This Man Ate Potatoes for All Three Meals Everyday for a Year and Lost 50kg – This Is How
This article on the potato diet and weight loss was written by Julie Hambleton, B.Sc.. Julie is the co-founder of The Taste Archives, along with her twin sister.
Whether you’ve spoken with a dietitian, personal trainer, doctor, or have just done research on your own, the key advice you will find on weight loss is this: Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet, exercise regularly, and avoid extreme or ‘fad’ diets. One Australian man, however, decided to instead try an extreme weight-loss experiment and only eat potatoes for an entire year. The result? He lost over fifty kilograms (110 pounds) and claims he is the healthiest he’s been in years!
This is how he did it, and a look into whether or not the potato diet is truly worthwhile.
Andrew’s Weight Loss Transformation Story
Nine months down, three to go. I think I’m onto something 😉
At the beginning of the year, Andrew Flinders Taylor was heavy, weighing in at almost 152 kg (334 pounds). His cholesterol was high, blood pressure skyrocketing, and blood sugar getting to dangerous levels. This father of two from Melbourne, Australia knew he had to make a change, not just for himself, but for his family.
After combing through scientific papers and collaborating with his doctor and a dietitian on his radical weight loss plan, Andrew decided to take on the challenge of eating only potatoes for an entire year. To date, he has lost 53.2 kg (110 pounds) on the potato diet and now weighs 93.5 kg (206 lbs).
Potatoes: Earth’s nutritional powerhouses
White potatoes are some of the world’s most nutritionally dense foods. One white potato baked with the skin on contains (1):
- 26 g of fiber
- 3 g of protein
- 26 g of carbohydrates
- 0 g of fat
- 30% of your required vitamin C
- 15% of your required potassium (more than a banana!)
- Is a good source of vitamin B6
- Is a source of iron
- Contains all the essential amino acids to fight disease, repair cells, and build proteins
- Has only 110 calories per serving
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“I’m getting over 600 percent of my daily iron retirements and over 400 percent of vitamin C as well as heaps of fibre – all things that so-called experts have said I’d be low in today,” Taylor revealed in an interview The Independent during his challenge.
Despite all of its nutritional qualities, however, the traditional white potato does have a few things missing. Calcium was the main concern, as well as deficiencies in other vitamins such as vitamin A, E, and beta-carotene. To compensate for this, Andrew included sweet potatoes in his daily diet, and used calcium-fortified soy milk when making mashed potatoes. (1)
Whether pan-fried, baked or microwaved, Andrew ate between 6-9 pounds of white and sweet potatoes every day and often mixed them with herbs and low-fat sauces for flavor. Alongside his diet of potatoes, he also restricted himself to drinking only water (and the occasional beer!)
Andrew’s Exercise Routine
For the first month, Andrew did not include any exercise, choosing instead to focus on his transition into the potato diet. Once he was settled into his new eating routine, he began spending about an hour and a half on a bike each day. Andrew continues to share lessons from his weight loss journey on his Youtube channel, Spud Fit. You can watch highlights from his potatoes-only year and how he’s staying healthy currently with exercise and a whole foods diet. Check out his exercise tips in the video below!
The Downside to the Potato Diet
Aside from the lack of variety that accompanies eating only potatoes and potato varieties for a year, there are certain things that being on such a restrictive diet makes more difficult. Andrew often had to take potatoes to friends and family members’ houses when going over for dinner or special events, and always had to call restaurants ahead of time to ensure that the chef could accommodate his requirements.
Now that the year is over, he will begin to include other foods in his diet again. Despite the overload on spuds, however, he maintains that he is still a huge fan of the potato.
“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 explains. “Every time I get a new blood test, it just gets better.” You can watch one of his favorite potato and cauliflower mash recipes from the time after his potato diet here:
Should you try the potato diet?
While Andrew’s success might make the potato diet seem like an easier plan for weight loss than trying to properly balance your diet, we do not advise that you try to mimic his experiment (which probably doesn’t come as a surprise).
Extreme Diets Don’t Work Long-Term
Andrew lost a lot of weight, but at the cost of eating nothing but potatoes. Obviously, this was not a plan he could stick to his entire his life, and it remains to be seen whether he will successfully keep the weight off as he transitions back into a more typical diet.
Extreme diets are not sustainable because they don’t actually teach you how to eat and live in a healthy way. People who try them gain back the weight (and often more!) when their diets are over because they don’t understand basic healthy living skills, like how to balance a meal, portion control, or knowing when to indulge and when to say no.
Extreme dieting also means you’ll be missing out on many healthy foods. In the case of the potato diet, you will be missing out on the phytonutrients that come from leafy greens or colorful vegetables, healthy carbohydrate sources (e.g. squashes, quinoa, and long-grain brown rice), and important proteins and fats that come from lean meats, fish, and eggs. In addition, while everyone around you is enjoying flavorful, colorful, fun meals and foods, you will continuously have to restrict yourself to very limited options. Not being able to participate and enjoy events such as birthdays, holidays, or celebrations will be hard, not only for you but also for friends and family who want to celebrate with you.
Other Extreme Fad Diets to Avoid
Fad diets and extremes will allow you to lose weight quickly, but they are not sustainable and will not result in a healthy weight long-term. Diets to avoid include:
- The Banana Milk Diet: Though now seen as a fad “weight loss” diet, the banana milk diet was originally created by a doctor at John Hopkins University in 1934 as a way to help patients manage their diabetes. Here’s how it works: for the first two weeks, you eat nothing but four to six bananas and three to four glasses of milk every day. This is then followed by eating meat, fish, eggs, and vegetables (no carbs) for the next two weeks. Then you just repeat the four-week cycle. Obviously, this diet is extremely limiting and you will lack critical nutrients half of the time. (2)
- Juicing and Juice Cleanses: Fresh fruit and vegetable juices can be a part of a healthy diet, but shouldn’t be the only thing in your diet! Yes, you will lose weight, but that weight will come back when you start eating regular food again. Furthermore, these diets are often called “cleanses”, but it is really your liver and kidneys that cleanse your body of unwanted substances. As long as you are eating a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables and lacking in processed foods that are high in sugar, salt, and fat, these detox organs will do their job. You should also know that “healthy” fruit and vegetable juices can have the same amount of sugar as several servings of fruit, without any of the accompanying fiber. (3)
- The All-Fruit Diet (fruitarian): This one is just as it sounds: You eat only fruit. While fruits have plenty of vitamins and minerals that are essential and beneficial for your body, eating only fruit for an extended period of time will leave you protein-deficient and lacking in healthy fats. This diet will also involve consuming large amounts of natural sugars, which may be healthier than consuming the same amount of artificial sugars but is still excessive and taxing for your body. Furthermore, eating only fruit for more than a week will result in a decrease in muscle mass and therefore a drop in metabolism. This diet is not sustainable and will not lead to long-term weight loss. (4)
The Bottom Line
While eating only potatoes for a full year worked well for Andrew Taylor (for a time), and any fad diet can be effective in the short-term, we do not advise following any of these diets in an attempt to lose weight. Will you lose weight quickly? Probably. However, gaining that weight back post-diet is almost inevitable, and you will be risking nutrient deficiencies and your health for short-term effects.
Eventually, you will have to learn how to eat healthfully in a way that is sustainable, so you might as well start now and learn how to eat healthy, properly portioned meals and snacks, coupled with regular exercise and sound sleeping habits. Though these skills may take longer to develop at first, these habits will help you lose weight in the long-term – and keep you healthy and strong from the inside out.
Our advice? Skip the fads and gimmicks; there is no true fast-track to healthy living. Instead, check out more of our articles on healthy eating and exercise – and start becoming your healthiest self today.
- Potato Nutrition | Are Potatoes Healthy? | Health Benefits Potatoes. (n.d.). Retrieved October 28, 2017, from https://www.potatogoodness.com/nutrition/
- Busch, S. (2017, October 03). Banana & Milk Diet. Retrieved October 28, 2017, from https://www.livestrong.com/article/292271-banana-milk-diet/
- Juicing for Health and Weight Loss. (n.d.). Retrieved October 28, 2017, from https://www.webmd.com/diet/features/juicing-health-risks-and-benefits#1
- Bruso, J. (2017, July 18). A Two-Week Fruit Diet. Retrieved October 28, 2017, from https://www.livestrong.com/article/496733-the-two-week-fruit-diet/
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Julie loves food, culture, and health, and enjoys sharing her knowledge to help others make positive changes and live healthier lives.
Check out the history, food, and culture site she runs with her twin sister, The Taste Archives , and connect with her on Instagram , Facebook , and on Twitter!
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