Friday, January 1, 2016

Potato Hack Variations

If anyone is considering some serious potato hacking for the new year, here's some inspiration: Seven different variations of the original potato hack. Whether your goal is weight loss, maintenance, or healing a troublesome gut, these variations might help you stick to the potato hack.

Aside from all these variations, the potatoes themselves are another source of variety. Don't just buy the cheapest bag you can find, try all the different types. Each potato cultivar has its own unique tastes and texture. Maybe just using a different type of potato each day is all the variety you'll need.


The seven rules of the potato hack work extremely well as written. Once you’ve done a round, evaluate how it worked. Did you see any weight loss or other benefits? There is no disgrace in hating the potato hack. Admittedly, it’s not for everyone. That’s where these variations come in.

Over the years, as people try to bribe and coerce me into allowing other foods on the “potato” hack, there have been some unique variations proposed. I’ve personally tried all of these. Some work great, some not so great for me. Some folks swear by their favorite variation. These variations take into account the unique nature of the human being, our need for control, and a desire to continually tweak everything we do. Consider these variations as “hacks on the hack.” You may even come up with your own hack.

Spice it up

I believe the potato hack derives much of its power from the blandness. There is no "party in your mouth" when you are eating potatoes, although, as you’ll see, plain potatoes can be very tasty. Salt is allowed in the basic version of the hack. I don’t know of anyone who found the potato hack did not work as advertised simply due to the extra salt. If anything, salt makes it work a bit better at reducing inflammation and burning fat. Therefore, the first variation I’ll describe is a spiced-up version of the 1849 potato hack.

The spices used in this variation are the typical dried spices you normally cook with. A sprinkle of seasoned salt makes potatoes much more enjoyable. There are a couple of spices that just seem to go with potatoes. Black pepper, paprika, and rosemary are the accoutrement of choice by professional chefs. If you’d like to take a trip down memory lane (way, way down), in the Andes Mountains where potatoes originate you’ll find a couple of spices native to the region that were most certainly used on potatoes. Cilantro, mint, oregano, basil, and hot pepper are all native to the area where potatoes originated.

Though not technically spices, lemon juice and vinegar also make potatoes very flavorful without adding calorically to the meal. Vinegar also has a great quality that, when added to a starchy meal, it will reduce the post-prandial glucose spike. Dieters have long been told to add vinegar to starchy meals. Vinegar and potatoes are a unique flavor combination popular in different parts of the world. Some swear by salt and vinegar for potatoes, anything else being overkill. Additionally, if you buy a spice mix, look for artificial ingredients and flavors...choose only 100% pure and natural spices. No Bacon and Chive concoctions, please. Just this:

Get organic if possible!

My only qualm with "spicing it up" is that I feel it’s cheating. Please, get to know the potato first. Try it plain, at least for a full day. People who have told me that potatoes “suck” are quite surprised when they first try a Yukon Gold or a German Butterball. Potatoes are tasty. The big ugly baking potatoes you find in the supermarket are not known for flavor. Try out some other varieties, make a game of it, you will not regret it.

Potatoes by Day

This is quite possibly my favorite variation. It’s a riff on Mark Bittman’s Vegan Before 6:00 (VB6) diet plan. “Potatoes by Day” or “PBD”is just as it sounds, from sunup ‘til sundown, you just eat potatoes. In other words, potatoes for breakfast, lunch, and snacks and then a dinner of whatever you’d like.

Nutrition-wise, this is much easier than VB6. The VB6 book has an extensive collection of recipes, unlike The Potato Hack. Eating a great vegan diet is hard to do, which is why Bittman allows a normal dinner. Unless the practitioners of vegan diets do some reading, they can fall into vegan traps which make a vegan diet possibly worse than a diet of fast food and candy. For instance, let’s say your version of VB6, or any vegan diet, involves a vegan muffin for breakfast, made with trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. Then lunch is a trip to McDonald’s where you pick up a small salad and a large order of fries. Add a couple power bars or Reese’s peanut butter cups for snacks. Vegan for sure, but healthy? Not on your life.

Furthermore, I had no interest in becoming an isolated vegan in a world of omnivores…(Bittman, Vegan Before 6:00, 2013).

PBD takes away the uncertainty of an unhealthy vegan diet. There are no choices, other than maybe to use salt or not. Many people, including me, simply do not do well in a world of plenty. Maybe our ancestors were constantly starved and the lucky off-spring who continually sought food survived. Potatoes by Day takes away the choices and bad decisions you make; and it’s highly nutritious. Some Irish peasants survived their entire life on a diet of oatmeal, potatoes, and milk. These three foods led to a population explosion and one of the healthiest populations the world had seen. Just imagine how healthy our world would be today if everyone ate potatoes from morning ‘til night and a well-balanced dinner.

Try PBD for your maintenance diet. There is absolutely no harm in doing PBD literally forever. If your dinner has a bit of meat, some whole grains, and fruit and vegetables you will be the most well-nourished kid on your block. Vegan diets have merit, for sure, but also shortfalls. Most vegans take a vitamin B12 supplement because this vital nutrient cannot be had from plants. With PBD, you will not need any supplements. The potatoes will be your multi-vitamin, and you can eat all the meat you like.

If you are a vegan and find yourself overweight, PBD may be just what you need. The Potatoes by Day variation lends itself nicely to many variations of its own. You can try PBD during the work week, on weekends, or for a week or month at any time of your choosing. I think you’ll find you will never get tired of tasty potato dishes, and eating this way makes dinner oh-so-much more enjoyable. Try PBD for a week. You’ll love it.

Potato “PUDDD”ing

This is a spin-off of Johnson UpDayDownDay Diet™. Often abbreviated JUDDDD™, this diet is one of the trademarked low carb diets that seems to work exceptionally well for people who enjoy a low carb approach to dieting. With JUDDDD™, one has days of high calories and days of low calories. The book associated with JUDDDD™ is The Alternate Day Diet which promises activation of your “skinny gene.” If you are shopping for a diet plan, take a look, maybe you’ll like it. The Alternate Day Diet is filled with many of the same “alphabet soup” strategies for success that I use here in The Potato Hack.

The Alternate-Day Diet is based on scientific and clinical studies that show how restricting calories only every other day activates a gene called SIRT1, the skinny gene.

With PUDDD, simply eat your normal diet one day, and potato hack the next. With JUDDDD™, you’ll need to go through an extensive “induction” period and use a series of calculations to determine your basal metabolic needs for your down days. The down days of JUDDDD™ are simply calorie reduced days and the up days are eating normally. The danger of this diet is that the user may never really learn to eat properly and simply switch between starving and eating crappy food. With PUDDD, the same trap is there…you’ll need to learn to eat right in your up days. However, the down days of PUDDD are so easy, even a caveman could do it (sorry, Paleo®). Just eat potatoes until you are full on your down days. No counting calories, no tracking nutrients. The potato is the ideal food for an “up day down day” approach to eating.

PUDDD would be great for a long term maintenance plan, or for slow, sustained weight loss. For maintenance, try PUDDD for a week at a time, once every month or even just a couple times a year. For weight loss, try PUDDD for a month and see what happens. The weight loss will be undoubtedly slower than straight potato hacking, but PUDDD shows great promise in keeping people on track. With PUDDD, you can use any of the other variations here on your potato down day. You’ll be able to see what works and switch things up to keep it interesting.

When it comes to your up days, I can’t stress enough that you will need to learn to eat a human-appropriate diet. This is as simple as just avoiding the big 3 industrial foods: Refined sugar, industrially processed oil, and enriched wheat. If a food label lists any of those as the main ingredients, don’t eat it. Ever.

Added Oil or Fat

For some strange reason, the first thing people want to do on an all-potato diet is to cook the potatoes in fat. I’m really not a fan of this variation, and I’ve scratched it off the list several times only to add it back when I ruin yet another frying pan. Using some type of fat does making cooking much easier and imparts a bit of crispy mouthfeel.

What kind and how much? This is the million-dollar question. I’ve experimented with coconut and olive oil with good success. I’d suggest that if you need to use some oil, stay completely away from the industrial seed oils of corn, canola, peanut, and the so-called vegetable oils. Margarine is not a real food and should be avoided. My list of possible potato hack oils is fairly short:
  • Coconut Oil
  • Palm Oil
  • Olive Oil
  • Butter
  • Ghee
  • Lard (ie. bacon grease)
These are the only cooking fats I recommend for anyone, ever, but if you want to use a different one, it’s up to you. As to a proper amount, let’s say about 1 teaspoon (tsp) per pan. A teaspoon of oil weighs 4.5 grams and has about 40 calories. It does not take much oil to place it in the majority of calories for a meal. To make your oil go further, use a spray type oil, but please stay away from the pressurized “cooking sprays” that are so popular. Read the ingredients; if you see dimethylpolysiloxane, diacetyl, and any type of propellants, do not use. This goes for always, not just potato hacking. Consider that my public service announcement.

For reference, here's the only spray oil I use. It's 100% coconut oil with no propellants:

Spray-type Coconut Oil Details

The proper amount of oil to use is not measured in teaspoons or grams, it’s the amount that is juuuust enough to allow you to cook a particular potato dish that requires a bit of oil to prevent sticking. The perfect amount is none. If you find that you need a ton of oil with every meal, maybe it’s time for some self-reflection.
The low-fat aspect of the potato diet is one of the keys to its success. This is an extreme low fat diet, not just a “lite” diet. When you start adding fats to your meals, the entire physiology of the meal changes. During the potato hack, every single drop of fat your body needs to fuel itself should come from body fat, not food. Your body needs fat, that’s why it stores it on your thighs and belly. Let’s make our body work for its fat for a change.

Meat & Potatoes

We’ve all heard people described as “meat and potatoes” people. Maybe they are onto something. Intrepid potato-hacker “Marie” invented this variation, and it’s been copied many times with great success. To pull off a Meat & Potatoes hack, you must keep your meat portion small and lean. You’ll also find that a long separation between eating the meat and your all-potato meal will add to the success.

For instance, have an all-potato breakfast of something like oven-baked curly fries, oil-less hash browns, or a cold boiled potato. For lunch, a half of a lean chicken breast or a piece of baked cod. Try to keep it to around 4 ounces, or the size of a deck of cards. Some people seem to really need meat in their diet and a small piece helps keep them on track. Maybe you’d rather have the meat at breakfast or dinner. No problem. Just don’t get in the habit of having a big potato meal, and then scarfing down a pack of bacon. It won’t work.

Potatoes and Gravy

If there ever was a more natural pair, I don’t know what it is. Potatoes and gravy just go together. In this variation, we pair potatoes with a very benign ingredient, broth. Broth, be it chicken broth, “bone” broth, or simply a stock made of vegetables, is very healthy. It’s hardly food, more a drink. Little more than water and some nutrients, it can be quite flavorful, but with hardly any calories, especially when all traces of fat are skimmed from the top. My nutrition calculator shows chicken broth has only 20 calories per cup. That’s quite a deal.

And here’s the best part, what is more “potato” than potato starch? And what is potato starch’s #1 use? Gravy. Here’s the recipe:
  • 2 cups pf chicken broth
  • 1 TBS potato starch

For best results, pour ½ cup of cold chicken broth in a glass or bowl and bring the rest to a slow boil. While the broth is heating up, add 1TBS of potato starch to the cold broth in the glass and stir or shake vigorously. When the broth in the pan is boiling, dump the starchy broth in and stir. Within seconds it will gelatinize and become a perfectly thickened gravy that can be used as a sauce on any potato dish.

Yep, that’s it. Two ingredients. Makes enough to last nearly a week. You don’t need much of this wonderful gravy to moisten your spuds. A bit of salt and pepper and you won’t even know this is the potato hack, for good or bad. Not that I want to rain on your parade, but don’t make the potato hack too easy. As Scrooge said to Marley’s ghost:

You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of underdone potato. There's more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are! (Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol, 1843).

Ipomoea batatas Hack

Ipomoea batatas is better known as “sweet potato.” For the purpose of this variation, we’ll also throw in yams since most people can’t tell them apart and they are often mislabeled at the store. The nutritional profile of sweet potatoes, yams, and white potatoes is a bit different, for instance, sweet potatoes have much less starch and more sugar.

Might be yams

I’ve talked with several people who have successfully used sweet potatoes or yams as a portion of their potatoes on the potato hack. I cannot vouch for the effectiveness or the satiety of yams and sweet potatoes. This variation has not been well-tested and it really a completely different hack, if it works.

This variation is my least favorite, but you might like it. Simply substituting a couple sweet potatoes in a meal, or having a couple sweet potato/yam meals will most likely not be problematic. For people with Nightshade sensitivities, this may be the hack for you. Sweet potatoes and yams are not from the Nightshade family and do not have the solanine and chaconine that causes problems for some people with white potatoes.


The variations are endless but I’m quite pleased with these. You could even mix and match, for instance, meat & potatoes fried in a bit of oil with spices and gravy. Is that taking it too far? It’s a “legal” combination. You’ll have to decide. The intent of these variations is not to create a way to eat even more potatoes, but to break up the monotony and possible unpalatability of potatoes in the hands of amateur cooks. Try hard, dig deep. I’d rather hear from you saying that these variations were not needed, or possibly, that they helped you stick to a mostly true potato hack.

Happy New Year!


  1. Dammit, Tim, you've gone and convinced me to try a Potato hack again....

  2. "Cilantro, mint, oregano, basil, and hot pepper are all native to the area where potatoes originated."


  3. I may need to fact-check that statement. Some of the local spices were probably misnamed because they were similar to Asian spices the European explorers were familiar with, for instance, White cinnamon (wild cinnamon, Canella winterana, Canellaceae/Magnoliales) is native to South America and nearly indistinguishable from true cinnamon (C. verum)from China.

    Cilantro - aka coriander, originates from Asia, but very similar to Eryngium foetidum, which "has a similar, but more intense, taste. It is known as culantro, and is found in Mexico, South America and the Caribbean (wiki)."

    Marigolds (Tagetes) are almost undoubtedly from the mountainous regions where potatoes originate and were bred as spices that may have been confused with mint, basil, and others.

    Peppers of the Capsicum family seem to be originally from the area where potatoes came from (also tomatoes the "other Nightshade").

    Basil also native to all continents, Amazonian Basil looks to be quite unique in medicinal properties, too:

    Oregano also native to anywhere it can grow in the world, and some unique cultivars from South America, from wiki:

    "Cuban oregano or oregano poleo (Plectranthus amboinicus, formerly Coleus aromaticus), is also of the mint family (Lamiaceae). Sometimes also called "Mexican mint or Mexican thyme", it has large and somewhat succulent leaves. Not just a Latin American plant, it is also grown and used throughout the tropics, including Africa and Southeast Asia.
    Mexican oregano (Lippia graveolens) is not in the mint family, but in the closely related vervain family (Verbenaceae), that includes e.g. the lemon verbena (Aloysia citrodora). It is a highly studied herb[citation needed] that is said[by whom?] to be of some medical use and is common in curandera (female shamanic practices) in Mexico and the Southwestern United States. The flavor of Mexican oregano has a stronger savory component instead of the piney hint of rosemary flavor in oregano, and its citrus accent might be more aromatic than in oregano. It is becoming more commonly sold outside of Mexico, especially in the United States, where it is an important source of dried oregano. It is sometimes used as a substitute for epazote leaves; this substitution would not work the other way round. Epazote has a lighter, and even more savory flavor and citrus accent than Mexican oregano, and of course, a very strong sweet tarragon-like flavor which might be its strongest component. When Mexican oregano is substituted for epazote, the base flavor less the tarragon-like sweetness is provided, and other corrections to the recipe may cover for the missing tarragon component of epazote, or the dish may be served without that flavor component. If epazote were substituted for Mexican oregano, many dishes would be overpowered by the tarragon accent.'

    1. Thanks. The fun continues. My "marigold" is definitely not your "tagetes".

      It seems you will have to speak in Latin to the potato hackers :-)

  4. I remember 50 years ago our baked dinner was prepared using dripping. Our potatoes were baked in dripping. Even our fish and chips were fried in dripping.

    It's a pity that dripping is not on the list. Unfortunately I can't find it anywhere in the shops. Lard I can get at the Pure Market on Sundays.

    Jo tB

    1. Hi Jo! By "lard" I simply meant animal fats. Drippings would fit. Actually, a lot of the lard you buy at the store, here anyway, can have trans-fats from the lard-purification processes. I only bought lard once, and could not stand the smell and taste. Give me bacon fat any day!

    2. Tim, why not have a go at making your own lard. I did it years ago and it tastes delicious. You will need to find a good quality pig farmer. The lard I buy at the pure market tastes like the times I made it myself, so he is just smelting the fat.

      Jo tB

    3. I agree. I render my own lard using the fat from the pig I buy from a local farmer. Delish!

    4. I really don't use much oil, a jar of coconut oil lasts me a year, I use olive oil if I need to grease a bowl or pan, and we use either bacon drippings or butter when we cook eggs and hash browns.

      That said, I can imagine that fresh pork lard is awesome. I butchered 3 turkeys a couple years ago and rendered about 5 pounds of fat/lard off of them. It was almost too good, lol.

    5. Hm. In my household, a jar of duck fat and/or coconut oil and/or lard and/or ghee lasts perhaps a fortnight, a bottle of olive oil disappears within a month mostly into salad dressings. And butter...

  5. Re the tiny amount of oil you use to be able to pan cook the potatoes: in stainless or iron pans, it wouldn't be enough. I was under the impression that when society went to magical nonstick pans, we gave up fat for plastics into our body, and I've made sure that in my house we get healthy fats instead of neuro-destroying plastics. I don't think there is a nonstick that doesn't put its contents into the food over time. Is there? My pans are seasoned and slick but from years of cooking with natural fats. Hash browns with 1 tsp or less of fats? How?

    I am trying very hard not to ingest any plastics because I kind of suspect them in the Alzheimers epidemic. Both of my parents have Alzheimer's.

    I think it might take 2 tbsps coco oil to make hash browns for 4 people and not have to Boil water for a time in the pan to clean it.

    I'd like to try the potato hack in some form. A bit scared as I'm not a huge potato fan, and all the ways I love them have fat in them...

    1. You'd be surprised what you can do with even zero oil in a non-stick ceramic pan. There are a couple of nin-stick pans that don't have Teflon or any plastics, but use highly polished stone surfaces to achieve non-stickiness.

      Here's the one I use:

      10" Green Earth Frying Pan, with Textured Ceramic Non-Stick Coating from Germany (100% PTFE and PFOA Free)

      But even well-seasoned cast iron can be used to fry low-oil potatoes, the trick being a longer cook time at lower heat. When you use lots of oil, you essentially "deep-fry" the outer coating of potatoes and steam the interior. Cooking at a lower heat steams the potatoes just as well, but does not cause the intense caramelization that causes so much problems with higher heat cooking.

      I find that just a light spritz in the pan and then another as you flip the potatoes to be plenty. It's a whole new way of cooking, and probably a lot healthier than the way I learned to make fried potatoes and hash browns which was to use about 1/8" of oil, fry until crispy and flip. 100% of the oil is generally absorbed into the potatoes.

      While this makes very tasty potatoes, and I make them this way quite often, for "potato hacking" purposes, it's too much fat.

      If this method does not work with your pans, try oven "frying" at high heat on parchment paper. This also gives a nicely browned potato dish. Works well with french fry cut or shredded potatoes.

    2. Yaelle, I feel the same way about potatoes. However, during the summer I did replace at least one meal a day with cold potato dipped in salt (couldn't hack it without the salt) on a sort of ad hoc basis, nothing formal. It think it might have kick started some weight loss. I also tweaked my diet in other ways, so I can't say how much was down to the potatoes and how much was the other tweaks though. But it's something to keep in mind. I'm not a tater girl, but those small red ones boiled in their skins are pretty nice cold. Well, tolerable. Then one day I found myself cutting a potato in slices and spreading them with butter; clearly the game was up and I needed fat. The weight I lost (nothing earth shattering, I only wanted to get rid of the belly) has stayed off. I'd do it again if I felt I needed to.

    3. When I do the potato hack, I'll get a craving for fat after 4 or 5 days, and that always tells me it's time to stop. But funny, I never get cravings for sugar, sweet, or meat. Salt seems to be a craving you should not fight, I have never heard anyone say that salt ruined the effects of the hack. Fat, yes. I think the fat-free nature of the potato hack is probably it's biggest reason for working like it does, but if you get cravings for fat after a couple days it's probably best to cave in. With the potato hack, you can take days off at will and restart at your leisure, there is no "induction" period or anything to be aware of.

    4. On your recommendation, Tim, I am buying the ceramic pan. The air popper is a big hit.

      I also bought the matching lid because I don't have one that size. That reminded me of something that might be useful to Yaelle. Or not. i make grilled cheese sandwiches semi-frequently using a counterintuitive technique (to me). It is just as you say with the potatoes: low and slow. The problem with the grilled cheese, though, is that the cheese won't melt before the bread is cooked unless I put the cover on. It gets all steamy inside and melts the cheese. You'd think this would make the sandwich soggy, but doesn't. The outside is perfectly crisp. I learned this from somebody else, but don't remember who.

      I bet it'll work with potatoes too, even in cast iron with little oil. The grilled cheese takes a long time this way; I bet potatoes do too.

    5. Try the new copper colored and coated fry pans Use just a bit of water, to get them up to heat then cook dry until they are browned. The new skillets are totally non stick and just wipe with paper towel when you are done. No toxic fumes or plastic. Used a lot of different skillets in my 40 year career as a chef(cook)

  6. Do you think that adding crushed raw garlic (in addition to salt and vinegar) to potatoes would interfere with the principles of the hack?

    1. No, in fact, may enhance it. I should probably add garlic to the approved spice list. Thanks.

  7. Well I am officially Puddd'ing. Started Saturday and will probably do it for the whole month of January. For me on my regular days I must keep calories and quality of food under control. I did 2 days of potatoes only to start. Today is my first "up" day. No junk meals for a couple weeks though which I believe is a key component. I've maintained my initial 25 lb loss (within 5 lbs) for over 5 months now but I really should lose another 5 - 10 lbs beyond that. This is what my goal is. I went from 194 to 169 originally now I want to go to 160-165 and hopefully maintain in the 160's.

    1. Good luck! The potato hack posts are going to be slow in coming this year, probably just one a month unless I come across something really Earth-shattering. Keep checking back after the first of each month for more information.

      PUDDD'ing has always been one of my favorite 'hacks on the hack.' I was always intrigued by alternate-day dieting and the science behind it, using potatoes for the 'down day' seems to add a whole new level of complexity to alternate day dieting, but makes eating on the down day much simpler.

    2. I'm the one who first thought of the PUDDD over at Low Carb Friends. It really does make the down day much more tolerable. Glad to see it is helping people

    3. Ah! I remember you. I used to drop in at LCF from time to time, and yes, that is where the inspiration for this variation came from. I haven't checked in a while, how are you guys doing? Still up day/down day'ing it?

    4. there is a new potato hack for 2016 and a bunch of new hackers--going strong :) Good luck with the book

  8. This is the 4th day of the 3 to 5 day Potato Hack that will now be turned into a 7 day hack. When I took my measurements on the last day of 2015 in preparation for my 1st PH beginning on 1/1/16, I knew it was going to be bad but I needed the baseline for comparison purposes.
    Today I measured again and to my utter joy have lost 29.25 inches overall in 3 days!!!!!!
    I will measure again on the 6th to see if it continues and then again on the 8th for the results of a 7 day PH. I will post no matter what the results so you will all be able to share.
    I am a 66 old female who needs to lose some serious weight. (104 lbs is my stated goal) But the real result is measurements so that will be what I report. I measure from my neck to my ankles. The only part that didn't get smaller was my ankles. They stayed the same. I have used red potatoes and Idaho Baking Potatoes. I cooked them all and they are waiting in my frig to be reheated. Seasoned with salt and pepper nothing else. I couldn't be happier.

    1. Great report! Thanks. I hope this works for you. It sounds like you may have some inflammatory issues unrelated to diet and the potato hack is helping rid your body of some inflammation.

      If you gain the weight back quickly, maybe do some serious digging into the root of your inflammation, ie. certain foods, medications, or hormonal.

    2. Sara, that's amazing! I am brand spanking new to all this potato stuff after struggling with VLC eating over the past year. Struggling to lose a scant ~15 lbs, only to gain it back because of changes at work which severely sabotaged all the gains I had made. Looking for some information regarding inflammation, I stumbled onto Richard Nikoley's (FTA) site, and have only been reading that for about the past 2 weeks, which brought me here. I, like you, have over 100 lbs (150 give/take) to lose. I ate my first potato meal tonight, (first in a very long time without spuds!) but had to add a splash of olive oil because they seemed too dry. I'll be using the red potatoes, as they seemed to hold up better than the yellow ones. I plan on continuing the rest of this week with more potato meals. I'm trying not to get too excited about this, as losing weight has been extremely hard for me. It doesn't come off easily at all. I do have a few questions though. I just 2 days ago started the potato starch. Do we continue with that along with this? I have been taking my starch with orange juice. Is that okay? Also, I like coffee in the morning, and I use half n half, is that okay? I only weighed myself tonight, but thinking about taking some measurements too, idk though. Thank you for posting your results Sara! I guardedly trudge forward. Oh, and I love potatoes, so I don't think I will have too much trouble with this at all!

  9. Tim, some adjectives just have a certain je-ne-sais-quoi, but then, I've always found you inspirational ;-)

    Thank you many times over for all the well-researched tips, the self-experimentation and the new information and references that you generously communicate, regarding everything involved in 'human' nutrition, from hacks to gut biome.

    Meanwhile, I've experimented some more (but of course!) and believe the trick of eating both meat and potatoes by isolating them in well-separated meal-times can also manage to accommodate even 6 oz of fatty fish like salmon or a somewhat fatty meat like a grilled small pork chop (again 6oz). It's done by making the time separating meals longer, eg.10 hours for me (this may be more or less time for others, digestion time having such an individual variability).

    So for 'safety', that is, in order to not affect weight loss, it may be best for such a hack to have the protein+ meal in the evening and then a late breakfast or lunch of potatoes, thus guaranteeing over 12 hours separation.
    Would you or any of your readers wanna go N=2 (or more!) on this? (...she says, smiling hopefully).

    Also, to easily 'cook' potatoes in minimal oil, it can help to bake/boil/microwave first until still firm, then saute in a frying pan with a teaspoon of olive or coconut oil for browning. This may also address Yaelle's concern about the small amount of oil?

    On a personal note, I missed our knowledgeable and humorous discussions on all things 'food' during most of last year, but you'll be happy to know our first N=2 came in very useful to me directly this summer when I had to beat-down inflammation a few weeks after a brutal 7 hour-long surgery ('in stasis', aka 'dead'). Needless to say, potatoes to the rescue! :-)

    1. M. Intrepid (M = Mysterious?)
      Back prowling the blogs again, eh? Great to see you! Your idea of a protein dinner and potato breakfast is intriguing, sort of a variation of Potatoes-by-Day, but even more focused.

      One thing really unique about the potato hack is that it takes so much guess work out of the diet portion. Every other diet, except those where you pay dearly for pre-made meals, still leaves the dieter with thousands of food choices and combinations. It's all these choices that mess people up. With the potato hack, if you are not deriving nearly all of your calories from potatoes, you are doing it wrong.

      Hopefully someone takes you up on the 'Meat and Potatoes' variation, I'd love to see this experiment carried out a bit further after we were cut short last time.


    2. M. Intrepid,

      The N=2 experiment with meat 'n' taters is interesting. I would be happy to give it a try but you should know I work in a mobile lab in the oil fields of west Texas and the internet access is intermittent to almost non-existent. I'm usually out here for a weel to six weeks at a time. If you can live with spotty communications let me know and we'll have a "meeting of the minds," as they say.

      James H.

    3. Heh, forgot...

      rock-looker at sbcglobal (dot) c o m

      James H.

    4. M. Intrepid
      I suppose I am looking at something similar but with a twist. I am trying every other day of potatoes with low carb high fat the alternate days. I am on the road with work and pay a cook 80.00 a week to prepare 20 pounds of roasted and mashed potatoes without fat. I feel, perhaps unreasonably, that I need fruit and vegetables but don't want to mess up the gut action of just potatoes.

  10. Something interesting happened last week. I had nuked some potatoes and then stored them in the refrigerator. I had to leave the house for several days and by the time I returned these nuked taters had been sitting in the reefer, uncovered, for about eight days. I was going to toss them in the trash but upon inspection I decided they were good.

    I shredded them and put them in a hot non-stick skillet. Upon tasting them they were delicious even without salt. The really noticeable aspect was the taters were somewhat dried; not anywhere near the amount of moisture in a freshly-nuked potato. The mouth-feel was almost mealy but not unpleasant. As I said, the potatoes--Yukon Golds-- were delicious.

    The one time I stored boiled potatoes, "reds" as I recall, in the fridge for a few days they became slick with slime under the skin. Blech. (These reds were also stored uncovered.)

    Any idea about what's going on? I would have thought the boiling would have killed any sub-surface organisms (205°F at my elevation). Also odd is the light dessication of the entire nuked potato after a week.

    James H.

    1. Hi James,

      Non cooked, uncovered foods in the fridge dry out. That’s why the best way to make good buffalo wings is to store them on a baking sheet uncovered for 12-18 hours! Better for frying up! So the success with the potatoes not sticking makes sense. You’re right, far less moisture! It’s damp things that tend to stick to pans. It’s why u Dry ur fish fillet really well before putting it into a pan. And my guess is why ppl are having more success with no oil necessary when they parboil or pre cook the potatoes before heating them in the pan. Much of the moisture has already been removed in the first cook.
      As for the difference in microwaving vs boiling the potatoes, storing them the same way, but having drastically different results? My guess would be that microwaving cooks from the inside of the food-out and boiling cooks from the outside-in. In other words, the center of the potatoes are cooked more than the outside when u microwave. So those potatoes aren’t getting slimed in ur frig, less moisture! Notice how moisture heavy raw veggies (cucumbers, bell peppers) get so gross sitting in the frig after a while? Same principal. The boiled potatoes are fully cooked on the outside. causing moisture and bacteria buildup which = slime!
      Try parboiling the potatoes if u want next time. Don’t cook them all the way. They’ll finish cooking fine in the pan anyway. But you won’t get that slime. Or just microwave. Less time and less hassle. Hope this helps answer ur question �� - Amy

    2. Hi James,

      Non cooked, uncovered foods in the fridge dry out. That’s why the best way to make good buffalo wings is to store them on a baking sheet uncovered for 12-18 hours! So the success with the potatoes not sticking makes sense. You’re right, far less moisture! It’s damp things that tend to stick to pans. It’s why u Dry ur fish fillet really well before putting it
      into a pan. And my guess is why ppl are having more success with no oil necessary when they parboil or pre cook the potatoes before heating them in the pan. Much of the moisture has already been removed in the first cook.
      As for the difference in microwaving vs boiling the potatoes, storing them the same way, but having drastically different results? My guess would be that microwaving cooks from the inside of the food-out and boiling cooks from the outside-in. In other words, the center of the potatoes are cooked more than the outside when u microwave. So those potatoes aren’t getting slimed in ur frig, less moisture! Notice how moisture heavy raw veggies (cucumbers, bell peppers) get so gross sitting in the frig after a while? Same principal. The boiled potatoes are fully cooked on the outside. causing moisture and bacteria buildup which = slime!
      Try parboiling the potatoes if u want next time. Don’t cook them all the way. They’ll finish cooking fine in the pan anyway. But you won’t get that slime. Or just microwave. Less time and less hassle. Hope this helps answer ur question ��

  11. Regarding different responses to the potato hack, I often have to think about the fruit fly study I have already linked here before. Because there is some protein in potatoes, but not much. Some people report they really need to eat some protein during potato hack. No idea if low protein (availability) could be an answer to the "feeling cold" but here is the idea anyway, based on this paper:

    Microbes Promote Amino Acid Harvest to Rescue Undernutrition in Drosophila (2015)

    TLDR: some gut microbes were identified to be digested continuously by the fruit fly. These bugs help extracting protein from the diet, and store it in their bodies. When the food source changed and diet was suddenly low in protein (not good for the poor flies), these bugs died and fed the host by released protein, and by doing so prolonged the fly's life.
    The researchers tried to identify the bug, it was not Lactobacillus plantarum, but a yeast. They thought it might be Saccharomyces cerevisiae, but no. What a surprise. It was Candida krusei (other name Issatchenkia orientalis aka Pichia kudriavzevii).

    Let's dare to extrapolate this fruit fly example to human nutrition. Hypothetically, we may do it. So, what if those of you who have troubles on PH do not have enough such yeasts in your guts that would be willing to die for you and feed you with protein? You do not have them because you do not eat them, do not feed them or - gasp - you killed them before. Examine your diet carefully regarding yeasts, fermented foods, complex polysaccharides etc.

    Gut microbiome changes during PH would make a cool study!

  12. Hi Tim,

    Thanks so much for your informative and friendly website. I have no idea why I started thinking of the potato diet today, but Google led me here. I've been completely stuck with my weight loss (lost 40 and gained 8 back, which I can't shift).

    Some aspects of the PH remind me of when I lived in SE Asia and would eat massive amounts of rice everyday, and even though calorie-wise it was a lot, I would always lose weight. Maybe it was eating 2 meals of rice that had been cooked the night before, and having a bit of resistant starch? Or maybe just the complete lack of anything processed and almost no sugar...

    Anyway, I'm looking forward to starting out with the PH tomorrow. Especially as I love potatoes. :) Though I must say, I am missing our Alaskan potatoes (currently overseas). I truly think they are some of the best in the world!


  14. Hi. Where do I find the recipes for the PBD way of eating? I quote "I think you’ll find you will never get tired of the tasty potato dishes in the recipe section, and eating this way makes dinner oh-so-much more enjoyable. Try PBD for a week. You’ll love it."


    1. Sorry, that was a typo. I'm planning a recipe post, probably on March 1st. Check back!

  15. Thanks for that! I've been going crazy, looking for the recipes!!!!!


  16. Someone on another blog that I read posted a link to a very interesting article in the Atlantic.

    Jo tB

  17. Tim, is boiling the potatoes in beef or bone stock ok for the hack?

    1. No problem at all with the bone broth/stock. Enjoy! I don't think I have ever boiled potatoes in bome broth, but I almost always make beans and rice that way. Good idea!

  18. I would like to make a comment regarding my recent variation of the potato hack that has resulted in fantastic fat loss:

    Over the past month I've lost 6lbs of pure fat, and my IBS is the best it's been in years. All I've done with my diet is replaced 50% (sometimes more) of my daily carbs with potatoes and cut my meat consumption by about 33% (not for weight loss reasons, but just to consume less). Specifically I have been eating Yukon Golds. I have a full bottle of Rifaximin right here ready to take, but my improvement has been so great that I am holding off.

    I also feel like a fat burning machine right now. I am hungry more often, but somehow still energetic (or even more energetic if that makes sense). I have "cheated" many times on my diet with little ill effect. I venture to guess that I found my "magic fiber" that feeds the right bacteria in my gut. I have been bodybuilding for years, and the fat loss has been wonderful for my physique.

    Anyways, that's my version of the hack. I did try a potato only day that went well. I really like under-cooking my potatoes, the light crispness and "pop" you get when eating them is so palatable!

    1. Great comment! Thanks. I was just reading another low carb blog where they compared potatoes to sugar. What a joke. There appears to be a "therapeutic dose" of potatoes that gives all the antiinflammatory benefits and allows the magic of the potato to show itself. Fried potatoes twice a week, a bag of chips, and fries with lunch are probably no better than sugar, but as you've found, eating a pound or two a day in lieu of your normal carb sources had the desired effect, ie. fat loss.

      I agree with the undercooked potato assessment. That's pretty much how I cook them all the time now.

  19. Hi Tim, Ate my first potato only meal this morning for breakfast. I boiled 4 organic red potatoes for 20 minutes with a teaspoon of Himalayan Pink Salt. I was full after 3 potatoes (330 calories according to the nutrition label on the potato bag). After only 2 hours, I became ravenously hungry, light-headed and my equilibrium was a little unsteady. These reactions continued for 50 minutes, when I had to eat to end this ordeal. Why did my body react so poorly? What adjustments can I make?

    Thank you!

    Patrick O'Flaherty

    1. What you describe sounds like an episode of hypoglycemia. (I had it most of my life.). Your brain didn't have enough energy to function properly.

      I can't say what caused it though. Do you have similar issues with other carbs in the morning, like oatmeal? Have you been checked for pre-diabetes or other blood sugar issues?

    2. It sure felt like my blood sugar was way off. I was going to test it with a blood glucose meter but the test strips were out of date and thus did not read the blood sample.

      I have done fasted blood sugar readings in the past and they were always normal. I always feel great after a meal of a large portion of meat (8 - 12 oz.) and buttered veggies.

      Typically I have oatmeal every morning for breakfast but it includes protein powder, coconut oil, banana, blueberries, apple cider vinegar, cinnamon and ground flax or chia seeds and I can usually go 3 - 4 hours on that with a gradual rather than abrupt energy crash.

    3. I always had good fasted blood sugar readings even with hypoglycemia. For me, it was some issue of having a lot of carbs in the morning. Two hours, then I'd eat a whole bag of anything I could find. I couldn't think well and felt like you described.

      Tim has more experience. I have no idea why one meal of just potatoes would trigger such a response. I've passed out from hypoglycemia, so it's not safe IMO to ride it out. Also, adding more carbs (potatoes) would only kick the can two hours down the road. For me, the best way to stop the swings was with cheese.

      There are some suggestions that hypoglycemia is a symptom of pre-diabetes. Certainly something is amiss with blood sugar control. Do you have times when you are not in control of your eating?

      I had good luck adding fiber supplements to what I already ate. It cured my hypoglycemia. I could not have started with the potato hack. I could physically do it now without hypoglycemia, but I need fats in my diet (but I'm not LCHF).

      May I ask why you were doing the potato hack?

    4. You really need to test BG before assuming it's hypoglycemia. I've had that feeling before and tested to find I was at 80-90.

      It's hard to say why you felt the way you felt. I always recommend having a bag of pre-cooked potatoes on hand for the munchies. It could have been that you were experiencing a thing called "hunger." Not many people know what it feels like.

      Do you normally eat 3-5 small meals a day? Have you ever tried intermittent fasting where you don't eat at all from 6pm til noon?

      The usual response to starting the Potato Hack is just that it is a "non-event". A meal of potatoes is not much different from other meals you might normally eat, like a big bowl of oatmeal or a pile of donuts. The differences start to become apparent after a couple meals or a couple days. Once your gut becomes potato adapted and all of the plant chemicals are doing the things they do, this is when the potato hack starts to show itself. You are losing weight, but not hungry. At that point, it's more mental as you start to want other foods but deny yourself.

      If nothing else, it's a safe, fun experiment to eat nothing but potatoes for a couple days. Heck, there are diet plans that ask people to fast for 3-5 days!

    5. Tim,

      Hypoglycemia is a potential issue. People doing the hack are likely to be metabolically challenged. I've experienced both sides and I know the difference. My hypoglycemia was never triggered by fasting. Instead it was triggered by things like, say, a big bowl of oatmeal or a pile of donuts. Just like the potatoes would have, So yes the meals are not all that much different.

    6. Oh, sure, a potential issue. But easy to test. I was asking about the fasting because if a person is used to eating every few hours, they get used to that way of eating, and never experience the feeling of hunger.

      But, yes, if hypoglycemia was an issue, it would presumably present itself 1-3 hours after a meal.

      When I was doing a lot of BG testing on myself, I'd see peaks in the low 200s and dips into the 50's and never felt a thing. The few times I suspected low blood sugar, it was not even close to being low.

    7. There is a related syndrome called idiopathic postprandial syndrome that mimics hypoglycemia but does not involve lowered blood sugars. My hypoglycemia was hereditary and was verified by endocrinologists.

    8. I'd forgotten why, but the endocrinologists told us that blood glucose levels are not reliable..

      "A single finger prick seldom tells us enough to be of significant value. It is both the absolute level of blood sugar as well as the change in levels that assist us in making a diagnosis. Also, the standard glucose tolerance test, due to its lack of flexibility, is prone to error and can easily miss some of the low blood sugar readings and precipitous drops in glucose levels as the patient responds to a heavy glucose load."

      A six-hour tolerance test is recommended

      Ravenous hunger is one thing. Mental confusion and dizziness is another. Thats not right.

    9. A single point of data rarely tells a story. The BG monitors and test strips that you can buy at WalMart are very accurate, I've tested mine just prior to getting labs at the hospital, and they are always within 1 or 2 points.

      To see what is happening, you'd need to test your BG at 15 minute intervals, then maybe even shorten to 5-10 minutes to observe the shoulder on a curve. A single test at 60 minutes or whatever would be worthless. Making your own BG curve is quite fun if you have enough strips and the time to do it. Just write down the numbers, then put them in an excel spreadsheet for future reference.

      Maybe I misread the symptoms: "I became ravenously hungry, light-headed and my equilibrium was a little unsteady."

      This was 2 hours after eating 4 potatoes. Who knows? Could definitely well be low blood sugar, or something much less worrisome, like hunger:

      "Open ended questionnaires indicate that study participants experience a wide range of sensations that they collectively refer to as hunger. These include sensations directly related to the stomach (e.g., growling, aches) or head (headache, light-headedness, dizziness, loss of concentration), more generalized sensations (e.g., weakness, anxiety, nausea) and attributions to other sensory systems such as those related to fluid balance (e.g., thirst mouth dryness, mouth watering)"

      Good paper on hunger here:

    10. And I might be over reading the symptoms. My point was not that the potato hack is inherently dangerous. It's just that metabolically deranged people who experience overwhelming hunger along with other symptoms of hypoglycemia ought to entertain the fact that they might have it. It's not a matter of retraining the brain in that case. It's a real physical thing that, if present, requires some care and awareness.

      Like I said, I've experienced both. Lately, I have been using fasting and hunger as a focal point for mindfulness. So yes, I've experienced some of what the questionnaires report. But it's a matter of degree. A pin prick vs. a stab wound. One is interesting. The other overwhelming. I'm assuming the latter on the OP. it's also a matter of tolerance, as you say.

      I didn't fix mine by retraining my brain and toughing it out. I would have fixed a long time ago if that were the case.

  20. I remember many years ago when I ate nothing but fruits and vegetables for 2 days and was absolutely miserable within 1.5 - 2 hours after the first meal on the first day. It felt like my body was screaming for protein and fat. So I thought that maybe just maybe that with the resistant starch, I would have a better reaction and I did not.

    I have also taken a metabolic typing test, which revealed that I have a fast metabolism and would do much better on a diet consisting of more protein and fat then the other 2 metabolic types (slow and mixed).

    1. I think that is useful information. I think there are just some (of us?) who need fat and possibly protein. I struggled for years trying to maintain a low fat diet yet I had bad cardiovascular markers. It was when I gave up and - ironically - consumed closer to government recommendations that my health improved. I'm not LCHF. I adore fat and potatoes both!

      I tried a potato hack variation, eating potatoes and veggies before 6 pm. I lasted two days before caving to cravings for fat. I stayed with low-fat friends for about 4 days and at the end ate a huge bowl of fried chicken skins (Homer Simpson voice "friiied chiiiicken skiiiiins").

      I do not know your motivation for the potato hack. You might try the idea of just adding fiber to ehat you already eat.

  21. I have never tried intermittent fasting and typically eat 6 times daily.

    1. If you want to try the potato hack again, maybe make sure you have ample pre-cooked potatoes on hand so you can eat more often. One problem people run into is not having any ready-to-eat potatoes handy and potatoes take a long tome to cook.

      I'm curious, too, what led you to the potato hack. Usually people with a fast metabolism are thin.

  22. Although at 54 years of age, 5' 8" and 173 lbs. and body composition of ~ 14%, I want to get back to the low to mid 160's where I have been most of my adult life.

    1. I should think the potato hack is exactly what you need! Let us know how it all works out.

  23. Damn only lasted 2 days on the hack, broke it day 3 as I was craving meat/fat (it helps not cooking meals for everyone else whilst on the hack). I'm jumping back on it tomorrow as I have some cooked purple spuds in fridge for tomorrow. Two days seem my comfort zone, I was thinking a PUDDUDD could be a variant for me. Two potato down days, one up day refilling on meat, two PD's and so on. Not as fast results as the full on PH but quicker than PUDDD, and certainly as a long-term hack more do-able. I didn't do well on JUDDD as I found the DD's difficult, but with potatoes they are much easier. I also found out that the carbs in spuds won't kill me :)


  24. Tim, what do you think of frozen low oil potato products? They make preparation quick and easy. They seem pre-cooked so presumably they should have some RS.

    1. If you mean like frozen Ore-ida hashbrowns, I'm a fan. But check the ingredients. If they have oil or anything added, I do not use at all. Must just be potatoes and perhaps an antioxidant.

      For instance:


      Idahoan Freshcut Hashbrowns: daho® potatoes, partially hydrogenated oil (contains one or more of the following: soybean, cottonseed, sunflower), salt, dextrose, onion powder, monoglycerides, calcium stearoyl lactylate, sodium acid pyrophosphate (preserve freshness) and sodium bisulfite added to protect freshness.




      Mr. Dell's Shredded Hashbrowns: Grade A potatoes with no additives or preservatives

      In looking, I see lots of really bad products with lots of oils. Especially the preformed french fries or tater tots. I'd pass on those 100% of the time!

  25. Tim, I finished reading the book yesterday and am completing day 1 today. Anxious to see the results! I am curious if you are willing to share your bread recipe. The picture in the book looked delicious! Thanks for all the great information.

    1. I'm not much of a baker, but I have been experimenting lately. I bought a sourdough starter:

      Followed the direction to resurrect it from dormancy, and have kept it alive in my refrigerator since October or November last year.

      When I want to bake a loaf of bread, I set the starter jar on the counter overnight, mixing in 1TBS of spelt flout and 1TBS of honey. In the morning it's nice an bubbly.

      I then mix the entire jar with 1/2 package of Bob's Red Mill spelt flour ( ).

      I add water to make a pancake-like batter consistency, and let this "work" all day. Before going to bed, it will be nice and bubbly. I put about 1/2 cup of it back into the jar and put in the fridge for next time.

      To the bubbly batter, I add most of the rest of the package of spelt flour and some more water until it is a sticky dough. I let this work on the counter over night.

      In the morning, I dump it on the counter and mix with the remaining spelt flour and knead it, maybe using a bit of olive oil, until it is a pretty stiff dough. I drop the whole thing into a parchment paper lined bread pan and let it rise at room temp for an hour or two or put it in the refrigerator if it will be a long time before baking it. You can actually leave it in the fridge for days and it will get an even better sourdough smell.

      When I bake it, I do about 400 deg F for about 30 minutes.

      Sometimes I mix things like oat bran, flaxseed, oatmeal, chia, whatever... in the dough while kneading.

      Sorry I was not more precise w/measurements...that's how I cook!

  26. Thank you! I will start working on a gluten free version.

  27. Thank you! I will start working on a gluten free version.

  28. This is so fascinating! I am 63 and need to lose 30 pounds. I have tried every healthy "food" plan I can find, nothing is working! So I saw the article on Penn Gillette and decided to investigate the Potato Hack Diet. I love potatoes and thought why not. My older sister needs to lose close to some pounds as well, she is five foot tall and weighs around 178 I think. I am keeping a diary of what I eat so hopefully when I have lost a good ten pounds I can share this with her and she will give it a try. Harder to lose as we grow older. I also walk about 3 miles a day so exercise is not an issue. I love all the comments, very helpful. I am on day 2 and find the simplicity of this unreal. Eat potatoes. I am not hungry at all. I will check back to share.

    1. Welcome! Penn's book has certainly brought me a new audience, haha. Apparently he thought that he could say, "just eat potatoes" and people would be happy. I have been coaching people on how to "just eat potatoes" for 5 years now, and still get new questions almost every day. Let us know how it goes!

  29. Started the hack this morning, ate 400 kcals worth of potatoes, but almost immediately got a weird feeling again as in light headed, dizzy, slow and trouble speaking. It seems the only thing that is possible to eat for my without too much symptoms is a little bit of carb, moderate fat and high protein in 1 meal. Any idea what this could be? Also got this when I dont eat for longer then 3 hours depending on meal size.

    1. Do you have blood sugar problems? Have you ever had your fasting blood glucose checked? An oral glucose tolerance test?

      You definitely have something strange going on!

  30. I enjoyed the Potato Hack for curbing hunger for sure. The only problem I had was very dry lips. I'm sure I drank enough water so am not sure what happened.

  31. I'm not sure if anyone is still reading this thread, since these comments are almost a year old, but I'm very interesting in the discussion between Tim, Wilbur and Patrick. I'm having similar issues with the potato hack as Patrick. I've had hypoglycemia (both real and the "idiopathic" version Wilbur mentioned) all my life, although it is much better (almost non-existent) when I eat a low to moderate carb Weston Price type diet. The normal kind of hunger I get when eating lower carb comes on slowly and never subjectively feels like an emergency.

    Wilbur, I'm curious what you did to fix your hypoglycemia issues to the point that you can do the potato hack with no problem. I have no problem emotionally with the potato hack (at least after the first day). I can have a lot of discipline when I choose to. I just experience frantic hunger many times throughout the day and then require eating at least 8 times (which is really annoying and distracts me from my work). I haven't tested during this potato hack, only because I've run out of strips, but based on past experience, I'm probably at least somewhat low when I feel hungry (65-70). I've had the same experience as Tim of feeling "hypoglycemic" and testing between 80-90, but I now recognize that as a different thing. "Hanger" (idiopathic postprandial syndrome) and hypoglycemia are different and feel different.

    Nobody knows what hanger is exactly, but it is very real and not just some weird emotional hypochondria thing, as some people might think. I've done a lot of testing in the past, and I've found that for me the feeling of hanger actually corresponds with a *higher* glucose reading than my comfortable FBG. A good example of this would be waking up at 74, feeling good, and then getting hangry 45 minutes later when my reading has gone to 85. This is the same a few hours after a meal. If I'm at mid-high 70's, I'm probably feeling comfortable. If I'm hangry, I'm usually 83-90. I never have high blood sugars beyond an hour or so past a meal.

    By the way, I'm a healthy weight 5'6, 138, but about 20 pounds away from my ideal skinny weight. My FBG, insulin and A1c are all in the ideal range (according to Chris Kresser's chart).

    Today is my third day of my second potato hack. I tried something different today and ate a large potato breakfast (I used to be able to skip breakfast, but I get severely hangry these days if I try that). Before I had been eating small potatoes many times a day, so I thought if I forced myself to eat larger meals, I might be able to eat fewer times. I have a feeling it's not going to work though, and I might very well have a severe hypoglycemic attack in a couple hours. Pray for me!

    1. Hi Robin - Very interesting post. I always thought the term "hangry" was just a funny internet way of saying you are so hungry you are angry.

      Your blood glucose numbers are perfect, many will be jealous. But, you need to listen to your body. As you are not severely overweight and have good labs, forget about the potato hack if it doesn't make you feel better. There is obviously no approach that works well for everyone.

      I take it that you have two issues: wanting to feel normal in your eating and wanting to lose a few pounds. Well, a low-carb WAP diet is a pretty darn good way to eat long-term, if it makes you feel good. Losing weight is always difficult, some find that simply cutting calories work, while others try that and fail miserably. It's a life-long journey, at least you are at a good starting point.

      Hopefully Wilbur is still watching this, he may have more to add.

      Oh, cool about your boyfriend!

    2. Robin -

      I understand the feeling. I never did glucose testing, so you know more than I about that. But, yes, eating many times per day (I recall 6-8 for me) was normal. I'd become very snappy if I couldn't get food. A lot of the times I had to binge, eating a whole bag of chips maybe.

      The thing is that I cannot really do the potato hack. Not because of hypoglycemia per se, but maybe hypoglycemia is related. I NEED saturated fats in my diet: butter, lard, fatty meat, bacon, etc. it's not a huge part of my diet - maybe 30% of calories - but it's necessary. A day on the potato hack has me craving saturated fats like you wouldn't believe.

      I spent several days with friends who "ate healthy." Low fat, especially saturated fat. I was insane by the end of the visit. A large bowl of chicken skins fried in lard cured that!

      I wish I knew the answer. I know what I did, but I don't know what worked. I have a gut feeling that pushing through lots of different types of fibers and then listeni to/trusting the body to tell you what it needs is the key. But it's tricky. The body might tell you it needs a Twinkie. You know that's wrong. It might tell you to eat a super fatty ribeye. Is that right or wrong? For me, right is unprocessed food. The ribeye is right; the Twinkie is wrong. Now, my cravings are only for unprocesssed food. This week I had to make a special trip to the store because I had a craving for collard greens. I'd choose to fast rather than eat anything processed.

      I recently celebrated 3 years since my last hypoglycemia episode. It's worth the effort to beat it. I only eat twice per day now. Truthfully, I could eat once, but my wife my excellent omelettes and I make excellent dinners. So I do twice. And sometimes it's amusing watching hangry people.

      I don't know what to add. But I'll try to help if I can!

    3. To clarify a little: In the decades I had hypoglycemia, I avoided fats. I grew up in the era that demonized them. It was only after taking the fiber gave me relentless cravings for them that the hypoglycemia vanished. Was it fiber or fats? I don't know.

      I do know that the fiber glucomannan had a significant effect on eliminating my hypoglycemia. It was the nail in the coffin, so to speak.

    4. This is a great response Wilbur. I am new to the forum and have also found that the fiber in PGX (glucommanan) helps with hunger and all those "hypo" symptoms. My question to you is - do you still have to take it to keep your blood sugar regulated or were you able to wean off of it?


    5. I've never gone more than a day or two without taking my fibers. Not because I experience any symptoms, but because I just believe in keeping my gut well-fed. So I've never tested it beyond a day or two.

  32. I should also note that my boyfriend who's a type I diabetic does amazingly well on the potato hack. it increases his insulin sensitivity like crazy, and he loses lots of weight and inflammation. Go figure.

  33. Thanks for your replies Tim and Wilbur!

    I didn't have any horrible episodes yesterday, so that was a relief. I didn't feel stable either though. It was very stressful, and I made some work mistakes that were not good :-/ Tim, I think you're right that maybe the potato hack is just not for me.

    Wilbur, I know how you feel about saturated fat. When I'm finished with this potato hack (I'm doing one more day today, just because I have so many boiled potatoes, and because I like to punish myself), I'm going to have a piece of meat or some cheese, or whatever, and within minutes, a wave of calm and relief will wash over me. Eating fat free feels like nails against a chalkboard all day long. I still think it's related to glucose instability, but it may be other things too. I know the Irish peasants subsisted off of nothing but potatoes for long periods, and maybe if I was raised that way, I could too. I sometimes wonder what would happen if i became a prisoner in some 3rd world country, and they gave me only potatoes and water. Would I adapt completely after a few weeks? I guess (hopefully at least) I'll never know.

    Wilbur, I too love glucomannan. I also use it in cooking a lot, as it has some very useful qualities, but I also add some to a fiber blend I take most days (as per Grace of gutinstitute) Do you take it at the same time as you eat carbs? How specifically do you use it for your hypoglycemia?

    I also grew up in the fat free era. Remember Entenmanns fat free brownies in the late 80s? I would get reactive hypoglycemia just looking at those. I was a mess during those years. After discovering an old, yellowed Atkins book at a garage sale around 1991, I was quickly disabused of all that fat-free insanity. I considered myself a paleolithic eater by the mid 90s and started hanging around Art De Vany in grad school. All that worked beautifully for me until I hit my mid 40s (I'm now 48). Low carb still works well for hypoglycemia, but not for weight loss.

    I stayed far away from fat free foods for a long time, but have had some recent interest due to Denise Minger's writing about the rice diet and veganism, and Tim's writings about potatoes. Although I'm apparently not a good fit for the rice diet or the potato hack, I've learned a lot from all this. I no longer demonize carbs as I once did. I still need to be careful about them and consume them only as whole, unprocessed foods, or occasionally WAPF sourdough.

    I can usually avoid hypoglycemia by eating a WAPF diet, as long as I'm near my kitchen. Wilbur, I so envy you for being able to only eat once a day. I hate being a slave to food. I don't even like being away from home, because I know I'm going to be stuck without access to appropriate food at some point and have a meltdown.

    But the other things is that I'd love to lose some weight. Just 10 pounds even! I'm one of those many women you hear about reaching a certain age, and then nothing works anymore for weight loss. Exercise, whole foods, low carb, low fat, low cal. Nada. I've had tons of testing done on hormones, etc., and everything seems optimal, so it's just a really mysterious phenomenon. I do seem to have a little bit of dysbiosis or leaky gut (probably due to drinking too much wine over the past many years), so that's the only thing I can specifically try to fix at the moment. I doubt that would have any relation to my weight loss resistance though.

    1. I know the in-edge feeling you have. I've also experienced the calming effect of saturated fat.

      I just put glucomannan in with the other fibers.

      A couple of thoughts. My daughter has/had hypoglycemia. I've been giving her a fiber mix in a chocolate smoothie. It helped but was not 100%. Lately, though, she hasn't been eating snacks and yet has no trouble doing math and stuff 5-6 hours after eating.

      The only thing I remember changing is that I've been putting baobab and amla in her drink because I discovered that raw cacao hides a lot of nasty flavor. It could be that one of these two helps. Or maybe it's the high levels of antioxidants they have. I have used these pretty much from the beginning. I use a rounded tablespoon of baobab and maybe two teaspooons of amla.

      Also, I have some strong aversion to commercial yogurt. I've eaten a bite or two and nothing happened, but the message is strong. I use water for my fiber drinks, and stick to fermented vegetables for probiotics.

      I do my drinks about 30 minutes after a meal. I've read that bad fats and other stuff get absorbed by the fiber, particularly psyllium and phgg because they don't ferment. My evening drink just has these plus inulin and potato starch. That's so far the best for me.

      I'll think some more and let you know if anything else comes to mind. Yes, I was able to avoid it (mostly) before. This is completely different. I am so thankful that I discovered this, and wish I knew which part did the trick. It might also be that I am super strict about the fiber. But I drink beer and wine, eat desserts, eat bread and fries, etc. The fiber is constant.

  34. and Tim you're right, "hanger" is just a funny term people use, but I'm convinced that it's also a real phenomenon. Not having eaten for 2-3 hours should not cause such an extreme reaction. It's not a healthy, normal hunger. And people who get hangry usually have a known problem with hanger. Not everyone get's hangry. I'd love to see more studies done on this ideopathic postprandial syndrome. It wouldn't just benefit the hangry people, as we can always stand to learn more about how glucose metabolism works. My own testing leads me to believe that the glucose is not able to get into the cells (thus the sudden blood sugar rise, along with hunger). It could be a leptin thing, in which case we're screwed, because leptin is just way too complicated.

    1. Robin

      "hangry" sounds nasty.

      Do you eat some honey sometimes?

  35. Hi Tim and Wilbur,

    So I finished 4 days of potatoes last week, and actually felt REALLY good by the 4th day. I went with my cousin to a restaurant and watched him eat a beautiful gourmet burger on a brioche bun with cheese, etc., and I had no desire for it. If I wasn't going on a ski trip Friday, I would have pushed it another couple days. I think something happened after forcing myself to just eat potatoes for a few days. My body started adjusting metabolically, and I became extremely aware of the difference between hunger eating and pleasure eating. For someone who's been on a mostly whole foods diet for many years now, I really thought I knew that already, but eating potatoes really brought a new level of awareness.

    On my ski trip I ate whatever was available (pizza, steak, sandwiches). Returning this past Monday, I felt a strong urge to eat very simply again. I'm now eating 80% potatoes, and a few other very plain foods: chicken breast, boiled eggs, a couple raw veggies. I plan to eat this way, off and on, as my social schedule permits, and see what the results are over the next few weeks.

    I should also mention that I have lost some weight. Not sure the exact amount, but my waist is about 3/4" smaller, and I noticed this morning as I was walking around my apartment that I couldn't feel my thighs touching as much as I walked. Woohoo!

    Tim, I think a good approach for hypoglycemic types on the potato diet, is to add a little bit of protein (chicken breast maybe) whenever the body is feeling extremely stressed by a pure carb diet. Even right from the start, so the diet is doable for them. I'm guessing that if they did a longer hack, they might even be able to drop the protein after the first few days, if they wanted to be a purist about it.

    Wilbur, thank you for your comments about using fibers for hypoglycemia. I'm definitely going to start doing that more. I've never had baobab, and didn't really know what it was, but I'm very intrigued now!

    1. That's fantastic! From my experience, I think you have succeeded. I have a similar restaurant story, and a desire to return to my diet after being away for a few days. That might be a good method for hypoglycemia too!

      You might find certain conditions getting better. Less ache. I'm sure that you know this, but be diligent about medicines that have side effects if you are cured -I'm thinking blood pressure meds, but there might be others.

      Sometime you might even forget about conditions that you barely think about today. The one day something might trigger a memory of it, and you'll be amazed that's it's gone. Or, in my case, find an old bag for trips full of medicines I might need on a trip. I need no such bag now!

      Baobab is interesting. It's unprocessed. Powdered is the way it comes in the fruit, as I understand. (It might be dried though, I forget.)

  36. Hello Tim,

    Thanks for putting out a great resource here on this website.

    I was wondering if I could get your thoughts on a few question I have regarding the Potato Hack. What do you think of doing the "potato hack", completely potato free, by consuming other roots such as Taro, Cassava, Yams, and Sweet Potatoes solely? I know you have mentioned Sweet Potatoes/Yams in the above article, but what about Taro and Cassava?

    Also, what do you think about mixing each of the specimens within a meal (such as eating sweet potatoes with taro at the same time, etc) you think this would have an effect on the 'hack'? I now you've mentioned mixing varieties throughout the day per meal, just wondering if mixing it within a meal may lose effectiveness.

    Really appreciate your opinion on this as I'd like to avoid potatoes if possible due to the night shades.


    1. I would love to see someone try. Although, I have not been impressed by other roots as much as I was by potatoes when you look at the nutrition profiles. But for short-term diets, 3-5 days, it should not be that terrible to try. Perhaps a mixture of taro, cassava, plantains, and yams would work.

      The main reason that I completely overlook these four starches in the Potato Hack is that they are almost completely unknown by "Westerners." Potatoes are in our DNA, lol, but these others are very foreign to most of us.

      Give it a try and let us know.

    2. Hi Tim,

      Thanks for your reply. I'll give this "root/tuber hack" a go and report back =D.

      I can find these easily pre-packaged and frozen from most Asian grocers. They also have purple yams too - the real yams. They have all been hand peeled, cut, then immediately frozen, all you have to do is boil them (taro and cassava) or steam the yams.

      Thanks again

    3. I should add that you must defrost them appropriately first... :)

  37. Thanks for the tip! I'll have to look for these. I get stuck with beans, rice, and potatoes as my staples, it would be nice to expand that a bit.

  38. Can I drink coffee with cream while doing the potato hack?

  39. Can you eat some vegetables while doing the PH? Will it still let you lose weight?

  40. Can you eat some vegetables while doing the PH? Will it still let you lose weight?

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  42. Hi, I have been reading about PHD for a while now and as I have been piling on the pounds over the last few years (mainly since I fractured my elbow by falling in ice a couple of years ago) I decided to give it a go.
    I really love potatoes, and decided to ease myself into it by upping the amount I ate each day before cutting out too much else. I did replace the rice and pasta I was eating with potatoes, so not really increasing the amount of total food. I shed a couple of pounds over a few days, and then went away for a weekend and put most of them back on. The photos from that weekend made me determined to do something, so off I went and bought a few kg of potatoes. At first I was eating potables in the morning and at night with a semi normal lunch at work that I had already bought. For a few days it was halfhearted and didn't really log my weight much, until last weekend. Sunday to be precise when I really ate nothing but potatoes. Made some potato soup for work last week, and had that plus some cold boiled or cold baked wedges for lunch and then potatoes in the evening either baked, boiled, mashed with broth ( I use a stock cube). Sometimes I have some gravy, and sometimes I have used a very small amount of olive oil. Mainly though pink himalayan salt and vinegar. Since I have started in earnest, 12 days in all, I have had a couple of days where I wasn't prepared for lunch and had a very Scottish roll and square sausage for breakfast and a bought baked potato with tuna mayo at lunch but back to potato for dinner.
    It has been successful for me as since I have started at almost 85kg, I weighed in at 81.5kg this morning. For the record, I am 58 years young 5ft 4 ins high and have struggled with weight loss for some time.I am inclined just to keep going with this approach even tho it is slow, but since it seems to be working for me and I was told this week how well I am looking, I think that is the main thing. I found this morning that I was really wanting a roll and sausage and something other than potatoes for lunch, but not quite a craving. So what did I have? Potatoes of course :)
    Thanks for all the info on this blog. I have been lurking on it a while now, so thought I would just post too.:)

    1. Great story! Thanks for taking the time to write this, Mags. This is what is so great about the potato hack, short excursions with "normal" eating do not destroy the effects since it's not just water weight you've lost. The trick to sustained and lasting fat loss is to incorporate these potato days/meals into your life and get a really long run of it behind you.

      I'm not sure if you've read the whole book, but I expand even more on these variations and give some good recipe ideas. Planning is key to being able to pull this off. Probably the two most effective variations for long-term, large (20kg+) losses are Potatoes by Day and potato hacking 3 days per week. These two seem to be the most do-able for people, especially when you work and have a family to care/cook for.

      I think you will find that when you start evaluating what you have been eating up until now, a plain potato is more appropriate in term of calories and nutrition than most meal or snack choices. We all love variety, so no need to give up other foods, but when you start replacing bad choices with plain potatoes your body will thank you.

      Keep us posted on your progress!

    2. Thanks for your reply Tim, and I have your book. I have read parts of it but mean to get it all finished. RL is keeping me busy as I am currently trying to get my thesis finished asap, so browsing it from time. I have it on kindle app, so easy to take a quick break if something comes to mind.
      I will certainly post future updates, positive and negative :)

  43. Another great post, Tim! The comments here are plentiful and I haven't read them all, so it's possible that someone else has already covered what I have to say. My apologies if I step on anyone's toes! Your observation about issues cooking potatoes without oil aligns with my experience as well. My solution: Instead of using any added fat or a toxic non-stick pan, I cook my potatoes (shredded, or cut into wedges for 'fries') in a 400-450 degree F oven on a well-seasoned cast-iron pan. My favorite at the moment: a Lodge pizza pan. It is the perfect size for a big batch of oil-free hash browns or roasted/oven-fried wedges. The potatoes slide right off and are nice and crispy on the outside.