Potato Diet

Chances are high that you have come across repeated news articles in recent months claiming the 'extraordinary' diet that has helped many famous and ordinary people lose over 100 pounds only with the help of one miracle food - potatoes. The potato diet is a fad diet that has been gaining immense popularity recently. This short-term diet promises you revolutionary weight loss. There are many variations of the potato diet that exist, but the most basic one claims to help you lose several pounds in a short time period by eating nothing except potatoes. 

Now everyone knows that potatoes are an excellent source of nutrients, but can it really help you shed so much weight?[1] And can you really survive by only eating potatoes? Let's take a closer look at this potato diet.

See: Sweet Potato & Diabetes

Are potatoes good or bad for you?

Potatoes: Good or Bad

There is no doubt that potatoes are a staple food in most diets. When prepared properly, potatoes are a great source of many nutrients. These include potassium, vitamin C, and dietary fiber.[2] This is why potatoes are considered to be an excellent addition to the dieting plan of those who want to lose weight.[3]

However, on the other side, many people also consider potatoes to be bad for your overall health and believe that having too many potatoes will lead to weight gain. It is also seen that having too many potatoes can lead to frequent fluctuations in your blood sugar levels and also cause other health complications.[4]

See: Autoimmune Paleo Diet or AIP Diet

What is the Potato Diet?

The potato diet, no doubt, comes across as a bizarre concept of weight loss. It is a popular diet that claims that eating only potatoes for three to five days can help you lose one pound or 0.45 kilograms each day. 

The potato diet concept is not new and has been around since 1849. It became popular again in 2016 when Tim Steele claimed that potatoes work like a miracle drug to help you lose weight. Steele also claimed that potatoes help boost the immune system, enhance gut health, and also provide a wide variety of nutrients to keep you feeling energetic while losing weight. You can read about his weight loss journey in his book, "The Potato Hack: Weight Loss Simplified."[5]

The popularity of the potato diet can be exemplified by the case of Penn Jillette, a famous magician who claims to have lost 18 pounds (8 kilos) during the first two weeks of just eating plain potatoes. He has also documented his weight loss journey with potatoes in the book "Presto! How I Made Over 100 Pounds Disappear."[6]

See: Hiatal Hernia Diet

How to Follow the Potato Diet?

The potato diet is relatively simple - all you need to do is eat potatoes only. Some people vary the rules slightly according to their own convenience. According to Tim Steele, there are seven basic rules to follow the potato diet. These include:

1. Only eat plain and cooked potatoes for three to five days.

2. You should eat 0.9-2.3 kgs (2-5 pounds) of potatoes every day.

3. Avoid eating any other foods. This also includes items such as sour cream, cheese, ketchup, and butter. 

4. It is best to avoid salt.

5. Only drink water, plain tea, or black coffee. 

6. Avoid doing any heavy exercises. You should only do walking or other light exercises. 

7. Continue taking your regular medications. 

As per Tim Steele's book, you can only eat white potatoes during the diet, but some people have varied this rule to include sweet potatoes as well. For example, another more lenient version of the potato diet known as the Spud Fit Challenge[7] allows you to have sweet potatoes.[8] 

Remember that the cooking method of potatoes is essential to the diet. Overly processed or fried potatoes are not allowed on the menu.[9] 

See: Low FODMAP Diet For Irritable Bowel Syndrome IBS Relief

Why would a mono-diet start weight loss?

Why would anyone pick a mono-diet?

It is a way to reduce calories and feel in control at the expense of nutrition. But while potatoes are full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, they're extremely low in protein. You're probably eating around 75 percent less protein than needed for good health. Such a low protein diet, even for a couple of weeks, can affect brain chemistry. The brain uses amino acids from protein in your diet for normal function. That two-week interval would be quite rough for the human body and mood for anybody who tried it. Studies show that if people eat the same food items and maintain a structure with an identical set of meals without plenty of variety, it appears to help restrain their appetite for excessive sugar, salt, and fats found in high-calorie indulgent foods.

See: Are bananas good for diabetics

Does the Potato Diet really help you lose weight?

Does it work?

As mentioned above, there are no studies that have been done specifically on the effectiveness of the potato diet. However, potatoes may help you lose weight because they are very low in calories. Certain studies have found that any diet that limits your calorie intake will ultimately lead to weight loss. But, you will need to follow the dieting rules strictly. 

In 2011, a research study looked at the effectiveness of following an intermittent calorie restriction diet plan versus a daily calorie restriction plan and which ones were more effective for weight loss.10 The study found that both types of dieting helped with weight loss, but was unable to prove whether anyone method of calorie restriction was better than the other one. 

Another older study from 1994 found that not only did calorie restriction help people lose weight, but it also proved to be a significant factor in bringing about improvements in blood sugar control and also improved insulin sensitivity in people with non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellutis.11

Additionally, a comparison of several popular diet programs carried out in 2014 showed that the popular diet plans of today that promise weight loss due to calorie restriction are actually far more effective than the ones that only follow particular eating plan.12

Another factor that may help you lose weight while being on the potato diet is that potatoes are rich in a compound known as proteinase inhibitor II (PI2). This PI2 is known to reduce your appetite by slowing down the digestion process.[13] A 2016 animal study done on obese mice found that an extract of proteinase inhibitor II from standard potatoes helped decrease the body weight, food consumption, and epididymal fat levels in obese mice.[14] While the study proved that proteinase inhibitor II from potatoes was a useful weight loss compound in obese animals, human studies are yet to be undertaken.

See: Keto diet benefits for weight loss, diabetes & PCOS

Is the Potato Diet Safe?

 One thing to remember while following the potato diet is that it is a highly restrictive diet. Surviving only on potatoes makes it very difficult to stick to the diet plan. What's more, such type of strict dieting can cause a person to develop an unhealthy association with food.  Restrictive dieting may help you lose weight, but it is also considered to be a type of disordered eating that can cause other potentially unhealthy eating behaviors, including binge eating. If you want to go ahead with the potato diet, then it is best to first take the advice of your doctor and understand whether you are healthy enough to sustain a diet of only potatoes for 3 to 5 days.

See: Ayurvedic Diet


1. Kolasa, K.M., 1993. The potato and human nutrition. American Potato Journal, 70(5), pp.375-384.

2. McGill, C.R., Kurilich, A.C. and Davignon, J., 2013. The role of potatoes and potato components in cardiometabolic health: a review. Annals of medicine, 45(7), pp.467-473. 

3. Navarre, D.A., Goyer, A. and Shakya, R., 2009. Nutritional value of potatoes: vitamin, phytonutrient, and mineral content. In Advances in potato chemistry and technology (pp. 395-424). Academic Press.

4. Fernandes, G., Velangi, A. and Wolever, T.M., 2005. Glycemic index of potatoes commonly consumed in North America. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 105(4), pp.557-562.

5. Petraru, A., 2018. The Potato Hack: Weight Loss Simplified. PublishDrive.

6. Amazon.com. (2020). [online] Available at: https://www.amazon.com/Presto-Pounds-Disappear-Other-Magical/dp/1501139525 [Accessed 12 Feb. 2020].

7. Spudfit.com. (2020). Food Addiction Coaching and Rapid Weight Loss. [online] Available at: https://spudfit.com/spud-fit-challenge-membership/ [Accessed 12 Feb. 2020].

8. Padmaja, G., Sheriff, J.T. and Sajeev, M.S., 2012. Food uses and nutritional benefits of sweet potato. Fruit, Vegetable and Cereal Science and Biotechnology, 6(1), pp.115-123.

9. Tanoue, K., Matsui, K. and Takamasu, T., 2012. Fried‐potato diet causes vitamin A deficiency in an autistic child. Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition, 36(6), pp.753-755.

10. Varady, K.A., 2011. Intermittent versus daily calorie restriction: which diet regimen is more effective for weight loss?. Obesity reviews, 12(7), pp.e593-e601.

11. Wing, R.R., Blair, E.H., Bononi, P., Marcus, M.D., Watanabe, R. and Bergman, R.N., 1994. Caloric restriction per se is a significant factor in improvements in glycemic control and insulin sensitivity during weight loss in obese NIDDM patients. Diabetes care, 17(1), pp.30-36.

12. Johnston, B.C., Kanters, S., Bandayrel, K., Wu, P., Naji, F., Siemieniuk, R.A., Ball, G.D., Busse, J.W., Thorlund, K., Guyatt, G. and Jansen, J.P., 2014. Comparison of weight loss among named diet programs in overweight and obese adults: a meta-analysis. Jama, 312(9), pp.923-933.

13. Hill, A.J., Peikin, S.R., Ryan, C.A. and Blundell, J.E., 1990. Oral administration of proteinase inhibitor II from potatoes reduces energy intake in man. Physiology & behavior, 48(2), pp.241-246.

14. Ku, S.K., Sung, S.H., Choung, J.J., Choi, J.S., Shin, Y.K. and Kim, J.W., 2016. Anti-obesity and anti-diabetic effects of a standardized potato extract in ob/ob mice. Experimental and therapeutic medicine, 12(1), pp.354-364.

See: How To Lower Blood Pressure Naturally

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