The Potato Hack – My Experiment

The potato HackI’ve been reading bits and pieces about potato hacking over the past several months … well, now one of the leading proponents, Tim Steele, has finally published his book The Potato Hack.  Picked it up Friday on Kindle = it’s a quick, easy and entertaining read.  Highly recommended.  The other sources of information are Tim’s Blog at Vegetable Pharm. Lots of good current info there.  Also Richard Nikoley’s blog, Free The Animal is a great source of info … just hit this search to see copious amounts of info on the hack, potato starch and the potato hack specifically.

Anyway – if you want to see what I’m doing and why, pick up the book … Tim does a lot better job explaining it all than I ever could.

I’m planning to do a 5 day run of spuds only.  I’m gonna record my starting weight, how many calories I burn according to my Fitbit and how my sleep quality is affected.  I’ll also note any feelings of hunger, cravings and maybe stress levels just to have a more complete record … although I feel that stress, general feelings of well being and health are so interwoven that it is hard to ‘fix’ or even assess by looking at a few random thoughts and feelings throughout the day.  (Big topic there = maybe another day.)

I’m starting out as a big guy … I have a good solid 60 lbs to lose.  Plus I’ve been carb loading (read: eating everything in sight) for a couple of weeks now, so I’ve definitely gained some ‘water weight.’  I expect to see a fairly substantial drop in the 1st couple of days … hoping that I don’t gain it all back in the 24 hours after this experiment is over.  To find answers is why we experiment…

I’m mid 40’s and my health is generally good with slightly elevated blood pressure.  I play basketball 2x a week pretty hard with the young bloods for 2 hours at a time and I can hold my own = so I’m I’m not couch fodder … yet.  lol.   So lets see where this all ends up …

Potatoes

Spuds – ready for Monday!

 

Day 1:

Thats a wrap.  Here is the breakdown of my calories vs expenditure as recorded by my FitBit.

2016-04-05_0744

Calories Burned

 

Calories Consumed

Calories Consumed

 

Here are my Notes for the day … could be boring, but it is a complete record of how I felt and when.

  • 8:40pm Another feed to help with hunger pangs. 241g.
  • 8:15pm Played basketball with the young bloods tonight. Initially I found it very hard and my legs really did not want to move but about 40 mins in I seemed to get my 2nd wind and could run and move freely again. After I am plesently tired and slightly sore. I ate more potatoes to fill me up and that really helped how I feel too. Looking forward to bed. Would not be surprised if I see a one day drop of 7 or 8 lbs. Lots of water dumped today.
  • 6:10pm. Quick supper of 183g. Now off to basketball.
  • 5:25pm. Indigestion again. Quite hungry now.
  • 4:55pm. Definitely hungry again. Also have to urinate something fierce again. Won’t be home for an hour yet. Sigh.
  • 3:50pm. Hungry again. Getting a bit irritable. Probably low blood sugar hitting is my guess.
  • 3:01pm. Urine very light coloured which usually means body dumping water. I have had 3 or 4 coffees today which usually pushes through the system pretty fast but urine is usually much darker. Should have taken a picture … or maybe not. Lol.
  • 2:38pm. Hungry now … seems to change from ’empty’ to hungry quickly. Stomach growling slightly. Will have rest of my lunch potatoes – 287g. Still have to pee like mad – have to find a public restroom soon. Feeling very calm and controlled. Not jittery. My brain is working well – no afternoon letdown (yet.)
  • 2:22pm. Body beginning to dump water. Have to piss like a racehorse … and I urinated less than an hour ago. Slight feeling of emptiness again – not true hunger – just empty.
  • 1:01pm. Some indigestion again. Not super bad but burping sour. Might be a result of drinks last night?
  • 12:10pm. Definitely hungry now. Having half of the potatoes I brought with me on the road today. Not feeling weak or anything though. About 350g potatoes.
  • 11:20am. Driving now. Don’t really feel hungry. Sort of empty.
  • 10:30am Some slight indigestion. Treated with baking soda in water.
  • 9:40am. Feeling some sort of slight hunger from stomach. Not grinding stomach growling hunger … not even hunger pangs – just more of a not full feeling. Gonna work through it and see if it disappears. I did eat a good amount of spuds, so my stomach does have something to work on.
  • 8:30am. Breakfast 237g plain potatoes – Lunch of 637g packed

Day 1 Final thoughts.  Need to bring more potatoes for on the road.  Definitely felt hungry today … don’t want to feel too much of that or I’ll break.  Baked potatoes are WAY better tasting than boiled.  Amazing difference actually.  Will plan on baking more spuds instead of boiling.

Day 2:

Down 4.5 lbs since weigh in yesterday morning.  Less of a drop than I thought it would be … I really did urinate a LOT more than normal yesterday.  Sleep was OK – I did feel like I woke up a number of times due to aching legs.  Basketball did a number on them yesterday as I didn’t play at all last week due to Spring Break here.  So basketball plus dropping water = soreness.

Here is my sleep as measured by my Fitbit.

1st night of Potato Hack

1st night of Potato Hack

Hoping to see more sleep and fewer awake periods in the next couple of days.

OK. This is just a little bit frustrating …

Note to Self - Make sure potatoes are pierced well before putting in oven.

Note to Self – Make sure potatoes are pierced well before putting in oven.

When baking potatoes, you really have to pierce them well! I wacked all these with a fork before putting them in the oven. Apparently I did not dig in deep enough. lol. Potatoes for the day are baked, salted and in my lunch bag for the day. Oh, and the oven is clean.

OK – Day 2 is done.  Here are the Fitbit numbers:

Day_2_Calories_Burned

Calories Burned

 

Day 2 Calories Consumed

Day 2 Calories Consumed

 

And my notes from the day:

  • 9:20 pm. Feeling great this evening. Got lots done. Was focused and not dwelling on food. I’m in bed now. Slightly hungry but not so it is bothering me. Tough day during the day today but a good evening.
  • 4:50 pm. Suddenly feeling better. Stronger and more focused. Still empty but not lightheaded or weak. Maybe I overdid it with basketball last night? Too this long for me to recover? Don’t know.
  • 2:23pm. Hungry again and obsessing about food. This is not good. Still wonder if I should be eating more instead of allowing myself to get to the point of hunger.
  • 1:53pm. Been eating often … just a couple of spoonfuls at at time. Today has not been great. Feeling weak and blurry … and sometimes slightly lightheaded. Gonna coffee up in a little while and see if that helps. Some hunger but not crazy.
  • 11:07am. Stopped to eat some potatoes … feeling hungry and weak.
  • 10:36am. Arrrr … low energy, almost light headed. Not really hungry but empty – maybe slightly queasy. No drive to get going here. Need energy levels to PU soon if I’m gonna get anything done today.
  • 9:03am 245g for breakfast. Hungry this morning. Just blew up some of my baked potatoes that I was making for lunch … and I poked those things with a fork. George is not happy.
  • 7:45 Not a great sleep – feeling dopey this morning. Really need coffee to wake up! Good thing I’m not planning on cutting out coffee at the same time as this hack … lol.

Summary of Day 2. Consumed less than a thousand calories again, but burned a LOT less than Day 1. Really knocked myself out today – possibly due to playing basketball on Monday really depleting my energy stores. Felt crappy most of the day, but seemed to snap out of it at the end of the day. Ended up feeling good and focused again. Hopefully this continues.

Day 3:

Down a full 8 lbs this morning.  Lots of water … urinated forever when I got up this morning.  But exciting to see this much down.

Wild dreams!  Seemed to sleep ‘dead to the world’ last night although I definitely did not get enough sleep.  But the dreams … oh my.  So vivid and I can remember large portions of them this morning.  Nothing raunchy, just super vivid and spectacular.  I remember reading somewhere that this is a side effect of potato starch.  Don’t mind if this continues.

Here is my sleep as recorded by my Fitbit:

Day 2 sleep ... not enough!

Day 2 sleep … not enough!

I was reading well past midnight and lost track of time. Definitely need to get to bed earlier tonight.

I have baked potatoes ready for the day today.  Wrapped them in tin foil before baking, so no mess to clean up.  lol.  Ready to do this day!

Day 3 is in the books.  Here are the numbers:

Day 3 Calories Burned

Day 3 Calories Burned

 

Day 3 Calories Consumed

Day 3 Calories Consumed

 

Notes and comments:

  • 11:00 pm. Bedtime. Not hungry.
  • 9:20 pm. Not a bad evening. No drive … but I did have a big day at work, so that did wear me out. Feeling somewhat empty now but not hungry.
  • 6:20 pm. Shredded and dry fried spuds with dill powder, salt, pepper and a splash of Malt Vinegar for supper. 383g.
  • 5:36 pm. Slight headache now. Mildly hungry. Feel strong. Tired though. Not enough sleep. Gout is prickling my left toe … will need to use baking soda when I get home to prevent flare-up.
  • 3:49 pm. Had another spud to ward off the hunger. Lunch total was 355g today.
  • 3:12 pm. Definitely hungry now. Will need to have some spuds soon. Will power and energy are both good at this point.
  • 2:20 pm. Not hungry. Just empty. Feeling a bit weak so going to have a coffee to perk me up. Still feel well though. No headache or lightheaded. Could eat another potato I guess. All in all I think my body is adjusting to the low calorie intake.
  • 250g for breakfast.
  • 10:43 am. Did not eat until now. Was hungry but not crazy hungry. So filling my belly now before I hit the road. So far, so good today – no lightheaded feelings, not craving anything … focus is OK.

Summary for Day 3.  Overall, all good day.  Did not really have the lightheaded feeling that I had on Day 2 … still some hunger, but not crazy, chew on walls hunger.  Focus was not bad … not laser … just not bad.  Mood:  generally OK.  This is somewhat surprising to me as when I have used calorie deficit in the past, I’ve had some thunderously bad moods.  Angry and irritated, etc.  Not feeling that so much = easier on the family and pets.  lol.

Day 4:

Now down a full 10 lbs.  Nice!

What a sleep.  No dreams that I remember last night, but totally dead to the world.  One of the best sleeps I’ve had in a while.  This is what it looked like:

Day 3 Sleep

Day 3 Sleep

I feel energized today … not powerful but energized.  I want to get stuff done!  The shredded potato patties that I had for supper last night were great.  Gonna make those again today for my lunch.  They are a bit of work, but the taste and mouth feel is worth it.  At this point, I’m glad I only committed to 5 days.  I’m looking forward to a steak.  lol.

Numbers for Day 4:

Day 4 Calories Burned

Day 4 Calories Burned

 

Day 4 Calories Consumed

Day 4 Calories Consumed

 

Notes from Day 4:

  • 9:50pm Hungry now. Not in Ketosis … I was wondering if burning this much fat would do it, but nope, not even a hint of colour. Going to goto bed hungry and see where we are weight wise in the morning. Hoping for another 2 lbs today … but will be happy with any weightloss as I know any loss will be fat at this point.
  • 6:20pm Finally having supper. Had to estimate the amount of spuds tonight due to the way they were cooked by my wife. Guessing about 240g.
  • 4:27 pm. Hungry now. But feeling great. Working hard with lots of energy. Pretty good considering how little I’ve had today.
  • 2:32 pm. Feeling a bit hungry now. Eating another potato patty to fill the hole. Otherwise feeling good.
  • 1:36 pm. Coffee time. Feeling good. Steady as she goes. Some hunger today but very mild. More empty than hunger still.
  • 12:12 pm. Hungry now. Gonna eat a couple of potato patties. Still feel good though.
  • 10:41am. Ready to hit the road. I made shredded, dry fried cakes for lunch. Feeling good. Not hungry at all. Feeling … warm I guess is the best way to explain it. Calm.
  • 9:45am. 290g for breakfast.
  • 8:10am. Feeling pretty good this morning. Great sleep.

Summary Day 4.  Again – not a bad day. Felt good most of the day. Beginning to think about food a bit more … planning what I’m going to eat on the weekend. No crazy cravings though.  1 day to go!

Day 5:

Down a total of 12.6 lbs this morning.  Another nice drop yesterday!

Sleep – another ‘dead to the world’ sleep … just not long enough!  Woke up at 6:30 to discover that I slept through my 2:00 am alarm which is really unusual.  (2 am is when my wife or I check our son’s BG level – he has Type 1 Diabetes.)

Day 4 Sleep

Day 4 Sleep

 

OK – a couple of baked potatoes cooling on the stove.  Ready to hit the road.  Feel good … strong … lots of willpower today!  This is the last day – hope to lose another couple of lbs today.  Then the big test – see how much it comes back when I eat normally again tomorrow!

Final day numbers:

 

Day 5 Calories Burned

Day 5 Calories Burned

 

Day 5 Calories Consumed

Day 5 Calories Consumed

 

Notes for Day 5:

  • 10:25 pm. Bed time. Been a good evening. No hunger … feel sort of empty now. Tomorrow AM is the big weigh in. Curious to see where we end up. Night!
  • 6:10 pm. Supper! 3 shredded and dry fried patties (about 4 medium potatoes worth) … with salt, pepper, dill and a splash of malt vinegar. Very good – and very filling. Feeling full now. About 380 g of spuds.
  • 5:45 pm. Having cravings for food now. Might be because I’m hungry. Already planning what I’m gonna eat tomorrow. Lol.
  • 3:49 pm. Not sure if it is hunger or just the feeling of being empty. Lots of energy but very aware of the feeling in my gut.
  • 1:15 pm. Full but empty. Feeling tired this afternoon. Wish I could take a nap. Still a lot of work to do though – so no rest.
  • 1:00pm. Lunch time. Super hungry but feeling fine otherwise. Hard to believe I can go strong with this little food in me. Amazing. 457g.
  • 11:39am. Hungry. Stomach growling.
  • 10:44 am. Ready to hit the road. 457g packed for lunch. Feelin’ good!
  • 9:20 am. Breakfast. Some reheated baked spuds. 173g.
  • 8:10 am. Up and atom … hungry.

Summary.  Day 5 went well.  No major drops in energy … some hunger but nothing that I couldn’t deal with.  Still glad these 5 days are almost over.  Can’t wait to eat a bunch of stuff I’ve missed the past 5 days.  Disappointed that my focus on food and hunger has not diminished …

Final Day – Weigh in – Notes – Thoughts – Summary

… and he steps on the scale … 15 lbs lost!!! Nice. Was expecting at least 10 going by past low calorie efforts, so 15 is pretty wild.

A comment from yesterday asked me to give my specs, so here they are:

  • 6’1″ male
  • mid 40’s
  • No major health issues past or present
  • Resonably fit (play, coach and refferee basketball)
  • Starting weight 308.5 lbs
  • Finishing weight 293.5 lbs

Here are my daily totals from my Aria Fitbit Linked Scale:

5 Day Weight Loss

5 Day Weight Loss

 

Wish I had taken some body measurements.  My pants are definitely looser and my face has visibly narrowed.  I feel like I am more flexible … probably from dumping water which makes cells and muscles less turgid. I notice my joints are looser, some popping and movement which I’m not used to … probably from reduced inflammation?

Heart Rate:

Here is something I’ve not seen mentioned much in the Paleo or Potato Hack literature.  My resting heart rate dropped like a rock over the past 5 days.  I measured this with my Fitbit again, and they use an algorithm instead of the waking pulse rate that your Dr uses when he/she says ‘resting pulse rate’ but it is still a measure of change.  Check this out:

Resting Heart Rate Drop

Resting Heart Rate Drop

30 Day Resting Pulse

30 Day Resting Pulse

 

This is a substantial change and below 60 is pretty good for a guy my size and shape.  I suspect this is due to the lower body inflammation.  Pulse rate is greatly influenced by heart efficiency but also by what the body is dealing with at any given time.  A night of drinking will increase your resting pulse for up to 12 hours the next day … exercise increases resting pulse for a good couple to 3 hours … illness definitely increases resting pulse.  Pretty much anything that stresses the body will increase the resting heart rate.  So this kind of drop can only indicate that my body is no longer fighting … something.  It certainly is an interesting finding.

Wish I had been keeping track of Blood Pressure.  Suspect it dropped appreciably as well.

Cold:

I noticed that I was cold at night especially the last 2 days.  Others have talked a fair amount how they are often cold while following Low Carb or Keto style diets.  I too had noticed this.  I was not expecting to feel cold at night while sucking on potatoes … but I was.  Not sure what the mechanism is behind this feeling and supposedly potato starch solves this issue for Low Carbers but it did not solve it for me.

Mental Issues:

There definitely were parts of days that I felt foggy mentally.  I was unable to focus, unable to think clearly … and I made mistakes in my work.  This was primarily in the 1st couple of days.  Coffee helped but did not ‘solve’ the problem.  I think that this was probably due to time it takes for the body to switch from a food intake burning machine into a body fat burning mode.  I’ve noticed this in the past when switching between Low Carb and Mid to High Carb eating.  The funny thing is = the switch back (from fat burning to food burning) does not produce this fogginess. I guess that energy being readily available to burn from food is something the body is ready for.  Famine = not so much.  My advise is to just work through it knowing that the feeling will pass.  In the last couple of days I did not feel this fog and even had periods of hyper focus and flow.  Just press on.

Food Obsession:

This probably should fall under ‘mental issues’ but this has always been a big one for me … and it did show up on day 5 again.  When I say ‘food obsession’ I’m talking about periods of time where you can’t think about anything other than food … or if your mind wanders, it always goes to food. I’ve always had issues with this when eating a restricted diet, and it drives me nuts.  This time I was not obsessing about junk food or alcohol, it was meat.  lol.  Mostly steak actually.  Thinking about cooking it, smelling it … chewing it … ahhhhhhhh!  This my mind can focus on, but not my work?  What is wrong with me?? lol.  Anyway, my two post Potato Hack days were mostly planned out foodwise by the end of Day 5.  I don’t know any solutions to this one – just roll with it is what I do = it was a substantial irritation though.

Irritability:

Probably another ‘mental issue’ but I’ll talk about it separately here.  I did have some periods of minor irritability where I had no patience for anyone or anything while Potato Hacking.  It was minor though.  Again, in the past while losing weight using other methods I had long periods where I was totally impossible to get along with.  I hate this part of losing weight … and so does my family.  This time the irritability was usually around meal time and really only lasted a couple of minutes till I got focused on other things.  I could see it being an issue if this was a long term weight loss method though.  Find something to focus on to get past this.

Sleep:

I was expecting that my sleep would be better/deeper.  That did not really happen.  I did sleep well but I don’t think that the quality of sleep was all that much better.  I usually sleep pretty good anyway, so maybe this is a non-problem for me.  My biggest issue with sleep is getting to bed early enough to get a full 8 hours.  My body and brain work way better on 8 hours compared to 7 and it accumulates.  So I can have one night of 7 hours and it not affect me much, but 2 or 3 nights in a row of 7 hours really hurts me.  I’ve messed with straight potato starch in the past and had some substantial changes in my sleep patterns – that did not happen this week.  Others may notice changes depending on how they were sleeping before starting this experiment.

Final Thoughts and Advice:

This Hack really is a good way to blow off some weight quickly.  It is basically a Very Low Calorie Diet with the added benefits of Potato Starch and bulk.  It is very simple, cheap and easy to follow.  While there are still the normal issues that come with low calorie intake, I found those things mostly manageable.  I suspect that a 3 day would have been easier than the full 5 days and I may do this in 3 day bursts in the future.  I did add Dill and Malt Vinegar to a couple of my meals so I guess I did do one of the Variations listed in the book … I suspect that the other variations would make this easier.  However I suspect the weight loss would be less.  I smell another experiment!  Definitely going to continue cycling the Potato Hack to continue losing weight.

Thanks for the book Tim and good luck everyone trying this.  Would love to hear from you in the comments.

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9 Responses to The Potato Hack – My Experiment

  1. cremes April 5, 2016 at 5:02 pm #

    Never never put a naked potato in the oven like that. Take a look at page 75 of the Potato Hack book and use the “American Style Baked Potato” recipe. You should wrap them tightly in foil and bake them at 350F for an hour or so. They will *steam* themselves within the wrapper and will not explode. Do NOT poke them with a fork… all that nets you is a dried-out potato which sucks.

    After baking, let them cool to room temp on the counter and then put them in the fridge. Pull them out as you need them. If you find that they are wet inside the wrapper, unwrap them 30-60m before you want to eat them so they can air dry.

    • axehaft April 5, 2016 at 5:35 pm #

      lol. Lesson learned for sure. Will be wrapping spuds for tomorrow.

  2. cremes April 8, 2016 at 3:53 pm #

    Good updates.

    I see you originally said you have 60lbs to lose but you don’t mention how much you currently weigh, height, etc. Can you provide that info? It will help me understand better how this kind of loss is impacting you.

    • axehaft April 9, 2016 at 2:46 am #

      Hey Cremes. Ya I was not going to post that stuff as I’m thinking privacy … but I’ll put something up tomorrow that shows my specs. Thanks for checking in.

  3. Tim Steele April 9, 2016 at 12:23 am #

    Hey! I recognize this idea, lol. Glad you liked and tried with so many data points. Losing 12 pounds in a 5 day hack is quite higher than normal, and certainly represents some lost inflammation. I’m curious to see what your weight does next week,
    Cheers!

    • axehaft April 9, 2016 at 2:45 am #

      Haha Tim. Thanks for the visit. Tomorrow AM is the big weigh in … see how many lbs I actually lose in 5 days. I expect another 2 today I think. Anyway – I’ve been trying to figure the potato thing out for a while, your book made it easy for me to experiment = so thanks! I’ll probably not do a 5 day again – but will use 2 or 3 days with a slightly modified to see how it goes. The Irish in me has been satisfied! lol.

  4. Richard Nikoley April 9, 2016 at 5:08 pm #

    Great experiment log. I really hate doing that but glad others are so precise about it.

    Crazy difference between calorie burn and intake, less than 5k over five days. And to not have crazy insane hunger is pretty special. Your gut bugs must have been keeping you calm.

    Thanks for the mention.

  5. cremes April 14, 2016 at 7:18 pm #

    Congrats on finishing 5 days. I forgot to check-in here the last few days…

    I think 15lbs off of a 308lb frame is a pretty reasonable expectation. I have similar stats to you (6′, mid-40s, male) but I’m usually around 197lbs. I’ve been doing 3-day hacks and losing around 6-7lbs per hack and gaining 5lb of it back. Therefore, about 5 of the loss is water for me.

    I’m okay with losing 1lb a week on an ongoing basis for 3 days of effort. However, my goal is also a lot closer… I want to get to 183lb. I’m wrapping up another hack but this week I pushed it to 4 days. We’ll see what my weigh-in tomorrow is. I’m expecting 190lbs which would put me down another “real” pound for the week (assuming I gain 5lb back of water over the weekend).

    I agree with your notes on feeling cold. I keep it 66F in the house and usually just throw on a sweater or pullover. With summer just around the corner, this doesn’t worry me much.

    I had some mental issues Wednesday night wherein I absolutely had to eat some leftover chicken that my wife left in the fridge. It was about 5 ounces. I polished it off. That’s partly why I extended this hack from 3 to 4 days. D’oh!

    Anyway, thanks for sharing.

  6. CallMeFloyd April 18, 2016 at 3:45 am #

    I have read 4 or 5 of these blogs and trials today, started reading on it yesterday and started my trial today.

    I’ve tried a few diets over the years, but the only thing that ever seemed to work for me was running more. I’m tired of running, haha. I’d like to find a way that I can eat to a satisfactory “full” feeling and lose weight.

    I’m 50 years old, was usually pretty athletic until the past couple of years, and my weight has risen to a point that makes running a challenge. Additionally my waist too big. I’m 6’2″, and at my weigh in this morning I was 285.4 lbs. I have a snug 46 inch waist. My two goals would be to reduce my waist to a comfortable 40″, and my weight to about 240 lbs.

    My trial plan is to go 4-5 days per run, take a day or 2 off depending on how my body feels, and then re-run the 4-5 day stretch.

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