The potato diet is a short-term diet that promises fast weight loss. This diet claims to help you lose up to one pound (0.45 kg) per day by eating nothing but plain potatoes for three to five days.
This diet method dates back to 1849 but was popularized again by Tim Steele, who published “Potato Hack: Weight Loss Simplified” in 2016. In his book, Steele suggests that potatoes are “the best diet pill ever invented.”
He mentions that potatoes can strengthen the immune system, promote gut health, and provide a wealth of nutrients to keep you energized while you lose weight.
Although many claim that the potato diet has helped them lose significant weight, there are no scientific studies to support this claim.
In the following article, we will tell you more about this potato diet method.
Nutritional Content in Potatoes
The Potato Diet, also known as the potato hack diet, is a short-term diet plan that focuses on consuming potatoes as the main source of carbohydrates. The diet is based on the idea that potatoes are a low-glycemic food that can help with weight loss, blood sugar control, and appetite regulation.
The rules of the Potato Diet typically include:
- Eating only potatoes for some time, typically 3-5 days.
- Consuming potatoes in different forms such as baked, mashed, boiled, or grilled.
- Avoiding added fats like butter, cheese, and oil while eating potatoes.
- Avoiding all processed foods, sugar, and refined grains.
- Consuming unlimited amounts of potatoes in a day.
- Drinking plenty of water and staying hydrated.
It is important to note that this diet is not recommended by most health professionals, as it is not balanced and may lead to nutrient deficiencies. It is always best to consult with a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian before making any significant changes to your diet.
Quoting from the Healthline page, the instructions for implementing the potato diet are not too complicated. While there are variations, Tim Steele outlines seven basic rules in his book for anyone looking to stick to the potato diet:
- Rule 1. For three to five days eat only cooked potatoes.
- Rule 2. As a general rule, eat 2–5 pounds (0.9–2.3 kg) of potatoes daily.
- Rule 3. Don’t eat other foods, including condiments and toppings, such as ketchup, butter, sour cream, and cheese.
- Rule 4. It’s okay to add salt if you really can’t eat potatoes alone, but try to avoid it.
- Rule 5. When you are thirsty, you can only drink plain water, plain tea, or black coffee.
- Rule 6. Strenuous exercise is not recommended. Instead, stick to light exercise and walking.
- Rule 7. Take your usual medications as directed by your doctor, but do not use non-prescribed dietary supplements.
On Steele’s version of the diet, only white potatoes are allowed. And other variations of the diet are more lenient.
For example, allowing the consumption of sweet potatoes in the Spud Fit Challenge, a variation on the diet created by Andrew Taylor. In this version, a minimal amount of fat-free herbs, spices, and seasonings is also allowed.
Remember that the method of cooking is also important in this diet. Fried or highly processed potato products, such as French fries or potato chips, are not options on the potato diet.
There are several potential advantages to the potato diet, including:
- Potato nutrition. Potatoes are an excellent source of many important vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C, potassium, folate, and iron.
- The diet is not complicated. Although limited, the potato diet is fairly easy to understand. It is enough to eat plain potatoes for three to five days.
- Affordable. Potatoes are one of the most affordable foods you can easily find, making adopting this diet relatively inexpensive.
- High fiber. Studies show that a high-fiber diet can improve gut health and play a role in preventing obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.
- Despite these benefits, potatoes don’t provide all the nutrients you need, as no other food can. For example, potatoes can’t meet your needs for vitamin B12, calcium, and zinc, all of which are important for health.
Following a balanced diet that includes a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean protein is better for your health and promotes sustainable weight loss.
There are significant downsides to relying solely on potatoes as your sole food source.
The potato diet is perhaps one of the most restrictive diets. This makes this diet method very difficult to follow. Even more concerning, this type of restrictive dieting can cause you to develop an unhealthy relationship with food.
A restrictive diet is a form of disordered eating that leads to other unhealthy behaviors, such as overeating. What’s more, other restrictive behaviors are also encouraged in this diet – including skipping meals and fasting. This was deemed unnecessary because the diet itself was already very low in calories.
There is no doubt that potatoes are a nutritious component of a balanced diet. However, they cannot meet all of your nutritional needs.
Potatoes do not have two main nutrients, namely protein, and fat. One medium potato provides only 4 grams of protein and contains almost no fat.
While rich in certain vitamins and minerals, such as potassium, vitamin C, and iron, potatoes are also very low in certain vitamins and minerals, such as calcium, vitamin A, and certain B vitamins.
But since the potato diet is only meant to be followed for three to five days, it’s unlikely that you’ll experience any nutritional deficiencies.
Potential Muscle Loss
The potato diet is very popular because it promises fast weight loss. However, muscle loss often accompanies fat loss during dieting, especially when calories are drastically reduced.
For example, one study found that 18% of the weight lost by participants on a very low-calorie diet, with only 500 calories per day, came from lean body mass.
Studies show that eating extra protein can help reduce muscle loss during calorie restriction, but the potato diet lacks a high-quality protein source.
Weight can Come Back Easily
When following a diet that is low in calories your body can adapt by slowing down your metabolism and burning fewer calories. Studies show that this slowdown can persist for years after ending a calorie-restricted diet.
This is called “adaptive thermogenesis” and can make weight loss very difficult in the long term. This is the main reason why researchers estimate that more than 80% of dieters return to their previous weight over time.
How to Do
The potato diet is a type of diet that is simple and easy to do. Here are some rules you need to know when you want to go on a potato diet:
- Only consume cooked potatoes.
- Consume potatoes for three to five days.
- Consumption of potatoes as much as 0.9–2.3 kg of potatoes every day.
- Don’t add potatoes to other foods, including condiments and toppings, such as ketchup, butter, sour cream, and cheese.
- You may add salt, but as much as possible avoid using it.
- Only drink only water, tea, or coffee without sugar during the diet.
- Avoid doing strenuous exercise and light exercise routines.
- If you are required to take medication, take regular medication as prescribed by your doctor. However, avoid using nonprescription dietary supplements.
Another thing that you must pay attention to is how to cook the potatoes that will be consumed. Avoid frying potatoes or overly processed potatoes. Boiling or steaming potatoes is the best way to process them.
How Effective for Weight Loss?
So far, there have been no specific studies regarding the potato diet that can lose weight just because it is very low in calories. However, many studies have shown that almost any type of diet that restricts calories can reduce weight.
Although consuming 2–5 kilograms (0.9–2.3 pounds) of potatoes every day seems like a lot, the number of calories you get is only around 530–1,300 calories. This amount is much less than the average daily intake of adults.
Interestingly, potatoes contain proteinase inhibitor 2 compounds that help reduce hunger by slowing down digestion. Launching from Healthline, one study found that mice treated with this potato compound consumed significantly less food and lost more weight compared to mice that were not treated. However, this effect has not been studied in humans.
While the potato diet may be effective for weight loss in the short term, it’s not a long-term solution. Potatoes do contain a lot of nutrients, but they don’t contain all the nutrients you need for optimal health. In addition, very low-calorie diets have been shown to slow down metabolism and reduce muscle mass.
Healthline, Potato Diet Review: Does It Work for Weight Loss?
Origins Medicine, Potatoes for gut health and weight loss: The Potato Hack.