If you are on a weight loss plan, carbs are the first things that get removed from your diet. What would happen if you only lived off spuds?
You wouldn’t expect potatoes to be included in any diet, as they are probably one of the first carbs to be removed from your shopping list. But a new trend is coming to town: eating only potatoes to lose weight. We wonder if it really works and, if so, is it healthy? Let’s see!
The potato diet explained
The potato diet is basically eating nothing but potatoes for days, weeks and sometimes even months. The most popular version of this diet is the crash diet explained in Tim Steele’s book “The Potato Hack: Weight Loss Simplified.” The book claims that if you only eat cooked white potatoes –the only thing you can add is salt, but it’s not recommended– for three to five days you could lose up to one pound or 0.45 kg a day.
The general rules
- Some potato diets include other types of potatoes such as sweet potatoes, others only allow white potatoes.
- Spices and herbs, sauces and oil are completely banned in some, while others are more flexible and allow you to include some and even vegetable milks.
- The limitations vary a lot regarding the cooking method, some won’t allow peeling the potatoes, boiling or baking, and some others even allow the potatoes to be sautéed and roasted. It is not possible, of course, to include chips and fries.
- Water, coffee and tea are usually the only beverages allowed –cow’s milk is out of the question and of course no sugar can be added.
The truth revealed: is it worth trying the potato diet?
You will lose weight in the beginning, essentially because it is very low in calories. On average a skin-on potato has around 110 calories, and 10 potatoes a day, which means that your calorie intake in a day would be around 1,100 –while the average intake is 2,000 for women and 2,500 for men. The other contributing factor is that a person eating only potatoes is likely to get tired of them and end up eating even less. Plain potatoes are almost impossible to overeat as your brain won’t get the reward response flavorful foods to have.
Are there any benefits to the potato diet?
From the nutritional point of view, the truth is that potatoes do have a lot of nutrients and a medium-sized potato contains antioxidants, folate, niacin, phosphorus, manganese and makes up more than a quarter of your daily intake of potassium, vitamin C and B6. As they are high in fiber, they make you feel fuller for longer and controls your blood sugar levels. From the convenience point of view, potatoes are inexpensive and last fresh longer than other vegetables. The potato diet is very simple and you don’t need to learn numerous rules and makes you more aware of the reason why you are overeating –either out of boredom or because you are anxious.
What are the risks?
While there are some benefits to eating potatoes, eating only potatoes can cause damage to your health. Besides, restrictive diets can lead to an unhealthy relationship with food and it lacks certain important nutrients. If you only ate potatoes your body would lack the necessary intake of vitamin B12 and A, calcium and zinc and proteins –paramount to muscle building and making hormones.
Eating fewer calories and less protein may result in losing a lot of muscle weight, and muscle tissue is more metabolically active and you will slow down your metabolism and decrease your daily calorie burn. Long-term research has shown that 90% of those who tried it have gained the weight they had lost.
The bottom line is that to maintain a healthy, sustainable weight it is necessary to balance vegetables, protein sources, healthy fat and carbs.
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