Summer 2017 Potato Hack…Post Script

I finished up the last of my potatoes on Friday at lunch, then went on to a weekend of frivolity. My first “real meal” was a 10oz prime rib with baby Yukon gold potatoes.  They were delicious (but a bit oily). I never get tired of spuds!

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I ate “normally,” if there is such a thing, for the last 3 days. This morning, I was down 4 pounds from my pre-hack weight. While this may not seem like a monumental achievement, for people that are trying to lose lots of weight, 4 pounds is a great milestone. For me, using periodic potato hacks keeps me at my preferred weight year-round. The last time I’d done any potato hacking was last September when I did a full 30 days to show support for Andrew Taylor’s “Spudfit Challenge.”

Things I hear…

I heard from a lot of people last week!  One thing that stood out, people have a hard time sticking to an all-potato diet.  Did you read Critical MAS’ Five Stages of (Potato Hack) Grief blog post?  Spot-on.

For first-timers especially, adhering to the potato hack’s “potatoes-only” rule seems insurmountable. Usually it’s the result of poor planning and the realization that a potato snack takes 20 minutes whereas M&Ms are immediate, and so, so good. If this describes you, then take a moment to reflect on why this might be. We’ve become so accustomed to everything “on-demand” that we lose patients when we are hungry. Plus, our houses are usually well-stocked with junk-food making it oh-so easy to grab a snack any time we please.

While potato hacking, it’s best to stick with potatoes. However, I’d say that you could get away with eating some fruit or vegetables, or even some very lean meat. One thing that will ruin the potato hack’s effects is to eat fatty foods during your potato diet. Stay away from nuts, avocados, fatty meat, oils, etc… A big part of the fast weight loss is due to the complete lack of dietary fat.

Starting with Denise Minger’s In Defense of Low Fat series a couple years ago, a resurgence of low-fat eating strategies have appeared on the scene.  Rusty Moore recently wrote Do Carbs Make You Fat? I think it should be clear by now that “carbs” are not the enemy, but eating carbs and fat together is a recipe for gaining weight.

So, if you are gonna cheat during the potato hack…cheat with carbs, not fat!

Another thing I learned…

I was surprised by the number of people who were trying valiantly to make the potato hack work, but had never read the book.  It’s always obvious to me when people start asking certain questions that they have not read the book, otherwise they’d know the answers.

I get it that people are sick and tired of chasing diets only to find they wasted another $20 on a book or a product that gets thrown away. Many of the people I met the last couple weeks were from the Facebook world, and not regular readers of my blogs, so I can understand.

In conclusion

Whether you are just trying to keep your weight in-check or trying to lose 100’s of pounds, the Potato Hack has something to offer you. The small daily/weekly losses add up over time, and give you good insight into your eating habits. The gut-friendly nature of an all-potato diet is not trivial. This is the only diet that I know of that truly captures the power of resistant starch and allows your gut to help you lose weight and heal from a lifetime of abuse. Eating just potatoes can be a daunting task for some. There are lots of variations to the basic hack in which many other foods are allowed. It’s all in the book!  Have a read.

Questions/comments?

Tim Steele

30 Comments on “Summer 2017 Potato Hack…Post Script”

  1. Debbie August 22, 2017 at 12:08 pm #

    First of all, Happy Birthday. It’s interesting where the diet world is right now – confused. I know what works for me for now – something along the lines of Perfect Health – but find that most of us can’t really describe the so-called “healthy diet.” Leave out bread, as in gluten-free? High carb/low fat? High fat, as in Mercola? Sugar is bad, vegetables are good, that’s about all everyone agrees on.

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  2. Mags August 23, 2017 at 2:01 am #

    Oh Happy birthday from me too 🙂
    As you might remember from starting to add in more potatoes since around the end of May, beginning of June, but without doing a full blown hack, that I started at around 85kg (that I know of) and around a 40 inch waist, that I got down to as low as 77.5kg on Saturday after last weeks hack. I have also lost approx 4 inches on my waist in that time. Of course, it has fluctuated, and since Sunday I have gained about 3/4 inch on my waist and 1.5 kg.
    I think I have a reason though. I ran out of potatoes on Saturday and didnt manage to get to the shops so I have eaten eggs, a bit of butter, some nice braising steak cooked in broth and some sweet potato soup (no added fat). I also had some brown rice and chickpeas made into a curry. Strangely, I have been building up to being constipated, which was making me feel quite uncomfortable despite drinking 2-3 litres of water. I have read about soaking beans, which I do as standard, overnight. What I don’t do is to boil and throw out that water before using them in a recipe….. possible culprit?
    Also, I ate way more protein than I have been used to, and wonder if either I don’t need that amount, or I am just not used to it. I suspect the former may be the case.
    I read the blog you linked in your blog above from Critical Mas, and some of Denise’s ( need more time to read one of the longer ones).
    Critical Mas says, ‘During the Potato Hack, they will probably lose a few pounds, but even more, they will learn about themselves and their relationship to food and flavors in a hypercaloric environment. They will grow from the experience.’ This has been the case for me since I started this endeavour and I believe I am going in the right direction. I might not always get it right, but I will understand what is not right and make an effort to remedy that.
    One thing I have learned the last 2-3 months, is that I love potatoes, should never have cut them out as much as I did, that some lean protein is fine for me, but not too much and that a little fat will do me no harm. I am also using potato starch as a supplement. That seems to be sorting out my current bowel issues!
    Sorry for the long post, but I need to go to the shops and buy a shit load of potatoes……

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  3. Shira August 23, 2017 at 1:50 pm #

    Hi Tim! I have read your book and want to do a potato hack. In the book though, it says use no spices(salt if I must) and eat nothing but potatoes? I’m curious about using the recipes for the potato soup and gravy etc with broth. When did you add those ingredients into the hack? I have quiet a bit to lose, is it best for me to stick to boiled potatoes until I get to the maintenance phase?

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    • Tim Steele August 23, 2017 at 4:50 pm #

      Please read more carefully, lol. Lots of variations that allow more than potatoes, but it can be best to try the plain potato method first to get confidence that it works for you. Spices, broth, even a bit of meat are allowed in different variations, results may vary for each person. Some can get more away from potatoes and others do best sticking close.
      Good luck!

      Like

      • Shira August 24, 2017 at 7:54 am #

        Thank you!!

        Like

  4. Kit August 24, 2017 at 5:49 am #

    Happy Birthday! I’m one of the guilty ones who didn’t read the book before asking questions. Sorry! Not only is one more “diet” book an immediate red flag these days, but spending hundreds of dollars trying to turn ones health around really makes it difficult to spend more money on another “diet” book. Thank you for understanding that.

    Like

  5. Christine August 24, 2017 at 10:30 pm #

    Hi Tim,

    thank you for all the resources you share with us on this page! Have been digging deep into the knowledge of fermentable fiber.

    But then, getting from theory to doing it is important and I started simultaneously with you with my first potato hack last week monday. I have been on Paleo/Primal for 5 years now with some good results (migraine was completely gone, bowel moments perfectly, fatigue gone). But I could not do anything against overeating (even on “healthy” food) and still had skin problems. Even with doing the most strict Autoimmune Protocol, my weight (have more than 45 kg to lose) would not come off.

    Now I’d need some troubleshooting from you:
    On day 2 of my first potato hack, I got constipated. This is truely unusual for me. So I added 1 Tbsp of inulin, 2 Tbsp of oat bran, 1 tsp green banana starch and 1 tsp of L-glutamine to my diet, once in the morning, once in the evening. Only helped very little. After 4,5 days, I finished my first potato hack and ate normal again, still adding some potatoes to my meals. Results of round 1: Bowel moments still not as wellshaped and smooth as I was used to, skin very inflamed and to my regret the migraine came back during potato hacking.
    Weight: Had lost about 800 grams, but they came back afterwards. So I started a second potato hack this monday, for three days. Weight change: down 400 grams (will probably return today, as I eat other Paleo food again).

    So the miracle weight loss many people report did not work for me, but I wasn’t surprised, my weight sticks to me even when I do full water fasting for several days. But I was hoping to shift my gut critters to stop my overeating and also to heal my skin (ultra dry and inflamed).

    Do you have some good advice for me? I need some encouragement to keep going …

    Christine

    Like

    • Tim Steele August 31, 2017 at 7:44 am #

      Sorry for the delayed response, this ended up in my spam folder for some reason. I would recommend keeping up with eating lots of whole foods, plenty of veggies and fruit and fiber, get a good exercise program going, ensure the stress in your life in minimized, and ensure that all your bloodwork, ie. hormones and liver function, etc… are close to normal and you don’t have any underlying medical conditions that are holding you away from your goals (PCOS, diabetes, etc..). Sometimes adhering to strict diets is counterproductive if you have certain medical conditions. If you liked the potato hack, perhaps try one of the easier variations such as “Potatoes by Day” or “PUDDD.”
      Good luck, let us know how it all works out, you seem quite frustrated and I don’t blame you.
      Tim

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      • Wilbur August 31, 2017 at 11:37 am #

        An additional thought: The fibers that you added are mostly fermentable. I’m not sure if they would help constipation. Do research, but I’d suspect psyllium husk powder and partially hydrolyzed guar gum might help more because they gel and do not ferment. The idea might be that they make stools bulkier (they do) making gut transit easier. Be sure that you are getting adequate water. These also seem to help with bad blood lipids.

        I also find that kale leaf stems, brocolli stems and core, etc. add lots of bulk and make bowel movements very easy. Not the leaves themselves. Also, sometimes okra has a bit of a laxative effect on me.

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        • Christine August 31, 2017 at 12:57 pm #

          Thank you Wilbur, for sharing your experience!

          I chose fermentable fiber because I hope, they will feed beneficial gut bacteria.
          Funny thing is: Before I started eating potatoes (and fiber powders), eating Paleo/Primal, I had perfect stool …

          Like

          • Wilbur September 3, 2017 at 10:39 am #

            Christine – I understand. About 4 years ago, I cured myself of lots of problems, Including skin issues, IBS, excess weight, indicators of CVD, and many more. When I did that, I did not know what I was doing. Now after much study I’ve come to believe that I unknowingly did a lot of good things and, given my tendency toward perseverance and obsession, got very lucky.

            My opinion (worth what you paid for it) is that perfect stool does not indicate good health. It can mean you are avoiding foods causing problems. But if one can eat any healthy food (potatoes, etc.) without stool problems, then that is good.

            In my mind, I see it this way. Your gut bacteria are entrenched. They are in equilibrium, and they don’t like disruption. If you suddenly dump a bunch of fermentable fiber as food, they will be disrupted. I don’t know your current diet, as Paleo is quite broad.

            When I started, I made no drastic changes. I ate what I normally ate, except no preservatives. No compromise on that rule. I changed things slowly. I started out with a teaspoon of inulin for about a week and judged my reaction. If good, then I increased to 2 teaspoons the next week. If I had problems, I maintained or decreased as appropriate. I’ve never gone from zero to 1 Tbsp on anything.

            Here’s the part I find interesting. I had only a few reactions that might be considered negative. A bit of lightheadedness, a few pimples (unusual for me), and some wild stools. But in my early research, I learned that psyllium husk, flaxseed, and PHGG, are effective for correcting blood lipids. What I didn’t know was that these tend to bind to toxins.

            The importance of this, as I see it, is that your gut bacteria are likely to produce toxins as you try to change their ecosystem from one that is bad to one that is good. (Herx effect.) Having nonfermentable fibers along with fermentable might reduce the problems you have. Moreover, these nonfermentable fibers tend to be “gentle”, so it’s easy to take a lot.

            In my experience, this is a long term project, about 6 months for the big stuff (weight, perfect stools, etc.). But I was still seeing improvements years out.

            After a couple of months of this, my body started screaming for some foods. As long as those foods had no preservatives, then I obliged. I very quickly lost 40 lbs and have maintained my weight despite eating whatever I want without counting calories.

            Oh, and having a healthy gut can correct hormone problems. Chicken or egg.

            Like

      • Christine August 31, 2017 at 1:03 pm #

        Thank you, Tim, for coming back to me.

        Yes, my problems are probably caused by hormonal imbalance. But I always thought that this is caused by gut dysbiosis and can be cured by feeding and re-seeding beneficial microbes – did I get that wrong?
        The only reason I did start eating potatoes again (after 5 years of Paleo/Primal) was because I want to fight my overeating issues which I suspect to be hormonal -> microbiome dysbalance.

        As of today, I still eat lots of potatoes, still no weight loss, still frequent headaches and three days of migraines in three weeks 😦

        Will keep on fighting and reporting. Thank you for so much information stuff on fiber!

        Christine

        Like

        • Kate September 5, 2017 at 3:42 am #

          Hi Christine,
          I have a similar reaction to a lot of fiber. Potato starch and inulin definitely back me up. A couple years ago when i worked up to about a 60 mg “cocktail” of fibers I really had a problem! Just potatoes, cooled or otherwise don’t bother me. I also have migraines which were helped but not cured by paleo. To date, fiber hasn’t helped or hurt them.

          I still try to do potato starch, because I like the calming effect and better sleep. I recently discovered quite by accident that modified citrus pectin (which I was trying for my mild high blood pressure) really keeps things moving for me, even with potato starch. It possibly binds toxins, like Wilber suggests, as well.

          Re cravings, my guess is you are correct, that correcting gut imbalances will correct the problem. I used to have a lot of cravings–haven’t had any in years. It is easier for some people people to correct than others–my husband still has cravings, though not a strong as previously. He is not as rigorous about dietary experiments though 🙂 Good luck and keep experimenting!

          Like

  6. Ellen Steele August 31, 2017 at 7:25 am #

    I noticed that when I was on the hack, I would get sudden, intense cravings for sweets. If I could distract myself, they would go away. If I gave in and had something sweet, then I was craving sweets for the rest of the day. I lost about 4 pounds too, and am gearing up to do another hack so that I don’t fall back into old unhealthy patterns!

    Like

    • Tim Steele August 31, 2017 at 7:34 am #

      Good job, sis! I hear all the time from people who love the “If it’s not a potato, don’t eat it” rule, lol. It does make things easier, and helps you see where your weaknesses are. I get the same way, a handful of potato chips leads to a couple cookies, leads to a bowl of ice cream…Never happens when potato hacking.

      Like

  7. Mainer August 31, 2017 at 7:27 am #

    If forgot to post final numbers, while I was projecting more based on how I was trending, I was questioning that as the previous hacks were showing a lesser final figure. Regardless, I ended up at 9 lbs lost which seems to be more in line with the average of the last 3 hacks I have completed. So far most of it has kept off. May do another 5 day hack after a business trip next week which tends to be rather challenging to eat well. When I commence that hack I may try a more liberal approach to see how that may impact the numbers and make it a little less boring.

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  8. suncraig September 3, 2017 at 3:20 am #

    What are your thoughts on freeze dry potatoes, like from this vendor http://www.thrivelife.com/potato-dices-freeze-dried.html?

    Like

    • Tim Steele September 3, 2017 at 6:13 am #

      They look great, let us know how they are for eating. They’d probably be best for mashed potatoes and potato soup.

      Like

  9. John September 4, 2017 at 1:48 pm #

    First-timer here. Don’t know the most appropriate place to post. I am pre-diabetic edging toward diabetic (type 2). Had the wake-up call from the Dr. on July 17th and embarked upon a low carb approach to eating. Lost 9.6 pounds with my efforts and then stalled for 3 weeks – 3 weeks at 9.6 pounds lost with no budging. Frustrated, I read your book starting last Tuesday. Started the Potato Hack on Friday – through day 4 of eating today. Lost 2 pounds first day, and an additional pound every day since (4 total so far). We’ll see what tomorrow brings. While I have no problem sticking to potatoes only, I did pan fry some golds with salt and sesame oil tonight in honor of Labor Day. It was good – I’ll stick to it for two more days. But, I’m concerned about what to eat transitioning back to normal. Thanks! -John.

    Like

    • Tim Steele September 4, 2017 at 3:33 pm #

      For “back to normal” eating, I’d recommend sticking with a diet that is mostly vegetables, including potatoes, rice, beans, etc… and plentiful meat. I can’t recommend the “whole-food” approach enough. Sisson’s original Primal Blueprint is pretty good, especially if you eat 100g/day of good carbs while losing weight. Get plenty of fiber by way of cooking and cooling your starchy foods and eating lots of high-fiber plants, nuts, seeds. Stay away from adding oils to up the fat content…not needed. Stay away from processed foods, especially while losing weight. Exercise, walk, sleep well.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Robin H September 12, 2017 at 8:27 am #

    Hey Tim. I’ve done the potato hack about 4 times now, and each time my lifelong hypoglycemia and adrenal symptoms go away completely on day 4. For someone who’s dealt with this her whole life, being without these symptoms feels like a miracle. I am no longer cranky, irritable, stressed out, uncomfortable, anxious, fatigued, withdrawn, antisocial, starving, and all the other crappy feelings that go along with glucose and adrenal dysregulation. (For reference, I’ve never had high fasting insulin or glucose). I continue feeling great in the days after the potato hack, but eventually the problems return. I’ve tried sticking to a low fat, plant based diet after the hack. This works for a little while, but eventually everything comes crashing down again. So I go back to my go-to higher fat, slightly reduced carb diet, which allows me to limp by without things getting too bad (but the lower carbs also requires that I go back on thyroid medication). Nothing compares with that post potato hack bliss. Do you have any thoughts as to what might be happening on potatoes that I can’t sustain with other whole food carbs? The fact that I can eat a huge plate of pure, high glycemic, dirt-cheap carbs and feel amazing for a few hours afterward absolutely blows my mind, and I would do anything to have that metabolic flexibility in the context of something that looks vaguely like a normal, varied diet.

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    • Tim Steele September 12, 2017 at 9:46 am #

      Have you looked at the McDougall Starch Solution diet? What about basing each meal on potatoes, rice, or beans with or without meat? As long as your BG remains normal, maybe you just need lots of extra starchy carbs?

      Like

    • Wilbur September 12, 2017 at 11:44 am #

      Robin –

      I cured myself of postprandial and reactive hypoglycemia about 4 years ago that was “hereditary” and that I’d suffered for over 3 decades. It is indeed wonderful to lose the symptoms and not be a hostage to food!

      That you are able to eliminate the symptoms on the potato hack is a very good sign, I think.

      As you suggest, it might be that eating one food is what is helping you.

      I started my diet before Tim started promoting the potato hack, so I can’t say whether it would have helped me. BUT I do have a very large fiber shake every day that is virtually the same day after day. It is a large portion of the food I eat. And even my breakfast is the same most days. And what I drink: water, beer, or wine and scotch. Dinner varies.

      I have a lot of short run flexibility in my diet, and I can eat anything without any blood sugar or metabolic issues. (I haven’t tested long-term.) I don’t worry about macros or calories. No need to as it seems self-correcting. I can eat biscuits or muffins for breakfast (that used to kill me), birthday cake on an empty stomach (ditto), and/or sugary desserts. All 3 on the same day even. For a few days at least. But I always come back to my usual diet after a while. I even find myself wanting to.

      I used to need to eat every 2 hours. Most of the time it was a battle for control. Now I eat twice per day spaced 11 hours apart. With a 10-mile walk most days. It is freedom!

      Maybe a large fiber shake would provide enough consistency for you too to be flexible elsewhere. I started with inulin. Then, thanks to Tim, raw potato starch. Then baobab, I think. I’ve got many things now.

      All this might be related to Dr Ayers statement that a nonvarying diet is best for promoting the diversity of of the gut microbiome.

      Like

  11. Kit September 14, 2017 at 7:22 am #

    “All this might be related to Dr Ayers statement that a nonvarying diet is best for promoting the diversity of of the gut microbiome.”

    I thought a large diversity of food was key?

    Like

    • Wilbur September 14, 2017 at 1:24 pm #

      I had that confusion too about his statement. Think in terms of eating the same thing every day. It probably doesn’t need to be strictly every day, but I think it’s close. That could be a SAD diet. It could be the potato hack. Or, in my case, it could be a stable ensemble of about 45 different plants that I eat every day.

      There will be very little diversity with the SAD diet. But there will be a lot more diversity with the potato hack because it provides a stable food source for the gut. The bacteria adapt to the new food source because it is reliable. As I understand, my eating of 45 plants per day will provide even more diversity in the gut, but because I eat it every day. It would probably do me no extra good if I did it once per week.

      So there’s diversity across a day (cross-sectional) and diversity across several days (temporal). Cross-sectional diversity is a good thing; temporal diversity not so much.

      I think a lot of the action comes through the antioxidants and photochemicals in various plants. These can vary greatly, even in the same species depending on how it is grown, how it has been stored, etc. I’ve been reading some books about genetics and cancer, and the advice seems to be eat a little of everything and not s lot of anything. That’s been my philosophy, and it works for me in terms of my current health.

      Like

      • Teddy October 13, 2017 at 2:40 pm #

        Wilbur,

        Do you think there is little to no benefit from fibers until the gut bugs adapt to what is being served? If one starts taking fibers today and gradually increases the amounts and/or variety he or she would not see any positive health changes util enough time passes? Weeks, months?
        What do you think about Jeff Leach’s findings after just a few days being with the Hadza? Sometimes he reports dramatic change in diversity in a very short time.

        Tim,

        I was rereading old comments on VegPharm and found some references to your fiber mix desert shake. It sounded very simple and easily sustainable. Do you still do the same or have you gravitated to something different? How is it working for you?

        Like

    • AnnaD September 24, 2017 at 3:17 pm #

      In ecological sciences – the highest diversity of species is in the most stable of environments. For example Hawaii has 14 species of coral, mostly weed types which grow fast and die young where as the southern Great Barrier Reef off Australia (very stable environment – quite a distance from the coast) has more than 300 species of coral, including long lived and low reproducing brain type coral species.

      I assume it’s the same in the gut.

      Like

  12. Kit September 15, 2017 at 4:57 am #

    Thank you for clarifying, Wilbur. That does clear things up for me. Interesting, now that I think about what you’ve said, I had the least amount of trouble with my weight when, through a set of circumstances out of my control, my eating varied very little. I was still getting plenty of calories, but my actual food options varied very little, if at all. I easily stayed at my normal weight the entire time. Hmmm, time to get my body back to eating that way, I guess.

    Like

  13. thanos October 18, 2017 at 7:18 am #

    Hello Tim!I have tried the potato hack and high RS diet and it clearly worked by reducing my appetite,but i had some side effects.I felt like i was drunk and sleepy.Then,after 2 weeks the situation somewhat improved but not to a normal point.After that i decided to add protein and fat.My brain felt better but i had bloating and indigestion with combined meals.Finally i decided to go zero fiber and eat milk,honey,meat,eggs and juice and suddenly everything improved.easy digestion,less bloating,better concentration,less constipation etc.Any idea why this happened and how i can get rid of the side effects when i eat fibers?
    thanks

    Like

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