Do you want to lose a lot of weight very fast without feeling hungry?
Sounds too good to be true?
In some ways it is and some ways it is not, that is if you are doing the potato diet.
The potato diet plan is exactly what the name implies.
It is a diet consisting of only potatoes which should make you lose weight very fast.
I first heard about the potato diet when I watched the famous magician Penn Jillette share his story about how he “kick-started” his weight loss by eating nothing but potatoes for the first 2 weeks.
He lost over 100 lbs in 4-5 months.
There are a lot of crazy diets with obscure rules (a.k.a. fad diets) and I am normally very skeptic towards these, which I think everyone should be.
However, after having researched the potato diet a bit it stood out to me because honestly, it didn’t seem like complete BS as other seemingly similar diets.
By the way here is the YouTube video I watched shortly after it was published.
There are different variations of the potato diet and some even include other food than potato.
But in this situation, I think you are much better off eating only potato, since you otherwise would be losing out on some of the benefits i.e. improved gut health and the exceptional monotonous flavor of eating only potatoes which in this case is a good thing.
The very bland taste of potato will very likely affect the total number of calories you consume and as Penn Jillette explains it will “reset” your taste buds.
The Potato Hack
Before you object to this diet due to the lack of protein and fat, there is a special approach that is less extreme.
It is this approach that I in particular believe could be useful to you, at least that is if you are also interested in maintaining as much strength and muscle mass as possible.
This approach has been dubbed “the potato hack” by Tim Steele who also wrote a book on the subject with the same name.
The potato hack only lasts for 3-5 days but can be repeated until you have achieved your weight loss goals.
You can then repeat it once every week and the days when you are not on the “potato hack” you would eat normally.
To avoid muscle loss, you would want to cram in a lot of protein both before and after doing a potato hack.
Due to the huge calorie deficit, I would also recommend adjusting your workout routine.
If you do a 3-day potato hack, your best option would probably be to do a brief full body workout using weights before and after.
If you do more than 3 days I would do one brief full-body workout during that period.
Intense cardio should be completely avoided during the potato hack.
What Kinds Of Potatoes?
First of all, I believe it is important to note that we are not talking about potato chips or French fries here.
You can eat different kinds of potatoes but they should be cooked in a way where no additional calories are added e.g. boiled or baked.
After being cooked the potatoes have to be cooled down for many hours so the resistant starch can reform.
The ideal time is 12 hours.
Basically, a raw potato contains a lot of the resistant starch, but in the cooking process, this is almost entirely destroyed (I explain more about resistant starch below).
When cooled for many hours parts of the resistant starch reform.
To maximize the boringness of the taste you can eat them cold and without any seasoning.
However, I believe this is unnecessarily “hardcore”.
You can season the cold potatoes with spices and even warm them in the oven, but try to avoid any sauces or condiments.
Trust me, after doing a 3-day potato hack myself I can attest to that even heavy amounts of seasoning do not make up for the incredibly boring taste.
For drinks, you should stick with just water, black coffee or tea. You don’t want anything that adds calories or is sweet.
What Is So Special About Potatoes?
Potatoes are as you might know very high in carbs but they also contain some protein and fiber. Perhaps more interesting is the fact that potatoes are also rated as one of the most filling foods.
Boiled potatoes rank number 1 in the satiety index which is based on a study done in 1995.
Other than that potatoes are incredibly nutritious and history has taught us that we humans can survive on eating only potatoes for a considerable time.
So if you were to choose only one food potatoes are probably a good choice.
Cooked then cooled potatoes have a decent amount of something called resistant starch.
This is not unique to potatoes and a lot of starchy vegetables and fruit contain it.
It is also found in beans, legumes, and whole grains.
It has the name resistant starch because it is resistant to being digested and in this way it is similar to fiber.
Similarly to fiber, we can’t absorb all the energy from the resistant starch so it helps you feel full while accounting for fewer calories.
Resistant starch has also been called a colon superfood because of how it is able to pass through our stomach undigested and instead be digested by bacteria in our intestine.
The resistant starch feeds a large number of very beneficial bacteria in our intestine which in turn improves our digestion and general gut health which has the potential of greatly reducing inflammation.
Additionally, when the bacteria digest the resistant starch they turn it into some special short-chain fatty acids. The fatty acids that are not used by the bacteria for energy are transferred to our bloodstream where it helps improve insulin sensitivity and lowers blood sugar.
Resets Your Taste Buds
Potatoes have a bland taste.
In all honesty, even if you are a person that likes eating potatoes (like me), you will very quickly be bored with eating potatoes alone.
If you are used to eating a lot of very tasty fatty and salty food or sweet stuff then your taste buds are being highly stimulated most of the time.
Not to mention all the food engineering that takes place in the processing to increase “tastiness” to an unnaturally high level.
When you eat only potatoes you are essentially starving your taste buds for any stimulus and when you eat other normal food again you will be able to appreciate their taste better.
Why It Works
Gaining or losing weight is essentially a question of energy balance.
In order to gain weight you need a surplus of calories and in order to lose weight, you need a deficit.
The fiber and resistant starch in the potato fill you up quickly and when boring potatoes are the only thing on the menu you simply end up eating less.
And by less, I mean MUCH LESS and also without really feeling hungry.
If you are truly hungry you can just have another potato, but what most people experience is that after eating a few cold potatoes they aren’t really hungry anymore.
This proves that most of the “hunger” we feel are either because of habit or because we are eating to stimulate our taste buds.
Think about the last time you suddenly become hungry again when offered a dessert after having a big meal.
But Potato Has No Protein And What About Fats?
Potatoes do actually have a moderate amount of protein for a plant, but you would have to eat crazy amounts of potatoes to get within the range of what could be defined as optimal protein intake while in a calorie deficit.
So yes, during the potato hack you are getting very little protein.
That is a sacrifice you have to make, but on the other hand, you also get a very big calorie deficit and can potentially speed up the weight loss process.
But let us say you do a 3-day potato and eat a good amount of protein before and after the hack.
Under such circumstances, I wouldn’t worry about muscle loss.
Regarding the fats, I would also say you shouldn’t worry as long as good fats are a part of your normal diet which you continue after the hack.