When we think of the words detox and diet, potatoes are the last thing that comes to mind. Cleanse diets are primarily associated with fruits and juices, but potato cleanses are real! As the name suggests, you’ll need to eat nothing but potatoes for at least three days to lose weight.
But does it work? Many case studies say yes, with dieters reporting drastic weight loss results in just a few days.
Before starting this particular diet, here’s one thing you need to know: the potato cleanse can be painfully boring! Depending on how you approach it, it may even change your entire relationship with food; that can be good or bad.
Let’s delve into the rules and details of the potato diet and find out whether it’s a natural weight loss solution.
What is the Potato Diet?
The potato diet is just what it sounds like. It’s a plant-based diet in which you eat just potatoes and nothing else for at least a few days. You can extend the potato cleanse according to your tolerance, but it’s not recommended for longer than two weeks.
The potato diet has many variations, but the most basic version promises a one-pound weight loss per day. Although it may sound like the newest fad diet, the potato reset dates back to the 1800s! According to many dieters, the diet still works nearly 200 years later.
Despite popular belief, potatoes aren’t just fatty carbs. These spuds can be pretty nutritious, improving gut health, strengthening your immune system, and energizing you. Still, you can’t forget that the potato reset is highly restrictive and can lead to unhealthy eating habits.
Although no scientific studies support this weight loss diet, many claim it’s helped them lose significant weight.
Rules of the Potato Diet
To make sure you’re following the potato diet correctly and losing weight, there are a few rules you need to follow. The potato cleanse has many variations, but the basic plan outlines these guidelines.
You may have heard otherwise, but potatoes are the perfect food. In his book “The Starch Solution,” John McDougall perfectly explains its science. But we’ll answer your question of “Why potatoes?”
Potatoes are rich in resistant starch, feeding the good bacteria in your gut. So, there’s no doubt that eating lots of potatoes is suitable for your gut health. Plus, your all-spuds will force you to cut out certain foods that aren’t good for you.
Potatoes aren’t just a great option because of the endless health benefits, but they are also affordable. We all know that most diets have complex and expensive meal plans, but that’s not the case with the potato reset. Once your diet is over, you’ll wonder why you spent all that money on instant noodles in college!
The only two potato-related rules you need to follow in this diet are:
- Eat only plain potatoes for at least three to five days. Add seasonings only if necessary.
- Eat at least two to five pounds of potatoes daily to feel fulfilled.
There are no hard and fast rules about the type of potatoes you can eat since the potato reset has many variations. For example, Tim Steele, who reintroduced the Potato Hack, says only to use white potatoes. But you’ll also find variations that use Yukon Gold, White Russet, and red potatoes.
On the other hand, the Spud Fit challenge is a lenient version of the potato diet created by Andrew Taylor. He even permits sweet potatoes in his variation.
Although it’s recommended to eat plain potatoes in this diet, you can add a few condiments to please your taste buds. It’s better to avoid fatty condiments like sour cream and mayo. Instead, you can opt for fat-free and dairy-free alternatives.
You’re good to go if you don’t drench the potatoes in sauces and dressings! Plus, you don’t have to curb your sweet cravings completely, as this diet allows two tablespoons of pure maple syrup or date syrup. Add that to any sauce and make a delicious dressing for your taters.
Some variations of this diet allow the use of condiments. For example, Andrew Taylor uses minimal herbs, fat-free condiments, and some spices in his potatoes. It goes to show weight loss doesn’t have to be boring!
Although it’s the one thing that makes potatoes even yummier, you can’t use butter or oil. The goal is to follow a completely plant-based diet with few overt fats for a successful weight loss journey.
Most diet plans for this reset will tell you not to use spices and seasonings on your potatoes: even salt! If we’re being honest, that can make it near impossible to keep the diet going for weeks. So, use salt sparingly to make your food more palatable.
Also, salt your food after cooking, not during it! Otherwise, you’ll notice temporary weight gain as salt can retain water.
You can use spices as much as you want if they’re salt- and sugar-free. You can even use your choice of herbs to make the potatoes taste delicious while enjoying weight loss. Cheese isn’t a part of this diet, but you can use nutritional yeast as a vegan alternative.
Unfortunately, you’ll have to give up on all drinks with artificial sugars and additives. Your best bet is water to stay hydrated, drinking at least eight glasses throughout the day. Other than that, you can also drink coffee and tea without sweeteners. If you like to add milk and creamer to your coffee, opt for dairy-free and sugar-free options like unsweetened almond milk.
You’ll also need some liquids when making mashed potatoes or tater soup. In that case, there’s nothing better than no-salt-added vegetable broth and unsweetened non-dairy milk.
Since you won’t get your usual protein dose during the potato reset, avoiding heavy exercise is better. Alongside drastic weight loss, you can also expect some muscle loss. Stick to light exercise and walking to retain your energy.
What to Avoid During the Potato Diet
It’s no secret that the list of no-go foods in the potato diet is longer than you can. You can only eat potatoes, so your choices are limited!
Still, that doesn’t mean all potato foods are fair game. You’ll have to avoid anything fried and overly processed foods. Here’s a list of products you’ll need to say no to:
- Potato chips
- Hash browns fried in oil (Bake them instead!)
- Tator tots
- French fries made in oil
Unless you’re following lenient variations of this plant-based diet, such as the SpudFit challenge, you can only eat white potatoes. More specifically, you’re restricted to boiled potatoes with no seasonings or oil! Other than certain potato foods, here is a list of things you can’t eat during this diet.
- Junk food
- Dairy in any form
- Beans, lentils, and other legumes
- Fruit (Don’t worry, it’s only temporary!)
- Other starches
- Avocadoes, tofu, and overt fats
Does the All-Potato Diet Help You Lose Weight?
There are no studies on the potato diet yet, but there’s no rocket science behind it. Since it’s low in calories, you’re bound to lose some weight by the end of it. There are all sorts of research to prove that a calorie deficit is the most effective way to lose weight, as long as you stick to the rules!
This diet requires at least two to five pounds of potatoes daily. At first glance, that seems like a lot of potatoes! But in reality, it only makes up 500 to 1,300 calories, helping the average adult stay in deficit.
What’s worth exploring is the compound proteinase inhibitor two found in potatoes. This inhibitor can decrease your hunger by slowing down your digestive process! It’s even proven in a study where mice were treated with this compound and lost weight.
So, it’s clear that eating only potatoes is a short-term solution for weight loss. Using it as a long-term solution is not only dull, but it’s also unhealthy. Potatoes don’t have all the nutrients and energy you can find in non-starchy vegetables and protein sources for a complete, fulfilling diet.
Pros and Cons of the Potato Diet
Every diet has its pros and cons. Here are some you should learn about the potato diet.
Although this cleanse can be tedious and restrictive, it has potential benefits.
- Potatoes contain nutrients such as iron, vitamin C, folate, and potassium. It energizes you throughout the day, even while you lose some pounds.
- Eating only potatoes can sometimes be boring, but that’s the best part. It means nothing complex about it, which you can’t say about other vegan or plant-based diets. At the core of it, this diet only asks you to eat plain and boiled potatoes for a few days.
- Lack of complexity also means a lack of expensive, hard-to-find ingredients. When your grocery list is only potatoes, you’ll be shocked at how low your weekly spending can get. It’s one of the cheapest foods available, so anyone can try this unique cleanse.
- The benefits of potatoes don’t end there. Spuds are also high in fiber, which is great for your gut health and prevents many conditions. That includes heart disease, obesity, and even type 2 diabetes.
Like any weight loss diet, the potato cleanse has questionable aspects. Here are a few downsides to the Potato Hack.
- Although its restrictiveness is the main reason the potato diet works, it can also be its downside. Plus, it can lead to unhealthy eating habits, such as binge eating or obsessive calorie counting. Shockingly, some creators of this diet encourage harmful restrictive acts like skipping meals and fasting for long periods.
- Since it doesn’t have essential nutrients, this plant-based diet can’t work as a long-term solution. It lacks protein and fat since you can only eat potatoes (and other vegetables, in some versions). It also has no vitamin D, calcium, A, or B.
- Restrictive plant-based diets promise rapid weight loss but don’t warn you about drastic muscle loss. Studies suggest that the dieter’s lean body mass is 18% of the weight lost from low-calorie plans. Meanwhile, those under a slight calorie deficit only lose 8% lean body mass.
Sample Meal Plan for the Potato Diet
The best way to use this potato hack is gradually. According to experts on this strange diet, starting with fewer calories and increasing your daily intake is better. For example, you can start the potato cleanse at 700 calories per day and end it at 1,500 calories per day.
Here’s a complete potato reset plan to help you eat potatoes interestingly and deliciously every time.
This sample meal plan uses six medium-sized potatoes for roughly 700 calories.
Breakfast: Potato and veggie scramble
Lunch: Baked potato with salsa
Snack: Oven-baked sweet potato fries
Dinner: Potato and vegetable soup
This sample meal plan uses seven medium-sized potatoes for roughly 1,100 calories.
Breakfast: Potato pancakes
Lunch: Baked sweet potatoes
Snack: Roasted potato wedges
Dinner: Stuffed baked potatoes
This sample meal plan uses six medium-sized potatoes for roughly 1,300 calories.
Breakfast: Potato hash browns with sautéed vegetables
Lunch: Baked potato and potato soup
Snack: Oven-baked potato chips
Dinner: Mashed potatoes and roasted potatoes
The potato reset is simple enough; eat only potatoes for a few days, and you’ll lose some pounds! You’ll find it quite restrictive when you look closer since you can’t have fruit, beans, and non-starchy vegetables.
Although unsuitable as a long-term solution, it’s an excellent way to give your gut a break and your metabolism a much-needed reset. You can continue eating potatoes after the cleanse if you add the right balance of proteins, whole grains, and other vegetables!
Rahul is a nutritionist and personal trainer with 3+ years of experience in the field of health coaching. He specializes in nutrition science, with a keen eye for how food choices, lifestyle habits, and physical activity impact our bodies.