This content has been Fact-Checked by a Certified Nutritionist in our Publishing Team. Learn more here. Always consult a medical professional before commencing any diet.
Potato diet is exactly what you think it is – an eating plan that consists solely of potatoes. Definitely not for everyone. In fact, it sounds a bit crazy.
However, if you are a big potato fan looking to shed some pounds fast, then the potato diet might suit you very well.
We have broken down the potato diet to see if it’s worth the popularity it has gained and its effectiveness.
Let’s dive in and learn these diet pros and how it works.
What Is the Potato Diet?
The potato diet is a mono-food diet plan that suggests eating only potatoes for 3-5 days. It helps lose nearly 1 lb a day (0.45 kg)!
This diet, also called “the potato hack” dates back to the 1849s when the rich ate plain potatoes for a few days to lose weight gained due to their luxurious lifestyle.
Although the potato diet has existed for more than a century, it became popular due to the book “The Potato Hack: Weight Loss Simplified”. The author of the book, Tim Steele, is convinced that potato is a diet pill from nature.
While eating a potato-based diet will help lose some pounds, the author is convinced that this diet is so good that weight loss is just a side effect.
The book claims that by following this fiber-rich diet plan you will get:
- Stronger immune system
- Improved digestion
- Energy flow
- Great sleep and mood
The potato diet became super popular when many famous people decided to try it and shared their experience online. Nowadays there are so many variations of it out there – people have tried the potato diet for one week, a month and even a year!
One thing to note is that no scientific studies are backing up the potato diet.
In theory, eating potatoes only could result in weight loss, since potato is a vegetable low in calories…as long as it’s not deep-fried!
Potato Diet Pros and Cons
It’s cheap. Following a new diet plan can definitely be expensive. Some diet plans may have ingredients that are not in season, therefore, are more expensive.
And that can hurt your wallet. In this respect, the potato diet is perhaps one of the most affordable diet plans. All you need is 15-25 pounds of potatoes for the entire 3-5-day diet.
It’s easy to follow. Everyone gets excited over every pound they lose.
But who gets excited over cooking three meals a day with complicated recipes and a ton of ingredients? Very few dieters. The potato diet is the easiest thing.
The only thing you have to decide is -baked, mashed, or boiled?
It’s high fiber. It has been proven that high-fiber diets are very healthy. It will make you feel full for a longer period, so you won’t feel hungry.
Among the benefits, they come with are healthy gut, low cholesterol level, and controlled blood sugar.
Additionally, incorporating high-fiber products into your diet lowers the risk of heart diseases and strokes according to this study.
Full of nutrients. Potatoes are very nutritious. They are packed with vitamins and minerals, as well as iron, potassium, and folate. You wouldn’t expect this from potatoes, would you?
Understanding your eating habits. With the potato diet, you have to eat spuds every time you get hungry or want a snack.
Being restricted and eventually getting bored with your only ingredient will make you evaluate your eating habits.
You will start to notice how many times you crave food and want to snack on something.
Nothing but potatoes. While this makes your menu planning relatively easy, it can become quite boring to eat potatoes five times a day for five days in a row.
To make things more interesting, you can try drinking Kombucha, a healthy drink that offers many benefits and it is a probiotic.
No protein and fat. Although potatoes are very nutritious, they are not a source of proteins and fats.
There are only a few grams of protein in a potato. As for the fats, there aren’t any 🙁
Rapid weight loss and regain. Losing a pound a day is quite a lot.
Don’t have all the nutrients you need. It doesn’t have vitamin B12 which has a lot of health benefits.
However, when practicing a protein-free diet like the potato hack, you should be ready to lose some muscle.
Another downside of the ‘quick’ diets is that you will most likely regain the lost pounds over time.
The reason is that during the diet, when calorie intake is low, metabolism slows down. It may remain so even when you are off the diet.
Potato Diet Rules – How Does It Work?
Potato diet has got a few rules to follow.
Here is what you should keep in mind if you decide to give the potato diet a go:
Rule 1. During the potato diet, you should eat plain potatoes for 3-5 days and the daily limit is 5 pounds. The general rule is that depending on a personal case, dieters can eat 2-5 pounds of spuds a day.
Rule 2. The ‘magic’ of the potato diet is that potatoes are very low in calories. Two to five pounds of potatoes sound like a lot but it equals to around 530 to 1300 calories. Which is much less than what we usually eat per day. And this is the reason why it is possible to lose up to a pound a day with the potato diet.
Rule 3. The satiety index of potatoes is very high. Potatoes make us feel fuller without providing too many calories. After eating a potato or two, you will feel full for a much longer time. So, you will eat less, which equals fewer calories and weight loss!
What to Eat on the Potato Diet?
What kind of potatoes can you eat?
If you want to want to follow Steele’s version of the potato diet, you should only eat plain white potatoes.
Other variations of this diet allow eating red, russet, gold, and other kinds of potatoes.
What kind of potatoes you can eat will depend on which diet version you are following.
The Spud Fit Challenge by Andrew Tyler, for example, allows eating any kind of potatoes, including sweet ones.
How should you cook them?
In general, you should boil, bake, and steam potatoes with nothing else but salt. Some potato diet challenges allow using spices and herbs, as well as other low-calorie products such as non-dairy milk for a smooth potato mash.
Which potato diet version is most recommended?
Short-term ‘potato hack’ is definitely recommended, as it can help you lose weight and control your cravings.
The long-term potato diet can cause nutritional complications. Even if you manage to lose a lot of weight, chances are it won’t last very long.
Most people eventually regain the pounds they have lost.
If you rather follow a sustainable diet where it would be possible to create new healthy eating habits, check out the California Diet By Dr Connie Guttersen.
How Long Is the Potato Diet?
The potato diet is very versatile. Your diet duration will depend on how much you love potatoes (haha – jokes but true!) and how much weight you want to lose.
Short-term potato diet:
The short-term potato diet, otherwise known as “the potato hack” is eating only spuds for 3-5 days.
Some people implement this hack to lose a bit of weight after big holidays or/ and get that flat belly for a special occasion.
Doing this every once in a while is certainly easier than keeping up with a complicated diet for a longer time.
Long-term potato diet:
The long-term potato diet is practiced by people who want to experience major weight loss.
In this case, the ‘potato only’ eating plan goes on not for days but months. Some people go so far as to follow this diet for up to a year!
Potato Diet Plan – 3 Day Sample Menu
Although the potato diet is relatively easy to follow, it may be hard to come up with a meal plan.
Here is a 3-day meal plan you can either follow or take inspiration from:
- Breakfast – 3 steamed potatoes with a cup of tea/coffee
- Morning Snack – 2 boiled potato (cold)
- Lunch – 2 oven-baked potatoes with skin
- Afternoon Snack – 2 boiled potato (cold)
- Dinner – 3 steamed potatoes (with salt)
- Breakfast – 3 boiled potatoes with a cup of tea/coffee
- Morning Snack – 2 boiled potato (cold)
- Lunch – 2 mashed potatoes
- Afternoon Snack – 2 raw potatoes (sliced)
- Dinner – 3 oven-baked potatoes with skin
- Breakfast – oven-baked hash browns (3 potatoes) with a cup of tea/coffee
- Morning Snack – 2 raw potatoes (sliced)
- Lunch – oven-baked fries (2 potatoes)
- Afternoon Snack – 2 boiled potato (cold)
- Dinner – 3 mashed potatoes (with salt)
Following this sample menu, you will get around 770 calories a day by eating 12 small-sized potatoes. You can adjust it to your needs by adding or taking out a couple of spuds.
Note that 9 small-sized potatoes have nearly 572 calories. The maximum amount you are allowed to eat while on the potato diet is 1,300 calories (21 small-sized potatoes).
Don’t forget to drink water. At least 1 to 1.5 liters of water a day. That will help you trick the hunger, and also digest the fiber.
Feeling inspired? Have a go at this – Here is our printable 1200 calorie diet planner in case you want to make your own 7 Day Meal Plan.
Potatoes are quite high in nutritional value. 100 grams of white potato, which is more than a half of a medium-sized spud baked with skin, contains:
- Calories: 69
- Fat: 0.1 grams
- Fiber: 2.4 grams
- Protein:1.68 grams
- Carbohydrate:15.71 grams
- Cholesterol: 0 mg
- Folate: 18 micrograms
- Vitamin C: 9.1 milligrams
- Vitamin B6:0.203 milligrams
- Iron:0.52 milligrams
- Magnesium: 0.145 milligrams
- Potassium: 407 milligrams
- Phosphorus: 62 milligrams
- Calcium: 9 milligrams
The nutritional value of potatoes can change depending on which kind of potatoes you are using and how you cook them.
It is also important to keep the skin on potatoes if you want to get all the minerals and vitamins.
Potato Diet Tips
No matter how short a diet is, you will always need some tips to make your life easier!
Here are some tips you can use to make your dieting hassle-free.
1# Buy lots of potatoes
While getting ready to start the potato diet, go to your local market, and buy a lot of potatoes.
If you are going to diet for 3-5 days, you will need 15-25 pounds for the entire time.
Luckily, potatoes don’t go bad quickly. Buying everything all at once will save you time. Also, you will have to resist the temptation of buying other products only once.
2# Pick the right time
As the potato diet is quite short, it is very easy to pick the right time for it.
Avoid picking a time where you may need to attend social events, as most places won’t serve plain potatoes for you. Plus, it would look kind of odd 🙂
3# Make meals ahead
Cooking in advance will be of great help during potato hacking.
You can always boil or bake some potatoes and store them in the fridge.
This way you will have some ready-made snacks and meals for when you don’t have time to cook or simply don’t feel like doing it.
4# Plan your daily menu
Planning what you should eat during the day for your main courses and snacks will keep you organized.
Even if your only option is potatoes, you can still have a little variety in your diet.
Plan the menu and make your meals in the morning and take your lunch and snacks with you whenever you are leaving the house.
BONUS – Potato Diet Recipes!
Here are some recipes we have researched for you to try while planning your potato diet. As they only have one ingredient there is no need to worry about having cooking skills.
Boiled Potatoes for a Mash or Salad
Boiling potatoes does not sound difficult. However, there is always room for improvement.
Here is how to prepare the perfect mash potatoes:
Step 1. Peel the potatoes. You can leave the skin on if you like some texture to your potato mash. In this case, however, make sure to scrub the potatoes well.
Step 2. Cut the potatoes in half or in quarters if you want them to cook quickly. Add water to cover potatoes and half a teaspoon of salt.
Step 3. Boil the potatoes on medium heat for about 20 minutes. Check with a fork to see if they are tender enough.
Step 4. Drain the potatoes to make a salad or a mash.
Tip: For the perfect mash, drain the potatoes really well to make sure all the water has evaporated. Mash it with a hand masher. Electric devices are too aggressive and may turn your potato mash into a gluey puree.
To make the perfect oven-baked potatoes, scrub them clean and season well with some salt.
The key to delicious baked potatoes is crispy skin and soft inside.
To achieve this, prick the potatoes with a fork and put them in the oven for 60 minutes in 425ºF.
Check with a knife to see if they are done.
Tip: Potato skin is rich in minerals and vitamins. Turn it into a healthy snack by boiling and baking it in the oven. Add a pinch of salt and here’s a healthy alternative to potato chips.
Everyone loves fries!
If you cannot resist the temptation even when you are on a diet, you can easily make a healthy alternative.
Step 1. Peel (optional) the potatoes, wash them, and dry well.
Step 2: Preheat the oven and put the potatoes over a parchment paper to prevent sticking.
Step 3. Bake for 15-20 minutes and salt the fries only when they are done.
Tip: To make crispy oven-baked fries cut the potatoes and soak them in cold water for half an hour.
Another tip to crispy fries is baking them in two temperatures.
First, bake the fries in 370ºF for a few minutes to cook the potatoes. Then, turn up the heat to 425ºF make them crispy and delicious.
Potato Diet Results
The Potato diet before and after results are quite impressive, especially in the cases of long-term dieting
If you follow the rules, you will supposedly lose 1.35-2.25 kg in 3-5 days. Sticking to this diet for a longer period of time will most definitely bring more noticeable weight changes.
Kevin Smith, an American filmmaker, practiced the potato diet for a year and lost 50 kg.
Magician Penn Jillette adopted this restricting diet for two weeks and lost 8 kg (18 lbs). He then switched to a healthier diet, consisting of potatoes and other plants, and lost 100 lbs.
If you are planning on going on the potato diet for a longer period, be prepared to lose muscle mass.
The latter means that your metabolism will slow down. This will gradually make losing weight more difficult.
As this diet has no protein and fats, intense workouts should be avoided.
Another warning for those who want to turn to potato hacking is a nutritional deficit.
Any mono-food diet comes with such a problem. So, if you want major weight changes with the potato diet, take this into consideration.
While a short-term potato diet may help you better understand your eating habits, a long-term one may have a negative effect.
You will not develop conscious eating habits. Instead, you will worsen your relationship with a healthy diet and the diversity it comes with.
The potato diet is so simple that it arises many questions.
Here are some of the most popular ones answered.
Is the potato diet safe?
The potato diet is safe if followed for 3-5 days as stated in Tim Steele’s famous book.
Long-term potato dieting will most likely result in health problems such as nutritional deficiency, weaker immune system, unhealthy eating habits, etc.
Are there any side effects?
If you are sensitive to potatoes, the side effects may include constipation and stomach pain, as well as bloating. Drink lots of water to decrease these symptoms.
Short-term potato dieting has almost no side effects. Long-term mono-dieting, on the other hand, may have more serious consequences as mentioned above.
Can I do a cold potato diet instead?
There is nothing wrong with eating cold potatoes. In fact, as they cool, more resistant starch is formed in spuds.
Resistant starch offers many health benefits and it will keep you feeling fuller throughout the day according to this study.
This content has been Fact-Checked by a Certified Nutritionist in our Publishing Team. Learn more here.