Potatoes and Protein – A No Hunger Template For Fat Loss

In September, I posted Less Peasant, More Bodybuilder, which described how I was finally making progress in increasing my protein intake. I had shifted from eating lots of potatoes via the Potato Hack and the Peasant Diet to higher protein.

My reasons were:

  1. At a lower body fat percentage, I now needed more protein to defend muscle. I discuss the P-ratio in the post High Volume or High Protein Foods For Fat Loss.
  2. I’m getting older. As we age, we need more protein. Higher protein defends against sarcopenia.

As I moved back and forth between potatoes and higher protein meals, I discovered they work very well together. Both boiled potatoes and high protein foods are great for crushing appetite at lower calories.

Together, they are unstoppable.

potatoes-protein

Dieting: What Works

There are many approaches one can use to lose weight, but there are a few ideas that tend to work best. The book Forever Fat Loss by Ari Whitten does a great job going through the research and coming up with solid ideas.

Forever Fat Loss: Escape the Low Calorie and Low Carb Diet Traps and Achieve Effortless and Permanent Fat Loss by Working with Your Biology Instead of Against It
Forever Fat Loss: Escape the Low Calorie and Low Carb Diet Traps and Achieve Effortless and Permanent Fat Loss by Working with Your Biology Instead of Against It  by Ari Whitten

I’m going to focus on 3 ideas from his book:

  1. Higher volume
  2. Higher protein
  3. Lower flavor

Higher volume is what the Potato Hack does so well. Fill your belly with low-calories boiled potatoes and your brain turns off the hunger signals while you are still in a caloric deficit.

Higher protein also reduces hunger signals. This is the “secret sauce” to low-carb dieting. It isn’t that carbs are fattening, it is that protein is more satiating.

Lower flavor doesn’t mean unflavorful or “tastes bad”. It means the meal has purposely been designed not to maximize flavor. Processed foods are engineered to maximize consumption via stronger flavor signals. We don’t want those foods. We want to turn down the flavor volume when we can.

Also, high flavor reward meals are not just processed foods. Any delicious meal that has you reaching for another bite after you’ve already had enough qualifies.

Every meal that you have that focuses on volume (boiled potatoes) or basic lean-protein are meals that have a lower flavor profile. Lowering your average flavor intake will lower your appetite and help you lose weight.

P & P Simplicity

Potatoes and Protein is not a fulltime diet (unless you want it to be). Like the Potato Hack, it is a meal replacement strategy. You will build up a calorie deficit at the times most convenient to you.

For example, you might start by replacing breakfast with a P & P meal. Or swap out lunch. Or do a few days a week. The more weight you need to lose, the more meals you would swap out. Experiment. Increase or decrease the number of meals as you see fit.

You can eat the potatoes with the protein or have them separate. I have discovered that if they are separate to consume the protein first, otherwise I end up under consuming the protein, which was the problem I originally set out to solve. But that is me. You do what works best for you.

Sample P & P Meals

A meal will be about 30 grams of protein (more or less) followed by or combined with boiled potatoes. Eat until you are full. If you have the habit of eating quickly, slow down a bit. Otherwise, you might find yourself feeling too full.

Here are a few of my Potatoes & Protein meals.

Potatoes and…

  • 2 cans of sardines
  • cottage cheese
  • ground beef (extra lean, drain fat – see the math)
  • can of beans
  • eggs (I prefer soft-boiled)
  • Greek yogurt (low-fat or no-fat)

As you can see from the template, these are low-fat meals. Low-fat diets got an undeserved bad reputation because they got associated with processed foods. Not only were those processed foods engineered to be overconsumed, but they also tended to be low in protein. So the low-fat diet of the 1980s and 1990s took the wrong approach. The goal then was to strip fat out of foods and then make those foods taste better with food engineering. They did a poor job of curbing hunger and failed for many.

With P & P, I am using simple unprocessed foods to achieve high-satiety that just happen to be low-fat.

Adding More to the P & P Meal

Ideally, the P & P meals should be simple and basic. Save your flavorful meals for when you are not doing P & P. But I don’t see much harm in adding some veggies provided they aren’t cooked in or covered with fat.

I’ll sometimes add some chopped tomatoes to the potatoes and ground beef or the potatoes and beans combos. But I’m also not trying to optimize the diet for fat loss. I’m using it for maintaining my weight.

Why I Like P & P

I like P & P because it is a simple diet that anyone can follow. You do not need to weigh foods or count calories. You do not need to log anything. The meals are very cheap and can be prepared in advance.

The meals are designed to crush your appetite at a lower calorie level. This not only helps you lose weight but also prevents you from regaining the weight, as the brain won’t be on alert for being hungry throughout the dieting phase.

As much as I love the Potato Hack, P & P might be better at preserving muscle in older and leaner individuals. That is just speculation though.

Join Me and Share Your Experiences

When I jumped onto the Potato Hack, I was yet another in a very long history going back to 1849. With P & P, I’m making it up as I go along. I’d love for others to try it out and post on their results (good and bad).

I’m in a position where I’m at my ideal weight, so I can’t use what I’ve learned to lean out. I suppose I could try and get shredded, but my primary goal now is to build muscle, so I am using P & P just enough to keep me where I need to be right now.

If you want to try out P & P, take measurements (weight and tape measure). Count the number of P & P meals per week and record your results.

Who is with me?

21 Comments

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  1. I love this post! While I really enjoy eating potatoes I am that rare person who likes them so much I can overeat on them. Maybe if I combine them with protein I will find my sweet spot of satiety. Have you noticed some p & p combinations more satiating than others for less calories? I am really short so maintenance calories are only 1400!

  2. @Rachel – Yes. The sardines work the best. Ground beef is second. But they all work great.

  3. This is a great plan and a long awaited post. Maybe I’ll get into it in January, now feasting awaits.

    I love the peasant aspect of it, and it’s going to be really cheap. Adding a cup of veggies to the meal will make it really nutritious and good for long term dieting.

    I’ve been trying lower protein intake lately while losing weight, and it seems to negatively influence muscle mass. I don’t like it. I need to find a simple and cheap way to increase protein intake while still dieting.

    Thank you for some great ideas. The potato hack is something we find difficult to keep up longer than 2-3 days, but this could work long term.

  4. I’m in. I have already lost 40 lbs and goal is 40 more. I think I will do 2 meals a day during the work week and 1 on the weekend since I also have to feed growing boys and I like us all to eat the same meal. Will report back.

  5. @Robert – Feasting time is actually a great time to start P & P. Pick your meals outside the feasts. You might be able to make it to the new year without gaining weight or perhaps even dropping a few pounds.

    P & P is a tool designed for people that can’t control all their meals. Lock in the calorie deficits when you can to take the edge of the surplus meals.

    @Katie – Great. Be sure to also take tape measurements. Inches (or cm) often say more than pounds (or kilos).

  6. I’m on board for after the holidays!

    I plan to do potatoes during the day and protein in the evening generally, plus one more feasty day on the weekend to reset.

    What do you think about bone broth as part of the protocol?

    Include during the day, or keep with the high protein meal?

    Thanks!

  7. @Brock – I don’t know if bone broth will have enough satiety. Experiment and let me know.

  8. @ MAS – Good point, restraint during holidays and vacations is much easier than trying to lose weight afterwards.

  9. @Robert – Last year when I was just doing the Potato Hack during the holidays, I was polishing off 15 pounds of cold potatoes a week. I had locked in so much of a calorie deficit during my non-feasting and non-leftovers meals that I actually lost a little weight during the period.

  10. Count me in! I’m starting on Wed., right after Christmas. I did a few practice runs and found potatoes and beans very satiating. I plan to eat this way for breakfast and lunch, then a normal dinner with family. Once our daughter goes back to college I may pick up the pace if it doesn’t feel too restrictive.

  11. I stared this today I made a pot of soup in my instant pot . 750 g of red potatoes, 16 oz of pinto beans, 234 g yellow onions , 375 g tomatoes, 174 g green bell peppers , 107 g celery, 103 g mushrooms, 5 g garlic, 445 g skinless boneless chicken breast .
    19.78 g fat
    172.65 protein
    335 g carbs
    Total calories 2153
    I ate about half of this today and nothing else. It is 11:48 PM and I am not hungry.

  12. I forgot to put 5 cups of sprouts chicken stock and 2 cups of water

  13. I may give this a shot. The couple of times I tried the potato hack, I could only get through one day, always hit a spot around 24 hours in where I felt hypoglycemic and fell off the wagon. Imagine, hypoglycemic on potato only, low carb me would never believe it. Probably just to low on the calories, I really could not eat many. If I combined them with non fat cottage cheese or yogurt, might get me over the hump. Will let you know if I try.

  14. I had severe reactive hypoglycemia on potato only and not because of low calories. My son has type 1 so I tested myself and it was very low, especially after breakfast. I wasn’t low carb before either so I thought something was wrong with me

  15. To @SteveRN and @Rachel:

    You may have figured this out already, but eating the protein first and then pausing 10-20 minutes before hitting the potatoes greatly reduces the potato portions you’ll eat.

    If potatoes are still problematic, then you may need to find another carb with fiber option. Although, eating cooled potatoes with red wine vinegar and salt works for any.

  16. Thanks, I may try that! Although, if I use non fat or low fat cottage cheese as my protein, I may mix or eat after the potato, as I love cottage cheese. I can easily eat a regular sized carton in one sitting, all 6 servings. I once ate a Sam’s club 3 lb container in 24 hours, I could live off of it. Maybe I should use Greek yogurt instead.

  17. Quick update:
    After about 4 weeks of working on potatoes as the staple, I determined it was not working for me in that I didn’t want to eat the potatoes at lunch at all, and therefore was still quite hungry after eating.

    I switched to cooked and cooled lentils, which are similarly low calorie and low glycemic index, and started eating those with protein. That’s been a good switch for me in that I now eat enough at lunch to not be so hungry afterwards. Between the two, I’m down just under 5% total weight and 3% bodyfat on the Tanita scale. I may not be getting enough protein, so I may increase that, but the system is generally working. IF until about noon, protein and lentils for lunch and then typically some thing from Hello Fresh for dinner.

  18. @Brock – That’s great. One of the keys to this diet is the power of staples, which is something I might directly blog about. Put key meals on repeat-mode to take the novelty out of them.

  19. Great post.

    Have you had any feedback from folks trying this?

    Uniform eating has been a nice tactic for fat loss for a long time going back to Clarence Bass and the original Ripped. https://www.cbass.com/UniformEating.htm

  20. I know you’ve given some sample meals, but what would a day of eating look like for you nowadays?

  21. @Chris – I found a killer sale here in Seattle. A high-end sardine brand that normally sells for $4=$5 a can was being unloaded for $1. I bought 12 cases. So I have been crushing sardines on potatoes.

    For breakfast, I like oatmeal with protein powder.

    Because it is winter – for lunch – I like to go out and have Asian soup-based dishes (mostly Vietnamese).

    Other staples: Turkey meatloaf (using white rice instead of bread crumbs) and soft-boiled eggs.

    I’ll post more on staples in a future post.

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