapped in cheese... caramel sauce on sausage... peanut butter on pears..." And do these new tastes also curb your appetite, or is it a more subtle movement of the set point?

I'm really getting into this!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006 8:35:00 AM  
Blogger Stephen said...

Well, I agreed to be interviewed and even e-mailed a "before" picture. I look pretty bad in it, though not as bad as I really was.

One other suggestion or two, especially in the context of:

Then I came down with a really nasty cold and abandoned the diet for a variety of reasons -- gnawing hunger pangs (perhaps due to cold medicine?) boredom, feeling sorry for myself, and not wanting to make a taste association with the sugar water when I couldn't wait the requisite hour before needing cough medicine or lozenges.

(Which reminds me of a question I've had for a while. In terms of eating and taste association -- I've been waiting an hour BEFORE starting the sugar/oil as well as after. Is this necessary?)

I wait an hour before and after. I figure better safe than sorry.

Also, I started (which is free) before I started on the diet, and it really helped me with the various emotional states I've gone through with the diet.

I think a coordinated approach is the best.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006 7:53:00 AM  
Blogger Leftblanc said...

Hi folks. Checking in. I have plateau-ed at 194-197
range for the last couple of months. Kept up with the oil and sugar. A lot of changes in my life at the moment, but I'm happy to be keeping the pounds
off at least. I was at 228 in September. I am looking forward to Seth's book and suggestions for when you stop losing on the diet. I suspect I am eating too many familiar foods. I also allowed myself to go off the diet completely for a weeklong vacation and gained a whopping six pounds back. Has taken a few weeks to
shed those. But knowing I can do it fairly easily makes me obsess about it a lot less. I'd still like to lose another 20 lbs.

Saturday, April 01, 2006 1:15:00 PM  
Blogger Glen said...

Annie, if you want a more complete at-home exercise options, I recommend Yourself!Fitness. It's like having your own personal trainer in the TV. (I cover other options as I discover them at my blog

Come to think of it, you didn't say what game platform you use, but if it's a PS2, Eyetoy:Kinetic might be more fun for the kids.

Monday, April 03, 2006 6:30:00 AM  
Blogger Glen said...

The book is awesome!

I found oil impossible at first - it made me nauseous. So I made a point of sipping a *little* oil each night before bed. At first I only did 1/8tsp of cold oil. I got up to 1/2 tsp last night and it's definitely getting easier.

Thinking aheard, I'm considering constructing premeasured fortified oil packets. I blog about that here.

The big question is: how much oil should be in one packet? What would work best for you? Respond either here or in the comments of my blog posting.

Monday, April 03, 2006 7:56:00 AM  
Blogger seth roberts said...

Thanks, Glen! I'm glad it's now working for you. And I'm even more glad you like the book.

For those of you, like leftblanc and masa'il, who have reached the limits of oil and sugar water, one way to lose more weight is to make your food less familiar. I have a few suggestions:

1. I bought a 750 ml bottle of Monin Mojito Mint syrup. The idea was I'd add a little to my drinks, such as tea, and thereby make them unfamiliar. It didn't work very long; the flavor started tasting good. It now tastes really good and I have a quarter of the bottle left. I should have bought more flavors and smaller bottles. Then added two or more flavors to each drink.

2. I bought about 10 Penzeys spice blends. The idea was I would sprinkle two or three on my food and never repeat. The unanticipated problem has been granularity. If the blend has big pieces, the pieces don't stick to the food. (I make a lot of roasted vegetables.)If the blend consists of finely-ground spices, on the other hand, it sticks to food fine. Here are some examples of Penzeys blends that are good (fine), bad (coarse), and in between:

good: Adobo, Bangkok, Singapore
in between: Lamb, Bavarian, Poultry
bad: Fines Herbes, Herbes de Provence, Pasta Sprinkle

Penzeys sells these and other blends in small containers that cost about $2 each. So far so good; I did come to like the Bangkok and Singapore blends but by then I was close to the bottom of the jar.

Monday, April 03, 2006 10:27:00 AM  
Blogger molly said...

Whoa! The book is out? I pre-ordered it on Amazon and it says it's coming out April 26. Where is it available now?

Tuesday, April 04, 2006 3:53:00 AM  
Blogger seth roberts said...


People who had blogged about the diet, such as Glen, were offered an advance copy.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006 4:21:00 AM  
Blogger Masa'il said...

I just got waylaid by over a week of a very nasty Hand-foot-mouth disease variant going around here in SE Asia: ended up with severe dehydration, 8 pounds lost in 4 days (beats your diet, Seth, haha), and having to get IV fluis plus several days recuperation. Literally could not sweat or fall asleep for three days, and crazy fast heartbeat. Ugh! But I'm finally recovered, almost back at weight pre-virus, and will tomorrow, likely, restart the diet.

(A public service warning about dehydration: People always wonder how it can happen--why not simply drink enough? The problem is that if circumstances (like mouth blisters) lead you to get dehydrated to a certain point, then terrible nausea even regarding fluids may set in (did for me), sprialling you rapidly into seriously life-threatening dehydration and electrolyte depletion. Don't let yourself get to that point, unless you can quickly get friendly with IV fluids.)

Back to the diet, I have a question...

Seth, you've advocated variety in flavors, which makes sense. What about the other option in eating: bland "anti-starvation food" eating mode? It seems this is behind your buddy Tim's weight loss as well as perhaps, I think, Stephen's (he, too, is eating very monotonous somewhat low-flavored foods). Can you comment on this approach?

It might be easier for someone like me, who has built up a huge repertiore of familiar flavors (I was a spice and herb department manager for five years and used almost everything frequently, and have regularly eaten eat least 8 ethnic cuisines). It seems more practical for me to choose a very healthy fairly monotonous bland diet than to try to find new tastes, of which I've seriously very few left.


Tuesday, April 04, 2006 2:22:00 PM  
Blogger seth roberts said...

What do I think of eating a "very healthy fairly monotonous slightly bland diet"? I think it's worth a try.

I like what leftblanc said: "I still don't have any willpower." I have found that I cannot lose significant weight (or maintain significant weight loss) by eating bland food -- I don't have enough willpower. I lost significant weight eating lots of sushi, which is bland; but for many reasons I didn't want to do that for the rest of my life. I tried to sustain my weight loss by continue eating bland Japanese-style stews and found myself unable to not season them at least a little bit. I slowly regained the lost weight.

I've tried eating unseasoned white fish. Once was enough. Randomly-seasoned white fish, however, I find quite acceptable.

As you say, I think it's usually too hard and too limiting to try to "search out new flavors." There aren't that many, if by flavors you mean flavors many people eat. When I randomly add two Penzeys spice blends -- say, lamb and Adobo -- to whatever I'm eating I create a flavor profile that hasn't existed before and will probably never exist again. I find it easy to do this. I could eat raw carrots, but I'd rather not. Instead I make roasted carrots and then add random spices.

Tim Beneke didn't eat bland food. He ate a highly nutritious mixture of foods in such a way that he couldn't taste it at all.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006 10:59:00 PM  
Blogger Masa'il said...

Great idea to mix the seasonings, Seth. That increases flavor combinations exponentially: I'm sure I could get new flavors that way.

I'll try both low-taste (either Tim's method or the same monotonous nearly unseasoned foods I was eating in September) and varied flavorings, and report back.


Wednesday, April 05, 2006 3:16:00 PM  
Blogger Stephen said...

One other thing you can do is pick up sours and other candies (the complete line of altoids, for example) and use one tin a week, taking one before each meal, to give that week a completely diffeent flavor.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006 9:02:00 PM  
Blogger Stephen said...

I've updated my blog at

I'd say that what I'm currently eating is usually "very healthy fairly monotonous slightly bland diet" -- though I'm trying a bit, now and then, to eat more regular food.

And, I'm seriously thinking of buying a bunch of altoids and having a flavor of the week, followed (after I've used all the flavors) with combined flavors (i.e. before each meal take an altoid to create a flavor base -- same type for the entire week, switch next week).

I'll do that if I stop before I reach my target weight.

Anyone heard from on how his *very* bland diet is currently going?

Thursday, April 06, 2006 1:33:00 AM  
Blogger Annie said...

Has anyone been experimenting with candy and drinks as their sugar doses? I'm getting various results, but a packet of Fruit Gushers candy has almost astonishing effects. Fruit Gushers also have the advantage of being portable. Each packet is 90 calories and contains a mixture of sugar, fruit juices, and corn syrup, which means it has both sucrose and fructose. Why this works so much better than plain sugar for me, I can't say. Don't know how much longer the effect will last, but so far it's going strong.

Saturday, April 08, 2006 12:13:00 AM  
Blogger seth roberts said...

That's a very interesting comment, anniejs. I haven't seen Fruit Gushers but I think I know what you mean. If they were unflavored, they'd be a big improvement over sugar water because (I assume) the gel matrix or whatever you call it would slow digestion of the sugar. That's the only problem I see with sugar water -- the sugar may be digested too quickly, causing blood sugar levels to become too high. Another possibility is small hard unflavored sugar candies -- you slow digestion of the sugar by eating one at time, spacing them far enough apart.

Even with these improvements, I would still prefer oil. My skin is softer than ever before and so is my hair, I learned yesterday during a haircut.

Saturday, April 08, 2006 1:32:00 AM  
Blogger molly said...

Okay, I'm feeling really dense. I would so appreciate someone giving me an explanation on this whole "new taste" idea. There's no calorie difference between a slice of pizza with cinnamon on it and a regular slice of pizza. Right? So adding an unfamiliar taste to a familiar item does what exactly? Does it fool the body into not absorbing the calories? Or does it curb the appetite? While you're eating? Or later? Or does it somehow make your body decide it would be happier at 125 pounds than at 130 pounds? Also, I'm unclear about how long a particular spice mix works. And how do you know when it has stopped working? Seth mentioned that he used a mojito mix in his tea, thereby making it unfamiliar. But tea has no calories. So why go to the trouble of making it unfamiliar? Then Seth mentioned it started to "taste good." So tasting bad or neutral is a good thing?? Is this just a new way to take in sugar water? Is making my daily sugar water unfamiliar important?

Also, eating cooked carrots with spices on them versus eating raw carrots -- same calories. And carrots are so low in calories and so good for you, other than making them taste better by adding spices, what's the difference? Seth said the Bangkok Penzey's spice started to taste good when he got down to the bottom of the bottle. So it tasted bad before? Or just unfamiliar? And once it started tasting good, that's the signal to stop? What if it tastes good the first time I taste it? Does that mean I should discontinue that particular spice?

And I still don't know if new food combinations have any effect. Like raisins in cheese for instance. Or is it all about sprinkling spices?

I'm completely mystified by the altoid thing. Eating an altoid before dinner does what? Changes the taste of what you're eating, but what happens as a result?

Help! I'm so confused! I feel like I missed one day of class and now I'm completely lost.

Saturday, April 08, 2006 5:21:00 AM  
Blogger Stephen said...

My review of the book is at:

Saturday, April 08, 2006 10:56:00 AM  
Blogger Annie said...

Molly, I'm not sure about the exact logistics of executing the new food idea (perhaps that's covered in the book), but I think experimentation is best. In a nutshell, I believe Seth's theory is that the body doesn't associate new flavors with food abundance, so taking in calories that taste new or don't taste at all (sugar counts as flavorless) tricks your body into reducing appetite. Once the body "realizes" the new flavor is in fact food, that effect fades.

I hope I didn't butcher the concept too much? I'm sure others will correct me if I made any mistakes. I see some validity in this because I've been on an Indian food kick and recently started cooking some new Indian dishes with flavor combinations I hadn't tried before. I found myself quite full after each meal for a long time despite taking in moderate calories. However, this effect seems to have faded since I've gotten accustomed to the new food.

Seth, regarding the Fruit Gushers, I think the appetite suppressing effect is in part because I never really ate the Gushers before, so I'm not recognizing it as food. If the gel matrix is part of the appetite suppressing effect, then wouldn't sugar water with a thickener like Metamucil, xanthan gum, or guar gum have the same effect? The gums are generally only used in manufactured foods, but both are available at health food stores (the two gums work better in tandem than alone). Not only do these products immediately thicken liquids, they add fiber--which will also slow down digestion. Maybe thick sugar water is more effective than plain sugar water? I may need to try that.

Saturday, April 08, 2006 12:18:00 PM  
Blogger SFC said...

On the gum/fiber idea, I see that Citrucel (a Metamucil competitor that uses methycellulose fiber rather than psyllium) now has an unflavored variety (vs. the usual strongly organge-flavored versions that used to be out there) -- for anyone who's interested in trying that.

Also, to Molly's question about new flavors, just to follow-up on anniejs' answer: my understanding is that it's the connection by your brain of flavors and calories that affects setpoint, which in turn, affects your appetite. It also takes a little bit of time for your body to learn (become conditioned) that a new flavor and the calories associated with it go together. So, having a new flavor, even with calories, tricks the body into not knowing that the calories are associated with that flavor. Bottom line: it's not just calories that affect setpoint and appetite, it's calories associated with flavors, and that association takes time to be established when a new food/flavor is introduced.

Saturday, April 08, 2006 9:27:00 PM  
Blogger seth roberts said...

These explanations are accurate. Let me add a few details.

1. Why does adding cinnamon to pizza make it less fattening? Because it makes the flavor less familiar. New flavors don't raise the set point. Familiar flavors (associated with calories) do raise the set point.

2. Why add Mojito Mint flavoring to tea, which has no calories? Well, the Mojito Mint flavoring does have calories (from sugar) so the mixture contains calories. It is just another way to get calories in a form that doesn't raise the set point. Oil is one way; unflavored sugar water is another; eating or drinking a food with a completely unfamiliar flavor is another way.

3. Why add random spices to carrots, which are low calorie? Sure, carrots are better than lots of other foods, especially packaged foods. But I suspect they are relatively fattening compared to the other foods I eat. They taste awfully good.

Let's say you eat 10 foods in a day, and let's put each one on a 0-10 scale where 10=raises your set point a lot and 0 = doesn't raise your set point at all. Your set point will depend on the overall average of those 10 foods. Maybe your average is 8. If you want to lose weight, then 8 puts your set point too high. To lower your set point you need to lower the average. Adding sugar water or oil to your diet -- both of which are 0 -- is one way to do that. If you got 10% of your calories from "0 foods" the average would go down to 6 or 7. That might reduce your set point enough -- or it might not. To reduce it further, you can take the ordinary foods you eat and reduce the value of each one. Maybe you eat pizza and it has a value of 10. Adding flavors that make it taste less familiar might reduce it to a 6. Same thing for the rest of your food. The obesity epidemic didn't happen because people stopped drinking sugar water between meals. It happened, I believe, because people started eating much more food that hardly varied in flavor at all -- fast food, packaged food, microwaved food. Such food can form especially strong flavor-calorie associations because the flavor is so consistent. Adding random spices is an easy way to increase variation in flavor in what you eat. Food with random flavors never becomes as familiar, never builds up as strong a flavor-calorie association, as food that has exactly the same flavor every time.

Sunday, April 09, 2006 12:07:00 AM  
Blogger Stephen said...

Wonder if Annie ought to start an April to July Common Posting Area (new thread) to celibrate the release of the book, due any day now.

Sunday, April 09, 2006 3:43:00 AM  
Blogger Masa'il said...

Great idea, Stephen: I was just thinking that I've got to update the blog. I'll link to your very complimentary and TRUE book review, as well, in the updated version. But watch out: you'll have to update your links when I create the new Apr-July space.

Regarding the obesity epidemic's causes, Seth, have you seen the strong (in my view) evidence that there is an underlying viral cause as well? (See ) At least three adenoviruses ("common cold" viruses) are strongly linked to the unlucky chaps who got the viruses later developing obesity / overweight. Even in pairs of identical twins with similar environments and eating habits: the overweight one is likely to have gotten one of these adenoviruses. That's why the obesity epidemic looks so much like an epidemic: it IS one. And it could explain overweight folks like me, who are natural foods and home-cooking freaks, and who NEVER subsisted on fast or premade foods, and ate with great variety, yet got fat-ola.

I suspect that these viruses somehow make our set-point-o-meter TOO gung-ho to raise the set point for some reason. The method we're employing by using your diet, Seth, seems to be the best strategy to deal with damage that for many of us may have been triggered by a virus.


Sunday, April 09, 2006 1:50:00 PM  
Blogger Stephen said...

I've been following the data on disease processes -- basically anything that shows up more than one in 10,000 or so usually has a disease process with it.

Ulcers were the big breakthrough, and the hot potato topic is sexuality, but once you get away from those two, all sorts of things have disease processes implicated.

I think we are on the frontier of another wave of medical breakthroughs.

[and yes, I'll be glad to edit and update when you change up the common posting area, etc. -- I'm just waiting for it.]

Sunday, April 09, 2006 9:53:00 PM  
Blogger Stephen said...

My review is up at Calorie Lab:

Sunday, April 09, 2006 10:06:00 PM  
Blogger 39-3 said...

Hello, I first read about the Shangri-La Diet in the Freakanomics blog in September, and have been checking up on its "growth" by googling the relevant search terms every once in a while.

Anyway, I noticed that a few of you have been throwing around the idea of sugar candies that are digested more slowly than sugar water. Well, a few weeks ago I got a cold... I don't remember the last time I got a cold, so it was very novel and memorable --almost exciting.

Anyway, I bought a bag of no-name cough drops, honey-lemon flavoured, and sucked on throughout the day.

The effect was that not only did I not have an appetite, but I couldn't even bother to eat out of boredom. And believe you me, my job can get pretty monotonous sometimes.

Obviously, some of the lack of appetite should be chalked up to a disabled sense of smell, because of the cold. Hopefully someone can experiment with this without having a cold.

Also it might be useful to mention that I never have cough drops when I am not sick, so the flavour was new to my body.

This is a great blog! Thanks for the great read.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006 1:00:00 PM  
Blogger Annie said...

Cough drops worked for me too! Forgot about that, probably since the cough is gone now, lol.

Diet-blog has a review up that's not too negative. I'm going to have to learn to check my patience with some of the commenters though. New things take time to be accepted. This is simple enough that anybody can try it and judge for themselves rather than spouting about how it doesn't work. I hope they do so.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006 4:00:00 AM  
Blogger molly said...

I think I'm catching on to this sugary candy thing as an appetite suppressant. I was putting together easter baskets and I had a few jelly beans left over and I thought, "what the heck?" and ate five or six. Ten minutes later I went to eat lunch and had NO APPETITE. The weird thing is -- why have I never noticed this before? Now I'm trying the licorice flavored altoids. I'm confused about something though. Annie JS uses candies as an appetite suppressant in the same way we use oil or sugar water. Stephen, on the other hand, uses them as a "flavor base" before meals. This seems contradictory to me. Wouldn't appetite suppression require an hour's wait before eating? Maybe the candy is serving two entirely different purposes? It's a calorie association conundrum... Anyway, I've always wanted to eat dessert first!

I have a spice recommendation -- Seth mentioned buying different inexpensive spice mixes. has some good ones that I've used for years. They're no longer useful to me, I suppose, but a new taste for the rest of you.

Yes, Annie, I agree -- the posters at that diet blog got me steamed too. So closed-minded!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006 10:06:00 AM  
Blogger Stephen said...

I went over and posted at the diet blog, ws kind of fun.

Saturday, April 15, 2006 9:54:00 AM  
Blogger Stephen said...

One thing I'd note is that this diet is extremely easy and cheap.

You can use either sugar (which you probably have around the house) or olive oil (extra light) -- or you can buy five dollars worth of it at SAMS or COSTCO, which will last you five or six months.

In five months I've lost 47 pounds (as of this morning) on the method (it is more of a method than a diet).

Try one disciplined week of the diet. Drink three tablespoons of sugar in a cup of water every morning at ten o'clock (with no other food or flavors, including mints, diet drinks or chewing tobacco) from 9:00 to 11:00 and two tablespoons of olive oil at 2:30 (with the same no food or flavors from 1:00 to 4:00) and see what has happened after a week.

If it works, keep it up for another week.

It isn't as if it costs much money, takes much time or is that difficult to try.

Simple enough to try it and see what happens.

Saturday, April 15, 2006 9:54:00 AM  
Blogger Annie said...

Not sure if this came up, but in response to the people who had digestive trouble with the fructose, perhaps there might be an underlying fructose malabsorbtion problem. Apparently it varies in strength, so while fruit might not cause the problem, a large dose of straight fructose might.

Saturday, April 15, 2006 11:05:00 AM  
Blogger Masa'il said...

Hi, folks,

Just an update on my lose-6-kg race I'm in with my hubbie...

I started it on the 4th, but had method problems. Sugar water, which helped me lose the original 20 pounds, wasn't working anymore. Then I tried fructose: it worked, but I don't like that stuff, so I tried oil for a day. Nada effect, so back to sugar, fructose, etc, until finally I decided to try to GET the oil to work, since I'd rather use the oil anyway. Meanwhile, my weight was yo-yoing around.

I started taking the oil conscientously 1x to 2x a day, 1-2 Tbs each time of extra virgin coconut oil. My brand has a faint icky taste. I wash it down with water.

It started working on the second day, and I'm finally solidly down over a kg (about 3 pounds), the third day or so into taking the oil consistently. My appetite is reduced as well. I'm still forcing myself to eat very well, though (nursing), so I suspect that'll slow the weight loss.

If this rate keeps up, I'm gonna beat my hubbie, who's still sitting at his original weight, heh heh. :) If he sits there all the way to when I lose the 6 kg, I'll finally weigh less than him, which will be sillily delightful. He's a slim Asian guy and I'm a pretty solid and strong caucasian, so it's not so weird that I weigh a few kg more than him when I'm overweight. But he's definitely a few inches taller and a good bit stronger than me, so it'll be great when we're correctly proportioned relative to each other again. Then maybe he can carry me if necessary! :)

Anyway, I'll post again in a few days: now that I'm on a solid method, I should have some sort of more results soon.


Sunday, May 21, 2006 7:50:00 PM  
Blogger Diana said...

There was a comment awhile back about baked potatoes as a way to introduce new/different flavor combinations, however, the high GI made it unappealing.

I was on the South Beach Diet for awhile, and found out that if you boil some cauliflower until tender, mash it up with some fat free cream cheese, it tastes fairly similiar to mashed potatoes. From there, you can add spices and/or food to it. (I usually add salt, pepper, paprika, garlic, cheddar cheese, etc).

I guess it doesn't really taste like mashed potatoes if you really analyze it, but I've kind of tricked my mind into thinking it does taste like potatoes, since I haven't had any in such a long time. Whenever I make it, it reminds me of those baked potato creamy soups.

I've been on this diet for a few weeks now with great results (though probably slower due to alcohol consumption). I don't have a lot more weight to lose, but this site has a lot of great tips that I'll keep in mind!

Wednesday, May 31, 2006 2:21:00 AM  

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