No Hunger Games – A Day of Just Boiled Potatoes

Back in 2012 when FreeTheAnimal was discussing the Potato Diet, I didn’t pay too much attention. I was doing my own experiment to gain weight using ice cream and dairy kefir. But this year I’ve been more interested in the role food volume plays on satiety. So I looked it up again.

I read The Potato Diet guide on Vegetable Pharm and it made sense. Fill your belly full of heavy low calorie nutritious potatoes and you’ll create a caloric deficit and do so without feeling hungry. Yesterday I decided to test it out for one day.

First I wanted to check the math. After running numerous online calculators, I determined that my base metabolic rate is between 2,100 and 2,400 calories. To be conservative, I will use 2,100 calories as my number. A pound of boiled white potatoes is 354 calories. This means I could sit on my ass and eat almost 6 pounds of potatoes without gaining an ounce. But the potato diet works on the premise that one gets full sooner.

The day before I boiled about 6 pounds of medium sized potatoes and placed them in the refrigerator overnight. Eating the potatoes cooled increased the amount of resistance starch, which according the Potato Diet post can further help with gut health and hunger signals. No salt or spices are allowed. The potatoes are to be consumed plain. Adding flavor would increase their satiety.

I decided to let hunger be my guide and not try and restrict consumption to achieve a certain level. If I was hungry, I would eat. If I finished all my potatoes and was still hungry, I would end the experiment.

During the day, I weighed the potatoes. At times my belly was full but I felt false hunger. Meaning I craved color, flavor and variety, but I wasn’t really hungry. It was a gray rainy day in Seattle. Not part of the day. The entire day. I picked a tough day to try this experiment. To get my flavor stimulus, I consumed more coffee than usual. I’m not sure if that is allowed or not, but one battle at a time.

potato-diet

Before heading to sleep, I added everything up. I consumed 5 pounds of potatoes and nothing else. That works out to 1,770 calories. If my metabolism is 2,100 then that works out to a 15.7% deficit. If I’m at 2,400 then it is a 26.3% deficit. Very interesting.

One of my concerns would be that I’d wake up in the middle of the night hungry. That didn’t happen. In fact, I wasn’t even hungry when I woke up. I had already decided to extend the experiment another day. Perhaps my lack of morning hunger was partially due to the fact I had removed the flavor stimulus?

Also my inner economist was pleased. I purchase a 15 pound bag of potatoes for $3.99. Yesterday I fed myself for just $1.33.

I haven’t decided how deep I will go into this experiment, but yesterday was a great learning experience. Have you tried the Potato Diet? What were your results?

Published by

MAS

Critical MAS is the blog for Michael Allen Smith of Seattle, Washington. My interests include traditional food, fitness, economics, and web development.

26 thoughts on “No Hunger Games – A Day of Just Boiled Potatoes”

  1. Yes, tried it twice for the last two years. First time I tried it two or three days. The last time for a whole week. But I used a little bit of fat and some spices and even bacon nibs.

    I’m not a coffee drinker but I think I cheated with coffee since it was very mentally tough. I think two days is good enough to “reset your metabolism” as they wrote on FreeTheAnimal.

    I lost a few pounds each time. Gained back some after I quitted but not everything.

  2. Is this something that only works if you eat only potatoes all day?

    Couldn’t, like you say, use the potatoes as a way to fill you up faster
    then, as a result, not eat as much other food?

    If weight loss is the goal, which is mine at the moment,
    I like the idea here, but all-day potatoes doesn’t make a lot of
    nutritional sense to me long term.

  3. I kept good records for my potato diet experiments last year.

    I added salt and vinegar. Ate it boiled, mashed, and roasted. Some of yesterday’s from the fridge, some freshly cooked. I really, really like the taste, and very satiating.

    The thing is, when I did it, my weight was already pretty low, and the diet just kept it there.

    6 days in 2014 September: around 171#
    9 days in 2014 October: around 174#
    7 days in 2014 December: around 177#

    Looks like the effects were wearing off, doesn’t it? This could very well be the change of season. My yearly weight is always lowest just as summer ends. But the most satisfying thing was the reduction in waist circumference – about an inch. At my age this is very important.

    I’ve let myself eat a lot more since then, started taking creatine, not-to-failure volume workouts added to my BBS routine, so I’ve gained muscle but now weigh close to 185#, a good portion of that gain due to an expanded waistline as well.

    I just ordered 10 kg of potatoes, and will try it again in a week or two. Since I do have some fat to burn off, maybe I’ll see a weight decline.

  4. Thanks for the shout out! Always nice to see new people trying the potato diet. I think there are two problems people encounter: Trying to eat as many potatoes as they can, or eating towards a calorie goal and being disappointed when the scale does not drop over night.

    I always tell people, just eat until you are full and don’t worry about what the calories are. Most people find a sweet spot in between 2-4 pounds. If you take the experiment out 3-5 days, you’ll notice a dramatic lowering of hunger. If you are not hungry enough to eat another potato, are you really hungry?

    The weight loss from the potato diet can be stealthy. I think that the antiinflammatory properties of potatoes hits a “critical mass” or becomes therapeutic, when eating several pounds of potatoes. A lot of people have reported their weight stays the same the first couple days and then starts dropping in a linear fashion.

    We all get fixated on numbers on a scale, and with the potato diet, those stalled for a long time usually get it moving downward again, much to their utter amazement.

    I’m one of those people who tend to gain weight slowly over winter, but I find that 2-3 days of potato-only at the start of each winter month allows me to lose weight, or maintain, over a long winter. I think this would be a great habit for people who are in that “slow weight creep” to get into.

    Sorry the Potato Diet Tab is so sloppy, I keep meaning to tidy it up or even present it as an e-book. Some day!

  5. @Dan – I think this method could be used with other high satiety foods. Potatoes have a complete protein, vitamins and minerals and are easy to prepare, so that is likely why the diet is centered around them. The resistant starch angle is a bonus.

    The diet states to do just potatoes for 3-7 days. I only did 2 this round, because I have a prior commitment.

    @Garymar – An inch off is good!

  6. @Tim – Thanks for stopping by. I love your guide. Read it a few times before I started. Great resource.

  7. Pretty interesting! I try this with bananas from time-to-time and have similar results 🙂 Never thought to try it with potatoes… sweet potatoes could be interesting too.

  8. So…. how did you feel after two days and did it accomplish what you were hoping for? Inquiring minds want to know.

  9. @Char – So I finished Day 2 eating 4.5 pounds of potatoes. The only thing I wanted to do was making it through the 2 days without cheating. No other goals. I made it. I was able to sleep well on lower calories. I did not think that was possible. I plan to do more tests later this month.

  10. Nothing fill me up faster and fuller than white sweet potatoes…. an absolute great tasting potato. I wonder how much potato protein extract is in a white sweet potato?

  11. @ Tim Steele,

    “If you are not hungry enough to eat another potato, are you really hungry?”

    Some of us are prone to losing our appetite if we’re not eating enough. Not everyone has normal safe hunger signals. So for me if I’m not eating much and I’ve lost my appetite, that would be a signal to eat more, not stop there. Of course if I did stop there I’d lose weight. I’d also probably end up going on a sugar binge at some point.

    Given that nightshades don’t agree with me, I’d also get really stiff and achy if I did this diet. But I am curious as to how other people do.

  12. I know the potato diet is short term, but why bother? To me, it makes more sense to achieve fat loss from a deficit eating a variety of foods and a balance of macronutrients. I lost 40 lbs by doing this. I ate a variety of foods, including plenty of gluten, dairy, potatoes, meat, craft beer etc. Lift weights three days/week and eat a 20% deficit, eat .8-1g protein/lb bw. Bodybuilders have done this for decades to achieve low body fat, including drug free Bodybuilders.

  13. @Steve – The short answer is the potato diet is able to sharply reduce calories while the dieter still fills full. Reducing calories does result in fat loss, but if the dieter is hungry they are less likely to succeed or if they do succeed, they are likely to regain. The link above to the Potato Diet goes into greater detail on the satiety angle.

    The long answer to your question is the topic of a future post.

  14. @Steve and MAS – Virtually any diet when pulled off to create a calorie deficit will result in weight loss. People who have this dialed-in are the lucky ones. Lots of overweight people dieting for the first time can pull off a good loss of fat by restricting calories, no matter if done through fat/carb restriction, or plain old “cutting back on everything.”

    For most people, the party ends too soon, and they find themselves nutritionally deficient, stalled, insatiably hungry, regaining, etc… Where I find the Potato Diet extremely useful, is for people who have been plateau’d for a long time and swearing that even when they eat at a big deficit, they don’t lose weight. They lose a few pounds, for the first time in months or years, and when the potato diet is over, they don’t quickly regain the weight. It appears to burn predominately fat, very fast, and lowers the body weight setpoint. It also has the added benefit of being extremely antiinflammatory, which means the weight lost will include some extra water you have been holding on to.

    Seriously, you would not believe the number of people who contact me with extreme gratitude for helping them lose 5 pounds. A few have gone on to lose lots of weight, but the crowd that really loves the potato diet are those who just want to lose 3-5 pounds in a week. I can lose 7-8 pounds in about 2 days…if I fast. The weight comes right back on, pound for pound, in another 2 days of normal eating. With the potato diet, I can lose 3-5 pounds in less than a week, and the next week, eating normally, I can lose another pound or two.

    People literally get giddy stepping on the scale twice a day and seeing a continual downward trend. And these are hardcore dieters.

    People that are not overweight, yet experiencing gastric problems or inflammation, can use the potato diet to reset their digestion. Just yesterday I heard from a lady who has had lifetime GERD at night who did the potato diet, and for the first time she could remember, had no GERD. Of course, it came back when she started eating normally, but it gives her some big clues to what is causing the GERD.

    Sorry if I sound like a snake-oil salesman or carnival barker, I admit there has to be a bit in there, due to the topic. But it’s real, time-tested, and best of all…FREE.

    Tim

  15. Is it ok to eat potatoes that have just started to sprout? I’d rather buy potatoes in bulk but they tend to sprout quickly. Any tips on proper storage of bulk potatoes? Weight loss without a rebound in weight gain on a potato diet is very intriguing. The weight loss ang gain from fasting is probably fluid/glycogen etc.

  16. Sleeping well while in a deficit has always been a problem for me. I would have thought that eating so much starch would make sleep worse.

  17. Potatoes with sprouts are no problem, even really long sprouts, like 6-8″ long. Just scrape them off and peel away any green spots. I store about 500 pounds of potatoes every fall, and they start to sprout around Christmas. Every couple weeks I go through the piles and scrape off as many eyes/sprouts as I can. They regrow in a couple weeks, but the potatoes don’t start getting soft. If you leave long sprouts on, the potato will start to soften. By March, the potatoes are too soft to be very edible and I let the eyes grow as long as they like, and then in April I plant them back in my garden for another crop. Even at planting time, I find nice, firm ones in the bags of potatoes that can be eaten.

    Store them in your fridge to cut down on eye growth. But if you have a lot, keep them in cool/dark spot and inspect frequently.

    The weight-regain aspect is what convinces people it’s for real. Of course, if you do not change your habits, the weight will creep back on over time, but not in 24-48 hours as you see with severe glycogen and water loss.

    People who start a low carb diet are often fooled by the weight loss caused by glycogen depletion, and extremely saddened to see how said weight comes back quickly after a starchy cheat.

  18. re: sleep

    Give it a try and see! I do hear quite a few comments of sleep improvements, even with long-term insomnia. Me, personally, I snore really loudly and have a history of sleep apnea. When I do the potato diet, I don’t snore (wife confirmed, lol). Chris Voight, the Potato Commissioner said: http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.jp/2010/12/interview-with-chris-voigt-of-20.html)

    “The only unusual thing that occurred is what my wife told me. I’m a habitual snorer. The day I started eating only potatoes, my snoring stopped. It restarted the day I started to include other foods in my diet. I’m assuming it was just some weird coincidence but that’s what she tells me.”

    My personal opinion is that this is simply a demonstration of the antiinflammatory effects, less inflammation in throat tissue/sinusses, less restriction, less snoring.

    With sleep, though, it’s hard to experiment on yourself if you are going into it with a conscious thought about “sleep quality.” Your mind will play tricks on you. With me (and Voight) it was an after-the-fact ‘a-ha’ moment that sleep was better/less snoring.

  19. Michael,

    After your post on the 8th I studied about this for two days. Tim Steele and others were very helpful. I decided to go for it starting the 10th for 5 days. The morning of the 16th I had lost 6 lbs. and another 2 pounds since, from limiting extra oils and having a side of cooked/cooled potatoes and potato starch with dinner which helps fill me up.

    I did use spices like powered mexican seasoning, Bragg Liquid Aminos and Pendleton mesquite barbecue sauce on various days during lunch or dinner. Sometimes just Real Salt. With the BBQ sauce, I twice put a tablespoon of olive oil in with it. Very tasty.

    I started adding potato starch, one teaspoon a day, sometime around the third day. Now I’m up to two tablespoons per day (Bob’s Red Mill brand because I could get it locally at PCC). I simply put it over my cooled potatoes side dish with my regular dinner and in my breakfast smoothie. I ordered banana flour to test next week.

    The whole subject of resistant starch is fascinating. I didn’t know anything about it before.
    I’m been studying nutrition and diets for over 30 years. Not sure how I missed how important RS is.
    I think I’ve now read Tim’s entire web site, comments and all.

    Thanks for the blog post Michael and thanks to Tim too.

    Dan

  20. I’m curious on how the potato diet would affect testosterone levels. Does the butyric acid produced by resistant starch keep test levels up?

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