The Latest Diet & Exercise Hacking Towards a Goal

Back nearly a month ago when I did my second Got Milk? post I laid out a plan to consume a lot of milk, do my weekly Body by Science inspired workouts, cut calories to about 2,000 per day, etc.

It didn’t work out that way. What happened was that the improvement in body composition and gains in the gym were so rapid (and injury free) that I quickly decided to feed the hunger and see what would happen. So I drank lots of milk and ate whenever hungry, no restrictions. As of mid-last week, 12 pounds is what happened, all without any of it added to my waist. I was 187.5 when this started and I ended up at 199.5 in the space of about three weeks. Strength, shoulders, arms, chest, back and thighs feel like me again—with the exception of persistent weakness in my right arm/bicep from the injury—after over a year and a half hardly in the gym at all. I feel as I have regained the lean mass I had in these photos.

The fact is, I hadn’t been checking the scale at all, at least for 2 weeks. I noticed I was not feeling as hungry anymore and food and milk consumption just started dropping off. I checked the scale and was shocked to see that 199.5. Still just going with my hunger, and desire for milk, 3.5 pounds have come off in 5 days or so (no doubt water accounts for a lot of that). Now at 196.

So I’m at a point of what to do now and have spent some time considering it. Here’s the basics of the experiment, critiques and suggestions welcome.

  • My one BBS style workout per week (the Big-5 plus DLs). I do this a bit different than the 12-minute, time under load deal. I rest between sets and exercises. I set the weight such that I’m working in a 5-8 rep range in a set and do two, sometimes three sets; and I vary between doing reps in a normal pace and slow and super slow. So, there’s some LeanGains inspiration in there too, in terms of the rest and rep ranges. I like it and it’s working.
  • The “potato diet” 5 days per week, with some twists to the way others have done it (see below for details and a recipe)
  • One 30-hour fast day (from lunch to dinner the next day, sometimes pre-workout)
  • One refeed day, the 24 hours subsequent to my workout where I drink at least a half gallon of milk and anything and everything else I want in that 24 hours, as much as I want.
  • Supplements: BCAAs (Purple Wrath), Uni-Liver (10 caps/d), D3, K2, Magnesium (Malate), Zinc, Selenium, Krill Oil (.5 g/d)

In terms of the deadlifts, I think I’ll push those out to once every two weeks. In three workouts over three weeks I’d gone from 3 sets, 5 reps each at 205# to 3 sets, 5 reps each at #255. Then yesterday, 8 days out, I tried to do the same thing. Immediately, it felt heavy. Got my fist 5 reps in. Second set, that first rep and I was…NOPE. Done. Dropped it to #235 for the third set and got 5. So, perhaps a bit much too fast. Looks like it’s going to take quite a while to get back up to #325, and that’s fine.

[Update: Well, I figured out what happened. Because the gym has a new DL specific deck and DL specific weights (45, 35, 25, 10) that are all the same diameter and wider than the standard ones, I effed up calculating the load. I was actually at 295 on that first set, not 255. Alas, no surprise that it felt so damn heavy and I could only pull one rep for the second set. Then, the third set was actually 275, not 235.]

The big hack here, of course, is the potato diet. It’s been all over. I’ve even seen Peter blog about Chris Voight’s experiment with potatoes and weight loss. There’s apparently a big forum thread at MDA about it, and also comment threads on Ray Cronise’s blog.

I don’t want to steal any of Ray’s thunder and I know he’s looking into and experimenting with this in a very thorough way. So, here’s just what I get as a gist of the whole deal, not having yet read anything but Peter’s post.

  • Quality amino acid profile
  • Low in overall protein (5% or so total calories)
  • Low in fat
  • High in satiation, while low in “reward” as a function of the overall calories

In essence, it seems as though if you eat only potatoes you will have a very difficult time eating enough to maintain body weight—so long as they aren’t dressed up with a lot of stuff like butter, sour cream, bacon…or deep fried. Apparently, people have been reporting weight loss of 1/2-1 pound per day on these diets without hunger. There might be a gut flora element to the deal as well.

OK, but how about if you could make them a bit more palatable with only a smal addition of other calories, but still achieve a similar result? This is what I aim to find out. Just a few hours ago I made a pot of potato soup, an off the cuff recipe creation.

IMG 1302


  • 4 large potatoes, peeled and cubed (1,200 calories)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (100 calories)
  • 1 quart beef stock (120 calories)
  • 2 cups chicken stock (40 calories)
  • 2 tablespoons butter (200 calories)
  • Chopped fresh parsley (had it leftover from the clam chowder)
  • 2 teaspoons salt (or to taste)
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper (or to taste)


Place all ingredients in a pot, bring it to a boil, cover and simmer on low for 30 minutes. Turn off the heat. Use a potato masher to mash it all up until a desired consistency is reached. Serve.

IMG 1304

It was surprisingly good, but very, very filling. That bowl above is 5 ladles, I had it 2 hours ago and I still feel stuffed. So, basically, that entire pot of soup comes out to about 1,660 calories. Do the math. Do you think you could eat the whole thing in an entire 24-hour period? I have my doubts, at least consistently.

There’s also variations you can do. All beef stock, all chicken stock, different proportions, vegetable stock, mushroom stock, etc. Also, you could switch out the butter for a few slices of bacon. You could use leeks instead of onion, add some garlic, or use some other vegetables altogether. Other herbs & spices. But based on that one meal I’m guessing these small steps toward better palatability might actually help you to eat enough! Because, if you don’t eat enough for long enough, you know exactly what’s going to happen.

OK, one more thing. I added in the Uni-Liver supplement to the log in order to see the overall macro breakdown and micronutrient profile.

Screen Shot 2012 11 12 at 12 54 30 PM

Probably fat is a little overstated because the 1.8 ounces of braised beef liver I use as a surrogate for 10 caps of Uni-Liver includes the fat and Uni-Liver does not.

Screen Shot 2012 11 12 at 12 55 05 PM

That is pretty damn impressive for an 1,800 calorie day. Damn liver is amazing. Also, note that I supplement D, Magnesium, Selenium and Zinc, so with that 1,800 calorie pot of soup and my few supplements the only thing going missing is E and calcium.

Here’s what it looks like with the 100 calories of liver removed.

Screen Shot 2012 11 12 at 2 09 10 PM

Amazing liver.

Alright, to sum it up, a pretty simple plan to cut calories 5 days per week using something very satiating (potatoes), yet not so bland so as to chronically under eat and end up going off plan altogether. One day of complete calories restriction. A sane workout plan that not only maintains but provides for gains. A targeted approach to proteins via the quality profiles of potatoes, liver, and branch-chain amino acids yet overall very moderate in total protein.

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More


  1. Todd on November 12, 2012 at 14:52

    Will you be cutting alcohol during this experiment?

    I’m curious how this will affect your mood.

    • Richard Nikoley on November 12, 2012 at 15:07

      Yea. I’ve already cut it substantially because the milk often took away any desire for it. I’ll save it for my refeed day, maybe even a beer or two, which I almost never drink.

      • E.C. on November 13, 2012 at 03:23

        This is really cool/interesting – I wonder *why* it quelled any taste for alcohol? Do you have a theory?

      • Richard Nikoley on November 13, 2012 at 07:42


        It’s probably complex and individual. I first noticed it way back, years ago when I got on a milk kick for a while. Largely killed my desire for that after work drink or two or three…

        Could be that its liquid calories, a hormonal thing, or whatever. I’ve searched Google but have not come up with anything.

      • E.C. on November 13, 2012 at 08:40

        I have days when I want alcohol very badly and days when I couldn’t care less. I wish I knew why. It’s easy for some people to say ‘not another drink, thanks’ but I’m not one of them.

      • Joseph on November 13, 2012 at 13:41

        Alcohol is one thing I have never really wanted (in a visceral, “must get it” kind of way). Growing up Mormon, I never drank (and never wanted to: no one in my family, not even any of the non-Mormons, is a big drinker). Disaffecting as an adult, I have tried alcohol, tea, and coffee (all forbidden). The tea and coffee have become things I partake of regularly: I like them. They make me feel better. (I can function fine without them, too, though. I don’t require them to wake up or work.)

        But alcohol isn’t really anything special, for me. I don’t partake of it that regularly at all, and I never miss it (though I will gladly sip a glass of red wine, especially if we are having a nice conversation or eating a fancy dinner). Maybe I would feel different if I got around to trying some whiskey or vodka, but I doubt it. Some people just aren’t cut out to drink, I think.

      • Nica on November 14, 2012 at 04:22

        long time reader, but I never commented ’til now. Thanks for the good work, sir 🙂

        Re: no desire to drink alcohol while on the milk kick.
        It might be due to the chromium content of the raw milk. Chromium supplementation is often used to diminish the desire for alcohol and/or drugs in addiction therapy, probably because of its ability to “pacify” the rewards system, tricking it into a satiated feeling. So maybe that’s why you don’t want that beer or two.

      • Steve on November 21, 2012 at 21:22

        Alcohol makes milk curdle, so maybe it is some innate bodily sense from past experience that the interaction might not be so pleasant?

  2. Mark on November 12, 2012 at 16:02

    Did I miss something? What are you doing on the other two days? Sounds interesting. I think I’ll try that recipe.

    • Richard Nikoley on November 12, 2012 at 16:03

      The fast for one and the post workout refeed on the other.

      • Mark on November 12, 2012 at 16:41

        Oh duuuu! OOps! 🙂

      • Richard Nikoley on November 12, 2012 at 16:45

        No worries, Mark.

  3. Joshua on November 12, 2012 at 16:30

    What’s the reasoning behind moderating total protein?

    Overall the potato thing sounds drastic and unpleasant, but I look forward to the results.

    Of the 12 pounds you gained, how much do you think was muscle? 3 weeks just doesn’t seem like much time to make that much lean bodymass, but I’m wondering if the growth oriented nutrients in the milk might be an accelerant. GOMAD has a pretty good history from what I can tell.

    • Richard Nikoley on November 12, 2012 at 16:43


      Hard to tell. I’m sure the gain involved lean, fat, water. Fooling yourself if you don’t think that, I think. However, since this was lean mass I had recently, perhaps there’s an advantage there. 4,5,6 pounds of it, maybe? I don’t know but I do know its time to cut.

      In terms of lower protein, I’m just experimenting. Some say its not the total protein, but the quality. Interested to see if I can still hold gains I’ve made in the gym and maybe even gain in a lower protein deal.

      No, not eating pounds of ribs and roasts. We’ll see.

  4. jon w on November 12, 2012 at 17:02

    Rich, 5% weekly gain would be almost impossible as pure muscle, surely a bit of water fat etc — and probably not sustainable. Curious what would happen in following weeks? I disparage the potato haters as a little seasoning and fat will make broiled or bake potatoes delicious and I could eat them day in and day out. Althoguh I am not one to fall for the “magic foods” line, many Irishmen would testify you could do a lot worse than potatoes and dairy ( Bottom line, if you are getting stronger and feeling better, why stop? That’s the essence ofbody hacking.

    • johnnyv on November 13, 2012 at 11:25

      Potatoes require far more than a little seasoning and fat to make them palatable to me, with the right amount they become very delicious though.
      But thats ok I still eat them just not that often, mostly in Thai yellow curry or fries with lots of hot sauce.

  5. Dane Miller on November 12, 2012 at 18:33

    BCAA are good but I would cut them out and put in the milk with One World Whey. I hate to say One World Whey because I do sell it but I think the shit is legit. I have seen serious strength gains on wrestlers that I have utilize IF for cutting weight. They will fast 14-16 hours, have some coffee/gelatin and then post-workout they pound raw milk with one world whey. Weights are flying and their bodyweight stays right where it needs to be.

    • Richard Nikoley on November 13, 2012 at 07:12

      Hey Dane:

      The Purple Wrath says zero calories, and I think it’s only 10g of protein. For this experiment in “cutting,” now that I’ve got all the bulk I really want or need, what do you think about keeping the overall protein low, along with the calories? But at any rate, this sounds like a good idea to pound it post-workout on the refeed day.

      • Dane on November 13, 2012 at 07:42

        As for lower protein I don’t thinks its terrible. Most guys will tell you that it must be higher but I have found it isn’t that bad on the low side, as long as the food intake is high quality and supplements are good (in this case they both are quality). On workout days I would try to push almost all protein to post-workout consumption. Just take bcaa pre workout. You will be fine.

  6. RAY on November 12, 2012 at 18:47

    Richard- Are you drinking raw milk? I have access to it down here in SW Florida and tried it a few weeks ago. I’m not sure if I want to drink gallons of it but man do I love milk. I have incorporated more potatoes lately mostly sweet and find no changes in body comp positive or negative. I’m also not counting calories nor will I ever. But my main question is in regards to the liver tabs. I was taking the recommended two a day but do you feel that taking more is better? I read that high intakes of vitamin b-12 cause forehead breakouts. Ever since I started the liver tabs I have been breaking out on my forehead….coincidence maybe? I am curious your thoughts. Love these posts btw.

    • Richard Nikoley on November 13, 2012 at 07:15


      Yes, I have access to raw milk. I use that as well as a high quality, minimally pasteurized cream top from St. Benoit, 100% grassfed jersey milk. Tastes amazing.

      I think somewhere for the Uni-Liver it says you can take more than the 2 tabs, and others have told me they take up to 10. Usually I was taking 5. But, no issues with breaking out or anything.

  7. Ray Cronise on November 12, 2012 at 18:56

    Thanks Richard,

    I’ll try to drop in from time to time. It’s been fun launching this and it actually had nothing to do with Chris Voights promo. There is a interesting twist on metabolism, but so as not to bias anyone here – i’ll refrain from putting it out just yet.

    I have some new results on our summer “cold plunges,” but under NDA for just a few more weeks. Perhaps I can cross post here when it’s in the open.


    • Richard Nikoley on November 12, 2012 at 21:55

      You can post and cross post anything you like here Ray. A more formal guess post that’s a cross post also. Just say the word.

  8. aminoKing on November 12, 2012 at 19:38

    And for you sweet potato heads out there, regular potato amino acid profiles beat you girly man sweet potatos in nearly every category except arginine. Tyrosine, serine, proline, glutamatic acid, alanine, valine all better in regular potatos dude. Read it weep. Sweet potatos are for inferiors. Regular potatos cheaper too. Ha, ha, sweet potato muchers!

    • Richard Nikoley on November 12, 2012 at 21:58

      That’s good to know, amino king. I can feel your smug from here, laf. I like regular white potatoes better anyway.

    • E.C. on November 13, 2012 at 03:22

      Sometimes dietary choices are come to by superstition and sometimes by experimentation. I will continue to eat my non-pain-inducing sweet potatoes and be joyful that by doing so I can continue to type, open jar lids and lift weights.

    • Vasco Névoa on November 13, 2012 at 06:30

      Hear hear, E.C.!! 🙂

      @aminoKing: Glycoalkaloids make all the difference to people with compromised gut barriers and auto-immune disease, whether advanced or still forming.
      So yeah, white potato amino profile rocks, but I’ll take my aminos without the rheumatism, thanks. In the form of sweet potatoes. 😉

      Rich, long time lurker and first poster here.
      You’re definitely barking up a very interesting tree with the potato diet + heavy lifting. 🙂
      I’m quite curious in finally seeing this kind of “safe starch” carb feeding…. although I already know that, once you cross over from the land of the metabolically challenged into the realm of the muscular thermodynamic machine, it’s a lot easier to dish out those calories and direct insulin towards the right kind of tissue…. I don’t expect your average office-dwelling cubicle rat to respond with lean mass gain the way you are doing, no matter how much cardio or other fitness he does. As long as people are metabolically impaired, insulin will drive fat gain more than muscle gain… me thinks.

      So I’m grabbing some popcorn to watch this show! 🙂 Good luck!

      • Richard Nikoley on November 13, 2012 at 07:56

        Hey Vasco:

        Thanks. I always love to hear from long time lurkers first time commenters. Makes me comfortable they’re still out there.

        BTW, I’ll take white potatoes over popcorn—though since it was my refeed day/window yesterday afternoon, I did have a child size with butter for the Bond movie, which I was disappointed in, BTW. I like the classic Bond themes, saving the world from the Evil Genius just in the nick of time. This one was self indulgent.

    • johnnyv on November 13, 2012 at 11:42

      You know what also has a fantastic amino acid profile? Animals!
      Just saying.
      When I eat my potato containing curry or my kumara chips with bacon, eggs, avocado and tomato the relative protein contribution of the vegetables is rather minor.

      • rob on November 13, 2012 at 15:04

        But what about the kale? From Whole Foods:

        “Kale is now recognized as providing comprehensive support for the body’s detoxification system. New research has shown that the ITCs made from kale’s glucosinolates can help regulate detox at a genetic level. ”

        It regulates detox at the genetic level! How could you possibly pass up on that, it is DETOXING YOUR GENES! The last thing you want is to have toxed genes.

        When I had toxed genes I could not even dunk a basketball, now I have a vertical leap of 83 inches.

  9. Kent McCann on November 12, 2012 at 21:02

    Gettin’ huge eh Richard?

    I did see that potato post over at MDA, but after 2 dozen pages or so, I didn’t feel like I was getting anywhere… It makes sense in theory, but how long do you really plan on eating that way for? Regardless, good luck! I’m interested to see how this all pans out for you in the long run.

    • Richard Nikoley on November 12, 2012 at 21:59

      Kent, I figure the more I stay on point, the less time. A couple of months, maybe.

  10. Pauline on November 13, 2012 at 02:42

    Just out of interest Richard, how much cooked liver do you and your wife eat in a week, I am trying to find out what is optimal for a woman and if it is different for men. I don’t do well on the Uni-liver tablets so just wondering how much you cook and how often.

    • Richard Nikoley on November 13, 2012 at 07:40


      Havent cooked up any liver in a few weeks. That post about the one from Marie was the last. When I do, Beatrice usually has a couple of small slices per day as leftovers. Typically, wrapped in a corn tortilla. She swears by it.

  11. rob on November 13, 2012 at 04:45

    I think that works out to 3.4 pounds of potatoes in the soup. After working through that you aren’t going to hungry for much of anything.

  12. rob on November 13, 2012 at 05:23

    I use the Xtend BCAA product before going to the gym, might give the Wrath a try cause I do enjoy getting my wrath on.

    I like using some kind of pre-workout drink because beyond any actual benefit there is a placebo effect, mixing and drinking my Xtend tells me it’s time to get my game face on and go at it hard.

    I used Jack3d for a while but it was too stimulative, my heart didn’t slow down between sets and then there is the whole “banned in Europe” thing to worry about.

    • Richard Nikoley on November 13, 2012 at 07:51

      I like Wrath for the niacin rush. Not sure if the others have it. Sure is expensive. Just bought another jar. $46.

  13. Richard Nikoley on November 13, 2012 at 06:30

    I just added this update to the post:

    [Update: Well, I figured out what happened. Because the gym has a new DL specific deck and DL specific weights (45, 35, 25, 10) that are all the same diameter and wider than the standard ones, I effed up calculating the load. I was actually at 295 on that first set, not 255. Alas, no surprise that it felt so damn heavy and I could only pull one rep for the second set. Then, the third set was actually 275, not 235.]

  14. Bert on November 13, 2012 at 07:37

    Those results are pretty impressive. I’m glad the milk is paying off. I have been on and off drinking milk for a while now. Although, in the last month I was drinking quite a bit of it with about a five pound gain with no increase in waist size.

    Your DL numbers are awesome. Keep it up. You are inspiring me to go for new personal bests.

    • Richard Nikoley on November 13, 2012 at 08:02

      Thanks Bert. I love the DL so much and and am really committed to getting it back over 300 for 3 sets of 5 reps. Where I go from there will be gravy. But I feel that the DL is simply the king of exercise movements. It’s a full body workout in one single exercise.

  15. josef on November 13, 2012 at 08:20

    Hey Richard, congratulations on your results.

    I have 2 questions:

    1. Could hard cheese substitute for milk?

    2. Are you still taking the K-2 and the Green Pasture combo?

    • Richard Nikoley on November 13, 2012 at 08:32


      for 1, cheese is mostly fat, little carb or protein, so I doubt it. For 2, yes, have been doing the Green Pastures fermented CLO butter oil combo caps for a long while now. Teeth still smooth as ever, which is my telltale for its effectiveness. I can go days without brushing and don’t even notice.

      • josef on November 13, 2012 at 10:09

        I can vouch for Green Pastures’ effectiveness. As per your advice, I’m saving 1-2K per year in dental work, avoiding deep dental cleaning annoyance and putting up with greedy, unscrupulous dentists.

        Maybe someday I’ll mail you a check.

      • Ben on November 14, 2012 at 01:46

        The cheeses I regularily eat are 24 – 32% protein by weight, and 15 – 30% fat by weight. Would hardly call that low protein….

      • Richard Nikoley on November 14, 2012 at 07:21

        Well cottage cheese isn’t low protein. But I assumed he was talking about block cheese.

        The question was about a substitute for milk. You can’t get more protein than milk actually has and as they whey is stopped off, you’re going to have less protein and arguably the most important part.

  16. Tatertot on November 13, 2012 at 10:32

    Hi, I posted as ‘tatertot’ on a couple MDA forums, I was one of the guys that lost a ton of fat eating ‘only potato’ for 14 days…lost 10lbs–and a month later I’m at 12lbs down, and I was weight-stable for about 18 months prior to the potato experiment.

    I asked Paul Jaminet at PHD what he thought about an all-potato diet, and this is what he said:
    “Paul Jaminet November 10, 2012 at 7:39 am

    Hi Tater,

    It’s certainly an effective weight loss tactic. The all-potato diet does produce lipid deficiencies however, so I personally would recommend eating egg yolks and some liver with it (at a minimum). You’ll still lose weight, a little slower perhaps, but it will be healthier.

    As you know, I recommend going a little slower, but being very well nourished from the beginning – eating basically your diet for life, slightly calorie restricted. See our weight loss version: Perfect Health Diet: Weight Loss Version | Perfect Health Diet. ”

    Also, Peter at Hyperlipid wrote about zero fat and talked about an all-potato diet, saying this:
    (Translations provided by an astute MDA reader)

    “As an aside I personally wonder it might be the ectopic lipid supplies typically found in muscle, liver and visceral adipocytes which might still be available for metabolism by the tissues when exogenous supplies are shut down. It reminds me of how metformin most likely depletes ectopic lipid to improve insulin sensitivity, despite having complex I inhibition as its primary action. You need lipid from somewhere. So reducing FFA supply by inhibiting systemic lipolysis may well be a route to lower fasting insulin levels. Especially if you are not far in to metabolic syndrome.

    TRANSLATION: If you do not have severe metabolic syndrome, if you eat zero fat, the fat needed for body functions comes from the fat found in your muscles, liver, and visceral fat. The diabetes drug, Metformin, also depletes these fat stores while improving insulin sensitivity. Reducing fat intake may help make you insulin sensitive.

    “Once ectopic lipid becomes depleted then lipolysis would accelerate in peripheral adipocytes as systemic insulin resistance falls and fasting insulin levels too, which might be what was reported as progressively increasing weight loss by Chris Voight. Insulin levels would be low, especially during fasting, and appetite low at the same time due to hypoinsulinaemia facilitated lipolysis, much as appetite is low under LC induced hypoinsulinaemic eating. There is more than one way to skin a…. Oops let’s not complete that phrase!”

    Once all the freely available fat is gone, your body will use the other fat sources like subcutaneous fat. This would explain why Chris Voight continued to lose weight on an all-potato diet. On an all-potato diet, you would expect low fasting insulin and low appetite. This same scenario is noted in Low Carb eating. There is more than one way to skin a [I’m guessing he wanted to say ‘potato’]

    “What would happen to a healthy person under these conditions, long term, is anyone’s guess. Chis Voight gave up after a few weeks when weight loss became alarmingly rapid. But we know from the crucial study by the vegan apologist Barnard that, for diabetic people at least, that a long term, whole food, low sucrose and low fat diet is a complete disaster, once the initial weight loss ceases.”

    What would happen if we continued to eat an all-potato diet forever? Chris Voight quit after a few weeks because he was losing too much weight. A Vegan study showed that a low sucrose, low fat, long-term diet is disastrous for diabetics.

    “This is playing with fire (possibly near literally, at the mitochondrial level) if you are a diabetic. Please don’t go there.”

    TRANSLATION: Don’t do a long-term potato diet if you are diabetic.

    “But the physiology of weight loss on ultra low fat diets is basically comprehensible, especially once you look at lipids and superoxide at the ETC level, and what the body needs to function effectively. Running your metabolism on pure glucose would induce, theoretically, an infinite glucose sensitivity and low fasting insulin. If we do reductio ad absurdum you would end up with no fat stores and experience death from hypoglycaemia if you ever depleted your glycogen stores. Mitochondria like (saturated) fatty acids. Fatty acids keep them in control.”

    An all-potato diet is pretty simple: Running your metabolism on pure glucose would create unlimited glucose sensitivity and low fasting insulin. If we extend the experiment to it’s end, we deplete ALL the body’s fat and you die of low blood glucose.

    • Tatertot on November 13, 2012 at 10:38

      Here’s a link to the Hyperlipid blog quoted above:

      Sorry that post looks so rambling, I should have made it a couple posts I guess. Anyway, good luck with your potato experiment! I know from personal experience it works to blast away some fat really quick. I did just potatoes, though. Boiled or baked, only salt. No hunger and I lost about 3/4 pound a day for 14 days. It moved some fat I never thought would move.

    • Richard Nikoley on November 13, 2012 at 10:44


      Thank you immensely. I actually linked to Peter’s post in my post, but didn’t wind it out like you did. Also, the take from Paul is a great synthesis on your part.

      Perhaps you should start a blog. Synthesis of different perspectives is part of what made my blog a bit popular.

      • Tatertot on November 13, 2012 at 14:52

        The thing I love about this potato diet hack, is that it fits perfectly into my paleo optic. Since the beginning of mankind, there were periods of little to no food availability. Starchy tubers would be available at times when no other food was around, think late winter/early spring.

        We are perfectly evolved to eat starchy tubers for extended periods. When doing so, it wouldn’t be prudent to also lose muscle mass. The digestion of starch begins in the mouth with amylase and ends either in the stomach or small intestine–all other foods need to take a trip through the intestines and/or liver. Gut flora would be simplified while eating just starchy tubers–allowing better gut flora signalling, and we all know how important that is! But still, so much we don’t know.

  17. Paul C on November 13, 2012 at 11:44

    I am experiencing the same things as you, with strength gains at rates above what I have had in 3 years of consistent workouts similar to yours. I have been drinking raw milk for just under 1 year, but did not have the strength gains at this rate until the last 2 months. The raw milk replaced an equal amount of regular milk. The timing makes me think either the raw milk had nothing to do with it, or it took a while to “kick in”, or the season has something to do with it (is that possible?).

  18. EatLessMoveMoore on November 13, 2012 at 17:16

    Hmm, I heard it’s all about ‘nutritional ketosis’, bay-beeee!!! (You too can have skyrocketing LDL inside of only 6 months. And by some contortion of logic it’s ‘paleo’ as well…)

    • Joe on November 14, 2012 at 00:32

      Yeah, Volek and Phinney are such MORONS. They could never be cool like you, loser.

      • EatLessMoveMoore on November 14, 2012 at 13:33

        Are you on call as Jimmy’s 24/7 online defender or something? Must get tiring.

      • Richard Nikoley on November 14, 2012 at 13:47

        Well C’mon, ELMMorre. Nobody in the world except Evelyn is more obsessed with Jimmy Moore than you. Who else uses his last name in his handle?

      • Joe on November 14, 2012 at 16:24

        The term “nutritional ketosis” was coined by Volek and Phinney in “the art and science of low carbohydrate living” and “the art and science of low carbohydrate performance.” It doesn’t really have anything to do with Jimmy Moore (other than it’s the first thing that has really helped him actually lose weight.)

        As Richard has found, nutritional ketosis is not the only thing that works. But as Peter has pointed out, a hundred percent carb diet would be a disaster for a diabetic (and I wouldn’t be surprised if Jimmy isn’t at least prediabetic.)

        That said, Jimmy ain’t doing bad: six months and he’s down 61 pounds of body fat. I think by the end of his year-long experiment, he will be shutting up a lot of people. I certainly don’t think we’ll see Evelyn posting numbers like that anytime soon. (At least not with confirming photographs.)

      • Richard Nikoley on November 14, 2012 at 16:29

        “I certainly don’t think we’ll see Evelyn posting numbers like that anytime soon.”

        I actually popped in there today for a few minutes. She’s still all over Jimmy, but it’s now about his cholesterol. She’s a one trick pony: attack everything (Attia, Wolf, Sisson, etc. etc.).

      • EatLessMoveMoore on November 14, 2012 at 18:15

        With lipids like his, weight loss will probably be a non-issue at some point. And the larger question is this: How on earth is ANY of this ‘ancestral’ or ‘paleo’ (the guy’s a young-Earth creationist, for God’s sake), and what business does he have speaking at events like PaleoFX? Makes the larger movement – which has done and will do a lot of good – look kind of ridiculous. Is it any wonder that giants like Kurt Harris have left the scene?

      • Richard Nikoley on November 14, 2012 at 19:17

        That’s not the point. The point is that you shouldn’t be throwing stones at anyone obsessed with Jimmy Moore. I told you a long time ago I have no fear of him. That hasn’t changed. And Kurt Harris is his own man. If Jimmy is what motivated Kurt to give up being a part of this (which I seriously doubt), then so what. So what?

      • Joe on November 14, 2012 at 21:38

        Kurt is one of Evelyn’s regular commenters. So if we need that particular giant we don’t have far to look.

      • Richard Nikoley on November 14, 2012 at 21:51

        I haven’t seen a comment from him there in forever. Have you?

      • Joe on November 14, 2012 at 22:14

        Yeah, looks like May was the last comment.

        How will we ever survive?

  19. marie on November 13, 2012 at 18:50

    Richard, thank you, you’ve inspired me finally try something similar.
    It’s the liver that convinced me, breaking up the all-potato week with some nearly complete nutrition…and a bit of variety (smile).
    I already fast twice a week for various health and energy benefits, so for the next two weeks (started last night) those 2 fast days will end on a rounded-out liver dinner while the other 5 days will be all-potato and very low fat (1 tbsp olive oil or kerrygold), with herbs/seasonings to taste.
    I can tell from today’s potato-day that I’m finding it extremely hard to eat even 900 C of well-seasoned potatoes (about 2.8 lbs raw potatoes) split over lunch and dinner.
    So irrespective of any biochemistry that Peter discusses at the very low FFA limit, the simple calorie limitation that you’re expecting seems a very strong mechanism!
    Just for curiosity, is the amount of fat in your soup low enough to trigger Peter’s suspected biochemical mechanism that’s based on very low exogenous FFA? I think he assumes less than 10% calories from fats.

    • Richard Nikoley on November 13, 2012 at 19:08

      Well, the only fat in the soup was from 2 TBSP butter. The stock has zero fat and fat is pretty negligible in the potato & onion. Those were 4 super big potatoes, too.

      • marie on November 13, 2012 at 20:21

        O.k, thanks, then it certainly is very low and yeah, I figured they were the jumbo potatoes at 1200C for 4 of them 🙂

    • Pauline on November 14, 2012 at 11:25

      In her book French Women don’t get Fat, the author after returning from the USA as an overweight student,her local doctor put her on an initial potato and leek soup diet to reset her appetite. I am also reading this book:

      Written by a young family living in france for a year, and what an education it was on how the french teach their children to eat at set meals, to eat to nourish themselves and not snack. They learn to eat fresh foods and how these are prepared from very young. When they go to school the food education continues with set menus and they are encouraged to understand what they are eating. The whole culture centres around a love of food, its enjoyment at meal times but not eating for reward. They don’t snack as they learn an empty stomach is the source of appetite at at mealtime. Fascinating stuff.

    • rob on November 14, 2012 at 12:18

      I buy smaller potatoes and weigh them with a kitchen scale, I always have some meat with them. Meat juice is an easy way to increase palatability, I figure I’m going to consume the meat juice anyway so why not mix it into the potatoes. You can even get some flavor with a lean meat like liver.

      My experience (as a 180 pound man) is that 1.25 pounds of nuked and smashed potatoes in a single meal is doable but once I get to 1.50 pounds or more then eating them becomes a chore.

      So I’m getting maybe 450 calories worth of starch? 500 if I really stuff myself, it’s impossible to overeat them.

      I might give the “all potato” thing a go if I want to get leaner, right now I’m in “Fuck the six-pack I want to get stronger” mode.

  20. Scott on November 13, 2012 at 19:05

    You mentioned a goal…

    • Richard Nikoley on November 13, 2012 at 19:07

      I’ll know it when I get there. 🙂

  21. Zach on November 13, 2012 at 19:10

    You should give Matt Stone another chance. Your diet lately is approaching a Matt Stone/Peat type diet and i truly believe one of the main reasons you are seeing positive change is from the carbs. Also another interesting thing that you might find is far less inflammation of all kinds by reducing your meat and fat intake. I found that by greatly reducing my intake of PUFA (arachidonic acid) and protein (cysteine, methionine, tryptophan) that my severe inflammation in spine and hips along with a gut problem went away entirely.

    Anyway, good luck on the potato diet! I honestly had never heard of this and find it very interesting.

    • Richard Nikoley on November 13, 2012 at 19:20

      Zach. As far as Stone goes, we’ll see. Peat has already been mentioned in comments quite a bit. To clarify, my beef with Stone wasn’t so much about what he was advocating (well, except for eating crap and refined sugar) but his approach to me and other once he cozied up.

      But we’ll see. I’m really shitty at holding grudges.

      • Zach on November 13, 2012 at 20:57

        For that Uni-liver supplement, have you ever checked out Dr. Rons supplements? They are quite a bit more expensive but i would wager, a lot more pure.

      • Richard Nikoley on November 13, 2012 at 22:05

        Well, the Uni-Liver is Arentinian grassfed beef. I’d imagine the price difference has more to do with economies of scale.

      • Zach on November 14, 2012 at 06:36

        I was mainly talking about the ingredients.

        Desiccated Bovine Liver, Whey (Milk), Dicalcium Phosphate, Microcrystalline Cellulose, Stearic Acid, Magnesium Stearate, Lecithin (Soy)


        Other ingredients: Dessicated bovine liver, whey, terra alba, choline citrate, inositol monophosphate, niacinamide, magnesium stearate, stearic acid, pyridoxine hydrochloride, thiamin monophosphate, para-aminobenzoic acid, and cyanacobalamin.

        Got these from two different websites so i dont know which is correct. Either way im wondering how much whey the add as filler.

        Dr. Rons does not even use magnesium stearate, his product is %100 liver, plus he has many other organs that look pretty interesting.

        Anyway i dont have cash for that sort of thing but just thought i would give you a heads up.

      • Zach on November 14, 2012 at 06:38

        Just to be clear, both those ingredient lists were for Uni-liver. The only ingredients in Dr. Rons is liver and gelatin capsule.

  22. Out Landish on November 14, 2012 at 02:18

    “critiques and suggestions welcome.”

    Let’s see if you actually let this one through, since I saw you deleted some other commenter who wanted to discuss Atkins or something:

    Why is a big tough ex-marine type like you afraid of fruit? They have all the palability you want, plus they have a lot less calories per volume than any other thing you eat. If you’re looking for eating satisfaction while trying to eat less, seems like fruit would be a winning combo. Jus’ sayin.

    • Richard Nikoley on November 14, 2012 at 07:26

      When have I said I was afraid of fruit? I just think it’s pretty nutritionally vapid (see my post comparing fruit and liver). And it’s not filling. For the purpose of this experiment, the idea is a quality amino profile in order to guard lean tissue in a pretty severe caloric deficit (because potato is so filling). We’re already aware of what happens when you do this sort of experiment with just fruit. You end up a stick figure (see raw frutarian vegans). Finally, the idea is to take in lots of starch, i.e., glucose, not fructose. Potatoes have minuscule fructose.

      • Out Landish on November 14, 2012 at 09:00

        Ok, house rules and all, but I think we need to revisit this whole fructose boogeyman in the future. I think extrapolating from a few studies based on supra-physiological doses of fructose on rats is not a wise thing. Humans can definitely live on the stuff and thrive. The fruitarians you cite all seem to be fine. Skinny yes, but definitely healthy.

      • Richard Nikoley on November 14, 2012 at 09:34

        I’m not going to speculate on health, but I think having the lean mass you are supposed to have, within some range of course, is probably a decent marker of good health. They have the body fat deal wired. I want to wire in both.

        See here:

        Lots of teenage girl arms and legs there.

  23. Jozef Varhaník on November 14, 2012 at 04:39

    Have you tried/considered utilizing meat and veg goulash for “leaning out while gaining strength”? My experimentations as far have resulted in using either heavily spiced goulashes (giant dose of every spice imaginable, literally) with veg (the usual suspects, i.e. 1-2 red onions, bell peppers, 4 tomatoes, 500g tomato paste, garlic) and any kind of meat in any amount that is appropriate (I use 600g of lean pork shoulder per serving ATM, i.e. 3kg in total, will last for 5 days easily) with beet root bulb (only about 100g per serving) as an IMO excellent substitute for all other tubers (including all potatoes, cooked parsnips and carrots in any amount make me fart like volcano from planet Sulphurus Maximus), and on the weekends I just do slightly spiced boiled to death pumpkin soup with any amount of organ meat. Both come at approx. 1000 kcals per serving mostly from protein, and the rest is split between cabs/fat in 1:1 ratio. I cant give any nutrient details right now since Cronometer has a maintenance downtime. These are my main foods I eat day in, day out and for me, they are filling as hell. Others who tried eating my usual serving quit halfway through, or at 1/3 serving. And the pumpkin soup especially seems to be extremely appetite killing and filling. I also add 50g, sometimes 100g of pork gelatin to the mix. The funny thing is they are highly palatable and highly filling at the same time, so you just end up eating a lot less of it in the end than roasts or grills, etc, and you continue to like them for extended periods of time because of their palatability, just change flavours from time to time if you get bored. Heavy soups and goulashes seem to be almost perfect to me in a lot of ways. In case you’re interested in the macro/micro composition nerdfest thingy, let me know.

    Also Out Landish above has a good point. For carbs, I only rely on fruits, fresh (everything available) or dried (figs and prunes), and homemade fruit jams. However 500g – 1000g of fresh fruit daily just seems to fuck up my teeth after a period of time so I mostly eat in season therefore mostly during summer/early autumn. Winter/spring I go with frozen berries/dried stuff. All is n=1 of course.

    • Richard Nikoley on November 14, 2012 at 07:47


      Thanks. Yes, in fact, I had already been doing quite a few different soups and stews, even chili, over the last few months. I agree it’s perfect in a lot of ways and yes, very palatable while being very filling. The crock pot is an excellent way to do this, so easy, so little mess. For sure I’ll be doing a lot of this sort of thing when this deal is over.

  24. Rhys Morgan on November 14, 2012 at 12:54

    Hey Richard,

    What would be the point of the “refeed” if you’re eating nothing but carbs 5 days a week already? Aren’t refeeds usually to refill glycogen stores, or is this refeed just to keep you sane?

    • Richard Nikoley on November 14, 2012 at 13:14

      Good catch, Rhys. Yea, refeed in the common parlance typically concerns replenishing glycogen with carb loading, a-la Pasquale, McDonald & others. What I mean is more of a reefed because of caloric deficit, low protein, low fat, etc. I think it’s probably prudent to never get too chronic with anything.

      So, call it a pig out day, a reality check day, or whatever. Make sense?

      • Rhys Morgan on November 14, 2012 at 13:39

        Makes sense indeed. I’m always up for new “body hacks” so I’m going to give this a try starting today as well. Currently cooking up a few potatoes and dry roasting an onion (hope an onion isn’t counterproductive to the Potato Diet).

        I don’t know if I’ll do the refeed, but seeing as how I’ll be continuing my 3x/week modified stronglifts type routine, I might need it. Can’t wait to see your results/impressions.


  25. […] But no, this relates to a bit of a weight / fat loss self experiment involving potatoes. See, some of us older folk have no problem getting most of the blubber off. It's that last 15-25 pounds that's a bitch and as I just blogged about, the so-called potato diet is really showing promise. So as with many things, I'm open to giving it a try. Here was the main post on the subject: The Latest Diet & Exercise Hacking Towards a Goal. […]

  26. Jscott on November 14, 2012 at 18:32

    Doing things such as this has potential to improve the life of those that are poor. Imagine the quality of overall diet if someone “got” that they could push their cost of 5 of their eating days down to 10 bucks. That would leave a hunk of change for the other two.

    Many variations exist. The body does not need a “balanced diet” 3 meals * 7. If anything, at least in America, we have overloaded the body so that it is no longer efficient with use of micro-nutrients. Why squeeze every bit of amino acid possible when I know this big mouth of mine is gonna suck down more in 3 hours? Churn and burn baby, churn and burn.

  27. Evan on November 15, 2012 at 11:37


    You’ve inspired me to try this plan out for a little bit; been looking for a new & quazi-sustainable weight loss plan as I’ve run the gamut on diets. Something new never hurt anybody!

    Had a quick question – you using the BCAAs everyday or strictly pre and/or post workouts? If everyday, how much you intaking per day? The low protein thing seems interesting, but I’m sure you/I/everyone get a little uneasy when considering lowering protein (since usually that remains high regardless).

    • Richard Nikoley on November 15, 2012 at 12:52

      Hey there, Evan.

      Yea, the very low protein of potatoes has me a bit concerned, so I do the Uni-Liver (10 caps, but not a ton of protein, but quality profile) and the BCAA’S. Yep, every day, it’s what i wash down the supps with. 10g, 1 scoop of Purple Wrath. You’ll love the niacin rush if you’re anything like me.

  28. Chuck Currie on November 15, 2012 at 12:03

    I just bought 10 LBS of spuds for .99 cents. WooHoo – Thanksgiving is here at last.


    • Richard Nikoley on November 15, 2012 at 12:55

      Chuck, well, that’s better than me. I ate for $1.69 yesterday, a 3 lb bag from Trader Joe’s (ate the whole thing, except Bea got about a half potato worth of my hash browns that I’ll be posting on in a short while.

      Still, neither of us are even close to talking about real money. You have to get elected to Congress to do that. 🙂

      • Chuck Currie on November 16, 2012 at 20:04

        I also picked up a few boxes of the Kitchen Basics broth you recommended. The stuff is rock solid fabulous. Gonna make a batch of beef gelatin – beef broth and Knox gelatin – good stuff.

        Made potato pancakes today – mashed potatoes fried in a little butter – yum.

        Wife said, “You know, I’m all about the potato.”


      • Richard Nikoley on November 16, 2012 at 21:09


        Yea, after many times making my own stock and bone broths I found it just too much trouble. I went for some of the fancy smancy stuff, which basically tastes like water, and then one time up at my cabin they didn’t have any of that in the local market. Only the major brands, Emeril’s maybe (ingredient list about the same 2 inches of crap), and Kitchen Basics. Then I tasted it. Wow. Now if I want bone broth I just use that as a base in the crockpot and toss in some bones.

  29. […] The Latest Diet & Exercise Hacking Towards a Goal […]

  30. Chuck Currie on November 15, 2012 at 20:43

    Made a pot of potato soup tonight – fabulous. Wife loved it.


    • Richard Nikoley on November 15, 2012 at 21:56


      If the wife loves it, well. That’s it then. Nothing like it.

  31. sheryl on November 15, 2012 at 20:49

    Hi Richard, I am thinking of trying this I have about 80lbs to loose ,I am in fairly good health, I am thinking of going on the diet for a week and then refeeding, will post my results.

    • marie on November 15, 2012 at 21:02

      You and me both Sheryl!
      This is the end of day 3 for me. It really seems to work.
      Day 1 was a fasting/liver day. I am using two such fasting days to break-up the potato days into 2-day and 3-day stretches. I love potatoes, even boiled with salt, but I crave liver every year this season.
      Did I understand you right, are you going to go for a week-long stretch of potatoes?

    • Richard Nikoley on November 15, 2012 at 22:16

      Sheryl, for a short period you likely have nothing to lose but some fat. But be smart too. You’re on your own.

  32. Heather on November 18, 2012 at 11:43

    This looks pretty interesting. I need to shed about 70 pounds before I can start to take scuba diving lessons, and while low carb has been effective for me in the past, it’s kinda pricey. The one pig out day a week will allow me to join friends and family at Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, which will be nice. I suspect the hardest thing for me will be giving up half and half in my coffee. Oh well, the soup is bubbling on the stove as I type this, so we’ll see how it goes. It smells great–thanks for the recipe!

    • Richard Nikoley on November 18, 2012 at 15:22

      I doubt a couple of teaspoons of half & half is going to effect anything.

      • marie on November 18, 2012 at 16:33

        FWIW, I’ve had my usual 2 cups of coffee a day with half n half while experimenting with this potato diet and still lost more than what you’d expect from the caloric deficit alone.

      • Heather on November 20, 2012 at 15:51

        Good to know–thanks! But I think I’d rather add that fat to my spuds in the form of a teaspoon or two of duck fat. A couple of days in and I’m getting used to black coffee. And the soup was quite good and filling.

  33. Vasco Névoa on November 19, 2012 at 01:49

    In my experience, the only downside to having a couple of half-n-half coffees a day (okay, it was more to the side of 3/4 heavy cream, 1/4 coffee) was a change in gut flora. After a month or so of this delicious rhythm, I started having heartburn every time I had any fats. Which is a big bummer for a VLC Paleo eater. I dropped all dairy and pumped up the garlic and things seem to be recovering. I guess you _can_ overdo lactose even when all you take in is heavy cream. :/ But no impact on body composition that I noticed.

  34. Kris on November 19, 2012 at 05:46

    Richard, I want to try this. I love potatoes and have some weight to loose. A couple of questions though… What is the reason for the raw milk and refeeding day? Also, do you think it necessary to fast? Is it that you are fasting to cancel the refeeding day?

    • Richard Nikoley on November 19, 2012 at 08:16


      It’s just my different way of doing things. I think fasting is a good thing to do going beyond weight loss. Since my dogs do it at least once per week all on their own, I figure going without food for a day is a healthful thing to do. The refeed is post workout, milk is the best for that. I want to take advantage of the opportunity for hypertrophy.

  35. […] Once I could verify that there is a bit of latitude with the fat and protein so that it’s actually enjoyable for more than a few days, I feel I can recommend it to family members, since it’s also nutritionally sound…especially with the liver that you had pointed out at the start. […]

  36. […] I was getting enough anecdotes all in the same direction, that it seemed worth taking a serious look at. But from my own angle. Here's what I wrote in the first post: […]

  37. Mike Schneider on November 29, 2012 at 17:47

    Rich, what kind of milk do you drink? (I know that finding raw milk anywhere these days is a big PITA.)

  38. Potato Soup with Bugs | Critical MAS on December 11, 2012 at 20:03

    […] loss. Now that I’ve porked out from my month without coffee, I decided to try his potato soup recipe. Read Richard’s post The Latest Diet & Exercise Hacking Towards a Goal for an […]

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