Obviously I’ve been pondering this whole starch thing for a while (search in the sidebar for ‘potato diet‘ for the history). So far, just considering it a “diet hack,” but also pretty sure that when my goal for that is attained—sometime toward the end of January if this continues to play out as expected—I’ll probably be switching out a good portion of fat & protein for starch moving forward.
I found this article from McDougall pretty interesting. A quote:
Death Rates Plummet for Starch-fed Danes
What were the results of this change in diet for the 3 million people living in Denmark? During the years of the most severe food restriction, 1917 to 1918, the death rate was reduced by 34%, which translated into 6,300 lives saved. These were the lowest death rates ever reported for Denmark, even for those years prior to the war. Dr. Hindhede tied this reduction in mortality directly to a diet based on consuming starches in place of meat: “This result was not a surprising one to me. Since 1885, when I began my experiments with a low-protein diet (mostly vegetarian), I have been convinced that better physical conditions resulted from this standard of living…As the result of extensive studies in this field I am convinced that over-nutrition, the result of palatable meat dishes, is one of the most common causes of disease.”
Problem is, I see a confounder here. Probably, widespread weight loss is going to have a positive effect on mortality. Probably, fasting is too. Perhaps, switching out grains for starch is, too.
So is it better than a sensible diet of meat, fish, fowl, vegetables (including starchy vegetables) and fruit? To replace most of that with just the starchy vegetables? Seems highly implausible to me. But at least now that I’m pretty confident potatoes do have something big to offer at some level, I’m at least open to the idea that the proof is in the pudding.
A couple of other things for discussion. First, I have often noted that if I indulge (which typically includes grains, starches, frankenoils), that I often get very thirsty. I had expected to experience this on the potato hack, but the opposite happened. After a couple of days I noticed I was hardly drinking anything at all apart from mealtime washing it down. Since I was typically low carb most of the time, I’d always figured the thirst had something to do with glycogen replenishment. But on the potatoes, I ought to have full glycogen stores.
So, a couple of days ago I decided to do a test. Rather than eat potatoes that day, I went about noon and had a big submarine sandwich on sour dough, small bag of chips, and then a personal-size pepperoni pizza. Wow, within 2 hours, not only did I have raging heartburn (never happens on the potatoes), but I had a thirst I couldn’t cure. Five minutes after gulping soda water, I was thirsty for more. In all, it took over 2 liters over a few hours to quench the thirst.
What’s that about? Since then, I’ve had noting but potatoes with tiny fat / protein and quickly returned to normal; no more thirst, hardly ever.
I’m stumped. Perhaps someone has some ideas.
Next, I keep hearing that people can’t try this because they are so “insulin resistant.” Sure, I can buy that for a diabetic, because insulin sensitivity is not to be had at any price. But for many others, insulin resistance seems to be physiologic and it’s actually brough on by an LC, high fat diet—particularly one high in Palmitic acid (search Peter’s blog on physiologic insulin resistance). I know my BG was higher when losing fat LC paleo, and also fasting 1-2 times per week.
There’s this comment which quotes Peter’s post about the potato diet.
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.
Being in perpetual physiologic insulin resistance strikes me rather like trying to drive around with your car in too high of a gear, bogging down and such, thinking there’s something wrong with the car—when all you need to do is downshift.
So, lots to think about.