One Potato, Two Potato …

      42 Comments on One Potato, Two Potato …

Several readers sent me links today to various articles about a new study that blames potatoes for making us fat.  Here are the headlines with some quotes:

Potatoes can add plenty to waistline

Consuming an extra helping of potatoes each day — French fried, baked or otherwise — can add an average of 0.8 of a pound to body weight per year, researchers find. Over time, that can result in substantial weight gain.

Potatoes bad, nuts good for staying slim, Harvard study finds

Everyone knows that people who chow down on french fries, chug soda and go heavy on red meat tend to pile on more pounds than those who stick to salads, fruits and grains.

But is a serving of boiled potatoes really much worse than a helping of nuts? Is some white bread as bad as a candy bar? Could yogurt be a key to staying slim?

The answer to all those questions is yes, according to the provocative revelations produced by a big Harvard project that for the first time details how much weight individual foods make people put on or keep off.

Chips, Fries, Soda Most to Blame for Long-Term Weight Gain

The edict to eat less and exercise more is far from far-reaching, as a new analysis points to the increased consumption of potato chips, French fries, sugary sodas and red meat as a major cause of weight gain in people across the United States.

I have mixed feelings about the media coverage of this study.  It’s encouraging to see something other than sugar or fat getting the blame for all our ills:

The problem, said study coauthor Dr. Walter Willett, chairman of the nutrition department at the Harvard School of Public Health, is that “we don’t eat potatoes raw, so it’s easier [for the body] to transform the starch to glucose.”

Since spuds prompt a quick increase in blood sugar levels, they cause the pancreas to go into overdrive trying to bring levels back down to normal. As blood sugar spirals down, people usually experience hunger, which leads to snacking. Over many years, this cycle can result in drastic weight gain and a fatigued pancreas, possibly contributing to the development of Type 2 diabetes.

It’s also encouraging to see the message getting out that weight loss isn’t as simple as counting calories:

The findings add to the growing body of evidence that getting heavier is not just a matter of “calories in, calories out,” and that the mantra: “Eat less and exercise more” is far too simplistic. Although calories remain crucial, some foods clearly cause people to put on more weight than others, perhaps because of their chemical makeup and how our bodies process them. This understanding may help explain the dizzying, often seemingly contradictory nutritional advice from one dietary study to the next.

“Our take-home message is what you eat affects how much you eat,” Mozaffarian said. “It’s not just a blanket message about reducing everything. Each individual lifestyle factor has a pretty small effect by itself, but the combined effect can explain that gradual weight gain.”

That’s why I don’t eat potatoes anymore, in spite of dire warnings from strange people who seem emotionally invested in convincing me I’m in mortal danger of permanently losing my tolerance for them:  starches ramp up my appetite, period.  They also spike my blood sugar.  That may not happen to everyone, but it sure happens to me.

So I’m happy to see media articles warning people about consuming chips, fries,  and other glucose-bombs.  On the other hand, the study itself isn’t exactly what I’d call strong evidence.  The researchers extracted their data from three large, multi-year observational studies.  We all know what that means:  food-recall questionnaires, which are notoriously inaccurate.

The message, at least as it’s being reported in the media, is also inconsistent.  The news stories mention a plausible mechanism for how potatoes might encourage weight gain – potatoes spike glucose, which raises insulin, which drives fat storage – but then note that red meat was also associated with weight gain, while whole grains weren’t.  If insulin-spiking potatoes are fattening, why isn’t insulin-spiking whole-grain bread?

Worst of all (though hardly surprising), the study is being reported as if the researchers have pinpointed cause and effect:

The researchers did find other culprits. For each additional sugary soft drink consumed per day, participants in the study gained an average of 1 pound over four years. Extra servings of red meats and processed meats did only slightly less damage.

Meats doing damage … yup, that sounds like cause and effect to me.

“I think it’s an important study,” said Kelly D. Brownell, director of Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, who co-wrote an accompanying article. “It’s based on a large number of people followed over time, and it shows there are particular types of food that are contributing more than others to the obesity problem — and that some are protective against weight gain.”

No, Dr. Brownell, the study merely shows that some foods were associated with weight gain and some weren’t.  We can’t conclude what’s actually protective and what isn’t from this kind of observational data.  Fortunately, one expert quoted in the media made that very point:

“To attempt to isolate the effect of specific foods on weight changes is fraught with problems,” said Lawrence J. Cheskin, who heads the Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center. “One is that people may conclude that if they simply stop eating X, they will reduce the chance of weight gain. This is unlikely, and a false conclusion. Similarly, it is likely more a result of people who eat fruit being more health-conscious than fruit per se causing less weight gain.”

Bingo.  Health-conscious people are different.  They’re more likely to exercise, more likely to get enough sleep, less likely to eat potato chips, less likely to drink sodas, and – because they’ve been warned about it for 30-plus years – less likely to eat red meat, which is probably why red meat was associated with weight gain.

Yes, I believe potatoes and sodas make insulin-resistant people fatter.  But I wouldn’t hold up this study as proof.


42 thoughts on “One Potato, Two Potato …

  1. Sami

    It’s funny because potatoes used to be my favorite food. It’s probably the reason I’m fat because I’m not much for sweets. When I was a kid my mom was the president of a McDonald’s Happy Meal toy collecting club in Houston (I’m not even joking) so I ate McD’s French fries twice a week -every week- for YEARS.

    So it’s a good thing I found your documentary, because now I’m slowly taking off my ‘potato belly’ one pound at a time 🙂

    That’s why I’m not convinced by people who try to tell me potatoes didn’t make me fatter, it must’ve been sugars I was consuming at the same time, etc. I know darned good and well I wasn’t eating sugar.

  2. Lori

    “Could yogurt be a key to staying slim?”

    I doubt it. It’s just one of those things that health-conscious people eat. A few weeks ago, I tasted some yogurt left over from a friend’s stay at my house, and it tasted as sweet as syrup. During her stay, my friend also knocked back a big jug of fruit juice, and fruit, and bread at every restaurant, and wondered why her stomach was upset and she couldn’t lose weight…and then said she needed to go on a juice fast.

    That was my suspicion about yogurt as well. It has the aura of health-food status, but most of the ones I see are full of sugar. We buy the full-fat, unsweetened stuff.
    Yes, she’s seen Fathead. She needs a documentary called Hard Head.

  3. Mike

    I’m glad Dr. Willett is coming to terms with how important insulin spiking is with regards to weight gain. I believe he is one of the few major important people we need on our low-carb team to help get this message out.

  4. Jan

    And there they are, lumping red meat together with processed meats. I have an ongoing debate with a blog buddy who just had 3 small, precancerous polyps removed from her colon about saturated fat. She’s convinced saturated fat is responsible for colon cancer, and I keep telling her no, trans fats are responsible for colon cancer (along with grains and sugar, but I’m trying to keep it simple for the time being), but the medical community keeps lumping them together, which is just plain wrong.

    I’ve got a permanent bruise in the middle of my forehead from all that head-to-desk contact. Ouch.

    We should all get together someday and learn to bang our heads on large objects in some kind of musical unison.

  5. Chris

    Walt and Kelly should read Gary Taubes and watch Fat Head. Then apologize for wasting our time and money with their studies and reports. Finally, they can volunteer as waiters on the next Low-Carb Cruise to discover the answer they have waisted their careers seeking. Any hint on where the money came from for this latest study?

    This is what the abstract says about funding: Supported by grants (DK46200, DK58845, HL085710, HL60712, HL35464, CA87969, CA50385, CA55075, and CA95589) from the National Institutes of Health and by the Searle Scholars Program.

  6. Layla

    I am Dutch and as some Americans might know: we grew big and strong on potatoes.
    This was never a problem in the old days, when Dutch people had tough jobs and worked long days, the potato was truly a super food. But now that we move less and less and eat more and more, I do think that potatoes should be restricted and so do a lot of dietitians.
    The fact that the average Dutch woman is the heaviest of all Europeans (and not the tallest) also makes me think twice about potatoes.
    However. I’ve been on the Atkins diet for nearly a year now and I now have a very healthy weight. I’m in Phase 4 and I find that the only high carb foods I can eat without problems are potatoes and legumes. I can basically eat them every day, about half the amount of what a regular Dutch person would consider as normal.

    I don’t think that taters are necessarily a bad choice, I just think that people tend to eat more of them than is good for them.
    Also, I don’t look at fries and chips as being ‘food’. They are junk and it seems really normal to me that you would gain weight eating that kind of garbage. If they would deep fry cucumbers and we would eat them by the bucket, we would still gain weight.

    Sure, active people who didn’t screw up their metabolisms at a young age with Captain Crunch and Coca-Cola can probably eat potatoes without any problems. And I wanted a starch on my plate, I’d take potatoes over grains any day.

  7. Dan Hall

    OK, observational studies don’t prove cause and effect. They might just suggest hypotheses, that should be explored in a more rigorous manner. When will we treat them that way? Anything else is just mental masturbation. It drives me nuts, the way people treat these reports as gospel. I also go crazy over how the researchers and press always tie in the usual suspects of fat and red meat, as always being a culprit. Conversely, “healthy whole grains” always escape consideration. Yes, I’m banging my head on my desk.

    So it was you. While banging my head on my desk, I thought I heard an echo.

  8. Theo

    I LOVE studies like this because they so perfectly illustrate the problems with confusing correlation and causation. Basically, in the united states, potato consumption is associated with an increased weight gain (supposedly due to starch?) but areas of the world where starch is dominant (asia and rice, various indigenous populations and potatoes/sweet potatoes) tend to be very lean. Hmm. Maybe its not the potatoes themselves that are responsible for weight gain but how they are fried in hydrogenated soybean oil and designed by food scientists to be overly stimulating? Hmm.

  9. Sarah H

    Saw this today from NPR. Next thing you know they’ll be recommending we put the infants on treadmills. For the record, my second daughter was nearly 10lbs at birth, and until she started walking was definitely an adorable FAT BABY!!! At 3, she is slim and insane energetic…but then again, I didn’t pump her full of goldfish crackers and granola bars. Bacon and eggs and butter, oh my!

    We were just watching some six-year-old videos of our girls last night. My younger daughter was quite the fat little baby herself. She also had black hair. Now she’s blonde and lean and very active. Perhaps someone switched babies when we weren’t looking.

    I’d urge parents to feed their toddlers real foods and let the baby fat take care of itself.

  10. Jim Anderson

    Like you, I’m skeptical of the methodology. I like the results — more or less — but if the study were done right, I’d probably love the results. The problem with these half-way studies is that people get tired of being told what is or is not good for them. By the time a definitive study comes along, no one will be listening. I’ve already seen some passionate defenses of the spud.

    Still, it was good to see some carbohydrate bashing going on in the mass media.

    Indeed. I’ve heard people make comments along the lines of “Everything you eat, some new study shows it will kill you.” So they give up trying to figure it out.

  11. Jeremiah

    We (us low carb, critical thinking folks) know that that red meat in of itself isn’t going to make us fat. As has been discussed before, high fat and protein diets are damaging and contribute to fat gain ONLY when the diet is also a high carb diet. SAD diets and any other high carb diet for that matter means high insulin which means if you are also eating a lot of say red meat, those 9 calories per gram of fat is going to contribute to a lot of fat gain over time. The thing is these scientists and doctors are ignoring, missing or simplifying the fact that the sugars and grains in high carb foods are the catalyst to the bodies storing of calories into the fat cells, period.

    When they say red meat is associated with weight gain; ok so is this weight gain fat, muscle or both? When you look at the content of red meat in general, you’re gonna find a lot of protein and also creatine, which contribute to muscle gain in anyone that is at least modestly active. Red mead is also chalk full of zinc and I believe magnesium, which are critical in the bodies production of testosterone…..which also contributes to muscle gain. Well I’ll be, could that weight gain that’s associated with red meat in fact be muscle gain? Naaahhh it unequivocally, 100% body fat gain!!! Red meat is evil, right guy from CSPI?!? Geez give me a break. Any and all studies that have to do with food and weight gain or loss should include body fat percentages before and after, as well as lean body weight and muscle in pounds. Yea that’s not always practical, but all so important

    And it’s not as if they go around measuring weight and body fat on the thousands of participants. This is all questionnaire data, which I don’t trust.

  12. Debbie

    “And there they are, lumping red meat together with processed meats.” …. And I have serious doubts about the dangers of processed meats anyway. Where do most people EAT processed meats after all? Bacon and sausage with TOAST, pepperoni on PIZZA, hot dogs on BUNS. I’m really not the least convinced that processed meats are any worse for us than any other sort of meat. They are just damned for the company they keep also, just like fats.

    Funny thing about potatoes though. I don’t even especially *like* potatoes. I sure grew up on them. My mom’s potato soup used to be one of the staples of our diet. Yet I found that when I added small potato servings (or other glucose starches, such as rice) to my diet, a la Dr. Kwasniewski, I achieved much better blood sugar control than when I avoided them!

    Like yesterday for example. breakfast – bacon and eggs: 2-hour PP blood sugar reading, 176. Lunch, brown rice with butter and shredded Kerrygold Dubliner cheese: 2-hour PP reading 130. Dinner – small potato with butter, green salad with olive oil, small serving codfish with a bit of salsa: 2-hour PP reading 117.

    So I’m trying to keep the rice and potatoes. But also some processed meats!

    I’m amazed that your glucose could reach 176 after bacon and eggs. Have you ever tried flipping the meals around, eating those dinner foods for breakfast and vice versa? I’d be curious to see if it’s partly a morning vs. evening issue.

  13. Jenna

    Did you see this one?

    Or, they could add some nice, filling satisfying fat to their diet and not have to suffer through the unpleasantness of starvation, and probably accomplish the same thing. Oh wait! If you eat fat, how could it ever get flushed from your pancreas? *Sigh*

    Extreme low-calorie diet based on NON-STARCHY vegetables … yeah, that would probably work.

  14. Lori

    @Debbie, in some people (my mom, for one), what they ate the day before affects their BG. When my mother overeats carb (as in, a cookie or regular sugar-bomb yogurt), her blood sugar will still be high the next day. In fact, it takes her a number of days of VLC eating to get back to normal.

  15. Firebird

    I got a laugh out of one of the comments provided by a woman who was a potato eater, who blamed the weight gain on the frying, the butter, the sour cream and adding cheese to it…blaming EVERYTHING but the potato.

    Of course. I used to think the same way. I even ate baked potatoes with (Yee-uck!) fat-free butter-flavored topping.

  16. Eric

    There’s a really simple explanation for the study’s findings on red meat. Red meat tends to be consumed with starch–steak and potatoes, burger with buns and fries, corned beef with rye, etc. I don’t think red meat is fattening by itself, because it’s so filling, but if it’s consumed with starch, the insulin will just pack it away in your adipose tissue. I think it’s unethical to waste all the wonderful energy that the poor cow died to give me, so I’ll pass on the potatoes, thank you.

    Same goes for the observational studies that blamed saturated fats for various ailments. The biggest sources of saturated fat in the American diet are desserts, pizza, and burgers served with fries and sodas. Guilt by association with real criminals.

  17. gallier2

    and Debbie is right, processed meat is often not as bad as people think. Sausages are often made with the lesser cuts of meat which often contain better nutrients as the “filet” and steak cuts. For example, cartilage contains sulfur rich proteins which are extremely difficult to get otherwise and is important for building our own. One of the rare remaining sources in the west of it are sausages like wieners*, where a lot of conjonctive tissue is used; it’s so finely ground that one can not notice it. In other regions of the world (poorer) people still eat cartilage. I know it first hand from my wife and my stepson who are from Africa and really chew even the bones of chickens and smaller animals.

    *: side note for spelling challenged english speakers, wiener is written with i before the e, it comes from Vienna written Wien in german.

    That’s why my wife has taken to boiling the bones and connective tissues in her stews. Adds a lot of flavor too.

  18. Dave, RN

    Yeah that red meat’ll make you fat. That’s why the plains Indians, who lived on buffalo, were so darn obese and ridden with diabetes.

    Wait, that’s what happened after buffalo were no longer available and we put them on reservations and gave them sacks of flour, vegetable oil and beans to live on…

  19. Peggy Holloway

    Searle – the folks that gave us Aspartame!
    These are not “studies” just hunting expeditions to give researchers something to do to keep their positions and get funding.

  20. Princess Dieter

    I had banished all starches from my diet, then readded small servings occasionally of rice and taters back, as I like sushi and I like a tater with my meat now and then. HOWEVER, I feed it to hubby way more often (both rice and taters), cause he’s a strapping 6’1″ fella who can’t keep weight on without starches/sugar. He’s now officially UNDERWEIGHT (by those medical weight charts, which may be useless, who knows) and has had to get new pants every couple weeks. So, eating Primal dumped so much weight off him (and he was already normal weight), that I had to actually give him starches back or risk being married to a bag o bones. 😛 So, far, he’s still losing, and he’s eating 5x a day now, but the added starches have slowed the rate of weight loss. And he’s a software engineer whose exercise is being at a computer all day. hah

    He’s my case study at home: Wanna lose weight? Ditch the starches/sugar. Works for me slower than him, but dang if that man didn’t drop like 5 lbs a week just doing that, even eating steak 2x a day, cheese, pork, buttery eggs….(I so hate that you guys can drop so fast!)

  21. Princess Dieter

    Oh, and he eats a lot of fruit and veggies. He’s not Taubesian low carb. I didn’t wanna give that impression, based on my list of listed “he eats” stuff.
    I wish taters weren’t a blood sugar issue for me, cause I could eat em every day….sigh…

    I wish I had his metabolism.

  22. Brooke

    Saw the Wash Post article this morning. Well they’re moving in the right direction…finally, white bread and potatoes linked to weight gain. That was on the “plus” side. What they said about “red meats”? “Whole grains”? They STILL don’t get it. I long for the day when I pick up the paper and see the headline, “HARVARD STUDY: WHOLE GRAINS LINKED TO WEIGHT GAIN”
    I think there’s going to be a lot of head-banging til then….

  23. Janey

    To Debbie, above, who’s doing Kwasniewski… (My apologies if it’s bad form to respond to another commenter.)

    I, too, had my doubts about the dangers of processed meats for the same reason, and found Kwasniewski to be an easy diet to follow. Then I read about several prominent Dr. K followers who died of stomach cancer. Now I’m not so sure anymore…

    It’s not bad form at all to address each other in comments. That’s how we keep the conversations going.

  24. Keoni Galt

    Let’s not forget the most important factor here: they’re lumping in all potatoes into a single category, regardless of how they are prepared and cooked.

    French fries and potato chips are all fried in Omega 6 imbalanced vegetable oils (usually soybean/cottonseed/sunflower/canola), which also promote inflammation in the body.

    That’s a far cry from a baked potato, or potatos fried in a healthy oil like Extra Virgin Coconut oil, tallow or lard.

    Finally, Tom, while Potatoes can certainly act as a ‘glucose bomb’ – along with rice, bread and all other starches (and yes, I avoid gluten grains as much as possible) – but eating them in small proportion to the meat and fat on your plate mitigates that glucose spiking effect.

    I recently acquired a blood glucose monitoring kit and have run a series of self-experiments. Since I’ve been eating low carb for about 5 years now, I don’t have most SAD related issues – I’m not overweight, good blood pressure/cholesterol stats, steady energy levels and the ability to fast with ease.

    I found that a small portion of rice or mashed potatoes has literally no difference in my glucose readings than the meals in which I had no starch at all.

    That’s why I urge people to test for themselves. A small serving of pasta or a potato sends my glucose sky high. My sister-in-law decided to test her reaction since I was already testing mine … after both pasta and a potato, she peaked at 112. Probably why she’s so thin.

  25. Roberto

    Really Sami? You blame potatoes for your weight gain because you ate McDonalds french fries twice a week? Never mind that a third of those calories are from refined, rancid vegetable oil. Did you ever wash those fries down with free refill high fructose corn syrup?

  26. cancerclasses

    Jan: Fiber is the most common cause if colon cancer. A study in the 2000 Lancet showed that people that eat the most fiber have the highest rates of colon cancer. The fiber (essentially sticks, twigs & saw dust) irritates the delicate tissues in the colon causing inflammation. The INFL causes cellular hypoxia, & as Nobel Laureate M.D., PhD biochemist Otto Warburg proved in 1928, just a 35% reduction of oxygen flow into the cell causes them to either die (which on a large enough scale causes tissue necrosis & tissue death), or the stronger cells switch to glycolysis, fermentation of sugars to produce energy & thus become cancer.

    Contrary to the conventional wisdom, fiber is bad news. For the no bullcrap truth about cancer get & read THE HIDDEN STORY OF CANCER.

  27. Jan

    @Debbie – Some processed meats are fine – the ham and bacon we get from our pastured hogs are only cured with salt and some spices, then cold smoked. However, when I got to buy lunch meat for my teenage son, I have to buy Applegate Organic brand because the mainstream brands, like Butterball and Oscar Meyer, add things like potato starch, corn starch, high fructose corn syrup, soy isolates and MSG in theirs. Lots of breakfast sausages, hot dogs and bratwurst are often loaded with HFCS and soy or starch fillers, and even most commercial brands of bacon contain sugar.

  28. Nowhereman

    “And it’s not as if they go around measuring weight and body fat on the thousands of participants. This is all questionnaire data, which I don’t trust.”

    Bingo, Tom! That’s the problem with most of these kinds of studies. It’s not like the researchers are bringing in hundreds of participants in at least once a week for several years and doing proper measurements before, during, and after the study, no matter how long it went on. This is at it’s core, a simple observational type study. A real clinical or experimental study would put multiple groups under close observation while controlling what the participants ate and when to see what would happen. A good study would seperate the meats, seperate the fats, seperate the starches, the grains, and and some groups would be seperated into various degrees of exercise.

    Furthermore, as you point out, the whole thing about questionaire observational studies is that they rely solely on the participants being honest about what they eat and do. Without controls, there is no way to be sure what the participants say is even the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

    So as another poster here pointed out, the observational studies are good for getting an idea of where to go in developing a hypothesis, but they are being treated as the end all and be all as gospel, when the next step is detailed clinicals.

    And that gets to another point; what can we do to change this mentality? It’s obviously not going to be simple in dismantling decades of special interest groups and big money lobbies. Do we really have to plod along through a “Dark Age” of nutritional advice?

    I don’t mind if they keep doing observational studies, since large clinical studies are hugely expensive. I just want the researchers and the media who report on them to make it clear how limited these studies are.

  29. Brad C. Hodson

    There they go, lumping in red meat again. Since dumping grains, I’ve made sure to eat AT LEAST one serving of (preferably grain fed) red meat per day. I’ve lost nearly forty pounds of pure blubber in 4 months. Guess I better go back to those healthy whole grains instead so I don’t gain it back…

    And yogurt, according to the study.

  30. Charlie

    The problem is even if you got normal response to potatoes and other carbs bombs and you have no weight problem is how long will your insulin producing metabolism is going to last having to process so much starch.

    In my opinion people make a mistake of comparing other civilizations consumption of thinks like potatoes and rice without taking into account amount of energy expenditure. Maybe potatoes and rice can be ok if you live a very active live, with a lot of hard work. But for the modern sedentary life style is they are not a good diet to copy.

    New study modest carb reduction, increase in fat, lowers deep body fat.

    Thanks for the link. I’m going to look up that study.

  31. Firebird

    We have to keep in mind that while weight loss is great, it is not the tell tale sign of how our internal health is. You could eat potatoes all day long and maintain a svelte figure, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t causing problems. I turn to skinny as a rail Hall of Fame hockey player Bobby Clarke, who is a life long diabetic. No weight problem, but terribly unhealthy internally. The mirror doesn’t tell all.

    I’ve seen that in my own family: skinny people who become type 2 diabetics.

  32. Underground

    But, but, but… everyone KNOWS that red meat leads to weight gain, colon cancer, and kicking babies. While potatos are just innocent, healthy vegetables, that are at the top of the nutrition scale as the industry rep pointed out. Not mentioning that something can be nutritious and still be unhealthy in some respect.

    It’s like they talked around the subject that was right in front of them, trying to find ANYTHING to blame except what was right in front of their face. An *extra* serving of potato? Surely it’s not related to volume, it must be the meat.

  33. fredt

    Thirty some comments and no one has mentioned Chris Voigt at

    I personally can only tolerate about 120 gm of boiled, baked or pan fried potatoes. (about 100 C) Anything more and my 1 hour blood glucose goes to high. Mashed, or other methods, I can can tolerate perhaps 60 grams. It seems to have to do with the speed of gluose release.

    Also 100 C of potatoes is not much. I am not a athlete nor do I do physical labor, so I can get by on a few carbs.

    Tom, keep up the fine work. You are making a difference in this tough battle of re-educating humanity.

    Yeah, I remember when his story hit the news. I’d go into glucose shock if I tried his experiment.

  34. Zubious

    I’m with Theo on this one – I know plenty of people who regularly eat a variation of potatoes (sweet variaion, russet, etc) and they are lean. Even I do fried – just not in canola, or any “vegetable” oil. Beef tallow or coconut oil for me.

    Either event, I wonder if the results might be different if they used beef tallow to fry like the old days, instead of these crazy oils.

    I don’t think everyone has to avoid potatoes. It’s a matter of how you react to them. I don’t react well at all.

  35. John Newlin

    I eat a ton of carbs when I’m exercising, on a 5 hour bike ride, those potatoes are like little magical balls of energy.

  36. Marilyn

    I eat potatoes regularly, as well as rice. But the serving sizes are always small, and they’re always prepared with butter or cream/sour cream or meat drippings. Dinner is often meat (including lots of red meat), a small serving of potato or rice, and a lettuce/tomato/blue cheese salad with olive oil. Other veggies occasionally, fruit rarely, sugared drinks and fruit juices never. So far, everybody happy.

    If the old food-groups guide put out by the government in the 1940s is any indication (which it may not be), that’s what people used to do. The guide called for one serving of grains and one serving of potatoes per day.

  37. WSB

    Skinny diabetics aren’t that uncommon (approximately 10% of all T2’s); there seems to be a relationship with food intolerance(s), specifically gluten and casein.

    I think this may be part of the problem with the Kwasniewski diet – it is not gluten free. This study shows a higher mortality rate for non celiac gluten sensitivty (aka “just sensitive”) vs celiacs.

    Plan your cheat meals carefully!

  38. Drew

    In debating the whole food/paleo/low carb diet issues, I noticed how some items like watermelons, and potatoes don’t necessarily fit in. Potatoes seem to be a BIG issue for many people but I wonder if this may come down to portions, preparation and how people eat them. ‘
    Eating a small potato with butter with steak and milk over an hour and making certain to chew it all is not going to result in the same problems, as eating a larger order of fries cooked in vegetable oil and served with a tall order of Mountain Dew and eaten in 15 minutes. This is only made worst when people buy pretzels and pop from a vending machine because they have no time to sit down and eat properly.

    Portions and preparation matter, of course. But for some of us, even small portions jack up blood sugar.

  39. BW

    I see you mentioning various carbs spiking your blood sugar, I’m guessing you are using a blood glucose meter? Is that something that would be appropriate for your average joe as a way to see how they react to various carb sources?

    It seems simple, and the meters (and test strips if you don’t get what I’d call “scam” brands) are relatively cheap. However oftentimes things appear simple that are not, which is why I’m posing this question.

    Thanks for the great blog and Movie… I wish I could get our in-house “health” program people to stop parroting the health insurance reps…. I’ve tried and they listen to the ‘experts’.. who of course have no conflict of interest…yeah..that’s it..

    Yes, I’m talking about a glucose meter you can pick up at any drug store.

  40. Lauren

    So are potatoes really so bad? I ask because my husband (whom I have recently forced low-carb upon) really isn’t doing so well 4 weeks in. I know for me that I feel 10x better and have energy all day if I have a fig with my steak for breakfast, while a high fat/mod protein breakfast will leave me sluggish, sleepy and hungry in a few hours. My husband hates fruit, but I was thinking of making him a baked potato for his breakfast/lunch tomorrow. I’ll scoop out a fair amount of the starch and load the thing up with mushrooms, onions, cheese, bacon, brisket, butter… you get the idea. What do you think?

    It could just be that your husband is going through an adjustment period as his body is retrained to burn more fat and less glucose. If he really can’t stand it, I’d add a few carbs (not sugar or grains) back into his diet and see if it helps. But if he eats a potato, I’d check his blood sugar an hour later to see if it causes a big spike.

  41. Ray

    Mitt Romney says in his book “No Apology: The Case for American Greatness” (p. 6) that one year his Dad’s family in Idaho “lived on nothing but potatoes — for breakfast, lunch and dinner.” Is that even possible?

    Yes, but I wouldn’t recommend it.


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