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The Potato Diet Hack – Observations

People seem to be going at this from at least two different approaches, angles, perspectives, or however you care to characterize it.

...Back when I caught wind of all this, there was a discussion going in comments at Ray Cronise's blog, as well as a forum thread or two at Mark's Daily Apple. Other than a quick browse one day of a few posts at MDA, I have stayed completely away from all those discussions. Why? Well, I don't have a lab or resources to do any sort of tightly controlled science. It's all about my n=1 and the n=1 of each commenter here who shares their experience.

I also think there's a good scientific vibe associated with a number of people going at essentially the same or a similar thing from different angles, approaches—dare I say...biases? I basically had the elements I needed to go at it from my own angle:

  1. Chris Voigt's 20 Potatoes a Day experiment.
  2. Peter's speculation as to how this worked (low fat and protein being key)

I was getting enough anecdotes all in the same direction, that it seemed worth taking a serious look at. But from my own angle. Here's what I wrote in the first post:

In essence, it seems as though if you eat only potatoes you will have a very difficult time eating enough to maintain body weight—so long as they aren't dressed up with a lot of stuff like butter, sour cream, bacon...or deep fried. Apparently, people have been reporting weight loss of 1/2-1 pound per day on these diets without hunger. There might be a gut flora element to the deal as well.

OK, but how about if you could make them a bit more palatable with only a small addition of other calories, but still achieve a similar result? This is what I aim to find out.

Well, since I have not been following what others have been doing other than my own commenters here, I was unaware that apparently, there's a bit of dissension in paradise over what this is all about or, at least, ought to be about. I'm not getting into personalities or sources. I'm just going to stick to my approach.

As I gist it, there are two basic approaches:

  1. Keep it to nearly plain potatoes, as unpalatable as possible, no added fat, let your gut bacteria change to suit that regime and change relationships to food. Or, to state it plainly: the perspective coming from a plant based-diet bias.
  2. Accept that in some undetermined measure, humans are generally OK with starch, and an interesting hack or self-experiment might be to go mostly starch via potatoes for a time, making dishes just palatable enough to retain some enjoyment from them. This involves the addition of very small amounts of added protein & fat (and herbs & spices). Or, to state it plainly: the perspective coming from an animal based-diet bias. (that would be me).

I don't think it takes a lot of analysis to conclude that my approach is actually the more radical one given the starting point. It's simply that potatoes or similar root vegetables are the ideal food for this sort of thing because they have a good amino profile and are very filling. On the other hand, as big a shift as this is for someone like me and most other Paleos, I have ZERO interest in a plant based diet. Zero. Forever. It is something that I consider scientifically settled (we're omnivores, are supposed to be omnivores, and if there is any such thing as "ideal," it's to be found somewhere on that spectrum of eating everything that's real food).

What does that mean? It means that there will never be good science to conclude that humans ought to derive most energy from potatoes or similar starches, or plants in general. Even in my first post, I showed clearly that just the addition of a simple 1.8oz of beef liver radically upped the nutrition profile for an entire day of potatoes.

So I ask you: what would be the real point of excluding that liver, or similar bits of nutrient dense animal food? I could not imagine pegging it on anything but an agenda. And how about fat? I've been talking about 1 teaspoon of whatever fat per potato. Hardly earth shattering. Hardly a lot.

Alright, I'll conclude with a comment this morning from Gene. Says it all.

I don’t believe we evolved to not enjoy our food to some – perhaps even a significant – degree. This quasi-monastic vibe you get from *some* of the reward/palatability crowd has the whiff of Judeo-Christian self-flagellation about it.

That said, we evolved in conditions when the satisfaction of that desire for reward required more work. However, if we supply the work in the form of exercise and movement, as well as satisfying mental undertakings, I don’t see the need to pull out the dietary whips on ourselves.

Fuck the monks. Love, move, work, fuck and eat with exuberance. Get/be strong and don’t demure. That’s how you fulfill your genetic potential; by being vibrant, gregarious and feeding on the bounty of life without self admonishment and concern that a slight misstep here or there on the nutritional path is going to significantly diminish your life expectancy. As though we’re delicate little things that aren’t built to survive a little punishment now and again.

“Oh noes! The poutine is too rewarding!” Shut the fuck up and eat it, you fucking gimp. And enjoy it to the last little bit of greasy gravy-soaked curd you lick from your fingers. Just the way a hunter-gatherer would’ve gorged on fatty, highly palatable aurochs marrow and ribs (http://news.discovery.com/history/ancient-barbeque-aurochs-110627.html), wasting no time after the kill to satisfy their desire for food reward. I bet the dopamine and serotonin were flowing that night. Probably a couple of babies made, too.

As most people have noticed, the more that most people eat whole, real foods, the more our bodies send out satiation signals, naturally moderating appetite and consumption. Sure, we live in a time of plenty, so there are times when we may have to exercise a little restraint with food beyond the constraints of a whole foods diet. But I just don’t buy that it’s necessary, nor appropriate to our being to have to spend our days deliberately making our food as bland as possible – as though all of our taste and olafactory senses, and their links to our reward system were there by accident or as some kind of Devil-sent temptation. Ever whipped up some SWEET potato with super FATTY coconut milk like the Kitavans? Don’t tell me that’s not wholly satisfying to the reward system. It’s positively more-ish. And don’t forget to light up a fag when you’re done.

Less Christ. Less Aristotle. Screw the Stoics. More Epicure, more Neitzsche, more Ikkyu, more getting on with it and doing it with the sort of joy and gusto you see on the faces of people who don’t spend their time trying to figure out how to disable/workaround the parts of us that evolved specifically so we can enjoy things. Silly bitches.

And so, I reiterate: this potato thingie is a hack! Nothing more. Should never, ever be more and I believe it would cause long term harm to health to make it more than a short term hack and then a long term intermittent tool (like intermittent fasting).

There will never be any valid science that humans ought to be vegan or mostly so. It would be like looking for science that a car would be better off as an airplane. It's just non-sequitur: properly dismissed out-of-hand with zero consideration. And even if in some 5th dimension there was such valid science, then in the spirit of Gene, I'm reverting to the old saying: "Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die!"

My next post on the topic will show a couple of other recipes I've come up with.

Comments

  1. Chuck Currie says:

    Fuck Yeah!

    Cheers

  2. I second Chuck’s, “Fuck yeah!”

  3. BRAVO! You got it 100%. Paleo needs an effective ‘cutting’ technique, and the potato diet is it. It’s a way to keep in the weight zone you desire. I’m thinking like a once or twice a year deal, or after a period of purposeful overeating to gain some muscle.

    J. Stanton said on MDA at http://www.marksdailyapple.com/forum/thread71997-9.html (page 9):

    “pklopp: Thank you for the exhaustive self-documentation.

    Don’t worry about the haters: these arguments are always circular. If the fashionable-hack-of-the-month doesn’t work for you, it’s because you did it wrong — and if it does work, it’s because you did it right!

    Richard Nikoley added butter, onions, beef liver, and BCAAs (extra protein) to his potato regimen. Clearly he did it wrong! But since it worked for him (at least in the short term…the jury’s still out on long-term effectiveness), the advocates give him a pass. Whereas when it doesn’t work for pklopp, it must have been because he added tuna and egg whites instead of butter, onions, beef liver, and BCAAs.

    Riiiiight.

    pklopp isn’t the first person to report that the potato hack doesn’t work for them. If you don’t want to hear that, go ahead and register 30potatoesaday.com.”

    Another astute reader, chocotaco, came up with this jewel: (same thread, page 7)

    “For those trying this “experiment,” did anyone read this post at Hyperlipid that got this whole ball rolling to begin with?

    Hyperlipid: Protons: Zero fat

    The theory why people are calling this a “diet hack” isn’t because of calories. That would just be normal dieting. The reason why potatoes are the chosen food is because they’re basically zero fat and come with high quality protein, something very rare in a vegetarian protein source, and a lot of nutrients. The theory is because your body needs fat to manufacture insulin, if you are eating ZERO fat, it has to pull fat out of storage to manufacture insulin. Because white potatoes are so highly insulogenic and create such a massive, high GI response, it needs A LOT of insulin – which requires a significant portion of fat. Since you aren’t eating fat along with it, it is forced to go to adipose tissue as a source – and needs quite a bit – to make all that insulin.

    So when you start combining potatoes with outside sources of protein and fiber – like egg whites, fish or vegetables – you are destroying the “hack.” You are greatly reducing the insulin spike you’re supposed to get, which lessens the immediate fat need from your fat cells to manufacture insulin. The whole point is because potatoes are so massively insulinogenic. If you add stuff, it doesn’t work. It has to be all potatoes.

    You could surely do it with white rice too, but it’s not recommended because there’s virtually no protein (certainly no high quality protein) and far less nutrients. Potatoes were chosen because of the very high quality protein, the nutrient density, the high glycemix index and the fact that someone can survive a very long time eating simply potatoes – it is nearly a complete food – you will become ill much faster eating just white rice than eating just white potatoes.

    This thread addresses none of this, which is why it’s completely invalid. Ignoring this means you’ve turned it from a “diet hack” into typical CICO, or in this case due to the very short term application, just an exercise in water retention.”

    But, still, my favorite thread is the one I started 11/08, http://www.marksdailyapple.com/forum/thread70009.html people trying different things and reporting major success. For now, it’s a novelty, but I can see this becoming a mainstay of paleo. It fits all the categories we love to discuss: Food reward, Carbohydrate-Insulin Theory, Gut Health, Real Foods, etc… It’s open to interpretation and tweaking. The more people try it and put their own spin on it, the quicker we can come up with a really good way to make it work as best it can.

    • Tatertot:

      As with many things, the dose makes the poison. What I think me and commenters are on the road to establishing is that you can add a bit of fat, a bit of protein and get essentially the same results. With all respect to my friend JS, assuming I’m getting who said what right, his description of how it works, requiring “massive” insulin an therefore a lot of fat doesn’t square with his further claim that our adding a bit of fat and protein turns it into CICO.

      Again, we’re basically using a bit of fat and protein nearly as herbs & spices. This is all about palatability, but because of nutrient density, you also end up with a markedly better nutritional profile.

      You know what? The more I consider this, the more I think my take on this hack is going to be the big wiener.

      • Rhys Morgan says:

        Also, if the whole insulin concept is the end-all explanation, wouldn’t it be best to continuously spike insulin throughout the day by eating a potato every couple hours? I just don’t think the body works as purely as that.

    • TT, thanks for that post because somehow i missed the quote from Peter. I believe Ray said that our bodies have quite a bit of reserves when it comes to vitamins/minerals and it will scrounge what it needs. So becouse of this, i wonder if white rice would work just as well for 1-2 weeks. Maybe added soy sauce for a bit of sodium and protein. Its interesting because it would be even easier to eat nothing but rice, just have a cooker going 24-7 and grab a bowl when hungry.

    • Rhys Morgan says:

      Thanks for this post. The hack science is way clearer now. Looks like I need to kick the veggies and go back to potatoes only.

  4. Lou Fogel says:

    I’m still curious:

    a) How many potatoes per day are you eating?
    b) For the people saying they’re losing more weight that CICO suggests, did they use the “net carb” count of their potatoes?

    and, of course…

    c) Richard, when are you going to announce your results (I’m mostly curious about bodyfat % changes)?

    • Lou:

      I don’t really keep count. I know it’s not anywhere near 20, and plus, while I stuck with it initially (mostly) on my week of vacation in the initial days at our cabin, once we got down the the in-laws 2 days ahead of Thanksgiving with various family arriving and such, i bagged it (but ate pretty sensibly).

      As to B, no idea. Everyone has to speak for themselves. Since I know that when I do only potatoes I’m always well under 2k calories just on a back of napkin calculation, I don’t count.

      I’m probably going to save any results for my birthday, January 29th.

      • Happy Birthday Richard! I look forward to seeing what kind of results your experiments have resulted in.

      • Thank you for the remembrance.

        I actually hate the fact, but it is, nonetheless a fact.

        Beatrice got me the entire 5 seasons (well, 4.5, so far) of Breaking Bad and it’s strangely appropriate. :)

    • I’m curious about B as well. CICO is based properly based on real tissue loss, which gets confused with scale weight that may be revealing water loss as well. Fun to toy with either way.

  5. Phocion Timon says:

    Mr. Nikoley

    I love N=1 experiments. My wife thinks I’m outta my mind but they are fun.

    I was intrigued by your hack so I gave it a try. I’ve read in several places, books and the web, that those with “wrecked” metabolisms should “probably” stay away from high-carb meals even if they are composed of “safe” starches.

    Since having gone paleo I’ve known I have such a metabolism; I used to be a sugar freak, damn near mainlining the stuff. I gave the potato experiment a try for four days using no fat, a bit of fat as you suggested, and about a tablespoon of fat. After the first day my blood glucose shot upwards drastically and essentially stayed there. Worse, from my short-term perspective, my weight increased six pounds in those four days.

    Lesson learned: there are no safe starches for me.

    • Well there you go.

      One thing I never do: argue against anyone’s n=1.

    • Travis Steward says:

      @Phocion Timon – But did you gain body fat specifically? Weight gain does not imply fat gain. This could have been glycogen store repletion.

      Given how fast and abrupt it was, I suspect it was.

    • Paleophil says:

      Phocion Timon, what did your blood glucose shoot up to and how many potatoes does it take to produce the spikes? I’m curious how other folks’ BG from tubers compares to mine. Thanks.

      • I tested my blood sugar with an OneTouch UltraMini, I know it is spot on because I did a test at the same time I had an FBG done a docs and they were exactly the same…

        Anyway, I ate exactly 1 pound of potato w/skin, nothing else, and checked my blood glucose at 15 min intervals and got this:

        93 (prior to eating), 76 (immediately after eating), 116, 116, 154, 148 (1hr), 138, 133, 90, 61 (2hr), 65, 74, 75, 76 (3hr), 77

        I’ve done it a few times, once I caught my highest spike at 165, but it quickly comes down. I was amazed at the hypoglycemia that occurs at about 2 hours. Paints a neat picture.

        If my glucose would have been 90, 200, 300, 300, 400, 300, 300, etc… I would be worried!

      • Paleophil says:

        Thanks for the info, Tatertot, and I’ve enjoyed your other posts about potatoes and your experience with them.

        I haven’t tried eating a pound of potatoes and testing BG. I may try that some day. I did test one sweet potato, soaked and boiled. My BG before was 84 mg/dl and after 1.5 hours it was 102 mg/dl. Another time I think I measured around 120 mg/dl after eating a couple of white potatoes.

        So BG spikes don’t seem to be my problem with tubers, though I’ve only tested BG twice on small amounts, but I do tend to get multiple mild health symptoms if I eat too much tubers, such as one or more of stomach gas and bloating, malaise, mild lower extremity pain and edema, muscle aches, morning flank pain, etc.

        I think I’m tolerating potatoes better these days because my past symptoms after eating tubers included much worse flank pain and edema, mild nausea, mild acne, small skin vesicles (bubbles), etc.

        I was resistant to trying an elimination test of tubers and was disappointed to discover that my symptoms improved when I did, because I do like them quite a bit and they’re part of family tradition and my ethnic culture. I’ve been pleased to find I seem to be able to gradually tolerate them more over time. I’m puzzled by the symptoms they give me. I hope that I may learn something from other peoples’ experiences, both positive and negative, with them.

      • Paleophil says:

        P.S. Given your 154 BG reading, I’m curious what your take is on Michael Eades’ report (http://www.trackyourplaque.com/library/fl_04-022postprandialcarbs.asp) that I read today that “two-hour glucose values of 104-109 mg/dl or greater after glucose challenge are associated with greater likelihood of arterial retinopathy” and that 157 mg/dl postprandial BG is “far too high and sufficient to add to plaque growth and coronary risk”? Whereas I have seen another physician report that he wasn’t concerned about a 160 mg/dl pp reading and that 120 mg/dl pp is “normal,” and multiple experts appear to be fine with 140 mg/dl pp, so there seems to be disagreement about the max acceptable BG spikes.

      • I had two mashed potatoes for dinner round 7, 5.5 hrs ago, with some reduced, zero fat beef stock with 1.5 oz roast beef. Still not hungry. Zero sugar crash. Still not tired.

      • I appreciate the input. If I had only posted my 1,2, and 3 hour results (148, 61, 76), it looks more ‘normal’. My FBG has always been in the 90′s, my A1C is always normal. I have done a couple 2hr OGTs in the past and they came out fine.

        Also, keep in mind this potato n=1 was after years of LC. I think LC makes us a bit IR naturally.

        When you go for a 2hr or 4hr OGT, the are kind of lax on the 2hr and 4hr part, but from the curve I presented, you can see that 15minutes makes a big difference in the result.

        All-in-all, since I didn’t experience any hunger or crash syptoms when it dipped so low for 30 minutes, I’m not worried. If I had seen 200+ for 60 minutes I would be very worried.

      • As I’m eating real food and have never tested adversely with FBG, I don’t test. I seriously don’t get this (what I see as obsession) with BG numbers. They’re numbers.

        HOW DO YOU FEEL?

        I feel fine, actually surprisingly fine. I have noted, honestly to myself that if i go have a big prime rib, salad, baked potato with fixins’ it puts me into a coma. Every single dish of primarily potatoes (with very small added fat and/or protein) has not. not once.

        Why do I need to wring hands over measurements? In order to tell myself that feeling really good is a sin of the flesh, or whatever the fuck? If I felt like shit, I still wouldn’t measure, I’d eat differently.

        The idea that BG does not swing around wildly in response to wildly different meals is, to me, like getting worried that my heart rate went up when I was sprinting or I’d just noticed I was being stalked by a flesh-eating Zombie (I know, redundant).

      • I never, ever worry about such things as long as I feel good. The glucose question comes up in every discussion about the potato diet, so I wanted to test it on me. I found it very enlightening and it shows how misleading numbers can be considering how rapidly blood glucose changes in the 3 hours after eating. A snapshot at the wrong time in a doctors office could lead to a lifetime of treatment.

      • Tatertot, you’re really a man after my own heart. The curiosity is the driver.
        In the case of the potatoes, it’s also to see whether the insulin does ramp up enough to deal with it in the Usual time because so much starch is such an unusual load for my body (or most western peoples’).
        However, I would imagine this is actually important for anyone who suspects they may have glucose control issues, because if the level stays high for hours, it’s not something they would necessarily feel but they should clearly stop.

      • Paleophil says:

        Thanks for the interesting input, folks. Itsthewooo’s questions on BG seem reasonable to me (though not everyone agrees that > 140 mg/dl is pathological, as is clear in this thread). How would I know that BG spikes are no big deal and that Itsthewooo, Drs. Bernstein, Eades and Harris, and Chris Kresser and others are wrong about BG spikes being a concern based only on how I feel? Through testing I found that I feel fine when my BG spikes above 200 and stays there for over 60 minutes, with no hunger crash afterwards, which was a surprise to me. I haven’t wrung my hands over it, but if I hadn’t gotten curious after Dr. Bernstein and others highly recommended BG testing and took advantage of a free glucometer + test strips offer, I wouldn’t have known the degree and extent of the spikes. Even Tatertot acknowledged that 200+ BG for over 60 mins. is a problem. How do I know that it’s actually OK just because I felt fine and had no crash? The folks who recommend BG testing claim that organ damage can be done by high BG spikes without my even being aware of it. Their only disagreement is over how high is too high, which I am curious about.

        In another example, Kurt Harris said he “felt fine” when he was drinking four Coke Classics a day, but was it really a good idea? His opinion was no and that listening to our bodies only takes us so far. On the other hand, he was OK with a reader’s BG going to 160 at 1 hr in the short term if it improves with continued higher carb intake (http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2010/11/glucose-tolerance-in-non-industrial.html). If Tatertot’s 150+ spikes lasted just days, perhaps KGH would be OK with them. Plus, the examples of African Bushmen and Chris Voigt also suggest that Tatertot’s BG spikes and dips may not be pathological:

        “At one hour, the San had blood glucose readings of 169 mg/dL, compared to 142 mg/dL in Caucasian controls (3)! I suspect a 100g OGTT would have put them close to the diabetic range. … carbohydrate refeeding for a few days generally reverses this and allows a normal OGTT in most people” (http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2010/11/glucose-tolerance-in-non-industrial.html)

        “High-carbohydrate cultures such as the Kitavans, Aymara and New Guineans tend to have fasting values in the low 60s to low 70s. I suspect that a very high carbohydrate intake generally lowers fasting glucose in healthy people. That seems to be the case so far for Chris Voigt, on his diet of 20 potatoes a day.” (http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/search?q=blood+sugar+spikes).

        Then again, even if Tatertot’s pp BG spikes and dips were due only to peripheral IR from LC, that doesn’t guarantee that there’s no damage.

        I’m open to doing whatever works for me. If it turns out that means returning to near-zero carb, fine, if it includes potatoes or some other carby food, also fine. I’m not wedded to any particular food or dietary dogma. I’m interested in more input from both sides of the discussion and I generally find personal experiences and yes, even BG measures, to be particularly enlightening and credible. Thanks again!

      • This makes me think of the AtoZ study (http://nutrition.stanford.edu/projects/az.html) where insulin resistant folks did much better on a low-carb diet and insulin sensitive folks did much better on a high-carb diet. Different people REALLY ARE different.

  6. TempestTcup says:

    I tried 3 days of the potato diet – nothing but peeled potatoes, 1 teaspoon coconut oil, water & coffee & was not happy with the results. Right now (dinner last night was my last potato) I have an ocular migraine, which I haven’t had since I went mostly Paleo 2 years ago. I was bloated the whole time. I was in excellent health before :) Also, I did not lose a single pound. Maybe it is all coincidence, but I feel like total crap right now, like I have been on a whole wheat binge for 3 days.

    • TTC:

      Thank you, and all, ALL negative experiences are completely welcome without judgment.

      It adds to the mystery, really, because for me, I expected to have negative results. What I found is that keeping the fat/protein very low, that no matter how much potato I ate I never got the coma I always get if I go eat a big burger & fries. This in itself tells me I haven’t even come close to figuring this all out and increases the expectation that there really is no explanation, that we are all individuals.

      Thanks again and please spread the word that ALL experiences are welcome here, without judgment from me. These comment sections are the only lab I have.

      • TempestTcup says:

        Hey, it was worth a try, right? My husband did it with me and starved the entire time. Not sure if he lost any weight.

      • So strange. Both my wife and I get stuffed with just a potato or two and have zero desire to eat anything for many hours.

        Very, very interesting. No answers—I wish there were—just interesting.

      • TempestTcup says:

        I think I might be sensitive to the nightshade aspect of potatoes. In the middle of the night last nigh I woke to my left shoulder in a spasm & now I can hardly move it. My nose was bloody this morning & I have terrible tinnitus. I am really messed up!

        Also my husband gently and nicely informed me that I was a raving bitch throughout the entire experiment, so Cow, if you are out there, you might be nightshade sensitive.

      • TempestTcup says:

        Not that I think Cow is a raving bitch, lol, but Cow said something about scorched earth on another post!

      • TT, those are strong dehydration symptoms. Perhaps you need to drink more water when doing this.
        Not because potatoes themselves will dehydrate you, not at all, but simply because once cooked (and more so if microwaved) they do not contain the water that you normally get from your food, so you may need to consciously drink water when doing this.
        Some people are ‘drinkers’ anyway, they enjoy several glasses/cups of fluids during any day. Such people wouldn’t notice a difference with potatoes.
        Others unintentionally rely on food for much of their hydration and if that’s your case, then please make sure you’re drinking plenty of water?

      • TempestTcup says:

        Could be, but there was something about the potatoes too; I noticed on the 2nd & 3rd day that my nose & cheeks were red for a couple of hours after eating – I didn’t really think anything about it until Thursday morning when I blew my nose. I’m fine now & in a day or two i’ll eat another potato & see what happens.

      • TempestTcup says:

        Okay – just figured it out (only took me a month!) – I have a zinc deficiency (& probably magnesium also).

        Migraine, check; herpes simplex in nose flaring up, check. A couple of days ago I noticed white spots on all of my fingernails (this rarely happens), and have been supplementing, but didn’t put 2 & 2 together until now.

      • ” This in itself tells me I haven’t even come close to figuring this all out and increases the expectation that there really is no explanation, that we are all individuals.”

        Bravo! For this reason I love your website Richard. What works for me may not work for you & visa versa. I had this experience with milk (and I really loved your posts on that subject) when I started on Atkins in May of 2011. I went one month without milk, which I love, because everyone said that you cannot drink milk and lose weight. I lost about 8 lbs the first few weeks but I had a week where I lost nothing. At that point I thought the hell with it and started drinking milk again. Lo & behold I lost 3 lbs. that week. I have lost 45 lbs more since that time & I have enjoyed milk the whole time. Of course when I posted my experience on the Atkins site you would have thought I killed a litter of puppies. This led me to move on & luckily I found MDA & you and have yet to look back.

        Thanks for keeping it fun & I look forward to your potato results.

      • “Of course when I posted my experience on the Atkins site you would have thought I killed a litter of puppies.”

        Murderer!

        http://www.jokeroo.com/pictures/animal/puppy-napz.html

      • I guess I am “that guy” that your website seems to attract! :) The “Murderer Demographic” to whom all of the companies want to advertise.

  7. Here’s my n=1 experimental data:

    I tried it for 5 days to lose the last 20 pounds. Nothing but potatoes. But I have been hungry all the time. I ate about 1.5 pounds for breakfast and 5 pounds for dinner. Of course, I did not lose much weight with this amount of calories.

    The thing is, I am quite adapted to eating only 1-2 meals per day but on this regime I have been hungry about half an hour after eating again.

    I did not notice anything from the satiating effects of potatoes as I can easily eat huge amounts of it.
    Guess, I am at the wrong end of the bell curve. Switching back to steak again.

    • Tadas

      Thanks. It occurs to me—and this in not “you did not do it right—but I am noticing a trend where it’s assumed that plain potatoes are the best way to go….that the little fat and protein I’ve been taking about is the inferior or less pure way.

      So, not asking you to retest by I want to toss it out there. How about making the dish more satisfying? What hormonal signals will that send if while you’re eating it, you’re not saying “I have to get this down” vs. “Wow, this is pretty good.” Or, how much do we know about satiation signals being a full belly vs. a content mind?

      Food for thought.

  8. I like what Julia Child had to say:
    “I, for one, would much rather swoon over a few thin slices of prime beefsteak, or one small serving of chocolate mousse, or a sliver of foie gras than indulge to the full on such nonentities as fat-free gelatin puddings….The pleasures of the table — that lovely old-fashioned phrase — depict food as an art form, as a delightful part of civilized life. In spite of food fads, fitness programs, and health concerns, we must never lose sight of a beautifully conceived meal.” – Julia Child

  9. This commenter Gene is emblematic of the flippant, macho attitude toward understanding ancestral diets that is common in this community.

    The argument about hunter-gatherers having sumptuous feasts eating aurochs is absurd. First of all, if you believe in the evolutionary logic behind the Paleo diet, then you believe that we evolved mostly in African eating African game, which tends to be extremely lean (though there were other sources of fat such as nuts). Second, even if we did feast on relatively fatty megafauna for a couple thousand years before driving it to extinction in Europe (though there is actually no evidence whatsoever addressing the question of how much fat our ancestors ate during that relatively brief time), that does not mean the food was overall highly rewarding, give me a break! Imagine eating a meal that consisted mostly of unsalted, unseasoned, tough, possibly gamey, meat with no intramuscular fat (a characteristic of modern breeds) but lots of subcutaneous fat. Yeah, careful not to max out your food reward there. Third, we don’t even know that those HGs eating megafauna in Europe were our ancestors.

    The comment on the Kitavans is particularly bizarre. The Kitavan diet is low in fat and low-ish in protein, 69% carbohydrate, and is mostly plain steamed/baked starch foods (cooked in an earth oven), in more recent times with a few flavorings such as ginger or chili pepper. Sometimes they do use grated coconut or coconut cream in their cooking, mixing it with the starches, but at a total fat intake of only 21% of kcals, how much grated coconut do you think they’re eating? Common sense please. The Kitavan diet is not the hedonic extravaganza the commenter makes it out to be. The average Westerner would not find the Kitavan diet particularly exciting, but it would certainly be considered more palatable than what most hunter-gatherers eat.

    Gene said “I just don’t buy that it’s necessary, nor appropriate to our being to have to spend our days deliberately making our food as bland as possible – as though all of our taste and olafactory senses, and their links to our reward system were there by accident or as some kind of Devil-sent temptation”. This is 100% straw man. Who said we need to “spend our days deliberately making our food as bland as possible”? That seems a far cry from acknowledging that reward/palatability is a factor in food intake and body fatness.

    The argument based on religion (“Judeo-Christian self-flagellation”) is nothing more than a cheap rhetorical trick. I suppose he thinks the research on food reward was funded by the Vatican, or perhaps that Christian fundamentalists changed the results of these experiments to trick us into thinking that food reward is relevant. Give me a break.

    Making up just-so stories and arguing based on philosophy/religion is always more fun than taking a critical look at the evidence from a position of scientific knowledge, but it only leads to confusion.

    • Stephan:

      Thank you. This is important and I am gratified that this was enough to rile you just a bit (A-OK), though certainly not intended to do so.

      I’m going to detail a response a bit later.

    • Stephan – I would love to put you, Richard, Peter from Hyperlipid, and Ray Cronise in a room and not let you out until you come up with the perfect potato diet. If you take too long, I would throw in Jack Kruse, Evelyn, and itsthewoo.

      I love the thought, and have had great success, using it as a 7-14 day ‘fat mobilizer’. For some reason, it doesn’t seem to work for everyone, but from what I’ve seen, it’s like 80% or better success rate. I think the people who do worst are the ones who never get full no matter what. Others, like me, can be well-stuffed on 1 or 2 potatoes.

      For those reporting success, 1/2 – 1 pound a day weightloss is the norm.

      Whenever I see a ‘food satiety’ chart and see ‘white potato’ looming waaaay above all other foods, I know we are on to something here.

      The potato diet as a life-long eating plan? Never! As a quick-fix to move some fat and then resume normal paleo eating? Hell yeah!

      • If that’s true, I had no idea. I also wasn’t aware (it was pointed out to me earlier today) that Stephan had used poutine for his Friday Food Reward post.

      • BTW, I should clarify that I certainly don’t picture some Paleo Club Fed at all. The point is that they probably ate that aurochs with abandon. If they were half starved, than that’s even more to the point. My point was that it seems implausible that the reward system in our brains is there as some kind of wick which, once lit, will lead us down the path to metabolic ruin. It seems to be there in large part to allow us to enjoy things which are good for us and to encourage behaviours which bring health to the organism.

      • Gene, don’t worry about it, what you meant was fairly clear within context.
        Most people though are misinformed in general through our wonderful media and of course don’t know much about paleoanthropology and less about biochemistry through our even lovelier education system, so it’s not easy to mount a clear enough argument.
        .And that’s just keeping in mind the honest ones, because of course on top of that there are the ones with axes to grind and well, that just makes the whole discussion more colorful, eh?
        Food reward is interesting, if we follow it seasonally and with whole foods we may actually benefit. The trouble is the year-around availability and ‘super-charged’ engineered fake foods that can turn a gift into a trojan horse.

      • Damn, and in catching up I just realized wooo is in this thread. Just to be clear, I don’t mean she’s one of those ‘most people’, quite the opposite.! More that it’s difficult to clearly address all possible misconceptions in any argument on such a mutli-varied and much-argued topic :)

      • Gene,

        Once again you have stumbled onto an aspect of my next post.

        …If you’re going to be food psychologists, and you want to tell us how unpalatable it was for paleo man, then at least integrate the fact that if we don’t like the gaminess of a wild kill mea, a pizza is only about 20 minutes away.

      • I’ll admit I don’t entirely follow you from that short snippet. But I look forward to the next post.

      • I’m sorry if I stole anyone’s thunder, ItsTheWooo. I wasn’t aware of your rant elsewhere. Sometimes people just think similarly about certain things.

      • We are all broke in our own way. I was a chubby 80′s kid, guzzling Kool-Aid and woofing Pop-Tarts.

        I lost 100lbs in my 30′s with LC paleo, but that ‘last 10′ has always eluded me. In fact, it took me 1 year to lose the last 10 I lost on LC paleo. Then I stumbled across the ‘potato hack’ and found I can lose 10lbs in 2 weeks rather painlessly.

        I went 3 years w/o touching a potato, thought they were evil and the root of all the world’s problems. It was so hard for me to try the potato diet, I almost didn’t. I’m very glad I did. Now I want to help spread the word.

        I am now back on LC paleo and plan on staying here a long time, but if life gets in the way and I gain back 5-10lbs by Spring, I will be doing a 2 week potato diet again. It works for me!

      • ‘And why would any sane person eat only potatoes, a nutritionally bankrupt food for peasants who have no options?’

        Wooo, despite your (self admitted) fucked-upness, I’m a big fan but that’s one of the dumbest sentences you’ve ever written.

        a) Nutritionally bankrupt? That’s world class ignorance.

        b) You basically answered your own question in the very same sentence:

        Some of us are PEASANT FUCKING POOR (struggling students, unemployed, shitty job – whatever – so appreciate, don’t bitch about, your 4am, $300 benders to Walmart).

        I’ve been dirt poor for about 2 years and I have another 2 years or so to go and in that time I’ve been living on potatoes, butter, beef liver, eggs and canned salmon, all things bought only on special except for liver which is never on special cuzz it’s already dirt cheap.

        I eat 5 lbs of potatoes every day divided into 2 meals (IF 16/8) with ~50g of butter per meal (about 1 stick). Sundays is ‘treat day’ where I add ~100g of liver, 12 eggs, a can of salmon and an extra stick of butter to my Mon – Sun fare. I drink nothing but tap water. Every 3 months I treat myself to a medium all dressed pizza with bacon and 2 Pepsis. To die for!

        Cheapest I’ve ever eaten, best I’ve ever felt and best I’ve ever looked – BY FAR. First time I’ve ever had a six pack. Babes look at me again – Woo Hoo!

        So it’s not ‘only’ taters but it’s mainly taters, like the Irish and many other ‘tribes’ have lived and thrived on for generations.

        For those who are wondering, no, I never get sick of eating potatoes. Prior to that when I had more money, I tried the 24 eggs a day thing but my body said ‘enough’ after about 6 months (not enough magnesium in retrospect). Great also for losing weight but I stalled around 190 (I’m 6’3, athletic build).

        There is something magical about the combination of IF (intermittent fasting), potatoes and butter for weight loss. I’m currently at 178 lbs (ZERO exercise except walking everywhere) with 2.5 tsp of salt per day (excluding what’s already in the salted butter). If I cut out the salt I drop to ~172.

        For those who wonder about loss of muscle mass, the litmus test for me is that girls don’t look at you if you look like shit. No, I’m not as muscular as before but I still have broad shoulders, an ass and I can easily throw 115 lbs of drama over my shoulders for the 30 foot walk to the bedroom.

        A very boring, very healthy, very inexpensive way to eat. If anybody has any questions about my 2 year poor, peasant potatoe diet, feel free to ask.

      • Laf.

        Quality comment. Includes a trip to the bedroom.

      • Thanks Richard.

        2 Questions and a comment for you.

        1. Have you, or anybody for that matter, found that liver (or any type of protein ) added to potatoes actually increases your appetite? I find it so strange that I consistently get hungrier faster if I add liver to the same amount of potatoes I usually eat. That’s why I ended up pushing the liver to Sundays first meal of the day with 12 eggs, butter and lots of salt. That fixes me good til meal 2 (no IF on Sundays).

        2. Have you found that beef liver puts you in a negative frame of mind? For me, nothing in this world compares to beef liver for giving energy but I’ve consistently noticed that it makes me wake up on the wrong side of the bed – pissed off but raring to go! For real.

        I guess I can kill 3 birds with one stone by saying thanks to you, Wooo and Stephan since the trio of you love birds are present in this thread and I’ve learned/am learning and improving my health based on input from all of you.

        Stephan’s great series of Potatoe Posts years ago clued me in as to why my potatoe diet was working so well and it gave me the confidence to continue with it since I wasn’t aware that for eons, ‘taters have been staples for cultures all over the world.

        This potatoe hack was a light bulb (and FREE) way for me to implement the concepts from this great post of Wooo’s since I’m too fucking poor to afford flax seeds. Cutting out the butter since Monday stopped my morning stuffiness, sniffles and sneezing by Wednesday – Hooray!

        So, I’m going to experiment with potaotes only on weekdays and butter with potatoes on weekends and see how that works long term for reducing omega 6 damage (I live in Montreal and have literally eaten THOUSANDS of greasy poutines so me thinks there’s lots of omega 6 damage to fix).

        The point is, except for me of course, none of us are perfect: Stephan HAS jumped the shark, Wooo IZZ INSANE, and YOU ARE an ASSHOLE but there are real gems in all 3 of your archives so no one should let any drama or bad mouthing by anybody dissuade them from doing some digging and implementing what their instincts tell them might be good to try.

        God Bless to two of you, and thanks to all.

      • I tend to notice I get hungrier faster when I eat liver, too. Not sure why that is. At first I wondered if it was a matter of source quality because I buy supermarker liver, but I proved that wrong with the fresh deer liver I just got hunting. I subscribe to Richard’s thoughts that liver’s high nutritional density should leave my body satisfied, but I crave more. An increase from my usual 8oz/wk to 12-16oz/wk might be in order to see if there is a difference.

        On the otherhand, fatty fish, like sardines and herring, leaves me feeling quite content for sometime. I routinely eat a can of each for lunch 1-3x a week and I’m good for hours. Perhaps the specific types of fat are playing a role in my satiety?

      • I tend to use more liver in one meal than I do with other meats. It takes more liver before I feel full. However once full, I’m good for hours.
        It depends on the preparation though. Lightly sauteed in butter with veggies and kept moist, not overcooked, means it goes down easy for me and I can have plenty.
        If its ‘badly’ cooked (blackened/dry or breaded) it fills me quickly but then I’m hungry in a couple of hours. So the cooking method and the condition of the oil/fat used to cook it may play a role too?

      • 1. I think the opposite. Although the liver I take is in the form of a desiccated liver supplement (Uni Liver), it seems to have the oppsite effect, as does a bit of fat and a bit of protein, like and ounce or two of chopped up beef in a zero fat stock reduction to have along with the tater.

        2. No idea. I’m pretty much a curmudgeonly asshole 24/7 no matter what, so Im probably a poor test subject on that score. :)

    • macho attitude toward understanding ancestral diets that is common in this community.

      ====

      I read Gene’s comments the exact opposite way, my thought was “What’s wrong with being stoic? Men are supposed to be stoic.”

      I associate concern with how a food tastes with the feminine, a lack of concern with palatability with the masculine.

      Of course Julia Child was concerned with all that stuff, she was female.

    • “This commenter Gene is emblematic of the flippant, macho attitude toward understanding ancestral diets that is common in this community.”

      Perhaps. That really doesn’t draw any conclusion as to whether that’s 1) a good thing (you’re just assuming it’s not) or, 2) a logical and well deserved backlash to the morass of bad science that is the root cause of perpetuating the obesity epidemic (I’m drawing a distinction between origination and perpetuation).

      Occam’s razor, a bit? After all these decades and all the research, it’s not crazy to ask the question: would we have been better off in terms of increasing obesity if nary one single scientist had ever looked at it, one media outlet had ever promoted them, one university—or food company that makes earmarked donations to universities—ever funded them? I think it’s an excellent question.

      Obesity research, in terms of _effectiveness_, has been a dismal—actually, laughable—failure. Top to bottom and wall to wall. One may argue that obesity researchers do now have the (or many/most) right answers, but that the right message is not being delivered, whatever. Fine, then stop researching and shut up. Eh? Go find work that at least shows some results. We’re talking DECADES, here. Decades of abject failure.

      I say this as someone who actually does find merit in the reward/palatability thing and I have no doubt that obesity is primarily a multi-factoral (based on individuals) result of:

      1. eating too much
      2. too often
      3. of foods designed and engineered to entice eating too much and too often

      But this is not really a characteristic of ribs, ribeye steaks, prime rib or many/most other real foods for most people when eaten in the context of an overall real food diet regardless of individual macronutrient ratios.

      And you know this, Stephan. You’ve seen what tremendous benefits the Paleo/Ancestral movement has bestowed upon tons and tons of people over the last five years. It puts obesity researchers in short pants. Sorry, but it does. Yep, all these silly bloggers out there doing not only what the research community has failed to do for decades, but has arguably made worse.

      Gene’s comment would be a perfect target for your criticism were it aimed at a group of Weight Watchers or any other group punishing themselves with various forms of crap in a box, denying themselves the pleasure of eating well—and he was admonishing them to raid the bakery and live it up.

      Instead, his comment was in the context of a Paleo group where people are trying to decide whether to eat potatoes plain, or with a bit of butter, salt, fat, etc.

      And so after due consideration, I find your criticism pretty non-sequitur.

      • Perfect reply Richard. Stephan is a diligent and honest researcher who has provided a wealth of insights on diet and ancestral lifestyles. But he seems to be becoming a career bureaucrat. He denies the appalling role that the USDA food pyramid has played in the diabesity epidemic. Dude when stand-up comedians, to crack whores know to “watch their cholestrol” how are you going to absolve the USDA and the whole of obesity research gang of the blame? People have been damn scared to indulge in less palatable food like steak and potatoes, because of the “high cholestrol” and instead succumb to junk snacks.
        Richard is damn right – obesity research is a spectacular bureaucratic failure. Shut it down or let it be funded by groups like NUSI

      • Richard Nikoley wrote:

        After all these decades and all the research, it’s not crazy to ask the question: would we have been better off in terms of increasing obesity if nary one single scientist had ever looked at it, one media outlet had ever promoted them, one university—or food company that makes earmarked donations to universities—ever funded them?

        Wow, Richard. This is the question, isn’t it?

        You just completely blew my mind.

    • Stephan, “food reward” is itself a “just so” story, not holy writ.

      But it’s your story, so you’re sticking to it.

    • Dr. Stephen,

      The upshot of your post is that “Doctor” Guyenet is so identified with his favourite theory that any perceived sleight against it – no matter how wrongly construed – produces a tangential tirade (try saying that 5x fast with a mouth full of potatoes). Your “Doctor” wasn’t mentioned once in the post, but it sure felt like it was to someone in there, which probably says something about your objectivity. To some it may be more concerning that your education system can produce such highly qualified people without a modicum of reading comprehension. That’s forgiving the arrogant leaps in logic (we don’t have any evidence about what these hunter gatherers ate, but Doctor Guyenet knows exactly what it was like!) and the underling mentality that drove your initial criticism of me as “macho” for having the temerity to suggest that we ought to think/eat/act for strength rather than out of fear and a desperate need for control.

      Now that we’ve gotten that off our chests, perhaps you’ll get around to posting about what I said, addressing the context within which it was said. And instead of concerning yourself with defending your pet theory, you’ll focus on the real enemy named in my post.

    • This commenter Gene is emblematic of the flippant, macho attitude toward understanding ancestral diets that is common in this community.

      The opposite of macho, Stephan, is whiny and passive-aggressive which sums you up nicely.

      Whenever I discuss scientific concepts with someone and they can’t explain these concepts or their position it’s usually (although certainly not always) because they don’t understand the concept themselves. That’s my pet theory for why you’ve done such a lousy job explaining your pet theory of food reward.

      You enjoy pointing out supposed logical fallacies (100% strawman!) yet begin with one, a blanket ad hominem. But why would you show a greater propensity for logical consistency on this than you’ve shown on anything else?

      • Perfectly said.

      • Wooo

        Were you always like that?

        One thing no one seems to talks about—since we’re ultimately talking about chemical effects of the brain—is other factors that motivate people psychologically to turn to food for comfort (or alcohol, drugs, smokes, some combination of all or some).

        I think we’re essentially dealing with the same thing, but we seem to arbitrarily separate them, even in the knowledge the alcohol has significant calories. Of course, the metabolic downstream fallout will be different depending on what, or complicated by combination.

  10. jamesmooney says:

    I can’t believe it’s not butter fat free spray does the trick. I used this back in the 90′s when trying out Don Lemmon’s food separation diet. All carbs were eaten without “added” fat or protein. Since this is a hack, I bet the chemical make up of the spray won’t hurt. Makes potatoe a bit tastier if you don’t want to add any extra fat.

  11. I am a hedonist.

    I love food too much to intentionally eat a bland diet. I like to eat. I like to drink. I will be god damned if forgo good food and wine so that I can shit in a diaper for an extra 14 weeks when my kids pit my ass in a nursing home.

    But I don’t think that means I can’t eat a low reward diet at the same time. The key in my mind is REAL FOOD. Real Food is inherently low reward in my mind. Paleo has its faults (pictures of soccer moms in sports bras carrying spears, etc.) But it’s greatest contribution has been the movement to real food. Real food has far reaching benefits (less medical burden, improved productivity, etc.)

    To quote Gene – “As most people have noticed, the more that most people eat whole, real foods, the more our bodies send out satiation signals, naturally moderating appetite and consumption.”

    Real food is the common denominator between Food Reward and the low carb/insulin camp. Take out the fake food (e,g, flour, sugar, veg oil) and you reduce reward a ton – probably enough for most people to significantly benefit. You always have your outliers like Moore and Itsthewooo who have difficult biology. It is really a matter of how messed up you are to determine how strict you need to be. But it seems that both Moore and Wooo pretty much eat real food and both have benefited. Is their diet low carb, yes. Is it low reward? I say yes. Is it low palatability? NO.

    I was initially very skeptical about food reward but I think I am starting to understand it and believe it does have merit. But to me at the base of all food reward = obesity arguments are fake foods that don’t send that “I’m full” signal to the brain.

    Eat food. Enjoy Life. Laugh. My tombstone will read “He lived.”

  12. golooraam says:

    so happy to see this post by you Richard and the commentary from people

    I for one am on day 4 of this tater experiment

    bear in mind, I’m keeping it to 4 days then have regular food tomorrow and Saturday and on Sunday start another 4 days

    to keep it simple, I’m just doing it taters – single meal at dinner – doused with Real Salt and Coconut Vinegar – Ive shed 6.6 lbs, hoping to cross the -7 ledge tomorrow morning
    the first two days I did baked russet, but I kept screwing that up so yesterday I boiled and chilled some yukon golds, much better – will do a blend of those and russet tonight (chilling as we speak in my fridge)

    I feel pretty good and my sweet tooth is squashed, but I am excited to eat some solid food tomorrow, (for me solid food means paleo food and non paleo as long as it’s not fast food or tons of sugar), then saturday is a regular high fat zero carb day before resuming with potatoes on Sunday

    my clothes are already fitting better and I enjoy the simplicity
    I’m hoping I can use for 2-4 day stretches each week until I reach my abs goal

    I personally don’t add anything to make it palatable because I don’t have the self control of some, I wish I could add a touch of this or that, but I know I”ll just turn that tsp of oil into 3 tbs of bacon fat and tallow and just inhale :)

    • golooraam says:

      ok, so 4 days done – was nice to hit the gym this morning and have a nice post workout meal of a artisinal roast beef sandwich, raw milk, and pate

      loss – 7.4 lbs

      that’s a positive, as is total elimination of sweet tooth, I had been craving too many sweets lately
      not to mention my jeans got loose and I had to adjust one belt notch

      doing a zero carb day tomorrow as mentioned previously – and then going back to potatoes for 4 days

    • Can you explain to me your logic as to 4 days of Potato Diet(Low fat), 2 days of “Solid Food”, followed by one day of High Fat, Zero Carb…. Just curious. Thanks

  13. I too lost 6 pounds in the 5 days I did this hack–and I kept it 0 fat and only used broth or vinegar and spices for my condiments–The first day or so, I was mildly hungry, but then satisfaction kicked in and I felt full most of the time. I wonder if there is any correlation between those of us who felt full on the diet and weightloss vs those who felt hungry and didn’t lose or gained–may have been different insulin responses to the starch??

  14. i have been doing 1 meal a day for 7 years now. always the same food. uninterrupted. i feel awesome and i dont have fat to lose, so im not precisely looking for a hack or new hack. but this potatoes thing sure looks interesting. not sure if i could do it, tatters used to make my ravenous…

  15. the 3volution of j3nn says:

    I was chatting in a potato thread today on MDA. I decided to do a variation that includes other vegetables, fruit, sweet potatoes and white rice for variety for ten days before my birthday on 12-12-12. I know it’s not the original concept, but I want to see if the effect and satiety are similar. The potato will still be the entree of the meal; no added fats or high protein foods, e.g., animal products. I’m not trying to debunk the potato diet, by the way. I’m trying to see if there can be variations with similar results. I figure, why not? 10 days of whole plant foods never hurt anyone. I’m insatiably curious about my body. :)

    My theory is that the potassium content of the potato contributes to the success of this. The satiety factor is what really helps compliance, I think. But could satiety be influenced by potassium, which helps regulate blood glucose? Hmm. So I’m doing a high potato low-fat vegan diet for a few days. For funsies. If I lose weight, which I have oodles to spare, great! I know it’s not all water weight with overflowing glycogen. ;)

  16. I did a modified potato hack for 8 days, inspired by Richard’s post which introduced the idea of a little liver or liver supplements and a couple of breaks of fasting or re-feeding with exercise.
    .
    My variation had no breaks but had every day 2.2-to-2.8 lbs white potatoes. I never did manage more, felt uncomfortably stuffed at 2.8lbs at end of day.
    Added : 2-3tbsp olive oil (with which to cook, or to drizzle on boiled potatoes) and up to 4 oz of liver or lean meat (and even 1.5oz drained bacon a couple of times). The added protein was in one of the two main daily meals.
    Both main meals also had ‘flavorings’ (up to 1 cup per day) of cherry tomatoes slices, onions, roasted garlic or marinated mushrooms and vinegar – just because I like them:)
    A favorite dish with all of the goodies and boiled-then-Lightly ‘fried’ potatoes was featured here at the time.
    .
    _After 8 days I was down 4.6lbs.
    _It was a remarkably steady loss of nearly 0.6lbs/day, on an unaccountably low 500-600C daily deficit.
    _My blood glucose never hit more than a postprandial 153-158 mg/dl and leveled off to about 90mg/dl after 2-2.5hrs.
    .
    This was an experiment to see if eating a lot of potatoes actually worked, with some additional nutrition from the liver and with ‘flavorings’, both of which would make it doable for more than a few days.
    I was also curious to see how strict was the supposed restriction for fat/protein.
    .
    A sudden relocation forced me to stop last weekend, after I had seen that it actually worked and had eliminated common explanations (like water loss), but before I could start changing variables systematically to look at the more interesting questions.
    .
    Since the weight loss far exceeds the daily caloric deficit (in my case and in many reported cases) the science on this is unknown and there are some very interesting possibilities like Peter’s/hyperlipid.
    .
    Perhaps more ideas may occur if there are correlations to the condition and background of anyone doing this, both those with success and without.
    In my case, I have been in the healthy ‘normal’ weight range most of my life, excepting an unintended gain followed by very intentional loss (!) of around 25 lbs that happened 4-6 years ago.
    I am uncommonly fit for a 45 yr-old woman (slow weights, seasonal sports and one or two 5k/10k in the summer for family favorites and just because I can).
    No metabolic syndrome or glucose problems (a slim waist, exceptional yearly blood work and low blood pressure). No other health conditions.
    I have eaten a mostly mediterranean diet since childhood, that is : mainstays of olive oil, many fish, many vegetables, lamb/meats and cheese+yogurt, with sweets/nuts/honeys on Sundays and special occasions; I’ve avoided bread/pasta also since childhood as I have instant trouble digesting it.
    I love potatoes. A lot :). They are the one thing that I normally make a conscious effort to limit (!) since I can get carried away with them easily.
    I would be very interested in hearing the weight and health backgrounds of others who tried this, both with and without success.
    _Potassium/sodium balance is an interesting aspect. I salt the heck out of my potatoes, but that should be measured and compared to the suddenly very high potassium content of potatoes.
    _Satiety definitely was very high for me, contributing to that Spontaneous caloric deficit.
    _However, the caloric deficit itself just isn’t enough to explain the weight loss, Something else is using that mass/energy….and I can’t rightly say that it’s using that ‘fat mass’ since I personally didn’t get far enough to check that no muscle was lost. It sure wasn’t water loss though, not for 8 days, with plump skin, likely full glycogen stores and no extra elimination that I could tell.

  17. “… Screw the Stoics. More Epicure.. .”

    The stoics loved food, likely more than Epicurus. They were also just as content to be without amazing food. Happy regardless of circumstances.

    Epicurus was the original food reward nazi…he’d see this potato hack as a feast!

  18. You’re turning into Jimmy Moore. You’ve already admitted calories count. So why not just actually count calories if you want to lose those last 20 lbs? And there’s really no getting around being hungry. Caffeine/ephedrine/nicotine/intermittent fasting/carb cycling/etc help on that front though.

    • Michelle, (or should I say, ELMM),

      The point is, for some (many?), there is no hunger on a reduced-calorie potato diet.

      Try *reading* what’s been posted rather than assuming you know what those thousands of words might contain.

      • ELMM???

        And there’s no hunger for a good long while for many on a ketogenic diet either.

        I could have also compared him to Durianrider/30 Bananas a Day craziness too. Or even the Twinkie Diet guy (RIP Twinkies! [actually I never liked them]).

        I DO acknowledge his statement that this is a hack and not a long term thing. There’s lots of similar hack (or shall I say fad) diets around that will work for a short time too.

      • Twinkies? Compared to a diet that kept Ireland alive for centuries? STOP BEING A MORON.

        > I DO acknowledge his statement that this is a hack and not a long term thing.

        Yes, he’s many statements like that. And has been very clear that any vegan diet can’t be healthful long-term. But you’re acting as if he hasn’t made any caveats. STOP BEING A MORON.

        >There’s lots of similar hack (or shall I say fad) diets around that will work for a short time too.

        Like the “Twinkie” diet you cite? STOP BEING A MORON.

      • You contradict yourself. Sure a twinkie diet can keep you alive, but it’s not healthy. Nobody ever claimed you should stay on it long term. Exact same thing applies to this all potato diet, no?

        As to the Irish living for centuries on potatoes… What if the Irish only had access to twinkies instead of potatoes? (almost like so many poor Americans today). They would still have lived, no?

      • Richard is not asserting that this is a healthful long-term diet. He’s said again and again that it’s a HACK. Stop pretending that claims are being made for the healthfulness of the diet.

        That said, comparing potatoes, which have kept hundreds of millions alive for many, many years, with TWINKIES is MORONIC. STOP BEING A MORON.

      • no,they would not have lived.

      • michelle, you’re missing the point.
        Eating almost exclusively potatoes is not just a way to decrease calories like any of the fads.
        Calories do drop but they do so spontaneously while you feel very satisfied (that part is like a keto diet).
        In addition though and most importantly, potatoes also have a very good nutrition profile, including protein, so eating them even exclusively for a while won’t hurt. Add the small amounts of liver or other very low fat ‘flavorings’ and it becomes a healthy, sustainable diet for those who need to lose quite a bit.
        .
        For those who are just ‘refining’ body composition, the appeal seems to be the speed and ease of this hack. Right there is the other major difference to just keto, which relies entirely on the comfortable caloric reduction after an early water loss. The potatoes seem to cause weight loss well beyond what can be accounted for by the caloric reduction. This is why a whole other group of people are looking at it too, it’s damn interesting.

      • > The potatoes seem to cause weight loss well beyond what can be accounted for by the caloric reduction. This is why a whole other group of people are looking at it too, it’s damn interesting.

        Is the weight loss
        a) water weight?
        b) fat?
        c) lean body mass?

        a- very easy to do/manipulate. I know how to make myself lose 5-6 lbs in a day
        b- awesome if so!
        c- almost always unavoidable, but I’d be very wary without eating much protein how much weight loss is coming from muscle, which is not desirable

      • This stuff has all been addressed. Obviously you aren’t much interested in all that’s been addressed in this, previous posts and comments in all of them.

      • Oh hey there. I admit, I have not read all of the comments for all of the blog posts around the potato diet. All I saw with regards to the composition of the weight loss was “It’s hard to believe it’s water.” Honestly, I know my first comment came off jerky but now that you’ve actually replied, sorry. Was there anything in the comments that I should go back and read that has figured out this breakdown of loss from water vs fat vs muscle?

        For me, I’ve never been able to get a good feel of if a diet is working until at least a few weeks of charting my weight since in excel and getting a moving average, it my weight can fluctuate so much in a single day. Hacker’s Diet online has a great utility to chart the trend. Of course you can do it yourself in excel.

      • http://i.imgur.com/SkaWs.png

        The hacker’s diet online chart. Maybe it’s because I’m female, but I can never trust my scale and always have to look at the trend over time.

      • The original post covers these issues pretty well. There’s no way this is going to be water weight when eating that much starch and keeping glycogen topped off. Protein quality of potatoes is high quality, low quantity, which is why I take BCAA’s and liver supplements. And so far, have only gained at the gym.

      • golooraam says:

        agreed Richard – kinda cool as I don’t ‘get’ the science and I have done so much ketogenic dieting that it is interesting eating 2 lbs of spuds a day and not having the same dried out feeling… I’m interested to how i feel Monday morning after a day a ketogenic eating followed by a tater day

        btw, in your honor, I had some liver in the form of pate made by a local butcher shop in Berkeley – just delish!

      • “I had some liver in the form of pate made by a local butcher shop in Berkeley – just delish!”

        This is what I keep telling people. If you don’t like the typical fried liver, then get artisanal pate, or make it yourself. Or just eat foie gras.

  19. Would love to give this a try but can’t due to sensitivities to nightshades as well as sweet potatos. My safe starch of choice is Yucca, a tropical tuber. Anyone have thoughts on effectiveness of using Yucca instead of potatos?

    • Having eaten a lot of yucca in my time, I think it would be more effective than potatoes (assuming the yucca is not fried) because (a) it is even less palatable; and (b) it has a lot of fiber in it.

      It’s pretty easy to chow down on fried yucca but when it is boiled I have a hard time eating more than 4 ounces of it. I don’t see how anyone can survive on that stuff, maybe mashing it.

  20. aminoKing says:

    Potato diet did not work for me. First day was great, down a belt notch and obvious rise in energy. Second, third and fourth days I was tired, bloated and moody. Needless to say I have abandoned it. I was 100% plain boiled potatoes. No salt, no fat. Potatoes were more enjoyable than protein shakes which is my usual fare. I measured my calorie and protein intake before and during the experiment. My calorie intake went up about 40% on potatoes and my protein intake was down nearly 70%. I did supplement with BCAA and some other amino acids.

    Back to my usual which is just to keep the protein to megajoule ratio to 15 grams or more protein per megajoule of energy density. I may try the potato thing again but I will try it with pea protein (ie, vegetable, not whey) shakes or something to keep my protein up to 15 grams + per megajoule.

    • I wonder what would happen if you ate some potatoes with a tiny bit of fat & salt, a tiny bit of protein and didn’t obsess with numbers ratios, etc. etc. It’s just food, actually. Now, if you wanted to how you’d do on arsenic, I’d advise strict dose control.

      Apropos to my last post, I saw the potential for this thing in the very beginning. “Oh, richard is heathen. Not doing it right. I’m going to do it right.”

      Why the fuck does everyone think I emphasized making eating potatoes wonderful? I dunno. We’re human, not machines.

      At least marie understood from the get-go, and has had good reults like me.

      You shiites make me laugh.

      • aminoKing says:

        What would happen if I added just a little fat, salt and protein? I don’t think I’d eat any less potatoes (or calories for that matter) if I added any fat or salt. I do however think that I’d probably eat less potatoes (or calories for that matter) if I added protein – a good bit though, not a little bit. Which is why I’ll be trying potatoes again but with some pea protein. I only have whey protein on hand at the moment so it will be a week or two before I try it. I’ll let you know how it goes.

        BTW, I suspect lentils may actually be a better choice for ME than potatoes to get the same effect. I’ll try this next.

      • aminoKing, “I suspect lentils may actually be a better choice for ME than potatoes to get the same effect”. Not if you’re male. In eastern mediterranean countries and in the Middle East, lentils are the traditional iron source for all but the affluent. Please be careful at the large quantities you’d need to eat and for days on end, it could be a real issue.

      • aminoKing says:

        Marie, I’m not sure what you mean? Is there some estrogenic effect associated with lentil consumption? The best I can tell, as a lay person with access to Google, is that lentils actually should stimulate testosterone production.

      • aminoKing, oops, sorry if that was cryptic. No, not at all.
        But as a male you wouldn’t be able to lower your blood iron concentration, err, ‘naturally’. Not unless you plan on some very bloody sports every month, you see? ;) Iron overload can be a serious problem, it’s a form of poisoning. It’s usually not encountered other than from overly-eager supplementation, but if you eat the lentils in copious quantities (like the potatoes) and every day, it occurred to me that has the potential to build up too much iron too, like too many supplements.

      • aminoKing says:

        Marie, thanks for the input. I was not aware of the iron problem with lentils. I do donate blood regularly so I can reduce my iron concentration “unnaturally” so to speak. Again, I only intend to experiment. I would not dream of a life long diet of lentils. I just want to experiment. I suspect potatoes did not work for me because I usually have such a high protein content in my diet. Lentils have higher protein than potatoes and if you sprout your lentils you get one of the best amino acid profiles I’ve seen.

      • My pleasure. But look, the iron content of lentils is a benefit normally.
        It’s just that at large quantities it will quickly add up. There’s also a big difference for men and post-menopausal women, for whom the RDA is only 8mg/day (versus 18mg for younger women).
        My mom loves her lentils and when she was injured a while back proceeded to eat only lentils for a few days. Bad news. There’s about 3.2 mg iron/100mg of sprouted lentils (a cup uncooked). So if you use 100 mg to make a meal-sized bowl of lentil soup and have just 3 of them a day, you’re already over.
        Then it can add up quickly, not just in ‘a life long diet’.
        If you watch for symptoms, you’ll be fine in an experiment I’m sure.
        I’d be interested to know how you do!
        Lentils indeed have great nutrition content and are pretty filling too. Not a bad way to limit calories spontaneously. Don’t know if they’d compare to potatoes though, where it’s not just the caloric deficit that’s causing the weight loss. It would be interesting.

      • Dr. Curmudgon Gee says:

        @ Marie,

        thanks for the information on lentil.

        do you need to soak it for a long time like some other beans? (i do as per WAP ))

      • Dr.CG, I don’t know if really need to soak long but traditionally at home they soak overnight, then either cook after draining next day or leave on towel to sprout.

  21. aminoKing says:

    Off topic thought: I often wonder how the “Paleo crowd thinking” would have evolved if Art Devany had not pay-walled himself out of existence just as things in Paleo land were taking off.

    Art was very much a high protein, low fat, moderate carb kind of guy. This seems to be what works for me. I do not know why. I don’t really need to know why either.

    • Art really screwed the pooch on that move. Probably makes little from subscription revenue (nothing compared to what he cost himself in speaking fees), and made himself a footnote. Catastrophic mistake.

      That said, high protein, low fat, moderate carb is probably a pretty poor compromise.

      • aminoKing says:

        Yeah, Art really didn’t seem to understand the value to be had from public exposure and a lively debate in the comments. If he wanted to keep the riff-raff out he could have just charged $1 or something for a membership. Instead the donkey charged more than the price of a book just for annual subscription. My memory of his posts are that they were just summaries of journal articles anyway.

        Mark Sisson though really nailed it. The guy is a business genius. If I was building a business, I’d follow this guys model.

  22. Dr. Curmudgon Gee says:

    i know someone potato diet does not work either.

  23. I came to this link via google to read about losing a few lbs via the potato route and and felt sad reading your knocks on God/Christ.

    For physical training is of some value, but Godliness has value in all things holding promise for both this life and the life to come. (1 Timothy 4:8)

    http://genesisveracityfoundation.com

    • Celia

      Been knocking that for 20 years, and for 9 years on the blog. It’s all incompatible with science. Religion to the mind is like grains to the body.

      • Dr. Curmudgon Gee says:

        na, religion to mind is more like opioid/narcotic to the body.

        grains are more benign (can be de-toxed by long soaking/fermenting/sprouting).

        regards,

      • How do you de-tox religion, though? Surely “sprouting” is a very bad idea.

      • Dr. Curmudgon Gee says:

        i dont’ think sprouting religion is such a bad idea.

        (i’m thinking more of mono-theism, exclusive salvation.)

        how can anyone claim he has the exclusive tickets to salvation, if
        there’re so many of the exclusively revealed/chosen ones?

        regards,

    • Are you saying that Richard’s irreligiousity invalidates everything else he shares? Do you assume that everything that Christians say is valid?

      I take what’s useful from Richard and leave the rest.

      • I suspect that if I was bashing Muslims, Jews and other unChristly stuff she’d be hunky dory. Jesus was Paleo. All thos others are grain eaters or low fat vegans.

  24. I lost about 70 lbs on low carb Paleo about 2 years ago and have kept it off. About a year or so ago I was listening to a podcast that was talking about what Stephan Guyenet typically ate during a day and I noticed that he ate several potatoes a day. I also read some of Ray Peat’s work and I noticed that he said potatoes have similar protein to milk. Ray really likes his milk :) Of course Robb Wolf has always said a peeled potato or sweet potato was proper paleo. So…apx 1 year ago I began experimenting with adding potatoes to my diet. I would bake 4 to 5 at a time. I salted them heavily, added several tablespoons of coconut oil, and apx a half a stick of butter. I never gained weight even though I ate this meal 4 to 5 days a week for the last year. I have had a slow metabolism my whole life. I rarely exercise except for body weight conditioning 4 days a week and only about 15 minutes a session. My work is very sedentary. I do drink milk quite a lot and eat meat on occasion but my main meal for much of the week is the potatoes with coconut oil and butter. I just listened to one of Robb Wolf’s podcast where he mentioned all of you talking about the Potato hack diet so of course I had to come check out all the fuss… I just thought it was interesting to see after I have been eating so many potatoes for the last year :)

    • sam, that’s a fucking cool comment and I’ll have to check out my friend Robb’s podcast (don’t have the time, regularly). FYI, he has a new post up, top of his blog that pretty much announces his separation from LC as dogma.

      He and I exchanged an email a week or so ago because he had tweeted about one of my posts.

      Good for you.

  25. richard, they kinna poo pooed the idea but it still got me to your site lol Greg was like why would you want to do that? I know a lot of people are asking that question including some of my family members :) So…here it is
    1) Because I can. It started out as an experiment. After a life of trying low carb diets it was amazing to me that this was even in the realm of possibility.
    2) I get potatoes free from my father’s farm. I have very little income so it’s a really cheap way to live.
    3) I like potatoes and I believe they are healthy, especially when you grow them yourself.

  26. I’m a sucker for n=1 experimentation & find this whole potato thing borderline fascinating. I also haven’t eaten a potato since fat-free Pringles in the 80s so I figured, why not?

    I’m only on Day 1, but have already learned a few things about spuds:

    1. Waffle-browns are a PITA to make
    2. I’m really not a huge fan of potatoes
    3. Despite maintaining my normal caloric load, I’ve felt hypoglycemic on and off pretty much all day. I’m not diabetic, but I am a dork — so I dusted off the BG monitor from my last bout with n=1 curiosity and took some readings:

    pre 400g boiled spuds: 89
    1 hr later: 114
    2 hr later: 90

    I’m a little surprised 1) by the absence of a spike and 2) the presence of a “normal” reading when I feel so freaking crappy (to the point of hypoglycemic tremors). I’m also surprised that eating more potato does nothing to make me feel better. At all.

    Pre-spud I wasn’t at the extreme end of any particular nutritional dogma. Could best be described as an annoyingly healthy eater: high protein/low-ish everything else. Mostly plants, followed by dairy and some fatty fish/lean meats. No processed foods, very limited grain (oats). I’ll do a 24-48 hour fast every now and then and always feel fine doing so.

    Kinda curious what my body is doing with the spuds so I’ll try and stick it out another day. See what happens. If anyone can explain what’s behind the feeling-massively-hypoglycemic-despite-normal-blood glucose- readings, I’m all eyes.

    • Abby

      You sound pretty together. Regardless of outcome, I hope you give it enough time to adjust. I had digestion issues first few days, then felt fine, then great a week in.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Posts RSS ← The Potato Diet Hack – Observations [...]

  2. [...] a couple of days banging away on theory, time to once again revert to the practical. You know my ethic of the hack: make it [...]

  3. [...] between about 4 days and 14. Here is a great post by Richard Nicoley at Freetheanimal.com The Potato Diet Hack – Observations | Free The Animal He makes his potatoes look pretty good, and even has a little bit of fat with each one. I'm making [...]

  4. [...] fall, I was toying around with the Potato Hack and mentioned it on Paul Jaminet's Perfect Health Diet blog. Paul mentioned that part of the [...]