Speculations and Musings About High Carb and Starch

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Obviously I’ve been pondering this whole starch thing for a while (search in the sidebar for ‘potato diet‘ for the history). So far, just considering it a “diet hack,” but also pretty sure that when my goal for that is attained—sometime toward the end of January if this continues to play out as expected—I’ll probably be switching out a good portion of fat & protein for starch moving forward.

I found this article from McDougall pretty interesting. A quote:

Death Rates Plummet for Starch-fed Danes

What were the results of this change in diet for the 3 million people living in Denmark? During the years of the most severe food restriction, 1917 to 1918, the death rate was reduced by 34%, which translated into 6,300 lives saved. These were the lowest death rates ever reported for Denmark, even for those years prior to the war. Dr. Hindhede tied this reduction in mortality directly to a diet based on consuming starches in place of meat: “This result was not a surprising one to me. Since 1885, when I began my experiments with a low-protein diet (mostly vegetarian), I have been convinced that better physical conditions resulted from this standard of living…As the result of extensive studies in this field I am convinced that over-nutrition, the result of palatable meat dishes, is one of the most common causes of disease.”

Problem is, I see a confounder here. Probably, widespread weight loss is going to have a positive effect on mortality. Probably, fasting is too. Perhaps, switching out grains for starch is, too.

So is it better than a sensible diet of meat, fish, fowl, vegetables (including starchy vegetables) and fruit? To replace most of that with just the starchy vegetables? Seems highly implausible to me. But at least now that I’m pretty confident potatoes do have something big to offer at some level, I’m at least open to the idea that the proof is in the pudding.

A couple of other things for discussion. First, I have often noted that if I indulge (which typically includes grains, starches, frankenoils), that I often get very thirsty. I had expected to experience this on the potato hack, but the opposite happened. After a couple of days I noticed I was hardly drinking anything at all apart from mealtime washing it down. Since I was typically low carb most of the time, I’d always figured the thirst had something to do with glycogen replenishment. But on the potatoes, I ought to have full glycogen stores.

So, a couple of days ago I decided to do a test. Rather than eat potatoes that day, I went about noon and had a big submarine sandwich on sour dough, small bag of chips, and then a personal-size pepperoni pizza. Wow, within 2 hours, not only did I have raging heartburn (never happens on the potatoes), but I had a thirst I couldn’t cure. Five minutes after gulping soda water, I was thirsty for more. In all, it took over 2 liters over a few hours to quench the thirst.

What’s that about? Since then, I’ve had noting but potatoes with tiny fat / protein and quickly returned to normal; no more thirst, hardly ever.

I’m stumped. Perhaps someone has some ideas.

Next, I keep hearing that people can’t try this because they are so “insulin resistant.” Sure, I can buy that for a diabetic, because insulin sensitivity is not to be had at any price. But for many others, insulin resistance seems to be physiologic and it’s actually brough on by an LC, high fat diet—particularly one high in Palmitic acid (search Peter’s blog on physiologic insulin resistance). I know my BG was higher when losing fat LC Paleo, and also fasting 1-2 times per week.

There’s this comment which quotes Peter’s post about the potato diet.

Running your metabolism on pure glucose would induce, theoretically, an infinite glucose sensitivity and low fasting insulin. If we do reductio ad absurdum you would end up with no fat stores and experience death from hypoglycaemia if you ever depleted your glycogen stores. Mitochondria like (saturated) fatty acids. Fatty acids keep them in control.

Being in perpetual physiologic insulin resistance strikes me rather like trying to drive around with your car in too high of a gear, bogging down and such, thinking there’s something wrong with the car—when all you need to do is downshift.

So, lots to think about.

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  1. Any updates on body recomposition during this, or will you wait until you’re where you want to be?

    • aminoKing says:

      I think Richard is doing a big unveil on his next birthday or something – 29 January?? He better be shredded! :)

      • I’ll pay $5 for the public video of Richard posing while delivering these lines:

        (While flexing abs)
        “I’m shredded like hash browns.”

        (While doing double biceps pose)
        “You know a good vet?”
        (Looks at biceps)
        “Because these puppies are sick!”

        (Strongest man pose)
        “Do you have a bandaid?”
        “Because man, I’m cut!!”

        Who’s with me? It’s just $5.

      • ha! I’m in. Though I’d like at the end another view of his upper back while flexing biceps, no lines for that one but to the sound of the “hallelujah chorus” in the background 😉
        Grand finale, yes?

  2. Yeah, but Dr. Hindhede check sugar consumption? I found this at http://www.whale.to/b/sugar.html:

    “The only country where actual statistics relating to diabetes and the consumption of sugar is Denmark. In 1880, the average Danish citizen consumed over 29 pounds of refined sugar annually. At that time, the recorded death rate from diabetes was 1.8 per 100,000. In 1911, consumption more than doubled to 82 pounds per person, and the death rate from diabetes rose to 8 per 100,000. In 1934, sugar consumption rose to 113 pounds per person and the death rate from diabetes rose to 18.9 per 100,000. Before World War II, Denmark has a higher conscumption of sugar than any other European country.”

    Sugar was rationed during the wars, so it could be that replacing sugar with meat or starch would give the same benefit.

  3. the 3volution of j3nn says:

    In the book The Blue Zones, it says that during WWII, many Okinawans subsisted on a diet of only sweet potatoes for an extended period of time when food was scarce. Being one of the world’s longest lived people, known for their high rates of centenarians, I’d say that starches have been extemely beneficial to the human diet. It when we take a wonderful energy source and fry it in rancid oils that it becomes problematic.

    In regards to your excessive thirst but not with potatoes, I’d implicate the high sodium content in the other foods, and the high potassium content in potatoes for having the opposite effect. I truly believe the K in the potato hack has an impact of its success.

    Anecdotally, I was doing lower carb Paleo-ish for 6 weeks before I started doing this low-fat, high- potato diet. I’m currently insulin resistant, and on medication that contributes to it, but on lower carb (about 70g/day) and high fat my fasting and postprandial and post-exercise BG was actually higher than it has been on this low-fat high-starch diet experiment! I’m eating tons of fruit, potatoes, rice, etc., and I’ve had the best BG numbers I have had in over 2 months. And losing weight! Carbs have gotten a bad rap, no doubt, but there’s science here that explains it if we have open minds.

  4. Two things: Potatoes have a pretty high water content; and your indulgence foods surely had a ton of sodium. Perhaps try the experiment again with more bland cereals, like oatmeal, and see where that goes.

  5. LeonRover says:

    Richard, Richard

    “The word pudding is believed to come from the French boudin, originally from the Latin botellus, meaning “small sausage,” referring to encased meats used in Medieval European puddings.”

    The proof is not “IN the Pudding” – it is “IN the eating”.

    The saying has ALWAYS been

    “The Proof of the Pudding is in the Eating.”

    It has a similar meaning to the saying “Don’t judge a book by the cover.”

    Oh, and keep your protein greater than 1.5 gm/kg – weekly average.

    • My very first meal when I went to live in France, once I got there, was boudin noir. Blood sausage. With mashed potatoes. Loved it and ate it regularly for the next two years.

      • Hey Richard,
        Did you try “boudin aux pommes”, a well known meal in France: grilled blood sausage, mashed potatoes and apple purée.
        Not particularly a local meal here in Bordeaux, but one of my favorites…

      • “Did you try “boudin aux pommes””

        That’s exactly what it was. We typically had it at least every couple of weeks on the French ship I was working on.

      • LeonRover says:

        My French Skiing lunch favorite:

        “Tartiflette (French pronunciation: ​[taʁ.ti’flɛt]) is a French dish from the Haute Savoie region of France. It is made with potatoes, reblochon cheese, lardons and onions.[1] A popular variation of this dish is to substitute the lardons with smoked salmon. The word tartiflette is likely derived from the Arpitan word for potato, tartifla.”

        Mmmmm and the Swiss versions of same

      • LeonRover, the ‘lardons’ being basically Bacon, this tartiflette is the ancestor of quebec’s ‘poutine’ (sans onions, add gravy and any cheese will do….). Tartifla is in central france still ‘tartoufle’ … and perhaps a Tartoufe fooled the quebecois into ‘simplifying’ the tartiflette.

      • LeonRover says:

        No doubt poutine is an imposter version of tartoufe via tartuffe . . .

      • :). Ah, but his finest impersonation is as a linguist, convincing them to name their messy dish for a ‘puta’….and how ironic is it that ‘whore’ and ‘messy’ are conflated in all ‘romance’ languages?

      • LeonRover says:

        I see what you mean – and it lend a peculiar significance to the Accadian “pout-ine rapee”.

      • Bwahaha! Poutine rapée are ‘stuffed’ with pork. Tsk.
        But damn, you always manage to top me, even in my own back-yard. Bowing again, tape-meister 😉

      • LeonRover says:

        “Stuffed” with “Pork” ?? !!!
        (By, With, From , or In take the Ablative; porcina)

        I guess you knew that in 16th c. English “stuffing” was called “forcemeat” – Ou, la,la!!

        Of course, you can always substitute Pout . . . in the following

      • Mais oui. Enfant terrible bit, ou la la :)

        But no, I think Pout should stay as is. Some icons must be incontrovertible, geez.

      • Don’t forget Raclettes!

      • Potatoes and Blood Sausage are an awesome combination. I love the local variation with fried potatoes, bacon and onions: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blunzengr%C3%B6stl

  6. This look at the Danes brought me back to a review Denise Minger did of the movie Forks over Knives in which she mentions about half way through her article the wartime food restricions in Norway during WWII. This is a really long read but she takes a close look at what they really ate in Norway once the meat, flour, sugar, etc. were cut back. They supplemented their diet with fish, fish, and more fish! Plus they foraged for nutrient-dense plant foods. The use of cod liver oil went up! They had way less cavities! It does make you wonder if the people of Denmark would have done something similar. http://rawfoodsos.com/2011/09/22/forks-over-knives-is-the-science-legit-a-review-and-critique/

  7. LeonRover says:

    P S Keep the faith with the Kitavans – K with Paleo.

  8. Matt Stone talks about Potassium in his newest book. I believe a high potassium to sodium balance will actually have a flushing effect on the body. So if you are naturally carrying much less water weight on a high potassium diet and then in one sitting eat a substantial amount of sodium (along with the carbs) that your body would need to draw in a ton of extra water to compensate.

  9. Also i agree that replacing a good amout of fat and protein with a high quality starch like potatoes and rice much healthier for most. Not only will you still get all your nutriants (you really dont need all that much meat and fat to hit RDA’s) but you will be optimizing thyroid and metabolism by always having a good amount of glucose.

  10. Tatertot says:

    Potatoes originated in S. America with the Incans and Mayans…funny they say the world ends in less than 3 weeks, maybe the world will be transformed into a potato eating paradise instead…

    This from PubMed http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22224463

    Pigmented potatoes contain high concentrations of antioxidants, including phenolic acids, anthocyanins, and carotenoids. In a single-dose study six to eight microwaved potatoes with skins or a comparable amount of refined starch as cooked biscuits was given to eight normal fasting subjects… Potato caused an increase in plasma and urine antioxidant capacity, whereas refined potato starch caused a decrease in both; that is, it acted as a pro-oxidant.

    In a crossover study 18 hypertensive subjects with an average BMI of 29 were given either six to eight small microwaved purple potatoes twice daily or no potatoes for 4 weeks and then given the other regimen for another 4 weeks. There was no significant effect of potato on fasting plasma glucose, lipids, or HbA1c. There was no significant body weight increase. Diastolic blood pressure significantly decreased 4.3%, a 4 mm reduction. Systolic blood pressure decreased 3.5%, a 5 mm reduction. This blood pressure drop occurred despite the fact that 14 of 18 subjects were taking antihypertensive drugs. This is the first study to investigate the effect of potatoes on blood pressure. Thus, purple potatoes are an effective hypotensive agent and lower the risk of heart disease and stroke in hypertensive subjects without weight gain.

    • Tatertot, they didn’t control also with regular white potatoes? This is bizarre if they are trying to attribute the effect on the antioxidants in purple potatoes. For example, the potassium in all potatoes seems a likely candidate as a hypo-tensive. Comparing to refined starch is not relevant to the conclusion, though it does eliminate starch itself as an explanation.
      It also prompts me to ask you, have you happened across any studies that show a significant physiologic effect of ‘antioxidants’? I’m hoping you might have because you seem to follow these things .
      The trouble is, every time I see some report touting the beneficial effects of antioxidant foods it seems to be based on studies that measure…antioxidant capability in the body. Studies showing the beneficial results of this antioxidant capability seem to be mia, or maybe were a long time ago and it’s taken as a ‘given’ since then? Please let me know if you’ve got any info on this, I’d appreciate it.

      • tatertot says:

        I wish they would have done a control with regular potatoes. I think that the potato is often overlooked as a healthy food and seen more of as a ‘cheap carb’ or ‘poor people food’…kind of the carp of the vegetable world.

        This paper attests to that, but points out that the antioxidants found in purple potatoes are in all potatoes:


        “The content of compounds in potato that may act as antioxidants in the human diet is not widely appreciated. Carotenoids are present in the flesh of all potatoes. The contents mentioned in the literature range from 50 to 100 micrograms per 100 grams Fresh Weight (g FW) in white flesh varieties to 2000 micrograms per 100 g FW in deeply yellow to orange flesh cultivars…The carotenoids in potato are primarily lutein, zexanthin and violaxanthin, all of which are xanthophylls… ”

        Please click the link, too much to cut and paste and still be readable!

      • tatertot says:
      • Thanks tatertot, I did.
        Lots of good stuff in potatoes. Leaves me only with the essential question from the first article, why the focus on antioxidants when potassium is a known hypotensive?
        Just a small sample, this from 1985 : http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3869819
        or Review on potassium’s role in blood pressure, from 1990 : http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2104250.
        I mean, potassium is one of those good things in potatoes too! Potatoes are good for blood pressure. I wonder when that was ‘forgotten’.

      • Yeah, potassium is extremely important considering how much of our caloric intake goes to running our Na/K pumps. If the ratio is out of kilter, that’s not good.

        Perhaps one of the reasons people are experencing good results with an increase in potato intake is due to a better Na:K? To the best of my knowledge, I don’t hear anyone talking about this ratio, so I don’t know if it’s overlooked, not as important, or what. Just my two cents.

      • tatertot says:

        Todd – Funny thing happened…I had a semi- annual blood lab done about 1 week after a 2 week potato-only diet. My Na and K were both ‘High’. I don’t have the exact figures with me, but they were both about 1 point above the reference range. Since doc never called me, I guess this isn’t anything for them to worry about. I’m certainly not worried.

        Also, my HDL shot up 15pts, my LDL went down about 10 and my total cholesterol is under 200 for first time ever. Again, I could care less about these numbers, just sharing.

      • Todd, yes, it’s really very odd that after thousands of comments on potatoes on MDA alone, not to mention other places too, something as basic as Potassium gets so little play.
        There are some far-reaching effects of potassium too that are rarely heard –
        gabriella kadar had a great comment on potassium a few posts back, but I can’t locate it now. Maybe she’ll drop in here (or Richard) and post the link back to it? 😉

      • tatertot says:

        Please read…the antioxidants described in the purple potatoes are found in all potatoes:



      • tatertot, this comment summarizes your previous two, yes? I replied above after second one. Thx again.

      • tatertot says:

        Yes, sorry. I thought the first two didn’t get posted as my DSL was acting up, then my browser refreshed and I realized I double-posted…

  11. I’ve been doing an involuntary high-starch experiment lately, largely because I’m poor and the farmers I work for give me masses of “imperfect” high-quality squashes, potatoes, beets, rutabagas, etc. Squash is something particularly new to me. My other staples are organ meats, canned fish, and suet (yes, I eat it as a food item).

    Findings: Meals with a lot of starch, protein AND fat are exhausting, but if that’s right before bed I feel good in the morning.

    Meals skewed towards just one macronutrient generally feel good- roasted squash or potatoes with a couple chicken hearts on the side, a big plate of liver-and-onions, a stir-fry of suet with greens.

    If it’s starch-heavy meals for a couple days, breaking it up with a high-fat or high-protein meal feels great, vice versa for fat-heavy meals. Doing protein-heavy several meals in a row just isn’t economical, so I don’t plan to test it.

    Keeping it varied from meal to meal generally feels pretty good.

    That said, I have a low bodyfat and work outside in the cold all day, so my eating is more concerned with maintaining weight. On SAD I have to eat like crazy or else be tired and hungry while needed weight drops.

    I’ve had this suspicion for a while that after the prime reproductive age is over, higher starch and fiber with lower protein is probably better for longevity. That said, longevity is just one aspect of health. There might be tradeoffs to make- greater longevity vs. higher testosterone in old age? Who knows.

    • Why would you think that a high starch low protein diet not be as good for testosterone production?

      • Because if you eat 1 1/2 pounds of beef every day you feel like King Kong in the gym.

      • Funny, i felt about 90 years old on a high pro/fat diet.

      • Rhys Morgan says:

        Funny, I felt the exact same.

      • Okay, you guys win, from now on I’m eating nothing but potatoes.

      • You feel 90, I feel great. Different bodies.

        It gets thrown around a lot that higher intake of sat fat/cholesterol tends to stimulate higher testosterone production. No citations offhand, I suppose I could dig around if it’s really THAT contested.

        That doesn’t necessarily translate to high starch/low protein being bad for T production in old age, plenty of healthy old guys on all sorts of diets seem to have enough. Just might be higher with more fat/cholesterol. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s variable between ethnicities and then between individuals, either. Regional adaptations to different foods mean norwegian me and some south chinese guy might have totally different responses.

      • Yeah there’s got to be a ton of variance. I ate 6 eggs and half a can of coconut milk a day, not to mention plenty of grass-fed beef for several months and I had nonexistent sex drive. Only now that I’ve switched to higher starch do I feel the desire to wank.

      • The high polyunsaturated fat had everything to do with that. They also didnt say if the high sat diet was also high carb. So basically that reference means nothing.

        Anywho its true that saturated fat and cholesterol are precursors to hormones but the body also makes its own cholestoral so i doubt i higher fat diet would increase hormone production. I more likely reason would be higher amounts of fat soluble vitamins and minerals like zinc that come from animal products.

        I am definitely not anti meat or fat, i think the majority of fat eaten should be saturated and also a moderate amount of protein is needed BUT carbohydrates are key for hormone production.

      • Thinking about it more I suspect that given ample micronutrition and at least “enough” of both fat and carbohydrates (regardless of which dominates), hormone production should probably be sufficient in any healthy person-

        BUT taking into account that variance, if I eat a diet that meets those requirements but is far outside what is “ideal” for me, my hormone production will be inferior to what it would be with a more appropriately composed diet. Hence, Rhys responds poorly to high-fat low-starch, and I the opposite.

        My earlier suggestion regarding longevity tradeoffs (while I still think such things may exist) was ill-considered.

    • Erik

      This touches on my experience. It seems if I eat pretty much one thing with only touches of the other, I feel great. Mix them all up, I don’t feel good.

      Unarguably for me, the bet I feel is with lots of potato, just a bit of fat and protein. I’d love to deny it, but then I’d be lying. Of course, it’s just me.

      • “It seems if I eat pretty much one thing with only touches of the other, I feel great. Mix them all up, I don’t feel good.”

        Thirded, for the most part.

      • So far the best I feel in a lot of experimenting is after a big bowl of “chili” that’s really just beef heart/liver ground and tomato puree with lots of spices, wish I could afford to do it more often but it really does get me going. Cheaper than buying normal ground beef at least.

  12. Yeah this is all freaking me out. It’s eerily similar to Matt Stone’s beliefs about stuff and I tried some of his ideas and it totally f’ed me up. Are you sure you’re not missing something here Richard, or are you just on some kind of Eat for Heat bandwagon now? http://amzn.to/WR56KD

    • Shane, no, not at all. I have rectified cold hands and feet pretty much (as long as I eat sufficiently–some days it’s hard). At any rate, this is still in the realm of a short term hack.

  13. Rhys Morgan says:

    Yep. I’m officially converted. This started as a fun n=1 experiment, then transformed into a way to save money, and now I’m just going to continue eating potatoes and fibrous veggies as my main source of calories, with sparing amounts of meat. I finally feel great eating “paleo”

  14. Paleophil says:

    RN wrote: “I … had a big submarine sandwich on sour dough, small bag of chips, and then a personal-size pepperoni pizza…. Five minutes after gulping soda water, I was thirsty for more. In all, it took over 2 liters over a few hours to quench the thirst.”

    In addition to salt, that meal was high in refined processed carbs, which may have spiked your BG more than potatoes do. Frequent and excessive thirst (polydipsia) is one symptom of hyperglycemia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperglycemia, http://chriskresser.com/hydration-101-how-much-water-do-you-really-need).

  15. Come on Richard- just stop all this nonsense-

    potato “hack”- conceivably a person would lose a ton of weight on a marshmallow diet- Oh- excuse me- marshmallow “hack”

    just eat normal food like a normal person- unless you’re a big fatso . .


  16. aminoKing says:

    Richard, I’ve no doubt that you’ve heard of Clarence Bass (cbass.com). I knew of him, but only visited his site for the first time today. Fascinating stuff. I just spent a couple of hours reading some of his articles. The more I read, the more it started to sound like your thinking on food is getting closer to the Clarence Bass model. The biggest differences that I could see are Clarence’s use of whole grains and of course Clarence has some fucking awesome abs!

  17. Karnivore says:

    What does Kurt Harris think?

    • aminoKing says:

      He’s probably thinking life is short so why waste it on some blog talking with other people about their health issues.

  18. Howard Seitz says:

    I am guessing that the sodium level in the sandwich, chips, and pizza contributed to the overwhelming thirst.
    Anyway, I tried adding safe starches. My blood lipid profile got even better and I gained back none of the 32 pounds that I lost on a more Cordain paleo diet. This is going on around two years. Starches also helped with satiety.

    • In most of these potato preparations Richard had been doing, it sounds like he has been pretty liberal with the added salt, but I don’t know if it would be comparable to what is in the sub,pizza and chips. I guess there might be a difference in the type of salts too, Na Cl vs sea salt maybe. Richard, I know you have mentioned Dave Asprey, he seems to think most of us would be better off with more salt rather than less, any thoughts one way or the other?

  19. So I have been looking at how to incorporate some liver. I remember liking it as a kid, but tried it a few months ago, it was awful. Could be my cooking skills. I still want to try the Greek recipe, but have to screw my courage back up. In the meantime, tried something tonight. Steamed and mashed one potato, added in sea salt, some braunschweiger (pork, not beef, and off the store shelf, but still) stirred it all up, added two egg yolks instead of any butter, stirred some more, added in Texas Pete. Pretty damn good. I am going to do the potato hack, I think, but right now, 3 days of intermittent fasting a week is doing me good, so I may wait till results from that tapper off. When I do, I figure the added liver and egg once every day or two will help me allay any fears of missing nutrition from potatoes alone. I should just learn how to cook liver well and use beef liver instead.

    • You can do it Steve! It takes 15′ and your mouth will thank you immediately. Now where else can you get 15′ for instant gratification? (hmm, on second thought, don’t answer that 😉

  20. gabriella kadar says:

    One of the interesting discoveries from the ‘war diets’ of northern Europeans was celiac disease. Prior to the connection being made, children with celiac disease would die from ‘failure to thrive’. Less severe forms of celiac disease result in varying degrees of disability and chronic illness.

    From Glutenfreehub: Gluten was identified as the trigger for celiac disease following a shortage of bread in the Netherlands after World War II, which caused the death rate among children affected by celiac disease to drop from 35% to zero, an astonishing result.

    ….most likely even among the Danes during WW1, the lack of gluten in the diet was among several factors which improved health.

    Richard, definitely the sodium content of your heartburn inducing meals caused the thirst. The heartburn is another story. Reflux indicates a disorganized peristalsis. It is possible that you may have a little bit of a hiatus hernia (the kind that slips in and out of the cardiac sphincter) based on a longterm history of esophageal reflux, obesity and apneic episodes during sleep.

    • Gabriella

      Used to be on PPIs but got off when I went paleo. My dad and all my brothers get heartburn, since we were kids.

      But I’ve pretty well narrowed it down:

      1. too much alcohol
      2. gluten grains in all but tiny amounts
      3. pizza (anything more than about a slice)
      4. plain old eating too much at a siting.

      The good news is that with the potato, the combination of that and the caloric deficit, so long as I stick with it I get not even the slightest burp. It’s nice to eat to relative fullness (I often leave some of the potato on the plate) and then have totally comfortable digestion.

  21. “personal-size pepperoni pizza. Wow, within 2 hours, not only did I have raging heartburn (never happens on the potatoes), but I had a thirst I couldn’t cure.”

    I always find that tomatoes/tomato sauce (in any permutation) causes HUGE thirst for me. I’ve always believed it was because the tomatoes are so very, very acidic.

  22. Try to eat potatoes with meat, not pizza or bread, or low fat vegan pizza. Control for variables man.

  23. tatertot says:

    I had an eye-opening morning reading up on starch and resistant starch. Apparently potatoes do possess some magical qualities in the starch world that we haven’t really touched upon.

    From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resistant_starch

    Resistant starch (RS) is starch and starch degradation products that escape digestion in the small intestine of healthy individuals.[1] Resistant starch is considered the third type of dietary fiber, as it can deliver some of the benefits of insoluble fiber and some of the benefits of soluble fiber.

    Resistant starch has been categorized into four types:

    RS1 Physically inaccessible or digestible resistant starch, such as that found in seeds or legumes and unprocessed whole grains

    RS2 Resistant starch that occurs in its natural granular form, such as uncooked potato, green banana flour and high amylose corn

    RS3 Resistant starch that is formed when starch-containing foods are cooked and cooled such as in legumes,[2] bread, cornflakes and cooked-and-chilled potatoes, pasta salad or sushi rice. The process of cooking out the starch and cooling it is called retrogradation.

    RS4 Starches that have been chemically modified to resist digestion. This type of resistant starches can have a wide variety of structures and are not found in nature.

    The National Academy of Sciences of the Institute of Medicine within the United States has recommended a daily fiber intake of 38 grams for adult men and 25 grams for adult women. Many countries around the world recommend 25-30 grams for their populations.

    Consumption of foods containing natural resistant starch seems to positively affect weight management in five ways.
    Fiber fortification, Calorie reduction, Satiety, Lipid oxidation, and Fat storage

    Consumption of natural resistant starch by humans has been shown to result in:
    Decreased glycemic response, Increase insulin sensitivity, Increase glycemic health of next generation when fed to pregnant mothers, and Improves first phase insulin secretion.

    Please read, good article!

    • tatertot says:

      OK, splitting this up for readability…

      From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starch

      Starch molecules arrange themselves in the plant in semi-crystalline granules. Each plant species has a unique starch granular size: rice starch is relatively small (about 2μm) while potato starches have larger granules (up to 100μm).

      A modified starch is a starch that has been chemically modified to allow the starch to function properly under conditions frequently encountered during processing or storage, such as high heat, high shear, low pH, freeze/thaw and cooling.

  24. tatertot says:

    OK, so here are my musings from the last two posts…

    You know how in the paleo world, we always blow-off the ‘dietary fiber’ recommendations because it is a CW guideline and doesn’t pertain to us enlightened folk?

    Well, what if that is actually one of the most important factors we should be considering, but instead of thinking of ‘dietary fiber’ as rice husks and broccoli stems, we should be looking at ‘dietary fiber’ as resistance starch? The kind found in potatoes and other RS 1,2,and 3 paleo-friendly foods (potatoes, rice, bananas, corn etc..)

    I’m a bit perplexed at how the same food can have a different category of resistant starch depending on whether that food is raw, cooked/warm, or cooked and cooled. Maybe we’d be better off eating mainly cooked and cooled potato dishes. Many of you may remember I always boil a huge batch of small potatoes and keep in the fridge to munch when hungry–I found those to have the highest satiation effect.

    I think we all did paleo a huge disservice by focusing on “carbs”. We should have been focusing on modified carbs, sugars, highly soluble carbs, etc… and embracing the resistant starches. It is almost silly for me looking back and avoiding potatoes like they were marshmallows.

    So, unless one is eating for ketosis in general and keeping carbs low for a medical condition, I see no reason why one shouldn’t be consuming copius amounts of potato, sweet potato, rice, etc…

    That said, is a loaded baked potato w/sour cream, butter, and bacon bits still a potato? Is rice fried in olive oil or butter served alongside chicken still rice?

    Just my musings…

    • Interesting thoughts here. Since switching to a starch based diet, my bowel movements are finally big, clean, and frequent. When I was high fat/protein, I would go days without passing a turd, and it was really uncomfortable. I also had issues with *ew* anal fissures. But now my bum is totally healthy!

      • Try snacking on baby carrots, it’s easy to go through a pound of them a day and you crap like a hippopotamus.

      • Galina L. says:

        If you are interested in eating tubers for stimulating bowel movement, check beets. Beets are great mixed into a root vegetable salad (beets , potatoes, raw onion, pickles or sauerkraut, herbs, dressing according to personal preferences). Beets are also good just sliced, with vinegar, garlic, olive oil.

  25. “a confounder”
    just one? The idea of using starving European nations as a justifcation for absention from meat is just insane. Meat, sugar, oils, wheat flours the list of foods unavailable or in extremely short supply is very long and people were often physically far more active than they had been before the war. Alcohol and tobacco TOBACCO, were also extremely restricted.
    Fizzzy drinks, or soda to you lot, always makes me thirsty

    • Neal, 2 for 2 on the sanity checks this week!
      Using WWII info to support anything dietary is just like Ornish claiming its the vegetarian diet that fixed his clients’ health….after he had them cut-out Cigarettes, start Exercise, decrease Alcohol and even meditate as part of his life-style approach.
      While perhaps the biggest confounder in WWII (apart from the decreased/absent sugars, oils, tobacco, alcohol and a huge increase in Walking) was the weight loss itself.
      Now, please, Please roll out some more of that clear-eyed reasoning and scroll back to “yep, pretty much” to talk Richard out of retreating from the comment section ? 😉

  26. Lou Fogel says:

    I’m willing to bet that most people who think they’re insulin resistant haven’t had a fasting glucose test to CHECK.

    I had a number of people tell me, based on symptoms I described, that I was I.R.

    So, I had a fasting glucose tolerance test.

    I had a LOT of sugar injected into my veins… my BG went to 126 and stopped. Then they injected a SMALL amount of insulin. Within 20 minutes by BG was at 42 and I thought I was going to pass out.

    In short, I’m HIGHLY insulin sensitive… the exact opposite of what my paleo friends thought.

  27. Been eating potato all day. Terrible gas.

    • That’s because you have been eating potato all day.

      But really “Terrible gas” isn’t that bad, “Horrific gas” is much worse, that’s what happens to me when I drink milk.

      There’s nothing wrong with farting a lot, in many cultures it is the equivalent of a hug.

      In Sweden it is considered impolite to refrain from farting, it is like refusing to shake someone’s hand, they have over 258 words in their language to describe a fart. Smelliest country ever.

    • Hey Gene.

      For me, that last 2-3 days and then goes away. I attribute it taking some time to build the bacterial colony required to deal with the fiber.

      Same with milk. I went a couple of weeks without a drop, had some last night and had a farting spell. But I know that were I to continue drinking it for a few days that would go away.

      Curiously, that does not happen with bread (for me, many others; it’s perpetual, the farting, or ‘per-pete-al’–calling Leon Rover). Ask the French. They know their farts are caused by bread.

  28. Mr Nikoley – Richard –

    Kia ora from a reader “down under” in New Zealand!

    I have been reading your very interesting blog for a long time now. I enjoy all your writing – I find it very thought-provoking, particularly your political pieces.

    Anyway, I got to thinking about your lack of thirst while following your potato “hack”. Might it be that this is a side-effect of increased fat metabolism, due to the relative lack of calories you are consuming day-to-day? I understand that water is a by-product of lipolysis. I just don’t know how much extra fat you would be burning, or if it would be enough to stave off “normal” thirst.

    In my N=1 experience, I have experienced the same lack of thirst while eating a very low carbohydrate, high fat, moderate protein diet.

    Just a few humble musing on my part.

    Keep up the great work!

  29. I saw a diet study breakdown of the Okinwawans diet from a survey in 1949. The main source of calories is the sweet potato and it’s extremely low fat and protein by modern standards. I think the importance of meat/fat/protein in these circles to be extremely overstated to say the least.


    It appears the healthiest populations tend to be starch based dieters.

    • @ James: “It appears the healthiest populations tend to be starch based dieters.”

      The longest lived men in the world are from Iceland. The Swiss are 4th in world in longevity, and their diet has a lot of dairy and fat in it. Nosomuch starch. Not sure your thesis holds.

  30. There also appears to be something about protein restriction that extends life in animal, in particular, methionine restriction.

  31. Alright, first comment here! Been reading for a while, and have been shy to jump in. Anyway, it’s amazing to me that eating potatoes could be the key that fits the lock to my fat reduction that’s been jammed for a while. I tried the high fat, moderate protein, vlc for a while, and got the worst food cravings I’ve experienced since starting paleo. I was feeling great just eating paleo, plus raw dairy, and looking better, but still I’ve been stuck at 153.4 for a few months. I did 2 days of potatoes last week and dropped to 151.6, with an accompanying reduction in measurements. My plan right now is to do potatoes 2-3 days per week, if it keeps working, until I reach my goals. I find it incredibly irritating that some people appear actively pissed that we could try this and find some benefit from it. It doesn’t change my belief that eating a whole food diet is the best way of life, but I’ve counted the crap out of my calories and macros and seen no goddamn changes in the scale. I’ve seen people on MDA tell others in the same situation that they must be underestimating their food if they’ve reduced caloric intake without fat loss. Calories in, calories out is necessary but not sufficient for some people. Not sure why this seems like a personal affront such that they feel they have to discredit the results. All I care about are the results, which, for me, thus far, seem positive.

    • “I find it incredibly irritating that some people appear actively pissed that we could try this and find some benefit from it.”

      Indeed. That sort of thing seems to apply to just about anything in life that works for some.

  32. So, aside from possible farting issues, and maybe thirst adjustments, is there any strong reason why you can’t swing back and forth between ‘all potato’ days, and ordinary paleo? I’m not sure I’m up for eating all potatoes for an extended stretch, but IPF (intermittant potato fasting) might be something I could manage to fit in.

    • Craig

      No, and that’s exactly where I’m going with this. But I need more experience. Until then, a short-term hack.

      • Sure, there’s the non-reenactment bit and all, but this sure does remind me of african HGs and their relationship with game and tubers; there’s always tubers. No game? Eat lots of tubers. Kill something? Eat lots of meat. It’s never constant. Not that I think that I (or anyone else besides the descendants of said observed HGs) are necessarily adapted to do best under the same regime, but the potential resemblance sure is interesting.

    • I think that’s where I’m going with it, doing day-to-day potatoes, as practical. I came back from the weekend and did potatoes yesterday, but had a work function today so I’m on my regular diet, but planning to go back to potatoes for another day or two, switching back on Friday. I’m hoping that will prove effective. I like calling it IPF! I also lack the patience and dedication to do it for more than a couple, maybe 3, days at a time.

  33. Aaron Ashmann (halotek) says:

    Richard, I read the same McD article. Do you think the study accounted for the decrease in calories during war time. Many people had to live on reduced diets around war.

  34. Wouldn’t we need to know a lot more about the specific causes of mortality that were reduced to understand these numbers? Of course, that would get us back into the problem of finding provable cause => effect relationships between certain foods and particular diseases – a kind of evidence that still eludes modern nutrition scientists with much greater resources and technology.

  35. Check out this article. It sums up Dr. McDougall’s thoughts on food. http://www.drmcdougall.com/misc/2009nl/dec/nyr.htm

  36. Galina L. says:

    I just checked – no way!
    “Animal foods — be they derived from cow, pig, chicken, or fish muscles or the ovum of a bird or the lactation fluids of a mammal — high-fat or low-fat — are all so similar in their make-up that they must be considered together, and should be strictly avoided for health reasons. The destruction of the Earth due to the livestock industry makes avoiding animal foods imperative.”
    In the health-supportive category first two lines – whole grains and whole grain flours, while meats, eggs, butter, even full-fat dairy and olive oil are eaten less often than once a month.

  37. If you want to learn about a starch based diet go to Dr. John McDougll’s web site. He tells all and leaves nothing out. I am 62 years old, do crossfit four days a week and have followd a starch based diet for fiveyears. I have lost 60 pounds, take no meds and I’m in the best health and fitness of my life. This way of eating has changed my life. It’s so simple and it’s clearly the way humans where meant to eat. Good luck.

  38. Read “The China Study”


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