Everything You Know About Potatoes Is Wrong, Continued

Should we eat potatoes at all? Is it ever okay to follow an all-potato diet? No doubt, experts will continue to wrangle over the essential truths of potatoes. Meanwhile, they will continue to issue caveats to intrepid consumers.

In his book Potato Hack, Tim Steele offered seven fundamental rules, either quoted or paraphrased here.

First, the only true and correct path is to eat nothing but plain, cooked potatoes for a period of at least three but not more than five days. Between two and five pounds of potatoes each day is good. That would amount to between 530 and 1,300 calories per diem.

This rule is very important: “Don’t eat any other foods, including condiments and toppings, such as ketchup, butter, sour cream, and cheese.” In other words, all caloric input should derive from the spuds. What you drink counts, too. Stick with “water, plain tea, or black coffee.” Take your prescription meds, but no dietary supplements. And what about energy expenditure? During the potato diet, regular moderate motion is better than bursts of heavy exercise.

Basically, there are a couple of possibilities. One might assiduously study the rules and abide by them. Or, one might dismiss the whole potato-diet concept as nonsense.

Alertness counts

In these waters, the explorer must navigate with care. Kelly Plowe, MS, RDN, is another advocate of potatoes in general, but with the awareness that mistakes can be made.

That writer re-emphasizes a point also made by Steele, that baked whole potatoes are highly susceptible to corruption by the addition of calorically dense toppings. In general, we should always endeavor to avoid fried potatoes, or fried anything, really. (But, since the advent of the air fryer as an obtainable appliance for the average cook, even that fact is no longer solid.)

If refined grains can be replaced by potatoes, the person consumes more fiber, which is good for weight loss. To maximize fiber, the potato skin should be eaten — after the potatoes are carefully washed with a brush, of course.

Science marches on

Plowe defends the potato as a respectable, nutrient-dense complex carbohydrate, and strives to correct the misinformation that has hurt its reputation in the weight-loss community. Potatoes, she says,

[…] have been vilified, and for no good reason. There’s no compelling evidence that, when prepared in a healthy way, potatoes hamper your weight-loss goals. And there are some studies that show the opposite.

Speaking of studies, last year, the Alliance for Potato Research & Education funded and published one, based on data derived from 30 women and men with high blood pressure. The APRE, a trade association, is “dedicated to advancing the scientific understanding of the role potatoes play in promoting the health of all people.”

The researchers’ curiosity centered around “the effect of increased dietary potassium from a whole food source.” Sodium retention comes into it too, and confusion. On a superficial reading, it seems like they defend and exonerate french fries of the fast-food genre, which are cooked in oil, by testing baked french fries, which are not.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Potato Diet Review: Does It Work for Weight Loss?,” Healthline.com, 03/05/19
Source: “Potatoes Can Help You Lose Weight — Unless You’re Making These 4 Mistakes,” LiveStrong.com, 03/21/20
Source: “Industry-funded studies of the week: One Potato, Two Potato,” FoodPolitics.com, 08/23/21
Image by Mike Mozart/CC BY 2.0

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About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
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Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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