Weight Loss From a Potato Only Diet: Re-Hacking The Potato Hack, Outdoor Grill Barbecue Style
Paging Tim “Tatertot” Steele.
My what a ride it’s been. Remember, Nov, 2012? Actually, I’m quite sure it was in comments on previous posts where Tim—who now has his own Vegetable Pharm—introduced the idea of bouts of eating potatoes only in comments. …And since he was doing it only in comments, I took it to posts; and he figured, what if you eat only potatoes, too, and we write about it not only in comments?
Here was the first post, and if you look only at comments, Tim pretty much pushes everyone out of the way from there out, eventually introducing resistant starch. Rest is history.
There was some pretty cool work along the way if you care to peruse the posts; even a great collaboration Tim did with another commenter in terms of glucose regulation eating only potatoes. But there was always one problem for me, and it’s that I couldn’t find a way of eating potatoes almost exclusively that achieved staple status, while not blowing my brains out.
I stumbled onto it—for me—by needing to get a gas grill. We sold our rather medium sized, stainless steel a couple of years ago when deciding to move into an apartment near Bea’s work that didn’t allow grills on the patio. More recently, living off-grid in an RV in the east hills even closer to Bea’s work, we decided to get another. But I wanted small. It’s the whole off-grid conservationist thing: by choice—not ideology or force you. Having experience in living 100% on solar with no backup for 2 months in Mexico, I became interested in how much one can do with less; not from necessity, but love of the challenge. Now we’re nearing 3 months here and I’ve used 3 gallons of generator gas, and 3/4 of that was while waiting for my full solar system to arrive and get set up.
So, this is the gas grill I chose for it’s small size, hence heat up the whole space quick (and I’ve done a whole chicken in it): Weber Q1200 Propane Grill. They come in different colors. Bea emphatically wanted black. I wanted purple, of course; and since she dropped the cash—since she wants me to cook for her—we got purple.
First thing I cooked was some thin ribeyes on high heat (for me, thin is best with ribeye, or entrecôte). Well, that was the main dish. I got this crazy idea, and so here was the result, right before putting the steaks on for 2.5 minutes (1 minute 45 on one side, 45 seconds on the other).
That meal worked out fine, along with a beef stock reduction of a quart to a half cup.
Thing is, I had leftover potato halves, so I tossed them in a ziplock.
How about with some all beef hotdogs?
I was on a mission.
****(But be careful. You do realize there are any number of “paleo Approved” offerings they sell now, wrapped in plastic, boxed in boxes, and distributed by big trucks until it gets delivered to you in a smaller truck. Lot’s of them are dubbed “treats,” yet you don’t have to get stung by bees to get them. That stuff above is poison stuff. It’s a thousand times less expensive, too, but I’m sure that’s just coincidence.)
That was for this meal, a pasture raised chicken done on the same grill prior.
OK, so I’ve covered how you can use them pretty much ubiquitously and so easily in your meals on the spot, or even easier out of the fridge for whatever else you’re going to do in the days to follow.
But guess what, and this goes back to my original issue? I could not find a way to eat potatoes or almost only potatoes for the “Potato Hack” rapid crazy weight loss for as long as it takes, which is like 7-10 days minimum, 2-3 weeks if fucking serious. I believe this will help if that’s your problem, too.
Know why? They’re kinda like French fries and I can even enjoy them cold, and I mean cold with nothing on them. Remember, you just slice in half, grill ’em. Yep, you can add season, like salt & pepper. Malt vinegar? Wotcha, mate! Ketchup? Of course, Jim Bob.
So great and easy to work with, and the combination of crispy on the down side, potato pudding in the middle, and the crusty skin give you so many creative options I know you’ll do way better than me. In addition to the 3-minute country taters in a bit of butter that you can enjoy by themselves (seasoned), you can also do:
- Mash. Two options. Chop up with skins, just a bit of melted, heated butter& cream—and seasoning—and you’ve got mashed potatoes with skins. Scoop them out with a teaspoon, and you’ve got the same without skins.
- Potato salad. Again, skin or no skin. Either peel & dice, or peel. Only a TBS of mayo, a chopped medium boiled egg, onion, dill or sweet pickle…little pickle juice and vinegar…fav season and spices (paprika, please) and you’ve got a potato salad with very little but potato. You could live on this. …Celery for nice crunch and je ne sais quoi.
- Potato pancakes. Scoop ’em out, add egg, a binder sprinkle, like whole grain flower. Fav season & spices, couple of minutes on each side in butter, EVOO, CO, whatever you like. They’re coked already, doesn’t take much fat to make a crust. Call them potato cookies.
Once you get going there’s no end to how you can use these once you grill them. Remember, the key to the versatility is the taste and texture and it’s the grill that does that: crispy down side, pudding inside, crunchy skin outside. You can use all three, or only two at a time.
Grace us in comments with what you come up with.
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Haha, yeah, man! You read my mind. Just dug about 500 pounds of potatoes. I still have to laugh, every now and then I see someone advise that people should give up refined, white carbs like sugar, flour, and potatoes.
For people that have a hard time maintaining their weight, 3 days of potatoes every couple weeks does wonders. Cheap and just too easy.
Hats off to you, Tim. The potato hack phenomenon (and widespread reporting thereof) was perhaps the biggest contributor to breaking me of my low carb beliefs. For that I can’t thank you enough.
Day 3 of the potato hack lost. 9lbs so far and I may have had some beer last night due to being passed up for sfc this year. I’m curios to see what tomorrow’s weight will be but as I slice and make all my potatoes I can’t help but romanticize my ancestors in a small home doing the same could it be this easy who knows but I’m thoughtfully impressed.
I did the potato diet for 4 days and plan to do it again. I even added in a few sweet potatoes and bone broth. It felt like my body received some kind of metabolic reset.
In the Chris Voight potato diet, he ate spuds for 60 days, but he had to add some oil towards the end because he felt he was losing too much weight.
I really don’t think you could eat enough potatoes to maintain or gain weight.
Many people find during a short-term potato diet that they lose weight very fast, to the tune of 2-4 pounds per day. I think that this type of weightloss represents some sort of inflammation that their normal diet is causing.
More representative is about 1/2 to 1 pound per day, which is mostly body fat, as far as I’m concerned.
Back in my early “paleo” days, I would fast for 48 hours weekly…this would cause a weight loss of 6-8 pounds. These 6-8 pounds would come right back in the days following resumption of eating. This was pure water weight.
With the potato diet, the weight that comes off generally stays off, at least until natural fat stores are refilled. But I never see people lose 4-5 pounds in a week to be quickly regained upon resumption of normal diet. In fact, most people report they continue to lose weight upon resumption of normal diet.
Potatoes are very nutritious, micro/macronutrient-wise, have good protein, RS, and other fiber. And, they are also sources of some antiinflammatory type compounds such as chlorogenic acid (read more: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24127072) and KYNA (read more: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22392498).
Please note: I really like the potato diet, and I think people can use it to lose substantial weight, over time. I think it best used in 3-5 day stretches, separated by several weeks of normal eating.
If anyone wants to try a great experiment this Winter to keep off that extra weight that creeps on during the cold months, try 3 days of potato the first week of each month. I think you will be amazed at the results.
This, from the KYNA paper above:
“Bearing in mind all the properties of KYNA mentioned above, it seems vital to take the intake of KYNA from food into consideration. Potatoes contain one of the highest concentrations of KYNA among food. It is worth mentioning that only various kinds of honey contain more KYNA than potatoes [23, 34, 35]. Since potatoes are widely known as a constituent of an everyday diet, not only in the form of tubers but also other types of food, we measured the concentration of KYNA in some potato-related products. As expected, KYNA was found in French fries. Its content varied from 0.100 to 0.646 μg/g dry weight. Unfortunately, the varieties of potato used for the production of the fries were not specified by the producer.”
Refined carbs, indeed!
Potato honey diet, Tim? 🙂
“Honey, it’s the new ketchup.”
I’m intrigued enough to give it a shot. I’m confident I can easily eat nothing but unseasoned cooked/cooled/slightly reheated spuds for a week (and I already do 20/4 IF). Should I suspend my nightly RS concoction (e.g., Psyllium, Amazing Grass, Kombucha, Plantain Flour, Inulin)?
Unless you want to drop fat, I’d just make cooked, cooled and reheated potatoes a hefty part of your diet.
Or, are there fat C-130 pilots out there I don’t know about? 🙂
I know one such pilot who’s likely to be nice and fat after some Halloween candy (these days we trick or treat a week early to preclude being out on Halloween ipse…the horror). But luckily he knows a way to shed that extra flab without much effort at all.
“We” = the three year old and I, btw. Just in case that came across weird.
This post has inspired me to do a five-day potato hack. Never done a true one before (always had butter, cheese, seasonings, and other confounding/counterproductive elements…and weight merely marked time).
Had nine potatoes today, plus a green banana…figuring about 1460 calories and 335 g of carbs for the day (don the earmuffs, VLC camp). I was impressed all day by how satisfied I felt on so few calories. Two hours after each meal, I noticed my stomach felt plenty full, almost bloated. No hunger until about four hours after eating, and it was mild. Seven hours between lunch and dinner, with only that green banana in between, and no big deal. No gnawing hunger, light headedness, or any of that.
One observation I made is that these plain, boiled potatoes taste just fine to me. They’re a dramatic change from the overly seasoned, hyperpalatable fare I typically treat myself to, but not disappointing or causing withdrawals. Richard made a memorable point months ago that people condition themselves to expect extremely palatable, overstimulating food all the time…and that this is the dietary equivalent of getting a new car every single day. That analogy is really hitting home as I finish my first day of completely unseasoned food and realize that I’m getting by just fine on my eight-year-old Honda Civic, without the new Suburban.
I plan on continuing to eat potatoes for the next four days, with perhaps a daily green banana & some unseasoned, low-density vegetables (chard, cauliflower, and so on) — not cheating gratuitously, just went to the store recently and this stuff will spoil if uneaten. I figure it won’t interfere too badly, because green bananas are mostly starch and potassium (sounds familiar), and the veggies are worth hardly any calories themselves.
I won’t bore everyone to death with daily updates, but will share more observations near the end of the week when I’m done.
Five-day hack complete. I did it exactly as planned/described above, plus plenty of black coffee, which I forgot to mention earlier. I estimate I ate an average of 1300 calories per day.
I couldn’t help but notice how energized I felt, especially on the first four days. On the second morning, I did a two-mile run and had no “bonking” or other exercise trouble, despite a 1300-calorie deficit the day prior and no breakfast before the run. At work I was ready for challenge all day, all week. No drag, fatigue, etc.
Mood was great too, again particularly on the first four days. Significantly better than usual. Also had noticeable mental clarity and focus, much like the dietary ketosis self experimenters have reported (which I never experienced in ketosis, or at all, until now). I often get moderate post prandial brain fog…not this week. I’m starting to think that I simply eat too much ordinarily, but that remains to be settled in future experimentation.
Appetite progressively decreased as the days went on. There was often a mild hunger sensation present — consistently as meal time approached, and sporadically between meals — but never ravenous. Shortly after starting a meal, my appetite would dry up. I think this had a lot to do with getting tired of the taste and texture of the bland potatoes. Never became unpalatable or gross, just no longer exciting or particularly appetizing. Great suppression of appetite amid a low calorie intake, neither provoked by pills nor accompanied by misery, exactly as advertised.
I went back through some of the past posts Richard linked and was extremely impressed and intrigued by Tatertot’s comment three years ago discussing the blood sugar-insulin-fat connection in the potato hack, and how additional vegetables or dietary fat likely dulls the body fat burning effects. Fascinating stuff.
I didn’t weigh either before or after and am not planning on it — don’t even own a scale. Can say I am definitely a few pounds thinner merely by looking. Love handles smaller, thighs tighter, abs more visible, waistband roomier.
Overall a very positive experience, and one I definitely plan on using again every so often. The only negative was the monotony, and that was plenty tolerable, especially knowing that it was only temporary.
Just completed a 5-day Potato Hack. Each day I ate approximately 2lbs (750-800 cals) of red or russet potatoes. Boiled, cooled and reheated with a little oil. 1 meal per day (yes boys and girls, that’s a 23.5 hour fast each day). I measured BG pre-meal and 2 hours after. Exceedingly small sample size, but noted between a 17 and 76 pt rise in BG post meal. Two smallest increases occurred when I consumed Apple Cider Vinegar with the potatoes.
I maintained my exercise routine (boxing, weightlifting, trail biking) throughout, but did notice that energy was down slightly around day 4 (hey, its 750 cals a day). I also consumed a daily RS concoction of Psyllium, Acacia, and Potato Starch but that was the only additional “foods”.
Net result: lost 4lbs
I would expect big BG spikes from that hack. It’s not the potatoes. It’s the 23.5 hour fast for 5 days, coupled with the double-whammy of a very significant caloric deficit.
Physiological insulin resistance off the scale. I’m surprised on 76 points. I would not have been surprised with post praedials into the 300s.
Perfectly normal, in my book. With your brain requirements for glucose, coupled with depleted glycogen, last thing your body wants to do is store glucose. In true starvation, this is what saves your life if it can be saved. Concerns about elevated blood glucose go right out the window…well, everyplace but in the church of LC, where elevated BG is always a sin.
I’m not sure it matters much, but do we know why the potato hack works? Is just difficult to get enough calories via potatoes or is there some metabolic pathway magic going on?
Bb, Stephan Guyenet wrote a recent post addressing how leptin levels rise in the presence of an abundance of dietary fat and in turn promote corpulence…I suspect the potato hack works by this very process, but in reverse.
I believe this is why the McDougall diet works so well (it’s almost all starch). And it is how Penn Jillette dropped over 100 pounds in mere months. Granted, Penn ate rice and tons of greens, but the concept is the same…by far the greatest source of calories was starch.
I can hear Jimmy Moore’s ears bleeding from 2,000 miles away. 🙂
I’m becomming so very dissilusioned with even the Paleo diet and its proponents. I continue to see the same sort of isolating things from whole foods rather than an embrace of whole foods first, then see if those foods in whole typically cause problems, which as we know, they typically don’t for most people.
This is basically vegan cultism 101.
Check out Cordain’s blog recently. Its just a cult, now.
As far as I’m concerned, anyone not talking about whole foods that primarily feed and norish the gut is not talking about a proper human diet.
Doesn’t seem to make sense, if high fats raise leptin and it probably does, then you would be eating less and this may be why HF diets generally kill appetite. I checked the Guyenet post and couldn’t find the reference. Then again, it really depends as always the definition of a HF diet. There is a huge difference between pizza and steak.
Good catch, MikeT. I actually linked the wrong post (the leptin reference was from the most recent post on the home page, about puberty), and you are also right that I dorked up the entire leptin reference altogether.
Definitey my bad. Thanks for keeping me honest.
I’d say that’s the biggest factor. When people add it up, they are usually in a significant caloric deficit, yet are satiated. I imagine some could eat enough to maintain weight.
I suspect the reason for the satiety are that potatoes are excellent gut food, especially when cooked, cooled and reheated. Decent RS too.
I like your potato salad recipe. I keep forgetting to add hardboiled egg to mine. I was recently given a George Foreman grill and stumbled upon cutting medium sized potatoes very thinly on the mandolin, then staggering them onto the Foreman grill and cooking them that way. It takes about twenty minutes, then I unplug it and let it cook another ten, to get hot, healthy potato chips. I use these chips for consuming my delicious guacamole. All respect to Tim, but I don’t really enjoy dried plantain chips as my substrate. God knows I’ve tried. Probably I should cool the chips overnight, then reheat them to produce RS. But they’re so good fresh and hot.
With all respect to Tim, no matter what I did, most of the plantain chips got tossed, after months in a zip-lock.
But hey, this was early. Let’s just get a bit more palatability going without trading away too much. Y’all are partners in this and if I may speak for Tim, he’s welcome innovations.
Cool thing about taters is that it’s really hard to eat enough to maintain weight. That gives a lot of headroom in creating ways and methods that don’t require too much.
This was just my competition entry, and best from me so far. I’d be happy if someone advanced better.
I still eat dried plantains about every day. I buy 8 or 10 giant, solid green plantains, peel with a knife, and slice each into 4 thick slabs.
I even bought a dehydrator this summer to dry them. 8 or so hours at 110 degrees and they are dried perfectly.
I eat a slice or two every day, I’ll grab one to eat plain on the drive to work, or use them to dip hummus or almond butter (had that today, lol).
They do tend to stick in your teeth a bit, like stale graham crackers, but for a bit of mindless eating, I think the are the perfect snack.
Here is a short blog wrote w/pics: http://vegetablepharm.blogspot.com/2015/08/dried-plantainswith-pics.html
And, to re-iterate what Richard said, just incorporating cooked and cooled potatoes into your diet, as well as cooked/cooled rice and beans, is actually a labor-saving idea, and increases the RS in your diet substantially.
The big plus, for me, about this potato hack is that I’ve added potatoes back into my diet which has improved my quality of life as I do like them. And the whole PS/RS stuff has been great for overall health. However I didn’t find that potatoes alone helped me lose weight. By day two I had gone into starvation mode. I became extremely cold, my thyroid shut down, I had no energy to do anything and could no longer function. And no weight loss. Adding a little protein helped a lot. But I also developed lots of other problems – metabolic mostly, but the most irritating was intense sugar cravings.
Lately I’ve just gone back on a low carb diet in order to try to stop my weight increases but with added RS with PS plus green banana flour and lupin flour. By adding small amounts of rice, lentils into my diet my weight was increasing at between 100g and 500 g a week, which is not OK. Now on 1500 to 1800 calories a day, with portion control – no meal larger than a bread and butter plate (ie small) and only 3 meals a day this shouldn’t happen under any of the theoretical models. But it has. I know I’ve blown a metaphorical health gasket somehow – or rather blew it at age 3 and still suffering the consequences. 6 day and 18 day Elixa trial didn’t give me the hoped for breakthrough.
For those who don’t know me. I grow some of my own food. Cook all food from scratch. Don’t eat processed foods on a regular basis at all (even ice cream). Have a PhD in medicine in patient self care and know much of the theory about what makes for good health. I’ve been an life long body hacker because most of the models of health haven’t worked. (Basically in this series of statements I’m asking you not to give me off the cuff instant “fixit” answers. Over the decades I’ve tried them all.)
Both Richard and Tim know that what they are writing works for 80-98+% of the people out there – and its worth trying. But I’m updating here because there is the odd person out there who has additional problems that have to be modified before the breakthrough to health. Unfortunately I seem to be one of them.
I’m going to discuss my current health again with my functional medicine doc later this morning and my primary care physician tomorrow when the tests should be back. Personally I think it is somehow related to my adrenal function. I think my cortisol gets switched on and stays on leading to weight gain. The issue is how to switch it off without going into slow mode. With ankylosing spondylitis I have to keep moving to keep my pain levels manageable so keeping mobile and flexible is essential. But over 9000 steps a day switches on the cortisol. And I’m training for my brown belt in karate – hopefully grading in two weeks time, which at the age of 65 is pretty good, even if I say so myself.
Its just frustrating doing the best one knows and can and it still doesn’t take one through to good health.
References above to eating the potatoes unseasoned confuse me. Does seasoning/flavoring the potatoes make the diet less effective?
Jackie D, I doubt if anyone can answer that question conclusively and universally. For me the issue with seasoning is the associated food palatability, which tends to perpetuate appetite.
After three unseasoned medium potatoes (tasty enough, but bland by comparison), even on an empty stomach, I’m not in the mood to eat any more. Different story after three well seasoned potatoes. Plus, skipping salt has the added benefit of increasing my potassium-to-sodium ratio.
Butter, cream, and so on (garnishes/seasonings by some definition) have the additional issue of extra fat calories that I’d prefer my body get from my adipose tissue instead.
Thanks, Bret. I wasn’t thinking of adding caloric flavoring, just spices and seasonings. (I am on a doctor-ordered high-salt diet for low blood pressure, so actually need to salt my food.) I think appetite is so individual that I can do that safely – I actually tend to feel hungrier if I have only had bland food. In fact, Nigella Lawson recommends eating lots of anchovies and spicy foods when trying to minimize total consumption, and it’s always worked for me.
“Nigella Lawson recommends eating lots of anchovies and spicy foods when trying to minimize total consumption, and it’s always worked for me.”
For some years now, I eat very little bacon. Tastes like I’m eating pure salt. Bacon bits in salad, without added salt are, however, wonderful.
I can’t get on the bacon bandwagon, even though a friend of mine has a food truck in SF called Bacon Bacon and its output is great. I just don’t find bacon all that special.
Here’s an alternative, quite nice.
I’m going to give this a go for 3 days and see how I do. If this is everything it’s made out to be then I’ll be on it for a couple of weeks.
I did this this morning and my lunch spuds tasted great after being in the fridge for a few hours. I think I need to up my portion size though.
1. Wash and cut 3 large russet potatoes into about 3/4 inch cubes.
2. Throw them into an electric pressure cooker with the steamer insert and about 1 cup water for 15 minutes.
3. Let it depressurize naturally for about 10 minutes then let the rest of the pressure out.
4. Put them in a bowl and add salt, pepper and apple cider vinegar to taste. I grind about 3 twists of salt per potato, as much pepper as my wrists will take and about 2 or 3 tbsps of acv per potato.
5. Refrigerate for a few hours and enjoy.
I mashed the ones I had for breakfast and ate them warm since I forgot to set things up last night. They were okay but not great. Having some structure to the potatoes and having them chilled makes them so much better.
The cold potatoes with vinegar feels like it could be some kind of Russian/Eastern European dish.
Not sure how how much cooling time is required for the RS in the cooked potatoes to retrograde. My completely anecdotal and extremely limited experience is that its probably more than just a few hours though. Good call on the ACV, definitely makes a difference
Harriet – Did you find out anything you’d care to share with us? I’ve read your post with interest because I, too, seem to be one of those people for whom the typical successes don’t work.
With your autoimmunity, your inflammation is probably what’s causing your cortisol to be high. There are supplements you can take, things like phosphorolated serine (brand name Seriphos), to forcefully lower cortisol, but as in my case, my adrenaline then skyrocketed to compensate for the lowered cortisol because my inflammation was still high. The cortisol isn’t going to come down until the inflammation does.
Have you looked into food testing to see what foods may be causing you inflammation? Food intolerances are some of the sneakiest players in the inflammation game. If we don’t see hives, or rashes, or weight gain, or gas, diarrhea, or constipation, we assume all is well, but that’s not always the case. Food intolerances can be very silent, slowly and insistently chipping away at our endocrine systems. It’s like an ongoing, low-grade energy leak constantly draining your batteries.
Heavy metals poisoning and things like dental cavitations can also cause high inflammation in the body. All worth checking into if you are concerned about high cortisol.
I think you probably hit it spot-on when you talked about your adrenals malfunctioning. That usually goes hand-in-hand with auto-immunity. There are very reliable four-part saliva tests that can be done to assess adrenal function, but until you figure out what the underlying causes of the inflammation are, there isn’t much hope of bringing the endocrine system back into balance.
I hope you are able to find some answers! I look forward to reading your future posts-
Great, this Potoaot Hack thing is going places. I am trying to bring it to the spanish-speaking community with my blog: dietadelapapa.blogspot.com
Does anyone know if sweet potatoes work just as well as white potatoes?
They are not the same.
See the laterstst posts, new book and podcast at the top of the blog.
This is what it says in a book I recently read:
“Ipomoea batatas is better known as “sweet potato.” For the purpose of this variation, we’ll also throw in yams since most people can’t tell them apart and they are often mislabeled at the store. The nutritional profile of sweet potatoes, yams, and white potatoes is different. Sweet potatoes have much less starch and more sugar.
Below we have the nutrition profiles for three pounds of white potato and a comparable amount of sweet potato. While the nutritional differences may not seem like much, each has its own unique signature. I’ve talked with several people who have successfully used sweet potatoes or yams as a portion of their potatoes on the potato hack, though I cannot personally vouch for the effectiveness or the satiety of yams and sweet potatoes. This variation has not been well-tested and it is a completely different hack, if it works.”