I'll be bumping and/or posting up a bunch of short blog posts these next few days. This one was inspired by Fred Hahn, who I guess has been in an experimental mood of late and tried ... da dA DAAAH! The potato diet! It's hard to believe sometimes that it's been almost 3 years since I posted the original here on that diet! A LOT has changed. But to recap, this post was initially written to highlight the degree of mental gymnastics that TWICHOOBs (Taubes Wrong Insulin Carbohydrate Hypothesis Of Obesity Believers) must go through to explain the simplest of observations.
You see, for two months, a man named Chris Voight ate only insidious glucose spiking and insulin provoking potatoes, lost around 20 lbs and saw improvements in his lipid and glucose metabolic markers. This is not difficult to explain at all, because Voight reported having difficulty consuming to his maintenance calories. When CO exceeds CI, the deficit must be made up for from body stores, hence fat loss. As to the improved glucose metabolism? Well, thanks to several studies in the interim, it's pretty safe to say that with 20 lbs lost came some losses in ectopic fat so that whatever hepatic IR he had (FBG was 104) was ameliorated some (FBG fell to 94), and no doubt his glucose stimulated insulin secretion (GSIS) improved as well.
This post was inspired by Peter/Hyperlipid's attempt to spin some tale of transient hepatic IR mediated insulin degradatory control over insulin levels and such. Fred latched onto that and here is his initial post on Facebook (you should be able to read it as a member of general public). Pertinent excerpt:
I WAS eating less total calories than when I was eating plaeo. No question. I was trying to keep cals the same, but it was hard. VERY hard. My best day was about 1500 cals. So you could say my fat loss was due to just eating less food than before. BUT it was all carbs! So if carbs make you fat, why didn't I get fatter if carbs (potatoes!!) make you fat?Now bear with me here...
Given the mechanism by which fat is mobilized eating an all potato/no fat diet (which is basically body fat mobilization to produce insulin to lower blood glucose levels), the more potatoes you eat, the more fat should be mobilized. MORE fat used/burned by eating MORE total carbs sans the fat.
Fred seems very twisted up inside over losing weight eating such a high carb diet. No amount of reminding him of the caloric deficit would suffice -- as he said to me in comments, that's not a mechanism! OK. I'll let you read his musings if you like, they aren't worth discussing here. But here's an interesting anecdotal admission:
That's interesting because joint pain is so often blamed on starch in the low carb community, but also interesting in light of continued paleo/low carb controversy. People who have been schooled by Taubes and Eades, or worse Hahn and Sisson, truly believe that carbohydrates cause insulin resistance and that all of this can be traced back to the evil glucose and insulin spikes. Unfortunately, we don't hear much about problems possibly being caused by carbohydrate restriction. But Fred is around my age and he's already had a partial knee replacement due to his arthritis. There are other big names who seem to have been ravaged by arthritis despite their clean low carb eating. How is that possible that something improved? I submit that if Fred did any sort of real workout he'd have noticed the performance difference as well.
I have to give Fred some props for doing this and reporting accurately. Now if only he could let go of his mired-in-bad-science dogma and realize that calories count, insulin does more than inhibit lipolysis and facilitate fatty acid uptake into adipocytes, etc. So without further ado, the flashback:
Original Publish Date: 3/16/2011
No, I haven't uncovered some damning study on this. I was, however, directed to this post by Petro/Hyperlipid in a discussion on another blog: Potatoes and weight loss (1)
Peter's post begins with: "I tried and failed to produce a comprehensive post about weight loss on an all potato diet. It runs to too many pages. This is a brief simplification." This indicates to me a fair amount of mental energy expended on this topic, hence my post title.
You see, the carbohydrate/insulin hypothesis simply doesn't stand up to scrutiny of all the high-carb cultures with remarkably low incidence of obesity and diabetes. Nor does it square with the results of Chris Voight who ate potatoes for 60 days straight. You see, all in all, Voight lost 21 pounds, saw triglycerides and LDL plummet, and had a 10 point reduction in his fasting blood glucose. How can that be eating one of the notoriously highest glycemic foods out there?
Now I applaud Peter for not pulling facts out of his nether regions like Taubes does to explain away the Japanese, but the mental gymnastics he's obviously had to engage in here were a futile waste of time.
Contrary to Taubes' assertions, as I'm sure Peter knows, the scientific method works by formulating a hypothesis consistent with existing observations and then testing that hypothesis in a controlled manner. We don't just propose an alternate hypothesis and require everyone else to amass overwhelming evidence to refute it. To wit, given the observation that, when people eat less and/or move more, they lose weight, or when people eat more and/or move less, they gain weight, a reasonable hypothesis is that energy surplus causes weight gain and energy deficit causes weight loss. There are countless studies whose results time and again yield results that are consistent with the calorie hypothesis. The more controlled and verifiable the intake/activity, the more consistent the result. I don't have to explain away anything.
Voight provides the details of his diet that includes the nutritional info on potatoes. Of note, a 110 cal potato contains 3g protein = 12 cal = 11% protein. Not overly high, but not as low as one might envision an all potato diet containing and likely enough to maintain LBM as much as many other plans (he would have had 60g protein a day). Keep in mind potato protein is a complete protein (rare in the veggie world, that's just a quick reference, I've confirmed this previously on more reputable sites). I haven't listened to interviews, but I'm sure he added a little fat to the mix as I've read in discussions. Oh how hungry he must have been though? Well, it turns out potatoes are quite satiating.
Peter, OTOH, has started out with a flawed hypothesis and has to expend a lot of time and energy to make the results of Voight's experiment fit his hypothesis, rather than looking at the results and formulating a hypothesis to explain it.
This man lost weight because he ate fewer calories than he expended. The easiest explanation is that he had a bit of a crusade motivating him to stay on a monotonous diet. Monotonous diets are notorious for resulting in lowered intake. Lower intake = fewer calories = lost body (fat & fat-free) mass. Potatoes are also awfully filling.