I Like to Help When I Can: More Potato Diet Hack Ideas

Lots of posts, lots of comments, lots of speculation and musings in both.

Someone asked somewhere in comments about Paleo adversity to this whole idea. I’ll state it plainly: I simply don’t follow it. I’d rather just put it out there, willing to be wrong, let myself and you decide over time.

Why not decide ourselves based on the myriad different factors and observations we all experience? What’s the risk? …That we learn something new? That we weren’t as sure about everything as we thought? That some we considered “enemies” were, after all, maybe right about a thing or two we were wrong about?

It’s rather amusing when you think about it. I was never overly concerned with the label “paleo Movement,” while others expressed reservations over the years. They said, in essence: “as soon as it’s a movement, then there’s dogma, and with dogma you get saints and demons.” In many respects they have been proved right, in spite of what I figured was a pretty good mindset against that very thing: the human evolutionary basis.

The one thing I have pretty much come to conclude is that by restricting an entire class of nutrients—carbohydrate—the low carb movement is probably weighing paleo down. As for example, protein is now suspect because when starving for glucose, your metabolism makes it from protein.

So even some of the top honest guys out there appear to be willing to take a look, let their readers decide. There was the “Link Love” on MDA the other day I already mentioned and then yesterday, this Tweet by Robb Wolf:

Great post from @rnikoley https://freetheanimal.com/2012/12/protein-is-the-new-carbohydrate-and-why-to-ditch-the-low-carb-catechism-sorry-jimmy.html

Or, to put the whole thing in an entirely different perspective: if paleo is essentially about Real Foods our ancestors sourced to thrive on and migrate all over the globe, how in the world have starchy vegetables and tubers gotten a bad rap?


With that in mind, some quick & easy ideas.

IMG 1367

That’s the same as this dish, but using a bit of shredded roast beef and bacon bits.

IMG 1376

Another soup. But wait for the punchline. This was a lot of potato, like 5 large baking taters, half an onion, 4-5 cloves of garlic (put them in peeled, whole), and half of a frank-sized elk Kielbasa. Just enough beef stock to cover and then simmer until it’s way reduced. Mash up and then….

IMG 1378

Only about a cup of whole milk made it nice & creamy. That’s not a lot. That was dinner for two, then leftover lunch for two, and then another leftover dinner.

Here’s what I did there.

IMG 1386

That was one of those sliced & baked potatoes, with leftover potato soup on it. Silly, huh?

I hope you’re getting the idea here. Results are still as to be expected for me, but with just very modest added animal protein & fat. A win.

IMG 1387

You recall I repurposed my panini maker to do hash browns, right? Well, I had some leftover very low fat mashed potatoes from the other night and found another way to heat them up. I used no fat on the cooking surface. A George Forman Grill ought to work just as well, or even a waffle iron or one of those clamshell grilled cheese sandwich makers.

Tip: to remove it, gently lift the right or left side with a spatula and then roll it off, parallel to the grooviness. Unroll it onto your plate.

IMG 1389

And finally, people have been talking about baking up a bunch of potatoes (400 for an hour is my preferred method), tossing ’em in the fridge and then eating them cold with salt & malt vinegar. This is a zero added fat way to do it. And it’s great.

In this case, I peeled the skin off, rubbed but a bit of butter all over it, then just smashed it with the cooker.

So there you go. More idea and methods than you can possibly handle.

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  1. Pedant on December 11, 2012 at 18:41

    There aren’t a whole lot of starchy tuber species, and most of them are new world crops. Among old world tubers, there were probably only one or two species in Africa. Most likely, paleolithic man didn’t encounter tubers often, if at all.

    • Ryan on December 11, 2012 at 19:29

      Very good post Pedant. Richard you are in California right? Go out into the Wilderness – maybe camping for a few days, and let us know how many starchy foods you find to eat.

      • Richard Nikoley on December 11, 2012 at 19:43

        Looks like a global glut of roots and tubers to me.


        By your logic, nobody living in climates significantly removed from tropical regions ought eat much if any fruit. And certainly never a pineapple, coconut (and of course coconut milk or oil).

        It’s either food or it isn’t.

        Well, at least cherries grow in the north, so you and Pedant can at least keep picking those.

      • Gene D on December 11, 2012 at 21:40

        Let’s not forget the cattail. Starchy roots and all parts of the plant usuable for a variety of applications. Native to Europe and North America.

      • tatertot on December 12, 2012 at 07:50

        I remember as a kid slogging through a marsh digging catttail roots and making pancakes from them like we learned in Euell Gibbon’s book, “Chasing the Wild Cattail” They were delish!

      • Tioh on December 12, 2012 at 07:40

        I live in the tropics….it’s called Canada. We all live in the “articial topics” these days…most people spend 95 percent of their time in climate controlled environments with furnaces and air conditioning. Most people in Canada have their thermostats set to 70 degrees F…all day and night. This is warmer during the night than the real tropics! So, if we live in tropical conditions 95 percent of the time, then why wouldn’t we eat tropical food like mangos, bananas, avocados, etc. during the winter…then eat local fruits during the summer.

      • Tatertot on December 12, 2012 at 11:13

        But most people have lived this way since the dawn of man. Even though they didn’t have electricity, man moved ‘indoors’ fairly quickly. Early man relied on furs or plants to cover their exposed, hairless skin. Inuits had airtight dwellings heated with whale/seal oil and wore clothing that rivals the best winter gear we have even today.

        Probably the biggest difference is that we cower from temps under about 65 whereas early man was probably a bit tougher.

        The body gets cues to the environment from sensory organs/blood veins in the face, hands, and feet as well as sunlight stimulation.

        Despite the fact that Canadians heat their homes in winter, the body knows it’s winter.

      • Richard Nikoley on December 12, 2012 at 11:24

        I agree.

        Just turn the therm down to 60-63 at night. When you get up in the middle of it in your skivvies for a leak, you know it’s winter.

    • Craig on December 12, 2012 at 13:38

      There is a theory put forward by a couple of anthropologists that cooking unleashed the evolution of large brains, not because it was employed for meat, but because it was used to make the calories in tubers more accessible.

      As for the availability of tubers, please consider this:

      “But if meat wasn’t responsible for the increase in brain size 1.8 million years ago, what was? Cooked tubers, says Wrangham, arguing that these starchy roots would have been quite abundant on the plains of Africa 2 million years ago, even when drier climates made fruits, nuts, and perhaps animal prey scarce. Today, there are 40,000 kilograms of tubers per square kilometer in Tanzania’s savanna woodlands, for example. Other tuber-eating animals, such as wild pigs, thrived in Africa during this time, and Wrangham notes that fossil mole rats, which subsist almost entirely on tubers, have been found among hominid remains from 2 million years ago.” (http://cogweb.ucla.edu/Abstracts/Pennisi_99.html)

      It is an interesting notion!

      • Richard Nikoley on December 12, 2012 at 15:00

        But wait, Pedant asserted just-so in the very first comment:

        “There aren’t a whole lot of starchy tuber species, and most of them are new world crops. Among old world tubers, there were probably only one or two species in Africa. Most likely, paleolithic man didn’t encounter tubers often, if at all.”

        He even got a “me too” from Ryan.

  2. EF on December 11, 2012 at 19:22

    Good stuff Richard

    The more I read and follow the current trends in “paleo” dieting, the more I think the Perfect Health Diet and its philosophy is spot on — optimize macro-nutrients, be well nourished, and eat less toxins. It seems that your latest experiments are leaning in that direction.

    • tatertot on December 12, 2012 at 07:52

      You guys know the next logical step to all this, right? When the ‘safe starch’ talk started last year, nobody really defined what the safe starches were. Richard is showing the world that potatoes are one. Now we need to find the rest…rice, cattail roots, cassava, tapioca??? Who wants to experiment?

  3. Peggy Holloway on December 11, 2012 at 19:53

    My son attended a 10-day yoga retreat where they served nothing but potato soup and watermelon. He just about went stark raving mad from the effects on his blood sugar and insulin levels. He came to the conclusion that the reason Indians practice meditation is because that’s the only way to stay sane on a meatless diet. :)
    Some of us simply can’t tolerate a starch-based diet.

    • rob on December 12, 2012 at 04:30

      Is he diabetic? Most humans can eat starch.

  4. Alex on December 11, 2012 at 20:05

    Starch – especially cooked starch – as brain fuel in human evolution is such old news, that I can’t help but marvel when people pretend it’s some sort of short term crash diet, or borderline disordered eating. Potatoes are as paleo as paleo gets, in historical terms. But let’s forget that for a second, because this isn’t about playing caveman. Potatoes are irrefutably nutritious, satiating, and inexpensive. They yield more calories per acre than any other crop, thus providing great utility in “feeding the world”, if you’re concerned with that. So even if starchy tubers were evolutionarily novel – which they certainly are not – they are a damn near optimal food.

    • CDLXI on December 12, 2012 at 12:01

      I’ve been experimenting for the last 13 months with potates, cassava, white rice, corn, and most other non gluten starches and have thrived and lost weight from 461 lbs to 375 lbs so far. I basically made up my own bastardised plan taking from PHD, Ray Peat, and Intuitive Eating plans. I eat a bit more protein and fat than Richard and I also eat fruit and dairy freely.
      I did low to VL carb for over a decade and had many ups and downs because I could not stay on plan or ate too many calories and would maintain for months at the same weight. I find a starch based diet much easier to live with and enjoy.

      • Richard Nikoley on December 12, 2012 at 12:20

        Thank you, CDLXI, for adding another comment everyone in the LC community will ignore. :)

  5. tatertot on December 11, 2012 at 20:46

    What did the Inuit eat in fall and spring, before and after caribou migrations? What did they gather in large quantities and eat when food was scarce?


  6. Ash Simmonds on December 11, 2012 at 23:55

    Hey Richard, I had a crack at the “accordian” potato thing, it was ace.

  7. Nick on December 12, 2012 at 07:48

    Just for the sake of being super pedantic, technically vinegar is a short chain saturated fatty acid, not that it’s going to be processed the same as a triglyceride of palmitate.

  8. Tatertot on December 12, 2012 at 11:07

    Here’s something to mull on that nobody talks about.

    There are actually 4 macronutrients: Fat, Protein, Carbohydrate, and Alcohol

    Alcohol calories don’t count toward deficits or surplusses in that alcohol calories are always cleared first by the liver before it will clear or process any other thing in your system.

    Alcoholics/heavy drinkers can drink enormous anounts of alcohol, calorie wise, and not be fat. Many are fat because they are also eating lots of (mostly crap) foods. Many display the ‘beer gut’ which is actually visceral, and very dangerous, fat accumulation. CICO doesn’t apply to alcoholics.

    Here’s where it gets interesting…let’s say you eat a fatty steak, potato, and have a Jack and Coke, all in one sitting. Your liver will process this all in this order: Jack, coke (sugar), potato, fat, meat…

    If we have same meal, sans cocktails, we still process the food in the same order. Coke (sugar), Potato (glucose/starch), then fat, then protein.

    Flood your body for years with alcohol, sugar, and starch and your liver, pacrease, insulin sensitivity, triglycerides, etc… start going haywire. Best way to get it under control is with a calorie restricted, whole food, low carb diet. Once it’s under control, your way of eating should change to add starch/glucose back in to maintain insulin sensitivity.

    • Richard Nikoley on December 12, 2012 at 11:22

      Tatertot, Pop Quiz:

      “What next? First, it’s carbs you can’t eat—ALL carbs, no distinction. And now, what? Protein can be just like carbs? It’s chocolate cake? Well, at least that leaves fat and alcohol.”

      Who wrote it, and where?

      • tatertot on December 12, 2012 at 13:31

        I know exactly who said it, which is why I keep reading and posting.

        Lumping all carbs together spells doom for paleo, for sure. It is especially frustrating when people can see it for themselves, but since there is no guru telling them what to do, it’s easier to just avoid all carbs.

        There is an an autoregulatory mechanism for protein and carbohydrate intake and expediture, but there is almost no connection between fat intake and fat burning. The body HAS to limit
        how much protein and carbs it consumes, because it can only store so much. Fat, however, has a bottomless pit of storage available for it.

        So what of alcohol? It’s both a toxin and an energy source. To me, this all implies that the body handles alcohol “supremely”, carbs & protein “very well”, and fat “poorly”.

        In times of old, alcohol was only consumed incidently to eating overripe fruit. If we didn’t deal with it first and foremost, we’d die. Also in times of old, fat was a luxury and if it was available, we’d want to eat as much as humanly possible. We have expandable fat cells to take in the excess. In a natural setting, this excess would be used to take us through a famine.

        This shows me out staples should be protein and carb. If we overeat, it has to be converted into either waste heat or transformed and stored as fat.

        Maybe the statement “Your body can manufacture all the glucose it needs from fat and protein” should have been “Your body can manufacture all the fat it needs from carbs and protein”.

        Once the liver is shot–this is all out-of-whack.

      • Richard Nikoley on December 12, 2012 at 16:14

        That’s a good tip, because the ones I cooked up yesterday are in the fridge. I’d much prefer at room temperature.

  9. Contemplationist on December 12, 2012 at 13:47

    Just started the potato diet yesterday but my raw milk order arrived today! With the heavy cream! Insane…I guess this week is trashed.

  10. CDLXI on December 12, 2012 at 15:58

    This may be usefull for some, Cook a bunch of unpeeled potatoes and leave them on the counter or where ever you like and they will stay fresh (will not rot or smell / taste off) for a least a week. No need to store them in the refigerator as long as the skin is intact and they are kept dry. I have done this for the past year and eaten potatoes that sat out for nine days with no problems Comes in handy for cooking a quick meal.

  11. Paul Riemann on December 12, 2012 at 22:05

    If I wanted my post-meal blood sugars to rise into the high 100’s and even over 200, then I would adopt a potato dominant diet. But I like to keep my post-meal sugars under 140…even 120, which is much better. This helps ward of pesky things like heart disease…not to mention many other complications. I’ll not be joining the bash-low-carb-bandwagon-with-anecdotal-evidence anytime soon. Sheesh you guys!

    • Richard Nikoley on December 12, 2012 at 22:43

      Why do you suppose that would be the case for most people?

      While you’re might want to make sure ou never let your heart rate go over 120 while you’re at it, even acutely. :)

      This really isn’t about bashing low carb. Its’s about making sure they don’t further corrupt paleo with lies.

      • Paul Riemann on December 13, 2012 at 07:49

        I’m not assuming “that’s the case for most people”. What I haven’t seen from the more recent LC “bashing” is the discussion of treating diabetes and insulin resistance. Restricting carbs is *probably* the best diet for diabetics and anyone with high fasting insulin levels. Do I think the carbs are the CAUSE of the diabetes and insulin resistance? No, I don’t.

        We know of populations who consume high levels of dietary carbohydrate and don’t suffer–like Americans–from heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, insulin resistance, GERD, or, “metabolic derangement”, as Robb Wolf calls it. And, they don’t get fat either. But they’re obviously not consuming the standard America diet full of sugar, grains, and industrial seed oils…but a natural whole foods diet–or “real food”, as you call it Richard.

        My theory is that if one is raised on a real foods diet from early on they will never develop these “diseases of civilization” in he first place. But once one has become sick and fat because they have subsisted on the SAD diet, they can’t consume even healthy carbs like tubers until their condition is reversed–if in fact it can be reversed at all. I may never be able to consume potatoes and not have my blood sugar soar. But I’m working very hard right now to correct my own metabolic mess. So, restricting an entire macronutrient–in the right cases–makes perfect sense to me.

        I would love nothing more than to be able to once again consume more healthy carbs. I’ll never go back to the sugar and grains, but I’d love to have a big baked potato smothered in Kerrygold butter to go along with my steak and broccoli.

        And I think, Richard, that “corrupting Paleo with lies” is bombastic and unfair. Many LC friendly doctors and researchers have contributed a lot to the discussion and debate on nutrition….I’ll spare you the list because you know them as well as I do. :)

      • Richard Nikoley on December 13, 2012 at 08:23

        “What I haven’t seen from the more recent LC “bashing” is the discussion of treating diabetes and insulin resistance. Restricting carbs is *probably* the best diet for diabetics and anyone with high fasting insulin levels.”

        Not from me. I’m mentioned that very thing in most of my posts.

        But I also think that a lot of people attribute their weight gain to “metabolism” rather than simply eating too much. Take Jimmy, for instance. He gains, he loses. Obviously a robust metabolism. But that it’s simply about eating too much or cutting back (regardless of macros) can NEVER be suggested because that would undercut the LC dogma. See here. Look at this actual caloric breakdown vis-a-vis Jimmy.


        Now, I am perfectly willing to give LC its due. It is beneficial and hell, I lost a lot of fat on it myself. But it’s not essential to Paleo at all. It’s only applicable to individuals.

      • Paul Riemann on December 13, 2012 at 09:18

        “…It’s not essential to Paleo at all. It’s only applicable to individuals.”

        I agree completely. And even Jimmy says to “do the plan that works for you”–though you may argue he is inconsistent. In fact, I just listened to (again) all of Jimmy’s podcast interviews with Jenny Ruhl of BloodSugar101.com.

        I was struck how in all–or at least, most of those interviews–Jenny Ruhl talked a lot about calorie control and mentioned her own specific daily caloric threshold that she must stay under to not gain weight. She’s was very frank about the problems that some people encounter with LC, especially concerning weight gain. In those podcasts Jimmy nods in agreement so to speak, but I don’t know that he accepts what she said about caloric intake.

        I admit I have reconsidered the whole “calories” issue and I do think they matter when it comes to weight control. Though I also think weight control is more complicated than just bare calories. I don’t think I could maintain an ideal weight on a certain amount of calories coming from Pop Tarts and Coca Cola, though I may from an equal amount of calories coming from salmon and eggs. Though I’m wiling to admit that too many calories of even salmon and eggs could lead to weight gain. Good thing is that my clean LC diet works good at blunting my hunger, and it’s controlling my blood sugar and reversing my metabolic syndrome. It a win/win situation–for me anyway.

        As I said, I hope one day I can incorporate more starches into my diet. And I’m curious Richard. I’ve followed your blog for many years. I don’t recall whether you’ve ever mentioned your blood sugar numbers. Have they ever been irregular? And how many carbs do you consume on any given day with your increase in starchy tubers? I’m curious because I’m convinced your healthy as a horse even in the presence of large amounts of starches.

      • Richard Nikoley on December 13, 2012 at 11:34


        Way back when I bought test strips and measured at various times. No issues, so I never worry about it. Not sure how many carbs, as many as in about 6 large potatoes, I guess, give or take.

  12. Tatertot on December 13, 2012 at 12:55

    Those brilliant folks at Mark’s Daily Apple have evolved the “Potao Hack/Diet” into the “Potato Reset”. It’s proving very popular around the holidays…described as this:

    Try the Potato Reset! Usually good for 3-5lbs a week.

    Here’s how:
    1. Plan on eating mostly potatoes for 5-7 days (90%+ of calories)

    2. Eat between 2 and 4lbs of potatoes daily.

    3. Other foods allowed (but optional!): 1/2 cup sauerkraut, 1 cup bone broth, 1 tsp max daily
    coconut oil, olive oil, or butter, 1-2oz lean meat daily. Unlimited coffee, tea, and water.

    4. Spices, salt, pepper, and vinegar OK.

    5. Lifting of Heavy Things discouraged, think ‘de-load week’

    6. All normal supplements OK to continue

    7. IF’ing, especially by skipping breakfast encouraged.

    8. If you need to lose more weight, alternate the “Potato Reset” diet with healthy Primal Blueprint in
    5-7 day increments.

    9. Not recommended for people who eat every 2-3 hours, have glucose issues, or have eating

    10. Highly recommended for people who have their hunger under control, have been eating PB style for 6 months or more, and are having trouble losing weight with the normal approaches.

    • Jonathan Wild on December 13, 2012 at 16:34

      Hey, Tatertot!

      Thanks so much for all of your comments here. Between you and Richard, I’ve had plenty of info to chew on while waiting for my potatoes to come out of the oven. :) (On day 3 and having a pretty damn good time!)

      I noticed both at MDA and in the guidelines posted above that potato hackers seem to be forgoing veggies of most varieties. Do you know why? Is it as simple as wanting to minimize all additional calories, or do veggies somehow interfere with the main (albeit theoretical, I guess) advantage of the potato fast in the first place?

      I’ve been enjoying onions, garlic, carrots, spinach, etc. for a bit of variety. The occasional banana, too, or piece of fruit. It’s not super strict, sure, but they’re all 0 fat, so I’m not so sure they’re a problem.

      Thoughts? Thanks!

      • Jonathan Wild on December 13, 2012 at 17:55

        Hmm. Scratch this. Just did a little more digging into both MDA and here and found a comment of yours that I had missed, Tatertot.

        I’ll have to try another three-day stretch of this next week. Just potatoes, too, and nothing else. Should be interesting. We’ll see if there’s any tangible difference between that attempt and my current one (though over a period of 3 days, I kinda doubt it).

  13. Tatertot on December 13, 2012 at 13:27

    Or we could ask Dr. Rosedale what he thinks:

    “Diet really becomes pretty simple. Carbohydrates we started talking about. You‘ve got
    fiber and non-fiber and that‘s really clear-cut. Fiber is good, non-fiber is bad. Fibrous
    carbs like vegetables such as broccoli are great. What about a potato? A potato is a big
    lump of sugar. That‘s all it is. You chew a potato, what are you swallowing? Glucose.
    You may not remember, but you learned that in eighth grade, but the medical profession”

    http://drrosedale.com/resources/pdf/Insulin%20and%20Its%20Metabolic%20Effects.pdf page 17
    still hasn‘t learned that.

    • James on December 17, 2012 at 22:30

      Dr Ron “we’re all diabetic and all dietary glucose is toxic” Rosedale is by far the creepiest diet promoter you will find.

  14. James on December 17, 2012 at 22:43

    The starchivores are laughing at us.


    They’ve been trying to tell us this for years. Right through the gary taubes carbs>insulin>fat mania of the last few years. Mcdougall’s Maximum weight loss phase is pretty simliar to these potato diets.
    Maybe those who who claimed low-fat starch based diets left them fat and hungry were *gasp* “doing it wrong”.

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