Long-time readers of this site know that I used the Potato Hack Diet to lose weight. There are many ways to lose weight, but few succeed in permanent fat loss. Somewhere between 70% and 95% of successful dieters will regain their lost weight. Often more.
I knew this statistic before I decided to lose weight. I had also had prior experience of losing and regaining weight. Never a lot, but enough to know that the brain remembers the higher weight and unless steps are taken, regain is likely. Those steps are rarely discussed. Preventing weight regain is presented as a willpower or character issue. That is a losing assumption.
How one prevents regaining weight is equally as important as losing weight. We need to fool the brain so it doesn’t recognize the drop in calories. This is where boiled potatoes shine. You can fill the belly and shut off hunger signals with minimal calories.
The image below (courtesy of Precision Nutrition) is the most important image when it comes to understanding how to lose weight and prevent regain. Moderation doesn’t work. The brain is too sharp for that. Willpower runs out. You need to shut down hunger signals in a caloric deficit.
The image above explains not only why there are so many overweight people today, but also the path to permanent fat loss. The brain doesn’t count calories. It measures the volume and weight of the food you consume. Once you truly understand that, how you view food forever changes.
Boiled potatoes, especially if they’ve been refrigerated overnight, are the best tool to fill the belly and shut off hunger.
See The Math Behind the Potato Hack
- Starting Weight = 222
- August 2017 = 202
- April 2018 = 197
- October 2019 = 186
- April 2020 = 183
My height is 6′ 2.5. I haven’t stepped on a scale since the lockdowns, but my tape measurements would indicate I am around 180 now.
Earlier in the potato diet, I would eat 10-15 pounds of boiled potatoes a week. Sometimes for a few days, sometimes just to replace a meal here and there. I didn’t overthink it. But every time I sat down in front of my bowl of potatoes, I ate until I was full.
I conditioned my brain to understand that I was not restricting food. That is why diets that rely on moderation or counting calories rarely produce long-term success. Those dieters are constantly telling their brains they are restricting. The brain remembers and prefers to be at a higher weight. And they eventually regain.
As I got leaner, I tweaked the diet to include more lean protein. See the post Potatoes and Protein – A No Hunger Template For Fat Loss for details.
Today, I still consume a fair amount of boiled potatoes, but not as much as before. I know how to shut down hunger at low-calorie levels. It keeps me at an optimal weight.
If you are interested in learning more, see my Potato Hack Diet section.
Did you lose weight on the Potato Diet? How much and were you able to keep it off?
This was my path to hunger-free fat loss. Start with the potatoes and as you get leaner, add more lean protein.
Apr 5, 2021 — 1:00 pm
Hi there! I just found this website and read this article about the potato hack. A coach I worked with sent me the potato diet book and I’ve recently read/listened to a couple books/podcasts about reducing weight set point and reducing cravings with less interesting food. Just not having high reward meals basically. Anyway, this potato hack seems like a great way to meet in the middle of all those things. Plus I love the idea of not having to think about food so much! If I could just not eat and not plan food every again, that’d be great. Ha!
It seems as though everyone who has responded to the articles has tried different ways to do this but what’s your recommendation on starting and just trying it out? Just a meal or two replacement? Trying a full day? When you first started this it looks like you did 3 days a week…was that consecutively or spread out? Anyway, thanks and I really look forward to hearing back from you and reading more of your content.
Apr 5, 2021 — 1:20 pm
@Christin – My general recommedation would be to not overthink it and start with one meal.
More specific recommendation would depend on the individual. How much weight do they need to lose? How motivated are they? Penn Gillete and Kevin Smith had serious health scares and did strict long-term potato dieting right from the start. Others may just need to lose a few pounds.
Start with one meal and go from there. Try different things and see what works.
For me, although I did do multiple day potato hacks, I think my best results were POTATO Before 6. Dinner could be normal but all the calories before then had to come from boiled potatoes. As I got leaner, I reduced that 1 meal a day.
Apr 7, 2021 — 1:41 pm
Have you known people to be successful who start out with the potatoes before 6 then normal dinner and/or the Protein & potato?
I read some of the actual potato hack book and he really emphasizes trying the 3-5 days of only potatoes if you need to lose a lot of weight. I probably need to lose about 40lbs.
I just get hungry by the end of the day normally. I had a lot of success today just eating potatoes all day but I feel my normal evening hunger creeping in. 🙂 I may try the 3 day thing but I was simply curious what you’ve seen with the people that have tried this with you.
Apr 7, 2021 — 1:57 pm
@Christin – I got a lot of benefit from potatoes before 6. I don’t know about others.
The way to think about the potatoes hack is it is a meal replacement strategy. Replace enough meals and fat loss will occur. Do what works for your goals and your schedule. Change it as you go. Experiment.
Apr 10, 2021 — 6:49 am
That’s great to see it works long-term!
You’ve been a great source of inspiration for my own diet. I noticed some weight loss on periods with higher potato consumption too.
The problem is that my gut doesn’t handle them well (most fiber foods, and meat too). In the summer it gets a lot better and I lose weight but in the winter my digestion gets really really bad and I regain the weight.
I planned to move into a warmer region but lockdowns happened and I didn’t do it. I’ll definitely do it this year because I just can’t bear cold winters anymore. Hope I can keep the weight off in the long term.
Apr 10, 2021 — 7:37 am
@Nicolas – Thank you!
I don’t have gut issues, but I’ve heard people get success with the Fit For Life approach. Only consume fruit before noon. Might be worth an experiment.
Best of luck.
Apr 14, 2021 — 3:51 am
Greetings again. I like potatoes on most days since I’ve been partial to french fries and sometimes potatoes mixed with curry throughout my life. I wonder if the potato diet also helps people GAIN weight on purpose since I’m still a stick boy, after all.
As for exercise, I’ve been walking more often than I’ve been lifting thanks to walking around department stores and discount stores. Great cardio, but I wonder just how detrimental that is to actual muscle and/or weight gain.
Any input from you is welcome, as always. Stay safe while lockdowns are slowly being lifted.
Apr 14, 2021 — 6:46 am
@Tony – I wouldn’t reach for the Potato Diet to gain weight. Do the opposite. Calorie dense foods such as dairy or coconut cream.
I’ve lost some muscle, but I have no concern that I will be able to regain it.
Apr 14, 2021 — 11:22 am
@MAS – Since you said “dairy,” I’ll be glad that I still drink two to three glasses daily. Been doing that since high school due to being under the delusion that drinking milk religiously would make me grow taller.
Sep 17, 2021 — 3:34 pm
Love your work, though my understanding says it’s slightly misleading to try and attribute all of fullness with filling the physical space. As I understand it the lining of the stomach detects three things, sugars, omega-3s, and amino acids, and the purpose of hunger is to get more of those. I’m sure this diet works, however it’s important to note that hunger is there to get nutrition, not just to fill a stomach. (Anyone who has done something similar to keto/carnivore can attest to the fact that you can easily feel really full despite a low quantity of food in your belly, or the fact that supplementing with l-glutamine can dramatically reduce hunger pangs).
Sep 18, 2021 — 9:17 am
@Vince – I don’t believe this site attributes “all of fullness with filling the physical space”. It is one mechanism. I also mention increasing protein on many posts, including the image on this post. They are the 2 biggest levers.
Omega-3s and appetite is an interesting topic that I plan to learn more about. Thanks for brining it up.
Oct 20, 2021 — 4:09 pm
How do you use the InstantPot to cook your potatoes? Do you steam them? I looked through your recent posts and could not find the answer. Also, thank you for publishing all of your interesting posts.
Oct 20, 2021 — 7:32 pm
@Adam – I purchased a steamer basket for my Instant Pot.
I cut up the potatoes to equal sizes that would be considered “large bites”. After putting the potatoes in the basket, I add 1.5 cups of water. I pressure cook on high for 3-4 minutes. Once the cooking ends, I release the steam and remove the potatoes for eating or storing/cooling.