Potato Diet Week 2 – Brief Update

UPDATE: The Potato Hack Diet by Tim Steele is now for sale on Amazon. It will answer all your questions. I highly recommend this book if you are interested in learning more about the Potato Diet.

In week 1, I lost 3 pounds and 0.5 inch. In week 2, I lost 1.5 pounds and 0.25 inch.

Losing 4.5 pounds in two weeks without hunger is pretty cool. Before I head into week 3, I revisited The Potato Diet page to see if I could pick up a tip to guide me back to a weekly 3 pound loss.

7. Skipping breakfast encouraged, eat twice a day, minimal snacking

I’m haven’t being doing Intermittent Fasting (IF) the past two weeks. I covered in this post that I feel much better when I have carbs prior to coffee. And since I drink coffee in the morning, pure IF is not an option for me at this time.

¡Una papa en la mañana!

In week 3, I will cut back on my morning potatoes. I’ll have one prior to my first cup of coffee to combat stress hormones and prevent “the crash” I now feel when I have coffee on an empty stomach. One potato is the next best thing to zero potatoes.

I’ll keep you posted. And due to a social commitment, I moved the Week 3 Potato Diet up one day to SUNDAY, MONDAY, TUESDAY.


Photo by JaBB


Potato Diet Week 1 – Results and Observations

UPDATE: The Potato Hack Diet by Tim Steele is now for sale on Amazon. It will answer all your questions. I highly recommend this book if you are interested in learning more about the Potato Diet.

I had no plans to post my Week 1 results, but I wanted to share how thing are going on the Potato Diet. For a background to this post see The Potato Diet – My Plan to Lose 15-20 Pounds.

Last week I ate nothing but cold boiled potatoes on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Unlike my initial experiment, I decided not to weigh my intake. A big appeal to the Potato Diet is that you shouldn’t need to measure anything. It works by filling your belly with heavy low calorie potatoes. If should be very hard to eat to a caloric surplus. It should even be hard to eat to maintenance calories.

WEEK 1: -3 pounds and -0.5 inch (widest point) 🙂

My measurements were taken Sunday to Sunday. Weighing myself immediately after three days of potatoes heading into Thanksgiving wouldn’t have been a useful number if I used the regular food days to overeat. I am pleased with those numbers, but I hesitate to get excited because almost all diets start off strong. The real test will be seeing how it progresses in the next two months.


The three days I ate potatoes were highly productive. I got a lot of work done. I don’t think potatoes are magical. They might be, but I reasoned that not having to think about food and food preparation for three days freed my mind up to focus on other tasks. And as a result, I performed those tasks more efficiently.

So Cheap It is Silly

I discovered that Grocery Store Outlet sells a 3 pound bag of small potatoes for 99 cents. The idea of being able to feed yourself with real food for $1 a day in America is amazing. That is cheaper than when I ate street food in Thailand and Cambodia.

Most days I eat out for lunch. Add a cheap breakfast and a home cooked dinner and I’m looking at maybe spending $15 a day on food. Often less. If I buy 15 pounds of potatoes (that is the high estimate) a week for $5, then I’m actually pocketing $40 each and every week I am on a 3 day Potato Diet.

Many diets require an increase in spending. Special foods and supplements can be costly. The Potato Diet is so economical, I decided that even if it turns out to be unsuccessful, I might do it periodically just to pocket some extra money.


Photo by Renoir Gaither

Faster Satiety

One of the most interesting aspects to the Potato Diet is satiety is reached much quicker than when you eat normal food. When I eat a normal meal it takes so many minutes before I am full. It is a ritual that I have done thousands of times. Eating just potatoes disrupts that ritual.

Because potatoes are so filling, I started eating slower. I’ve always known eating slower was a good idea, but with the Potato Diet is more than a good idea. It you eat quickly or even normal fast, you might get a stomach ache. There were two times this happened to me. Now I am eating slower.

Exercise and Movement

My exercise did not change. I still did two weight training sessions at the gym. However, the amount of walking I normally do greatly declined. So my 3 pound weight loss was not impacted by changes to my activity. If anything, had I walked a normal amount last week, I might have lost more weight.

Eating Regular Food After 3 Days

I imagined myself eating a lot of food after 3 days of potatoes, but I didn’t. It was Thanksgiving Day and I never ate less food on that holiday. I also didn’t desire sweet foods. There is a big bowl of Halloween candy in our kitchen that I didn’t touch once. In the week after Halloween I was visiting the bowl a few times a day.

Another thing I noticed was I craved protein. More than normal. After 3 days of eating potatoes with just 5% protein, I wanted eggs, tuna and meat. This could be another pathway on why the diet works for many. It is well known that appetite is lower and calories drop when protein is increased. So my week was a cycle between two fat loss strategies. First consuming heavy low calorie potatoes to reach satiety easier and then following that up with higher protein to also increase satiety. And if you add in how the lack of taste lowered my desire to consume calorie dense foods, you have the 3 of the main dietary paths to successful fat loss as outlined in Ari Whitten’s excellent book Forever Fat Loss.

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 am not an expert on the Potato Diet, but I will do my best to address some of the questions I’ve received in comments and elsewhere.

Q: Why are spices not allowed?

A: If one can’t eat potatoes to caloric excess it shouldn’t matter if salt or other spices are added. Adding salt is not suddenly going to make me eat an extra pound of potatoes. I suspect the benefit of not adding spices is not about restricting the amount of potatoes you consume, but your relationship with regular food. When I deprived my tongue of flavor for three days, I wanted foods with simple flavors. Eggs, fruit, baked chicken and other basic foods all tasted wonderful. Better than they did prior to depriving myself of spices for three days. Basic foods have an edge over modern foods in that we tend not to eat them to excess.

If you absolutely must have spices or you aren’t going to attempt the diet, then I say add the spices, but you won’t be getting all the benefits and **my guess** is you might be more likely to eat foods with richer flavors that are more calorie dense on the non-potato days.

Q: Why is this diet not recommended for those who eat every several hours?

On Vegetable Pharm, there is a detailed explanation. Search for the phrase “Not recommended for people who eat every 2-3 hours”. This is a warning for people that have known blood sugar issues or eating disorders to do their own research and get doctor clearance before doing the diet. For healthy people that eat every 2-3 hours (Zone Dieters), I think the Potato Diet might be a good tool to relearn what satiety feels like. Eating 5-6 small meals a day without getting full makes me more and more hungry. The potato is a good teacher. I snack less because I’m more full from the prior meal and I know I’m not getting a distracting novel flavor.

Q: Is there a difference between starchy and waxy potatoes?

A: I could not find an answer to this one. I suspect not. The calorie density per gram does not appear to vary much. If there is a difference, I suspect it is minor.

Last Words

I want to say that I still drink black coffee and espresso. Having carbs with my coffee makes me feel better. I’m far less likely to get jittery or crash. When I did Intermittent Fasting I often felt awful after drinking coffee. Not at first, but over time. This is a big reason I picked the Potato Diet over IF, even though I got results with IF years ago.


The Potato Diet – My Plan to Lose 15-20 Pounds

UPDATE: The Potato Hack Diet by Tim Steele is now for sale on Amazon. It will answer all your questions. I highly recommend this book if you are interested in learning more about the Potato Diet.

Earlier this month I posted No Hunger Games – A Day of Just Boiled Potatoes. It was a trial run of two days of eating just cold boiled potatoes. That post goes into why it is easy to go into a calorie deficit without feeling hungry if one just eats potatoes. The Potato Diet guide on Vegetable Pharm is the comprehensive guide. If you have any questions, they are likely answered there.

The two day test showed me a few things:

  1. That I could eat to satiety in a caloric deficit. No hunger.
  2. That I could sleep throughout the night and not wake up hungry.
  3. With my current coffee consumption, I found I felt much better throughout the day than I currently do when I intermittent fast. If I were not a coffee drinker, I might prefer IF, but ditching coffee as we head into a Seattle winter is not an option.

Shortly after the two day experiment, I planned to start The Potato Diet, but I caught a minor cold and then had to travel out of state for a week. Well, now I am back and feeling great. I’m ready to do my first major food experiment in a very long time. Here is my plan.

  • GOAL: Lose 15-20 pounds
  • POTATO DIET: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday every week.
  • EXERCISE: Sunday, Thursday

Continue with 3x a week until goal is met and then scale to a maintenance plan. Discontinue or scale back if I experience excessive lethargy or coldness. If after a month I fail to see at least a 5# lose, I will reassess.


I will be boiling white potatoes and consuming them cold. No salt, spices or anything. If the diet is successful and I use the Potato Diet as a maintenance tool, I might add salt or spices at that time.

Today is Day 1. I don’t plan on doing weekly updates. Maybe 1-2 updates a month. Some of you will want to know why I have picked this diet over other strategies. The short answer is I do better on simple rule diets that require minimal planning. The long answer will be the topic of a future post.


Eating for Volume to Lose Weight

I recently saw a neat graphic on Precision Nutrition.


From the article Here’s why you’re always hungry.

The article goes into why we reach satiety quicker when the volume of food in the stomach is greater. This is obvious, but I like the simplicty of how this framed. A simple image that demonstrates how at the same level of calories we can be more or less hungry. This ties in with food reward, as the modern foods that are engineered for us to eat past satiety take up little volume in the stomach. One example would be corn. 400 calories of corn chips takes up much less space in the stomach than 400 calories of corn or my favorite hominy.


Hominy by Geoff Lane

When looking at a menu or inside your kitchen for your next meal, consider picking lower calorie higher volume foods. In addition to the food choice we make this information can also help us with the timing of how we eat our meals if our goal is to lose weight. The obvious is to eat the salad first and the ice cream last, but as you scan your environment you can use this idea to make better decisions.

Because the higher volume foods tend to be more nutritious, Precision Nutrition calls the volume approach positive dietary displacement.

…when someone eats enough nutritious food each day, leaving little or no room for the non-nutritious foods.

In other words, the nutrient needs are met at a lower level of calories. The article also says:

Humans usually eat about 3-4 pounds of food per day. If we add in enough healthy foods, we won’t have much room left for unhealthy foods. We can use this to our advantage.

By picking higher volume food we can create caloric deficits with less or no hunger. No need to count calories or weigh your food. Pass the boiled potatoes!


Embracing Food Reward

I mentioned at the end of the post Food Reward and Old School Bodybuilders that I would be testing the food reward theory for myself. There are several bloggers that get hung up on the definition of food reward. To me is simply that we tend to gain weight more easily on the foods that are easy to eat past satiety. Those foods tend to be processed and are often designed by food engineers. It is not a theory to explain all obesity, but one part of the puzzle.

My goal is to see if I can lose 10-15 pounds without feeling hungry. The last time I lost weight, I was stacking different strategies, including lower carbs, intermittent fasting, cold exposure and cooking more food at home. Eating foods cooked at home lowered my food reward, but how important of a factor did it play? I aim to find out.

I will not be lowering my carbs. In fact I plan to eat a lot of potatoes cooked plainly. I will also be pressuring cooking legumes. Sorry Paleo, but you are wrong about legumes (see #3). There will be no cold exposure and although I will be reducing my eating window, I do not plan to fast at the levels I did during my prior weight loss. Exercise levels will remain the same, which is two brief moderately intense machine based workouts a week plus walking.

Unlike the last time, I will be monitoring my sleep quality and body temperature. If either decline, I will add back in higher food reward items. This strategy worked for me before.

The biggest reason I am now embracing food reward is that it pretty much overlaps with so many other weight loss theories, so even if it is wrong, it won’t be too wrong. You know I like to hedge.

My Food Reward Fat Loss Plan

Here are the steps I plan to take. Some of the ideas I got from the comprehensive list on Food Reward: a Dominant Factor in Obesity, Part VII.

  1. Stop eating tortilla chips. Chips are everywhere in California. In Seattle, I was always in Vietnamese restaurants, so I never had them. Here Mexican restaurants rule. I love the chips. I love them too much. ¡No Más!
  2. Consume very few liquid calories.
  3. I do not plan to give up ice cream in Phase 1, even though it is considered high food reward. However, a few weeks ago I decided to only consume a plain vanilla ice cream. By removing the novelty and complexity of new flavors this has already helped me reduce my consumption. Phase 2 which I just began experimenting with restricts ice cream to exercise and travel days.
  4. Reduce snacking on non-exercise days.
  5. Eat more potatoes, legumes and veggies.
  6. Reduce the number of foods consumed when given many options. From the Whole Health Source article “Pick three foods, and eat nothing else.”
  7. Focus on making the most improvements on the pre-dinner meals. I eat pretty good already, so I don’t need to radically change anything. All I should have to do is make some adjustments to my pre-dinner meals.

Is there anything you would add?

Question on The Shangri-La Diet

I might also experiment with the idea of flavorless calories from the book The Shangri-La Diet.

At least an hour before one of your meals, consume unflavored sugar water and/or Extra Light Olive Oil. Both of these foods are flavorless and provide calories.

The one thing I am not clear about is if the hour before and hour after blocks are just calorie free or all flavor free. I gave my book away, so I can’t look this up. I ask this question because I have my last coffee between 2 PM and 3 PM. The coffee has no calories, but a strong flavor signal. Does anyone know if it is the absense of calories or the absence of flavor signals that makes this technique work?


Photo by Brian Hoffman