People seem to be going at this from at least two different approaches, angles, perspectives, or however you care to characterize it.
…Back when I caught wind of all this, there was a discussion going in comments at Ray Cronise’s blog, as well as a forum thread or two at Mark’s Daily Apple. Other than a quick browse one day of a few posts at MDA, I have stayed completely away from all those discussions. Why? Well, I don’t have a lab or resources to do any sort of tightly controlled science. It’s all about my n=1 and the n=1 of each commenter here who shares their experience.
I also think there’s a good scientific vibe associated with a number of people going at essentially the same or a similar thing from different angles, approaches—dare I say…biases? I basically had the elements I needed to go at it from my own angle:
- Chris Voigt‘s 20 Potatoes a Day experiment.
- Peter’s speculation as to how this worked (low fat and protein being key)
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:
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 small addition of other calories, but still achieve a similar result? This is what I aim to find out.
Well, since I have not been following what others have been doing other than my own commenters here, I was unaware that apparently, there’s a bit of dissension in paradise over what this is all about or, at least, ought to be about. I’m not getting into personalities or sources. I’m just going to stick to my approach.
As I gist it, there are two basic approaches:
- Keep it to nearly plain potatoes, as unpalatable as possible, no added fat, let your gut bacteria change to suit that regime and change relationships to food. Or, to state it plainly: the perspective coming from a plant based-diet bias.
- Accept that in some undetermined measure, humans are generally OK with starch, and an interesting hack or self-experiment might be to go mostly starch via potatoes for a time, making dishes just palatable enough to retain some enjoyment from them. This involves the addition of very small amounts of added protein & fat (and herbs & spices). Or, to state it plainly: the perspective coming from an animal based-diet bias. (that would be me).
I don’t think it takes a lot of analysis to conclude that my approach is actually the more radical one given the starting point. It’s simply that potatoes or similar root vegetables are the ideal food for this sort of thing because they have a good amino profile and are very filling. On the other hand, as big a shift as this is for someone like me and most other Paleos, I have ZERO interest in a plant based diet. Zero. Forever. It is something that I consider scientifically settled (we’re omnivores, are supposed to be omnivores, and if there is any such thing as “ideal,” it’s to be found somewhere on that spectrum of eating everything that’s real food).
What does that mean? It means that there will never be good science to conclude that humans ought to derive most energy from potatoes or similar starches, or plants in general. Even in my first post, I showed clearly that just the addition of a simple 1.8oz of beef liver radically upped the nutrition profile for an entire day of potatoes.
So I ask you: what would be the real point of excluding that liver, or similar bits of nutrient dense animal food? I could not imagine pegging it on anything but an agenda. And how about fat? I’ve been talking about 1 teaspoon of whatever fat per potato. Hardly earth shattering. Hardly a lot.
Alright, I’ll conclude with a comment this morning from Gene. Says it all.
I don’t believe we evolved to not enjoy our food to some – perhaps even a significant – degree. This quasi-monastic vibe you get from *some* of the reward/palatability crowd has the whiff of Judeo-Christian self-flagellation about it.
That said, we evolved in conditions when the satisfaction of that desire for reward required more work. However, if we supply the work in the form of exercise and movement, as well as satisfying mental undertakings, I don’t see the need to pull out the dietary whips on ourselves.
Fuck the monks. Love, move, work, fuck and eat with exuberance. Get/be strong and don’t demure. That’s how you fulfill your genetic potential; by being vibrant, gregarious and feeding on the bounty of life without self admonishment and concern that a slight misstep here or there on the nutritional path is going to significantly diminish your life expectancy. As though we’re delicate little things that aren’t built to survive a little punishment now and again.
“Oh noes! The poutine is too rewarding!” Shut the fuck up and eat it, you fucking gimp. And enjoy it to the last little bit of greasy gravy-soaked curd you lick from your fingers. Just the way a hunter-gatherer would’ve gorged on fatty, highly palatable aurochs marrow and ribs ), wasting no time after the kill to satisfy their desire for food reward. I bet the dopamine and serotonin were flowing that night. Probably a couple of babies made, too.
As most people have noticed, the more that most people eat whole, real foods, the more our bodies send out satiation signals, naturally moderating appetite and consumption. Sure, we live in a time of plenty, so there are times when we may have to exercise a little restraint with food beyond the constraints of a whole foods diet. But I just don’t buy that it’s necessary, nor appropriate to our being to have to spend our days deliberately making our food as bland as possible – as though all of our taste and olafactory senses, and their links to our reward system were there by accident or as some kind of Devil-sent temptation. Ever whipped up some SWEET potato with super FATTY coconut milk like the Kitavans? Don’t tell me that’s not wholly satisfying to the reward system. It’s positively more-ish. And don’t forget to light up a fag when you’re done.
Less Christ. Less Aristotle. Screw the Stoics. More Epicure, more Neitzsche, more Ikkyu, more getting on with it and doing it with the sort of joy and gusto you see on the faces of people who don’t spend their time trying to figure out how to disable/workaround the parts of us that evolved specifically so we can enjoy things. Silly bitches.
And so, I reiterate: this potato thingie is a hack! Nothing more. Should never, ever be more and I believe it would cause long term harm to health to make it more than a short term hack and then a long term intermittent tool (like intermittent fasting).
There will never be any valid science that humans ought to be vegan or mostly so. It would be like looking for science that a car would be better off as an airplane. It’s just non-sequitur: properly dismissed out-of-hand with zero consideration. And even if in some 5th dimension there was such valid science, then in the spirit of Gene, I’m reverting to the old saying: “Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die!”
My next post on the topic will show a couple of other recipes I’ve come up with.