Tim Steele shared a blog post by one of my readers today on his experience with the Potato Diet. Read The Potato Hack (link down Aug 2019) on brownstudy.info. From the post:
I’ve tried the hack twice and could only make it a day and half before I caved. Despite cutting the experiment short, I lost 3 pounds on the first hack, so I will testify to its weight-loss effect. Unfortunately, I was also swept away by incredible hunger pangs and thoughts of food distracted me for hours.
This paragraph reminded me of a point I wanted to make specifically regarding the first day of the Potato Hack. It has to do with the hunger challenges on the first day of the Potato Hack.
I’ve done numerous potato hacks now. Some super strict. Some a little looser with the rules. What I have discovered to be true each and every time is that I consume more potatoes on Day 1 than the other days. And that is OK.
The hunger you have on Day 1 is both physical and psychological. Once the physical hunger is addressed, you still feel the need to eat something. Your body is crying out for flavors. Then you feel hunger. But the hunger doesn’t make sense, as your belly was just filled with potatoes minutes or hours ago.
The solution here is not to let the hunger distract you. Immediately, grab another potato and start eating. Thinking of food? Eat another potato. You are training your brain to disassociate flavors from calories. With cold boiled potatoes, it is almost mathematically impossible to eat beyond your base metabolism. But, let us say you did overshoot on Day 1 by a few hundred calories. What happens next?
On Days 2 and beyond, your hunger levels will drop, because you are no longer giving your brain the flavors signals it craves. It has been tamed. The entertainment value of food has been removed. Now all the potatoes are doing is filling the space in your stomach to turn off the hunger hormones.
I often will eat 5 or 5.5 pounds of potatoes on Day 1 of a Potato Hack. That is a lot, but I am still in caloric deficit. On Days 2 and beyond, that number falls to 4 pounds, which is a much bigger deficit. By design, I win a little on Day 1 and a lot on Day 2 and beyond.
Think of hunger as a riding a wild animal at a rodeo. Those first few seconds are like the first day of the Potato Hack. Don’t fight the animal and don’t find the hunger. Eventually, the animal wears itself out and calms down. So will your hunger. Trust the process.
Photo by Jordan Heinrichs
Mar 22, 2018 — 2:26 pm
Thanks for the post, MAS. What I did not include in that post was that, beyond hunger, I experienced dizziness by the middle of the second day. I continued eating the potatoes but the combination of hunger and lightheadedness persisted. I was kind of spooked by the dizziness. (Penn Jillette reported lightheadedness during his three months of dieting in “Presto!” and never got to the bottom of what caused it.)
I also did those hacks early on, before I had more experience of the types of potatoes that work best for me or other ways of preparing them. PBD has worked fine for me since.
I should try the full 3-day hack again now that I know better what to expect.
Mar 22, 2018 — 4:47 pm
@Mike – I noticed your post was in January, which IMO is a tough month to do any food restriction, due to lower daylight levels and depending on where you are, much colder temps.
Mar 22, 2018 — 6:54 pm
@MAS — I just checked and I did my first hacks in January of 2017 so I’m sure your diagnosis is right. My Jan 2018 post reflected my PBD prep and was my first stab at writing about it.
In re-reading your post, I see that I should have eaten way more potatoes on Day 1. I think I was being foolishly thrifty, for whatever reason.
The next time I’ll try the hack will probably be in May. Tim had suggested prepping a variety of potatoes during the hack to counter resistance to cold boiled potatoes. I’ll prepare lots more red potatoes for my daytime eating, some baked russets to keep in the work and home fridges, some Yukon golds to mash in the evening, and maybe some frozen hash browns (the local grocery chain carries a brand with no extra oils or ingredients) for browning in the pan.
Thanks again for this post. Very helpful info for the first-timer! I also liked your last paragraph. Don’t resist and don’t think too much about what the hunger “means” — just eat the potatoes.