Friday, October 7, 2016

Weight Maintenance - Part 1

Seven days after my month-long Sputember eating adventure, I am at the exact same weight as I was on Day 30.

For those that did not follow along, I took up Andrew 'SpudFit' Taylor's "Spudtember Challenge" to eat nothing but potatoes for an entire month. Andrew, in contrast, was working on his ninth month of a yearlong potato diet.

During the month I lost a total of 12 pounds. Keep in mind, I have been at a healthy weight for several years maintaining my weight in the 185 pound range (I'm 5'11). I've been wanting to get rid of a couple extra pounds that I carry around my belly, but mostly I just wanted to explore a longer all-potato diet than my recommended 3-5 day "hacks."

Thirty days is a long time! And I had a hard time staying 100% compliant, but it was easy enough to do a diet where 98% of my calories were from potatoes. Mostly all-potato meals with an occasional "cheat," as they say.

Water Weight?

One critique I often get from those first introduced to the Potato Hack is that the weight lost is all water-weight, or muscle. I can say confidently that this is not the case.

First time dieters who are quite overweight will often lose tremendous amounts of weight on an all-potato diet, weight lost in excess of about 1 pound per day is most certainly water-weight. It is unrealistic to believe a person can lose 5 pounds of fat in one day, and then gain it back in another. Systemic inflammation creates this ability to store and flush large amounts of body fluids, often in fat cells. An all-potato diet creates a condition in the body where inflammation is greatly reduced, perhaps through the sealing of the gut and release of toxic compounds such as lipopolysaccharides (LPS) from certain bacteria found in the gut, as Dr. Art Ayers from Cooling Inflammation suggested to me in a recent exchange.

At any rate, obese people almost always have inflammation present in their bodies. Once a person finds a way to eliminate this inflammation, weight loss seems to be much easier.

A short-term potato diet creates the perfect conditions for long term weight loss. The antiinflammatory effects of the diet, coupled with reduced caloric intake and completely adequate nutrition allow the body to burn stored fat through most of the day and night, resulting in lasting fat loss. Additionally, an all-potato diet contains ample protein from the amino acids in potatoes to prevent muscle wasting. Andecdotally, I was able to exercise with the same intensity on day 30 of my potato challenge as I was before I started. There was no loss of ability to do pullups, benchpress, and jog 2 miles. Possibly a professional weightlifter or athlete might not receive enough protein in an all-potato diet to continue strenuous muscle-building activities, but for the rest of us, the protein appears completely sufficient, and possibly even in a better amount that on one's regular diet.

I started Spudtember at 184 pounds and ended at 172. Afterwards, there was a slight regain, followed by a drop. Charted out daily, it looks like this.

You'll notice my weight loss became stagnant after three weeks. I was eating lots of potatoes! I think this graph shows the loss of some inflammation early on, a shifting of the weight we carry as gut bacteria, but mostly the loss of excess body fat.  A trend for diets that result in a big drop in water weight and subsequent regain look more like this...look familiar to anyone?

Weight Maintenance

My goal this winter, and for the foreseeable future, is to try to keep my weight centered on 172 +/- 3 pounds.

The next couple of posts will discuss weight maintenance by different methods, and potato hacking.

Thoughts?  Anyone having trouble maintaining their weight?



  1. About 6 months ago I went 2 days on chocolate milk and salted orange juice, with a coke or two thrown in. I lost 6.5 pounds while consuming nearly 600g of carbohydrate and 3000 kcal per day. I've yet to hear a good explanation for it...can't be water loss due to glycogen depletion. Perhaps the inflammation factor explains it.

    1. What happened when you returned to your normal diet? A near-zero-fat diet does seem to have some magical qualities (as Denise Minger discusses here: )

      The only problem with a milk/pop/OJ hack is that it contains very poor nutrition overall. But for 3 days, if it works, it works. If the weight comes right back on, probably not worth it.

    2. Audacity17 check out Dr Kempler and the Rice Diet.

  2. The weight didn't bounce right back, more of a slow gain. Actually, if you put 1/2 gallon of milk and 1/2 gallon of OJ in fitday or cronometer...the nutrition is pretty good. Probably better than the standard American diet.

    I really wasn't doing it for the weight loss, but to check my temperature. Some possible reasons for the weight loss: big reduction in sodium, increased metabolism/water loss at night, increased potassium, increased urination, etc. The thing is...I actually urinated less! And while I have a pretty bad diet Coke habit, I had no desire to drink any. It actually made me feel queasy thinking about it.
    I think my body needed the water to metabolize/eliminate(?) fat...but I don't know how to calculate how much water is needed to do that.

  3. Lyle Mcdonald - a highly respected fitness author, has a theory about the swishing affect (fat loss stalls for a week/two and then 3 lbs of body fat overnight is lost!) of weight loss based on the water moving in/out of fat cells as they are about to go through lipolysis (fat burn) - basically the water must be emptied out of the fat cell in order to BURN baby burn!

    thus feed the muscles and burn that fat! honestly it seems too easy lately - if i eat my protein requirements, about 10-20 grams of fat in the morning and potatoes the rest of the day, its easy peasy fat have to do a day though about every 7-10 days of higher fat eating w/o the carbs to reset the system for the next rung lower...