Potatoes have often been villainized as starchy, calorie-laden carb bombs that pack on the pounds. But what if we told you that it’s possible to lose a significant amount of weight by eating only potatoes — and nothing else?
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Australian dieter Andrew Flinders Taylor is going viral after eating potatoes for every meal, every single day, for nearly a year, and losing 117 pounds doing it.
Dubbed the “spudfit challenge” (also known as the “potato diet”), Andrew began his journey at 334 pounds, and documented his potato-based lifestyle on YouTube channel and blog.
While nutritionists wouldn’t advise such an extreme eating plan (most would recommend eating a balanced diet of protein, complex carbs, fruits and vegetables and healthy fats), it’s not as unhealthy to eat potatoes all day, every day, as you might think.
Indeed, potatoes are nutritional powerhouses, rich in fibre, potassium and vitamin C.
“For the money and your blood pressure, you can’t beat a traditional baked spud,” says Joan Salge Blake, a clinical nutrition professor at Boston University.
There were, however, a few nutritional caveats. During his challenge, Taylor made sure to eat all kinds of potatoes, including sweet potatoes. While white potatoes contain all the essential amino acids you need to build proteins, repair cells and fight diseases, sweet potatoes can make up for vitamin deficiencies, as they’re rich in vitamins A, E and C.
“Make your food boring and your life interesting,” says Andrew.
“I’m getting over 600 per cent of my daily iron retirements and over 400 per cent of vitamin C as well as heaps of fibre — all things that so-called experts have said I’d be low in today,” Taylor told The Independent during his challenge.
Because his diet completely lacked meat, he supplemented with a B12 vitamin. He was also concerned about his calcium intake (potatoes have some, but not enough), so he used calcium-fortified organic soy milk to make mashed potatoes. Futhermore, Andrew didn’t restrict the amount of potatoes consumed, eating as many as he needed to satisfy his hunger and flavouring with herbs or BBQ sauce when necessary.
The result? Andrew lost 22 pounds during the first month of his spud-tastic journey, despite not exercising at all. After the first month, he upped the ante by adding 90 minutes of cycling to his routine every day.
“My health just continues to improve. I had high cholesterol but now it’s low, my blood pressure has dropped and my sugar level has dropped,” he said. “Every time I get a new blood test, it just gets better.”
Should You Try The Potato Diet?
While the “spudfit challenge” may have worked for Andrew, obesity specialist Dr. Spencer Nadolsky warns Men’s Health against adhering to this diet long term.
First of all, eating nothing but potatoes means you are consuming very small amounts of fat, he says, which can be bad for your long-term health, leading to low energy levels, a weakened immune system and other issues.
Furthermore, potatoes only contain 4 grams of protein each, which isn’t great if you’re trying to maintain muscle and keep your metabolic health in tact. On the potato diet, you may find you lose muscle definition as you lose fat — not good.
So could you try the potato diet to lose weight? Technically yes, but you really shouldn’t have to go to such extremes. Instead, focus on eating a diet full of whole, nutrient-dense foods, incorporating lean proteins, lots of vegetables, and healthy fats into your meals — with potatoes or sweet potatoes as your carb.