5

votes

How did I lose so much weight eating only potatoes?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created September 27, 2012 at 10:33 PM

OK, been paleo 2 years. 47/m/5'11/162lbs.

I've been eating roughly 1500-2000 calories a day for over a year and weight has been stable at 175lbs. I've been dying to lose 'the last 10" for a year. Frequent attempts with IF, calorie restriction, carb refeeds, keto, cyclic keto, all result in losing a few pounds, but I regain it within a week.

I tried a trick. Eat only potatoes for 10 days. No extras, just potatoes.

So, I got 25lbs of Yukon Golds and ate them every day. Each day I ate between 2 and 3 pounds of potatoes. Dry fried, boiled, baked, steamed. Only condiments were salt and vinegar.

I lost an average of 1 pound a day for 10 days. Immediately after, I resumed my normal paleo diet. Lost 2 more pounds in a week. Then regained a few and have settled at 162-165. A full 10 pound reset.

Daily caloric range for this 10 days was 1100-1500. Macro breakdown was Carbs - 220g, Fat - 25g, Protein - 20g. CICO says I should have lost 2-4lbs max. I lost 10 and I've heard this holds true if you need to lose 200 pounds or 10 pounds.

I can't insert my nutrient breakdown, but put 2.5lbs of potatoes in a nutrient calculator like FitDay.com and you will be surprised how balanced it is. Lacking in some areas, but 10 days in nothing compared to a lifetime of SAD eating.

My thought is that 2 years of fairly low carb made me an exceptional fatburner and 10 days with zero fat or protein other than the small amount in the taters made my body burn it's own fat like a madman.

61a27a8b7ec2264b1821923b271eaf54

(3175)

on October 02, 2012
at 10:23 PM

I felt like giving up at day 2 also, but kept going. Experiment with vinegar, raw onion, and different spices. Also try different cooking methods like browing in a skillet or baking. Boiled is the worst for palatability in my opinion.

B4e1fa6a8cf43d2b69d97a99dfca262c

(10255)

on October 02, 2012
at 01:04 AM

wow akman...i decided to give this a try and didn't make it to the end of day 2...i feel so ill! how did you stomache it???

Medium avatar

(19469)

on September 29, 2012
at 10:51 PM

If the potatoes were cooled after cooking, the percentage of resistant starch (indigestible starch granules that are fermented into fatty acids in the colon) could have factored into this... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resistant_starch

0d7be15fd1a76c7a713b0e2e75381e75

(307)

on September 29, 2012
at 08:38 PM

Also curious about this. And did you experience any noticeable GI problems/lack of GI problems?

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on September 29, 2012
at 12:03 AM

Ewww. No......

00c8eb3f6e6a1884216044ca29cf868a

on September 28, 2012
at 10:08 PM

This has nothing to do with Stephan, Alec. (Whose articles on white potatoes I mostly agree with, by the way: they're very nutritious for a starch source, and I eat them myself.) +++ Sensory-specific satiety is a well-researched phenomenon: pubmed returns over 100 results. I don't like to invoke new hypotheses (or special properties of the potato) when established science appears to explain observed phenomena.

F9638b939a6f85d67f60065677193cad

(4266)

on September 28, 2012
at 04:52 PM

I calculated only 1185 calories, but yeah, eating so few calories you are going to lose weight.

61a27a8b7ec2264b1821923b271eaf54

(3175)

on September 28, 2012
at 04:18 PM

Oh, sorry - I thought you meant retry the experiment but use chicken breast in place of potatoes.

9c4ba98a3b480408bcf207f558fe659b

(355)

on September 28, 2012
at 11:35 AM

Your attempts to discredit Stephan's theories are becoming boring Mr. Stanton.

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on September 28, 2012
at 07:43 AM

How bout pectin, raffinose, cellulose, chitin, gallactomannan, gluten, or lignin?

0a9ad4e577fe24a6b8aafa1dd7a50c79

(5150)

on September 28, 2012
at 05:09 AM

I don't care. The point still stands that Starch and Fructans are the hardest things for humans to digest, short of consuming a completely indigestible poison.

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on September 28, 2012
at 05:00 AM

If starchy carbs were not a readily useable source of energy, they would not have been staple to virtually every single culture's (primitive or not) diet.

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on September 28, 2012
at 04:42 AM

The thermic affect of protein is far, far greater than that of potatoes. Potatoes are possibly the most digestible natural food source we have. They would not provide such efficient glycogen replenishment if they went undigested, and neither would they be "bad for diabetics."

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on September 28, 2012
at 04:37 AM

Not quite sure what you are talking about. I don't think adding a chicken breast a day to an all potato diet is particularly controversial but whatever.

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on September 28, 2012
at 04:31 AM

@ J. stanton- you are underestimating the protein sparing effect of carbohydrates.

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on September 28, 2012
at 04:30 AM

J. Stanton- carbs are protein sparing, which means you need less protein to burn muscle. And if he was eating glucose, his body is not going to be breaking down muscle/organ protein to get...it got it from the potatoes.

61a27a8b7ec2264b1821923b271eaf54

(3175)

on September 28, 2012
at 04:28 AM

You'd have to use 1.5lbs of chicken breast roughly to get same calories! Try it, then try potatoes and write about it here.

61a27a8b7ec2264b1821923b271eaf54

(3175)

on September 28, 2012
at 04:25 AM

My prediction at start was huge water weight gain and I would quit after 2 days. On day 2 I was 2lbs down so I kept going. BMs were very consistent but I got pretty gassy.

61a27a8b7ec2264b1821923b271eaf54

(3175)

on September 28, 2012
at 04:23 AM

It works. I used FitDay the whole time. Some days I ate 4 potatoes, some days 6. More at start, your hunger disappears after a few days. Potatoes weighed about .5 lbs each. It was really between 1000-1500. 4 potatoes = 973 kcal, 6 = 1406 kcal

61a27a8b7ec2264b1821923b271eaf54

(3175)

on September 28, 2012
at 04:16 AM

I normally lift heavy 3x week, walk 60 min/day, and run 2mi/week. During this period, I did 30 pullups/day, ran 2 miles in 15 min, and walked 60 min every day. Energy at end was as good as beginning. I think I lost all fat.

61a27a8b7ec2264b1821923b271eaf54

(3175)

on September 28, 2012
at 04:13 AM

I checked out your link...I'll be darned! http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2010/12/interview-with-chris-voigt-of-20.html imagine if this guy started with a paleo background. Also, he used canola oil--I used none!

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on September 28, 2012
at 03:25 AM

Evidence? I'm not being a jerk but "active" could be a runner or hiker . Also 165 isn't a lot of mass, what do you really need for pure maintenance? It sure isn't 1gm/lb...

00c8eb3f6e6a1884216044ca29cf868a

on September 28, 2012
at 02:42 AM

The weight loss had to come from somewhere. A loss of water weight is very unlikely, because of the high starch content. Loss of fecal weight is also very unlikely. Therefore, the remaining choices are loss of lean mass (including organs as well as muscles) and loss of fat mass. +++ 20g of protein/day isn't enough to maintain lean mass for an active 165# male: therefore, lean mass loss most likely contributed to some degree.

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on September 28, 2012
at 12:40 AM

He may not have lost lean mass. Read up on wholehealthsoure.blogspot.com all about the awesomeness that is the potato diet.

742ff8ba4ff55e84593ede14ac1c3cab

(3536)

on September 27, 2012
at 11:40 PM

...because you ate only 1500 calories? It doesn't really matter whether it is high carb or high fat, if you eat less calories than you burn you will lose weight.

Medium avatar

(3213)

on September 27, 2012
at 10:45 PM

The answer is NO

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7 Answers

9
00c8eb3f6e6a1884216044ca29cf868a

on September 27, 2012
at 11:10 PM

"CICO says I should have lost 2-4lbs max. I lost 10 and I've heard this holds true if you need to lose 200 pounds or 10 pounds."

At only 20g of protein/day, you probably lost lean mass along with the fat.

There's a well-known effect called "sensory-specific satiety". It has nothing to do with "food reward" or "set points": what it means is that no matter how much you like a food, the more you eat, the less you want any more of it. (I talk about it briefly in this article.)

One can probably lose quite a bit of weight by picking any single semi-reasonable whole food and eating only that single food for some period of time.

JS

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on September 28, 2012
at 12:40 AM

He may not have lost lean mass. Read up on wholehealthsoure.blogspot.com all about the awesomeness that is the potato diet.

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on September 28, 2012
at 04:31 AM

@ J. stanton- you are underestimating the protein sparing effect of carbohydrates.

61a27a8b7ec2264b1821923b271eaf54

(3175)

on September 28, 2012
at 04:16 AM

I normally lift heavy 3x week, walk 60 min/day, and run 2mi/week. During this period, I did 30 pullups/day, ran 2 miles in 15 min, and walked 60 min every day. Energy at end was as good as beginning. I think I lost all fat.

00c8eb3f6e6a1884216044ca29cf868a

on September 28, 2012
at 02:42 AM

The weight loss had to come from somewhere. A loss of water weight is very unlikely, because of the high starch content. Loss of fecal weight is also very unlikely. Therefore, the remaining choices are loss of lean mass (including organs as well as muscles) and loss of fat mass. +++ 20g of protein/day isn't enough to maintain lean mass for an active 165# male: therefore, lean mass loss most likely contributed to some degree.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on September 28, 2012
at 03:25 AM

Evidence? I'm not being a jerk but "active" could be a runner or hiker . Also 165 isn't a lot of mass, what do you really need for pure maintenance? It sure isn't 1gm/lb...

00c8eb3f6e6a1884216044ca29cf868a

on September 28, 2012
at 10:08 PM

This has nothing to do with Stephan, Alec. (Whose articles on white potatoes I mostly agree with, by the way: they're very nutritious for a starch source, and I eat them myself.) +++ Sensory-specific satiety is a well-researched phenomenon: pubmed returns over 100 results. I don't like to invoke new hypotheses (or special properties of the potato) when established science appears to explain observed phenomena.

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on September 28, 2012
at 04:30 AM

J. Stanton- carbs are protein sparing, which means you need less protein to burn muscle. And if he was eating glucose, his body is not going to be breaking down muscle/organ protein to get...it got it from the potatoes.

9c4ba98a3b480408bcf207f558fe659b

(355)

on September 28, 2012
at 11:35 AM

Your attempts to discredit Stephan's theories are becoming boring Mr. Stanton.

7
1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

on September 27, 2012
at 10:40 PM

That is great to hear.

  1. the reason you lost weight is because you ate fewer calories than you burned.
  2. the reason you lost fat is because when you do not consume large amounts of exogenous fat (as many paleo folks tend to do), your body actually gets the opportunity to burn its own endogenous fat stores for energy (this is a true fat burner...when one can tap into reserves and does not need to add spoons of butter to coffee).
  3. the reason you did not rebound is because (a) you probably reduced set point by drastically reducing food reward and (b) because your body did not really on ketones for fuel, but on fat (and carbs). Burning ketones is not burning fat...it is burning ketones, which is burning fat inefficiently (in order to conserve body fat because the famine has come...this is how your brain thinks).

Great work.

61a27a8b7ec2264b1821923b271eaf54

(3175)

on September 28, 2012
at 04:25 AM

My prediction at start was huge water weight gain and I would quit after 2 days. On day 2 I was 2lbs down so I kept going. BMs were very consistent but I got pretty gassy.

61a27a8b7ec2264b1821923b271eaf54

(3175)

on September 28, 2012
at 04:13 AM

I checked out your link...I'll be darned! http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2010/12/interview-with-chris-voigt-of-20.html imagine if this guy started with a paleo background. Also, he used canola oil--I used none!

2
B4e1fa6a8cf43d2b69d97a99dfca262c

(10255)

on September 29, 2012
at 07:28 PM

i looked at the numbers on fitday and i wonder about animal source vit A, the total lack of B12 and the shortfall in minerals? did you suppliment any of these?

0d7be15fd1a76c7a713b0e2e75381e75

(307)

on September 29, 2012
at 08:38 PM

Also curious about this. And did you experience any noticeable GI problems/lack of GI problems?

1
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on September 28, 2012
at 03:22 AM

The math doesn't fit. 4lbs of potatoes, according to fitday, is 1,615kcal and 42gm of Protein.

If you were eating 2-3 pounds you were eating a lot less.

Also, at least in the short term I don't think you'd have significant muscle loss from 20-40gm of protein per day. Now if you were a big, muscley guy and you did this for a year I think you'd lose a bunch of muscle but not in a few weeks.

Might be worth repeating with a single chicken breast and see if you have the same results. Maybe I'll do that.

61a27a8b7ec2264b1821923b271eaf54

(3175)

on September 28, 2012
at 04:23 AM

It works. I used FitDay the whole time. Some days I ate 4 potatoes, some days 6. More at start, your hunger disappears after a few days. Potatoes weighed about .5 lbs each. It was really between 1000-1500. 4 potatoes = 973 kcal, 6 = 1406 kcal

61a27a8b7ec2264b1821923b271eaf54

(3175)

on September 28, 2012
at 04:18 PM

Oh, sorry - I thought you meant retry the experiment but use chicken breast in place of potatoes.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on September 28, 2012
at 04:37 AM

Not quite sure what you are talking about. I don't think adding a chicken breast a day to an all potato diet is particularly controversial but whatever.

61a27a8b7ec2264b1821923b271eaf54

(3175)

on September 28, 2012
at 04:28 AM

You'd have to use 1.5lbs of chicken breast roughly to get same calories! Try it, then try potatoes and write about it here.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on September 29, 2012
at 12:03 AM

Ewww. No......

1
0df0b1c6ae16bbb75b4a5efa3d876765

(2240)

on September 28, 2012
at 02:27 AM

As far as an answer to your question, I agree with J. Stanton.

However...a friendly word of caution.

Be careful eating large quantities of potatoes, especially if any of them are green beneath the skin. My gf and I got sick two months ago from an old bag of organic potatoes. Full body aches, abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, and mental fogginess were some of the symptoms we both experienced, though mine were much more pronounced. I just thought I had caught a bug that even my new and improved "paleo immune system" couldn't shake. I was also kind of feeling a bit crazy in the head, which I know sounds funny (my gf would probably make a crack about how that's not any different than usual).

As it turns out, solanine is very poisonous and can build up in your tissues over time the more you eat foods that contain it. Here is some more detailed reading on the subject that goes into toxicity levels and such, but all potatoes have a certain concentration of solanine in them, it's just a matter of how far along they are and how much. If they are older, the flesh underneath the skin will appear green when you peel them, which is how the ones we ate looked.

Stupid me didn't know any better, but when I noticed one tasted really bitter one night I finally decided to look it up on the internet. Unfortunately, we had already eaten most of the bag in a couple of crock pot stews throughout the week, which had been masking the bitter flavor.

Well, the experience led me to do a nightshade elimination. At the six-week mark we bought a bag of fresh Yukons and made mashed potatoes, of which I had a big heaping pile with dinner. I absolutely did not sleep that night, the mental foggy feeling came back and I was sore and achy for a few days after eating them again, almost like I had the flu. Long story short? I no longer eat nightshades.

So...I would say be careful eating LOTS of any particular food, but with potatoes and nightshades in particular, watch out for the stuff in there that wants to keep that thing from being eaten!

0
0a9ad4e577fe24a6b8aafa1dd7a50c79

on September 28, 2012
at 04:28 AM

Starch is the hardest thing to digest next to Fructans (onions, garlic, certain beans.)

You probably created an even greater calorie deficit by eating only starch, because of the amount of energy your body has to expend to digest it.

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on September 28, 2012
at 04:42 AM

The thermic affect of protein is far, far greater than that of potatoes. Potatoes are possibly the most digestible natural food source we have. They would not provide such efficient glycogen replenishment if they went undigested, and neither would they be "bad for diabetics."

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on September 28, 2012
at 07:43 AM

How bout pectin, raffinose, cellulose, chitin, gallactomannan, gluten, or lignin?

0a9ad4e577fe24a6b8aafa1dd7a50c79

(5150)

on September 28, 2012
at 05:09 AM

I don't care. The point still stands that Starch and Fructans are the hardest things for humans to digest, short of consuming a completely indigestible poison.

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on September 28, 2012
at 05:00 AM

If starchy carbs were not a readily useable source of energy, they would not have been staple to virtually every single culture's (primitive or not) diet.

Medium avatar

(19469)

on September 29, 2012
at 10:51 PM

If the potatoes were cooled after cooking, the percentage of resistant starch (indigestible starch granules that are fermented into fatty acids in the colon) could have factored into this... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resistant_starch

0
Medium avatar

(2338)

on September 27, 2012
at 10:44 PM

i've noticed this too... before i went on low carb paleo i couldn't get away with eating a lot of crap (even though i did i just didn't know it was crap). now as long as its not gluten my body just mows through whatever i give it. lately i've been eating a in a very refined eating period. i would say less than 5 hours so i usually have a light meal and a huge meal. if i work out a little meal before that and then feast after.typically i eat my huge meal around 8 o'clock and make it through til the next day around 3 o'clock ish. my meals are definitely what you would consider high carb but all macros are high at this meal. i just give my body all the nutrition it needs and it seems to know how to make it through the next day with no issues of hunger of sugar swings. i even eat a lot of treats like maple syrup candy, real chocolate chips with potatoes and egg yolks maybe some honey and cinnamon (paleo cookie dough). i think because my body only gets exposed to food once a day it knows that it needs to make the most out of all the food it gets.

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