The Potato Hack Intervention is a short term tool to check the reactivity of the gut to Resistant Starch (RS), reset the hedonic system, create metabolic flexibility, resolve inflammatory conditions, and provide the patient with an empowerment tool to increase the fat loss of their other dietary plan. It is not meant as a stand alone diet, but rather a dietary tool to decrease hunger, break negative eating habits, and nourish the gut biome, which is sometimes starved on long term low carbohydrate eating. The Potato Hack is a tool popularized by Tim Steele and based on a diet plan from 1849 that was designed to treat “dyspepsia” and excess weight from the consumption of rich foods.
Explanation: The poor potato has been much maligned in recent years. It is often looked at as being a sugar bomb because it is high on the glycemic index. However, potatoes are actually extremely nutrient dense and a 1995 University of Sydney Australia demonstrated that potatoes score the highest of any food on the Satiety Index. This means that they dampen hunger signals better than almost any other food.
Here is an explanation by Functional Medicine practitioner Chris Kresser on the Joe Rogan show. Here.
The true magic of this plan and what I think leads to its clinical efficacy is in the amount of Resistant Starch. Resistant Starch is a type of starch that is indigestible to us, but feeds our microbiome. When a potato is heated and then cooled a significant amount of its starch is retrograded into resistant starch. This means the effect on blood sugar is greatly dampened. The potato can even be reheated and it will still retain its resistant starch content. The nourishment to our gut biome and the subsequent metabolic benefits cannot be overstated. I have seen this be crucial in some patients who have stalled on a low carb or keto eating plan, but still have significant body fat left to lose. Historically, resistant starch would have been present in most roots, tubers, unripe bananas, plantains, etc, but is often devoid in our current diets.
Who Can Benefit:
Honestly, I think it is a good tool to employ from time to time for all of us to break food cravings and patterns of overeating. It is virtually impossible to overeat unseasoned boiled potato. You will eat only until your hunger is satiated and much of the food eaten has been converted to resistant starch and is fueling your biome. But, to be more specific:
1. Anyone with chronic digestive issues
2. Those suffering from inflammatory problems
3. People who have been following a low carb or keto diet for an extended time
4. Anyone who has plateaued on their weightloss goal while eating a sensible and nutritious diet.
1. Plan on eating just potatoes for 3-5 days.
2. Eat 2-5 pounds of potatoes each day.
3. No other foods allowed (this includes butter, sour cream, cheese, and bacon bits).
4. Salt is allowed, but not encouraged.
5. Drink when thirsty: coffee, tea, and water only.
6. Heavy exercise is discouraged; light exercise and walking are encouraged.
7. Take your normal medications
Expected results: Most people see a loss of .5 – 1 lbs of weight loss per day. Much of this weight loss is retained after completing the potato hack, as it’s not just water weight shed from the depletion of glycogen. Indigestion and inflammatory symptoms often greatly reduce.
Final Thoughts: We are in the infancy of understanding the gut biome, but I have clinically seen huge improvements in people’s health when they consume resistant starch. It may seem crazy to eat just potatoes, but keep in mind that many cultures in history owe their survival to this incredible food. And, remember, this is not a diet! This is a tool to use in conjunction with a nourishing diet to break through pesky plateaus and help heal your gut.
Although a book is not necessary to use this hack, Tim Steele wrote an excellent book that details the science. Also, I recommend reading some of the hundreds of consumer reviews of the book, as it will give you an idea of how successful others have found this plan. You can find it here.