What Is the Potato Diet?

hands holding and peeling a potato

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At Verywell, we believe there is no one-size-fits-all approach to a healthy lifestyle. Successful eating plans need to be individualized and take the whole person into consideration. Prior to starting a new diet plan, consult with your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian, especially if you have an underlying health condition.

What Is the Potato Diet?

The potato diet is a short-term rapid weight loss solution. Potatoes are the primary source of calories on this diet. Potatoes are an excellent source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and proponents of the potato diet believe that you can lose about a pound per week.

There are many variations of the potato diet, but in its most simple form, followers eat nothing but plain potatoes for several days. Since this diet is restrictive, it is not meant to be followed long-term.

What Experts Say

"Like the cabbage soup diet, grapefruit diet, and so many others before it, the potato diet promotes focusing on weight rather than health and at the expense of health. The restrictive diet not only poses a risk for not meeting nutrient needs, but it also promotes fear of certain foods, cutting out large groups of foods, and eating based on a list of 'approved' foods rather than honoring your body's cues, all of which can contribute to disordered eating."

Willow Jarosh, MS, RD

What You Can Eat

While there are different variations, all potato diets share that they are vegan, low in dietary fat, and encourage eating until satiated. Instead of weighing portions or counting calories, followers of the potato diet are encouraged to eat until they are full.

The potato diet encourages volume eating. This is when you fill up on foods that are naturally lower in calories. Though you eat fewer calories throughout the day, eating a large volume leaves you feeling full and satiated.

Plain Potatoes

The variety of potatoes allowed depends on the version of the potato diet you follow. Some require you to stick to plain white potatoes. If you follow a more lenient version, other varieties, such as yellow, red, and sweet potatoes, are also allowed.

Low-Calorie, Whole, Plant-Based Foods

The potato diet in its purest form does not allow for any other food besides potatoes, even nutrient-dense foods like fruits and vegetables. 

However, looser forms of the potato diet are designed to be more sustainable long-term. Depending on the version of the potato diet that you follow, you may be able to consume unprocessed foods in their whole forms alongside potatoes.

Even when other plant-based foods are permitted, potatoes should make up the bulk of your plate. These additional foods should be seen as a supplement to potatoes for their nutritional content.

Condiments and Seasonings

Condiments, sauces, and seasonings are also limited on the strict potato diet. In less strict versions, low-fat condiments like mustard and homemade ketchup are allowed in small quantities.

Salt is also allowed to season the potatoes, but it is not encouraged. Generally, condiments and seasonings should be made with fat-free ingredients and kept to a minimum.

Drinks

Water, plain coffee, and plain tea are the only beverages allowed on the potato diet. It is important to stay hydrated, so plenty of water is encouraged while on and off the potato diet.

What You Cannot Eat

Depending on the version of the Potato Diet, there are certain foods that may or may not be acceptable. In the strictest form of the potato diet, you will eat nothing but plain potatoes for several days at a time.

Added Fats

Like animal products, fats such as vegetable oils are strictly prohibited on the potato diet. Since the potato diet is a low-fat diet, it is clear why added fats are not allowed. Fats are a dense source of calories, so even small amounts of added fats add up quickly. 

It's important to note that healthy fats can help to promote the absorption of critical nutrients in potatoes. But since it's designed for maximum weight loss over a short period, the diet forbids added fats like:

Processed and Refined Foods

The potato diet encourages you to eat whole unprocessed foods during the duration of the plan. Processed foods do not fit into this category since they may be high in calories, fat, and sodium. They also tend to be lower in nutrients than whole foods. For example, a baked potato is more nutritious than French fries, potato chips, and tater tots even though they are all made with potatoes. 

  • Pasta
  • Bread
  • Chips
  • Muffins
  • Doughnuts
  • Cereal
  • Crackers

Animal Products

All variations of the potato diet are vegan. While following the diet, all animal products are prohibited.

  • Meat
  • Poultry
  • Seafood
  • Fish
  • Dairy
  • Eggs

How to Prepare the Potato Diet & Tips

There is no set schedule for meals on the potato diet. Since followers can eat until they are full, main meals like breakfast, lunch, and dinner as well as snacks are allowed. The potato diet is designed to be followed short-term for quick weight loss. Generally, followers of this diet will participate for two to five days in a row, though some follow the diet for up to a week at a time. 

The method of preparing the potatoes is just as important as the type of potatoes themselves. Cooking methods that require added fat are not encouraged, such as frying. Stick to cooking methods that do not require added fat, like boiling, steaming, baking, and roasting.

Knowing how many potatoes to eat in a day depends on each individual. Nearly all versions of the potato diet recommend eating until satisfied, so the amount varies per person. A general recommendation is to eat approximately two to five pounds of potatoes per day. It is important to consume enough calories on this diet since it is restrictive and followers may not get enough nutrients if they eat too few calories.

To make the potato diet more balanced and sustainable, include whole plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes. These foods are naturally lower in fat while being rich sources of protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

Though dietary fat is not recommended on the short-term potato diet, it is an important part of any balanced diet. A very low-fat or fat-free diet is not sustainable. If you plan on following a diet that is loosely inspired by the potato diet, consider adding healthy fats like nuts, seeds, and avocado.

The potato diet is a cost-effective plan since potatoes are affordable. Conventionally grown potatoes are even more cost-effective than organic. Eating all organic potatoes is not required on this diet, though it is optional for those who want to limit their exposure to pesticides used during farming.

Pros of the Potato Diet

The potato diet may result in short-term weight loss and reduce your fat and sodium intake. However, there are very few health benefits associated with this diet. In general, potatoes are a nutritious food, but they should be consumed as part of a varied diet rich in fruits, other vegetables, whole grains, proteins, and healthy fats.

  • May promote weight loss: The potato diet is specifically designed for weight loss. It is effective because it is naturally low in fat and lower in calories. However, the weight loss may not be sustainable since the diet is only followed for a few days at a time.
  • Short-term: If you prefer shorter diets for quick results, you may appreciate that the potato diet only lasts for two to five days. While some proponents claim you can lose up to 1 pound per day, this is not a realistic goal.
  • May improve digestion: Some people are drawn to the potato diet for both weight-loss and digestive benefits. Potatoes are easy-to-digest foods, making this diet gentle on the gastrointestinal tract. Potatoes are also a rich source of fiber, which keeps food moving along in the digestive system.
  • Easy to follow: Mono diets like the potato diet have one advantage over nearly any other diet—they are the most simple to follow. It is easy to understand what is allowed on the diet and what to avoid. People who struggle to follow diets with complicated rules will appreciate the simplicity of the potato diet.

Cons of the Potato Diet

Like other fad diets, the potato diet has many health risks and other drawbacks.

  • Unsustainable: Eating only one food, even if it is a root vegetable, is not sustainable. Though the potato diet is a short-term fad diet, some followers have stuck to just potatoes for long periods—up to one year. This diet is not sustainable for the average person.
  • Not a balanced or varied diet: Many foods rich in nutrients are not allowed on the potato diet. Though potatoes themselves are pretty nutritious, they do lack some essential nutrients. The potato diet may result in nutritional deficiencies if followed long-term.
  • Weight loss is likely to be short-term: Any weight lost during very short fad diets may not be kept off long-term. This may be water weight, which is different from losing body fat. Once you return to your normal lifestyle, you may regain some or all of the weight you lost during the potato diet (and even gain more).
  • Discourages healthy eating habits: As noted, the potato diet is not nutritionally balanced and discourages healthy eating habits. A nutrient-dense diet is rich in various foods, whereas the potato diet generally allows only potatoes. Consuming only one food may promote disordered eating habits.

Is the Potato Diet a Healthy Choice for You?

Compared to the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the potato diet does not meet nutritional recommendations. The guidelines list potatoes as a healthy source of starchy vegetables, but it encourages a diet full of foods from the primary food groups. People following the potato diet miss out on five of the six recommended food groups.

The potato diet is fiber-rich. The USDA recommends between 28 and 34 grams of fiber per day for adults. However, the potato diet lacks other nutrients since it does not contain foods from the various food groups. The recommendations for daily protein intake are between 46 and 56 grams for adults. This may be possible on the potato diet if you consume a substantial volume of potatoes, but some people may not get enough protein on the potato diet.

In addition to being low in fat, the potato diet is low in sodium. While salt is allowed on the potato diet, it is not encouraged. Since potatoes are naturally low in sodium and users may add little to no salt for taste, the potato diet is very low in sodium. While excessive sodium can be detrimental to optimal health, sodium is an essential nutrient required to promote fluid balance and muscle and nerve function.

To lose weight, there is a misconception that you must reduce your calorie intake to 1,200 calories per day. This is much lower than the USDA recommendations for 1,600 to 2,000 calories daily for adult women and 2,000 to 2,400 daily for adult men. 

There is no set calorie requirement on the potato diet. Followers are encouraged to eat until they are full, so they may consume more or less than recommended.

Though mono diets, such as the potato diet, may result in short-term weight loss, this diet is not sustainable and may result in nutritional deficiencies.

A Word From Verywell

Potatoes are a delicious and popular source of resistant starch, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. However, too much of one thing can sometimes be a bad thing. Eating a balanced diet means consuming a variety of nutrient-rich foods as well as some more indulgent foods. However, the potato diet does not allow for eating in moderation. Instead, followers simply consume one food—potatoes—in large quantities.

Remember, following a long-term or short-term diet may not be necessary for you and many diets out there simply don’t work, especially long-term. While we do not endorse fad diet trends or unsustainable weight loss methods, we present the facts so you can make an informed decision that works best for your nutritional needs, genetic blueprint, budget, and goals.

If your goal is weight loss, remember that losing weight isn’t necessarily the same as being your healthiest self, and there are many other ways to pursue health. Exercise, sleep, and other lifestyle factors also play a major role in your overall health. The best diet is always the one that is balanced and fits your lifestyle.

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3 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  3. US Department of Agriculture and US Department of Health and Human Services. 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, ninth edition.