Big Dairy & Big Potato as Big Post Workout Meals

I’ve come full circle on a lot of things lately. More disciplined, motivated, and nose to grindstone in a fun way than in a long time. Way back, in terms of diet & exercise, my routine was LC-Paleoish diet; 1-2, 24-30 hour fasts per week; 2, 30-minute fasted workouts per week (varied weight, plyo, Xfit)…and that was about it. Dairy consumption was pretty much butter, a little cheese and cream now & then. Now this.

IMG 1515
Blurry Image; details of the meal later in the post

Potatoes were an indulgence. Milk, an indulgence. But I just never really understood why, so much (milk posts / potato posts). They are real and nutritious foods. Folks can talk all they want about teh “toxins” and teh “anti-nutrients” and teh what-tever. But at the end of the day, we live in a world of toxins, anti-nutrients, bacteria (3 pounds—10s of trillions of them in and on your body right now), viruses and a host of other things…and people sweat saponins in potatoes and IGFs in dairy? Really? A break gimme, please. In fact, I don’t even really believe it matters marginally a whole lot whether you’re eating factory farmed or the most pristine pastured, grassfed organic—so long as your diet is plentiful of Real Food. Real vs. processed in boxes and bags loaded with grains, sugar, and vegetable/seed oils. There’s where 90% of your marginal utility is going to come from.

Pareto, man. 80/20. Or 90/10, or whatever you like and are comfortable with; but beyond that you’re surely going to be hitting the tar pit of diminishing returns in any added cost/ marginal benefit analysis. And that’s going to be a bummer; and for a great many, perhaps most, people are going to get sick & tired of it and just go back to frozen dinners in boxes: because it’s easier. People talk about “sustainability” a lot. Well, unless you’re a true zealot that gets off on being a true zealot, how sustainable is zealotry in dietary terms when it always takes far more time, effort & money? In the end, the one that doesn’t sweat the small stuff is leading the sustainable “tortoise” lifestyle and will do a lot better than the faddish, zealot “hairs” in the long run.

Seen on Twitter earlier today: I’ve been a vegan for 3 minutes and the best part has been reminding people I’m a vegan.

…Here, you have the time for a real education on all this toxin, anti-nutrient stuff and what a mountain of a molehill much of it is, by someone who generally supports a paleo diet, but has the misfortune of having earned Harvard PhDs in both organic and inorganic chemistry? Listen or read the transcript of this Chris Kresser podcast with Mat “The Kraken” Lalonde: What Science Really Says About the Paleo Diet – With Mat Lalonde. There’s tons of stuff covering the gamut of what you’ve probably heard about all the nasties in various foods. Guess what? A lot of it is either not true (phytic acid, for example) or way overblown. Mat himself admits to having harbored some of these myths for a time. A couple of excepts, on milk in particular (there’s a lot more on dairy in general), and potatoes.

Mat Lalonde: That’s right. Now, that’s very different than saying, well, nobody should eat this because we’ve never eaten these foods in the past. And it is a very different statement, and it forces people to think about themselves, which is what you do all the time. It’s like, OK, where do I sit on this spectrum? What do I tolerate and what do I not tolerate?

Chris Kresser: Right, and that’s why I have a problem with this kind of argument. Let’s take dairy, which I know we’re gonna talk about when we talk about antinutrients, but one of the typical arguments you hear about why humans shouldn’t be eating dairy is that no other animal drinks the milk of another animal, right? So therefore, humans should not drink the milk of another animal. Well, as far as I know, no other animals are cooking their food either.

Mat Lalonde: Yeah, and again it assumes that you can’t possibly discover a better source of food, right? It’s this ridiculous assumption that that can’t be the case. What if the milk of another animal is this great food that we haven’t tapped to in the past?

Mat Lalonde: And if you look at the potatoes — I think Stephan Guyenet had a really good post on that — there’s only one species that has a significant amount of these saponins in the flesh, and it’s the Snowden potato. And it turns out the Snowden is not available on the shelves. It goes directly to making potato chips.

Chris Kresser: Right. Fried in polyunsaturated fat.

Mat Lalonde: That’s right. So if you look at a potato, it has a decent amount of nutrient density. It actually has complete protein for plant matter. That’s important to vegetarians. The same is true of the sweet potato varieties, even though they’re completely different. I know that they’re not the same species. It’s actually good food, and it’s just starch, which will decompose into glucose. There’s no fructose there. So I don’t see the problem. Like, have your potatoes. Just don’t eat the skin if you’re worried about it. But the people that make a big fuss about that, again, I think you’re losing some credibility here because people are, like, really? Are you serious?

Chris Kresser: Yeah, and of course, we want to be clear here. That doesn’t mean that there may not be other reasons not to eat potatoes. Like, for example, some people are sensitive to nightshades and they just don’t do well with potatoes, but that’s a far cry from saying that nobody should eat them.

Well, I ate two large baked potatoes and I felt just fine. And I drank two pints of whole milk and I felt just fine. And altogether, I felt excellent eating it all after a 20-minute session of the Body by Science ”Big-5,” which I make a Big-6 by adding deadlifts as my first exercise. I do the workout in my own style, sometimes one set, sometimes two, but usually some combination of super slow reps, static holds at varied points of extension and retraction and some reps at a regular pace (except for the DLs). I typically take a few minutes between exercises. In all, 20-minutes per week.

IMG 1516
2 large taters, 4 pats of butter, 4 oz pot roast and 2 dollops of yogurt

I recorded a podcast interview this morning as a guest of Jonathan Bailor (The Smarter Science of Slim) and unlike al of the other podcasts I’ve done, this focussed on the gym for the majority of the time. More details when it comes out in a couple of weeks, but one thing we talked about is perceptions people have about workouts; the perceived need of being athletic, when being “athletic” is not necessarily healthy and has significant risk of injury costs associated with it. That is to say, it’s really hard to wrap your mind around the notion that 20 minutes per week in the way I do it is very likely optimal for someone who’s not training to some athletic goal typically involving competition and hopefully, payment to provide some benefit in exchange for the risk.

IMG 1517
Killed it, along with 2 pints of the whole milk

In the end, my body tells me that the 20 minutes I did was plenty sufficient and probably a lot more efficient and safe that some of the Plyo and Xfit stuff I used to do, jumping on boxes, running up stairs with a sandbag on my back, wringing myself out to the point of no fun. Hey, if that’s your thing, more power to you. No beef. And some people just like the gym enviro. I get that, too. I work out at a swim & racket club, so other days I just go and enjoy the sauna, jacuzzi, and pools. No stress, and in an environment that’s uplifting and wholesome.

Here’s another way to use potatoes, especially when you want less potato and more meat (message: don’t do the same thing all the time—duh).

IMG 1502
Pot roast (with peanuts OMG!) and potato “skins”

I bake lots of potatoes at once. Put them in the oven, turn it on at 400F, leave for 1:15 (no need to preheat). Then I put them in the fridge to form resistant starch, and the next day, just take them out and put them on the countertop for use. They’ll keep for a couple of weeks easy, probably longer. I don’t usually even reheat them. In the case above, I just took a jumbo and sliced off skin and flesh, as you see, leaving a cylinder of plain potato that can go in the fridge to use later, like quickly frying up with eggs (fried potatoes are really quick when working with baked potato).

Then you just eat it. And yes, things are going very well. Slow & steady. I’ll gain 2-3 pounds in the 2-3 days after a workout and by the next workout a week later, just a bit under where I was a week before. I’m just going to keep doing that over and over.

Update: For an actual example of how this works each time, from Wednesday before my workout, this big meal and eating big generally on Thursday, I had gained exactly 2 pounds by Friday morning before writing this post. This morning, Saturday, I’m down 4 pounds in one day. Thats the biggest drop yet, but I’m a net 2 down in only three days since the workout, and I didn’t even fast (I skip a meal now and then is all). Of course, water, fat & lean all play a role, but I’m pretty sure that I’m not losing any lean.

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. […] The Animal / Posted on: February 15, 2013 Free The Animal – I’ve come full circle on a lot of things lately. More disciplined, motivated, and […]

  2. Rhys on February 15, 2013 at 21:09

    I’ve been eating like this for past few months now (pounds of potatoes, lots of dairy, eggs, moderate meat) trying to put on a bit of mass and strength. Baked potatoes are so damn good. I don’t see myself ever changing. Low carb just seems so unappealing now—I don’t know how I did it for so long. After that low cab manorexic stint, it feels great to be deadlifting twice my bw again though.

    • Richard Nikoley on February 15, 2013 at 21:59

      Hey, Rhys

      Well, after a stint of tying to get back Quick on DL and miscalculating the weight owing to a new setup at the gym, I actually did 305 again for 4 reps, thinking it was 275. Then, I did another 4 reps, saying “fuck this is heavy” with each one. Actually, said “fuck this is heavy” first set too.

      My main concern is not going through the chronic pain hell again, where eating a bullet is plausible. It has taken two years of careful effort and things are going well. For one thing, I test myself with endurance on DL. Instead of stack for 300+ how about 205, how many sets of 10 reps? Two easy for me, part of a third. Not big or great, but at least I can be back in the gym and do respectable.

      • Rhys on February 16, 2013 at 11:03

        Yeah, I think mixing it up is great. Once a week or so I’ll throw in some 20-rep breathing squats, or some other glycogen depletion style lifting that gets my heart pounding. Although eating like this, I have to be careful about overtraining because all the lifting definitely takes a toll on my CNS. But when I take 2-3 days rest, I feel like a new man. I’m finally able to explode past people in soccer again and body up the bigger guys.

        lol’d at the thought of ‘fuck this is heavy’ each rep haha

      • Richard Nikoley on February 16, 2013 at 11:25

        Yea, it’s a takeoff on a college roommate when he got the first take home exam in differential equations. He’s looking at it and with each question there’s this progression:

        “That’s hard.”

        “Fuck, that’s hard.”

        “FUCK, that’s fucking HARD.”

        And then it was just…




  3. Kindke on February 16, 2013 at 00:41

    Dairy, meat/seafood/offal , eggs, nuts , potato <- thats a top nutritious diet and all youll probably ever need. Everything else is supplementation, including vegetables and fruit.

    Potato is the only food from that group I have to moderate, some people ARE highly sensitive to glucose induced weight gain, including me. I eat the skins with my baked potato, crispy skins = yum.

  4. Ned Kock on February 16, 2013 at 06:33

    Hi Richard.

    There are a lot of injuries among folks who exercise with heavy weights sporadically, often shoulder injuries.

    I am increasingly convinced that we are designed to do low grade forms of effort, together with the more heavy forms.

    For example, I suspect that there has been a lot of selection pressure for body structures designed to make use very good at throwing things.

    That is one type of exercise that is difficult to simulate, but that comes easy with many forms of play. Throwing things strengthens muscles that are hard to reach through “classic” exercise.

    Play is not only relaxing, it is a form of “insurance” against injuries.

    • Richard Nikoley on February 16, 2013 at 08:34

      That makes sense, Ned. One thing I like about the Big 5 is that it does not include any kind of bench, incline bench or sitting presses. There is one, machine shoulder press and that one that I take light, more reps.

      As for throwing, you could liken it to sprinting for the upper body.

      • Rhys on February 16, 2013 at 11:06

        I read an article the other day about how to alleviate the risk for shoulder injuries on bench press. Apparently if you put a plate or something ~1.5 inches under the front of the bench to add a small decline, it takes the pressure off your shoulders. I tried it and it seemed to help, but I don’t know.

        Or just get some rings and do dips instead.

      • Christopher Sturdy on February 16, 2013 at 11:36

        I put my feet up onto the attachment at the end of my bench when doing bench press – it feels way better in my lower back but it may also help shoulders too.

      • Russ Demczak on February 18, 2013 at 11:19

        Push-ups for the win……..

        I’ll occasionally do some 1-arm KB presses off the floor, or with only one ‘cheek’ on the bench so my scauplae for free to move around. Talk about an ‘ab’ workout.

        Provided someone has the requisite mobility in their upper spine, IMO the overhead press is more impressive when performed correctly.

        I like Ned’s idea regarding throwing – and the expression of power (i.e. speed) in general. Med ball throws and slams fill this void nicely.

  5. Nicole on February 16, 2013 at 07:40

    I can’t resist the skins, personally. Unless I take them off before cooking, I’m eating them.

    • VW on February 17, 2013 at 18:18


  6. Earl Cannonbear on February 16, 2013 at 10:03

    Milk consumption can supply important nutrients and be a part of a healthy diet, with some caveats.

    First, lactose intolerance is the norm for the vast majority of earth’s population. With minor exceptions, it is only Western countries with a predominantly European heritage that possess the phenotypes necessary for lactose persistence. It has been argued that this ability provided Neolithic Europeans a large fitness advantage, greatly contributing to early expansion and cultural dominance.

    Second, most benefits of consuming dairy are nullified when the milk source is pasteurized.

    Chris Kresser explained it well on Robb Wolf’s podcast:

    “I generally think that pasteurized, non-­-fermented dairy, just like straight pasteurized milk, is not really a good food for anybody because I look at it more as a processed food than a whole food.” … “Raw milk has lactose, but it also has lactase which is the enzyme that’s required, of course, to break down lactose. But pasteurization kills lactase, and so you only get the lactose and not the lactase and then none of the beneficial bacteria that are in raw milk either.”

    • Richard Nikoley on February 16, 2013 at 10:15

      “First, lactose intolerance is the norm for the vast majority of earth’s population.”

      That’s true, about 75% including about 25% of the US. However, the persistence gene is spreading rapidly for obvious selective advantages and yes as well (see The 10,000 Year Explosion), in terms of dominance because you can get far more calories from a cow or goat by milking it than by eating it. I believe many Mongolians are also lactose tolerant.

      Interestingly, I’ve heard anecdotally that many presumed lactose intolerant people can drink raw milk with no problems. And others, even though intolerant seem to be able to handle cheese and fermented dairy like yogurt, kefir, etc.

      • Gordon Shannon on February 17, 2013 at 11:34

        I fall into that (last) category. I drank predominantly whole milk for years with no problems in Scotland. When I came to America and started drinking non-organic milk of any sort I suffered terribly. Switching to organic whole milk removed the problems (which I still experience if I switch to another kind of milk). Raw milk, when I’ve had it, has no discernible effect on me. So if I get milk now I spend a good bit on it to get the good stuff.

      • Hemming on February 18, 2013 at 05:40

        I’m not very lactose intolerant but I can get a little bloated from pasteurised cream. I have no problem with raw cream and it actually seems as if my tolerance towards pasteurised cream has increased after I’ve started having raw cream.

    • Richard Nikoley on February 16, 2013 at 14:28

      Excellent, Charles. Thanks for adding so much value to the post. Yep, this is exactly the sorts of things I’ve been seeing and thinking since reading The 10,000 year explosion. Lactose tolerance is one of those things that demonstrate how rapidly on an evolutionary scale that a mutation can propagate.

      Evolution has got to be the most interesting thing god ever created. 🙂

    • Paul on February 17, 2013 at 04:36

      You can buy lactase without prescription.

    • Earl Cannonbear on February 17, 2013 at 09:48

      All my Lactose tolerant brothers out there should find this interesting. Mark just posted a link to a study showing:

      “Circulating levels of trans-palmitoleate, a fatty acid found in dairy – particularly grass-fed dairy – were associated with higher LDL but lower triglycerides, fasting insulin, blood pressure, and less diabetes. I know which bunch of biomarkers I’d rather have.”

    • Gadfly on February 18, 2013 at 11:45

      I’d like to Kresser be a lot more specific about that claim and lay out the evidence. I.e. what “benefits” does he mean? There are studies showing – for instance – increased muscle growth and strength in males who consume plain old pasteurized skim milk after exercise as compared to soy, for instance. If you want protein, apparently milk has “benefits”. There’s evidence that the hormone bugaboo is just hysteria because the problematic IGF, etc. are broken down during digestion and don’t get into the bloodstream. Some researchers have found consumption of calcium-rich dairy has been associated with fat loss. And then there is the improvement in biomarkers mentioned here. These studies are usually done with pasteurized milk, of course.

    • Om Shanti Om on March 17, 2013 at 22:20

      “With minor exceptions, it is only Western countries with a predominantly European heritage that possess the phenotypes necessary for lactose persistence.”

      Milk and milk products have for thousands of years been ingested and digested with no problem by South Asians. Its also one of the reasons cows are sacred in South Asian Hindu cultures, because the cow provided a most nutritious and highly valued food source, so we saw the cow like a mother and depended upon her for sustenance. Many yogis subsisted on nothing but milk, buttermilk or yogurt during their long meditation stints and vows of silence. Still do.

      So you won’t find many South Asians being lactose intolerant.

      Of course the way milk is produced today – with hormones and all that, its not good. But in India my family has our own cows that we milk by hand and allow to graze, as has been the custom for thousands of years.

  7. Richard Nikoley on February 16, 2013 at 11:27

    Just posted an update to the post. After gaining 2 pounds in the two days post-workout, I dropped 4 in the last 24 hours for a net 2 pound loss.

    • Gabriella Kadar on February 16, 2013 at 17:40

      “It’s the potassium, stupid.” (paraphrasing here.) Potatoes are a potassium bomb. Eat enough of them and no matter how much sodium you put on your food, you won’t retain water. Weightlifting the way you are doing it causes all sorts of microtears in muscle fibres. This results in inflammation and fluid buildup. Potatoes counteract this.

  8. Cathy on February 16, 2013 at 11:43

    Richard, just curious, why do you use yogurt instead of sour cream? I love sour cream and eat it all the time on potatoes and other stuff. Good set of posts here.

    • Richard Nikoley on February 16, 2013 at 12:51

      Primarily because I usually always have yogurt but don’t typically have sour cream around unless I get it for something particular and then have some leftover (love it on an omelet, for instance). That said, Bea and I really like the yogurt and offers even a bit more sour punch. Give it a try. I had some creamy stuff before, but in this case, it’s Fage Total fat.

  9. Richard Nikoley on February 16, 2013 at 14:22

    Well I agree largely with you, Charles, except Paleo is defined to have ended with the Neolithic, so not within the last 10k years. So, milk & white potatoes aren’t technically in, and other things too. But it’s just a framework from which to make guesswork, right?

    And indeed, from out of Africa, did your ancestors turn left or right and then, did they go north or south?

    • Richard Nikoley on February 18, 2013 at 09:04

      Very nice, Charles. The whole thing in perspective. First thing going up on the blog this morning. It’s that important. Thanks again.

  10. Earl Cannonbear on February 16, 2013 at 15:41

    To me the paleolithic diet is the diet humans (Homo Sapien Sapiens) were designed to eat.

    Prevailing consensus dates the sudden appearance of skeletons featuring a small chin, small teeth, slender body and most strikingly a massive brain cavity.

    And as with any well designed dynamic machine, the human body is engineered with exacting specifications for operational tolerances. Allowing for variability in lactase-production gene expression is just one of many examples of prescient tolerance engineering.

    • Earl Cannonbear on February 16, 2013 at 15:43

      meant to say:

      Prevailing consensus dates the sudden appearance of skeletons featuring a small chin, small teeth, slender body and most strikingly a massive brain cavity at about 100,000 years ago.

    • Richard Nikoley on February 16, 2013 at 15:48

      A point I made in my interview yesterday is that even though a Neolithic adaptation, lactose tolerance is nonetheless an adaptation like any other going way back. Just because it happened in the Neolithic and as a result of domestication, that too is part of human evolution. I just don’t think our tolerance of grains, concentrated sugar and n-6 has come nearly as far. And, as with lactose, you either tolerate or you don’t and I clearly don’t on those other scores.

      I operate under the assumption that humans will eventually be fully adapted to dairy, legumes, grains, sugar and high n-6, but it ‘aint happening any time real soon, though there probably exist many outliers and their genes will propagate.

      • Gabriella Kadar on February 16, 2013 at 17:48

        The lactase gene is on chromosome 2 just below the centromere. This chromosome is different from the rest because it is the result of a Robertsonian translocation: i.e. all the other great apes have 48 chromosomes, we have 46. Chromosome 2 is combination of two chromosomes and a relatively recent occurrence.

        Robertsonian translocations are well represented in mice around the Meditteranean. The numbers of chromosomes vary wildly but the genetic material is the same.

        There are probably some instabilities associated with chromosome 2. Possibly the lactase gene is one of them.

      • Dr. Curmudgeon Gee on February 22, 2013 at 00:56

        i dont’ believe we’d ever fully adapt to n6, grains
        (or NAD).

        fully adapt requires that all humans with “intolerant gene” to die off before having
        off springs.

        that’s not going to happen.

        1. they do not kill so quickly. they simply make us ill.

        2. in some way, we have beated the nature; modern medicine can enable a gene? trait? that otherwise would not survive to be passed on. insulin injection for T1. Descendents of white people living in equator would not become very dark skin (cause we have sunscreen & hat now)


  11. CW on February 17, 2013 at 07:40

    Are you still doing the 24 hour fasts? Or was that just during your LC paleo period?

    • Richard Nikoley on February 17, 2013 at 08:35

      Not really formally, CW. It’s very random. A meal skipped here & there, so sometimes brings things to 18 hours. Thinking about doing a 30 hour next week, starting 2 days after the workout and big feeding.

  12. Why There is No "Paleo Diet" | Free The Animal on February 18, 2013 at 17:21

    […] I've had "words" with in the past, but no matter. I'm a complete whore when it comes to adding real value in comments. And, he'd already done so with a couple of links to lactase […]

  13. Om Shanti Om on March 17, 2013 at 22:26

    Exactly the issue I’ve had with all this talk about “paleo” which really means Northern half of the globe. The Southern half, largely tropical, was lush with all manner of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and the people had very little need to hunt big game. They chowed down on a very large and wide variety of fruits and veggies, as well as insects, lizards, eggs, and smaller animals.
    The large game hunting would have been occasional.

  14. Richard Nikoley on March 18, 2013 at 06:40

    “Exactly the issue I’ve had with all this talk about “paleo” which really means Northern half of the globe.”

    Haven’t heard that from me, not here. This is why there is not a paleo diet, but many paleo diets.

    “Equator to arctic, sea level to 16,000 feet and everything in between.”

    “Out of Africa, did your ancestors turn left or right, and then later, did they head north or south?”

  15. Rob O. on March 18, 2013 at 17:21

    Do you have a tried & true recipe for potato soup?

    My late mother-in-law used to whip up the most awesome-est potato soup but sadly, she never passed the recipe on to anyone – she made it from memory, taught by her mother.

    I finally decided to just wing it and I’ve got my first-ever batch in the crockpot now, made with 3 cups of chicken broth, a cup of half & half, almost a cup of shredded cheese, and a large dollop of leftover ricotta cheese (‘cuz I gotta use it somehow). Dunno how it’s going to taste, but it sure smells great!

  16. Richard Nikoley on March 18, 2013 at 21:24

    Rob O:

    This is your lucky day. My mom’s recipe I’ve been eating all my life.

    8-10 large taters, peeled, cut into chunks
    2-3 small-medium onions, chopped
    2 tbsp butter
    2 tbsp bacon drippings
    6 slices of bacon fried crisp and brocken into bits
    Parsley (dry or fresh) & salt to taste

    Put everything in the pot except the parsley & salt. Barely cover with water, bring to boil until potatoes are way soft and the water has reduced some. Then mash with a hand masher (you want small chunks so perfect cream of potato is not what you want).

    At this point you have an option to chop up a polish sausage and introduce it and let it cook for a while to heat up the sausage. This is if you want it really hearty. Optional.

    Add half & half until desired creaminess and consistency, then the parsley & salt to taste.

    Serve it with either grated or chunks of cheddar cheese to drop in the hot soup. Serve it pretty hot.


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