In a world of fad diets designed to support weight loss, heal, detox, and restore the body, we’ve seen the ever-trendy keto diet, the carnivore diet, the military diet, and the Mediterranean diet, just to name a few.
But now there’s something called the “Potato Hack Diet” that’s supposedly helping people lose weight fast and improve certain health conditions through eating literally only cooked and cooled unseasoned potatoes, which have something called “resistant starches.”
Unlike most other starches in food sources that are easily digested, resistant starches pass through your digestive tract unchanged and act similar to soluble fiber and keep you full, feed your good gut bacteria, and encourage weight loss.
The Potato Hack was popularized by Tim Steele with his book The Potato Hack: Weight Loss Simplified, and is based on a diet plan from way back in 1849 that was meant to treat “dyspepsia” (aka indigestion) and help shed excess weight.
Joe Rogan even talked about the spuds-centric diet on his podcast, with functional medicine practitioner Chris Kresser:
The potato diet is said to be beneficial for those who have chronic digestive issues, inflammatory problems and disorders, blood sugar imbalances, those who have been following the keto or other low carb diet for a long time, and those who have plateaued on their current weight loss diet and need a boost.
The reason the suddenly-chic diet is effective for weight loss is partly because it’s hard to remain appetized by plain cooked potatoes so it’s basically impossible to overeat.
Kresser explains that seasoned and delicious foods offer our brains a reward each time we eat them, but when you take away anything that adds flavor like butter, sour cream, chives, etc., it’s not fun to eat. Therefore, you only eat when you’re hungry and only enough to curb your hunger.
Aside from weight loss, the diet is apparently very healthy for the guy microbiome and encourages the good type of bacteria in the digestive tract while discouraging the harmful type.
Furthermore, since the resistant starch passes through the digestive tract with minimal digestion, it doesn’t cause spikes in blood sugar.
Here’s a simple outline of the diet as explained by Origins Medicine:
1. Plan on eating just potatoes for 3-5 days.
2. Eat 2-5 pounds of potatoes each day.
3. No other foods allowed (this includes butter, sour cream, cheese, and bacon bits).
4. Salt is allowed, but not encouraged.
5. Drink when thirsty: coffee, tea, and water only.
6. Heavy exercise is discouraged; light exercise and walking are encouraged.
7. Take your normal medications
According to those who have tried the diet, you can expect to see an almost-immediate improvement in health and a weight loss of about half a pound per day.
It’s important to note, though, that the diet isn’t meant to be followed long-term and is recommended for a few days at a time, or for two meals a day followed by a normal dinner as Kresser recommends.
However it’s best to take the potato diet with a grain of salt (no pun intended) since there isn’t concrete scientific evidence around it. It also offers little to no nutrients, so while it may be a quick way to drop weight and relieve indigestion, it isn’t exactly the healthiest diet in the game, either.