The Potato Diet

A mystery. There’s still a lot we don’t understand about nutrition.

I think I’d go crazy on such a monotonous diet. It’s a shame if it really turns out that variety, while being the spice of life, may be an unhealthy way to eat. But it would work out well for space travel. Keeping food interesting is one of the major challenges for NASA and long-term astronaut health, both mental and physical.

12 thoughts on “The Potato Diet

  1. rickl

    Just don’t be too dependent on a successful crop every year.

    Yeah, I think the Irish had a bad experience with that.

  2. Big D

    I don’t know the truth to it, but I heard, some years back, that part of the reason they kept planting them, in the face of repeated failures, was because they were *so good* at providing nutrition, that no other crop could have sustained the growing population. Thus, the choice had been between possible widespread famine and certain, slow starvation.

  3. Googaw

    Not much of a mystery. Weight loss is far from always healthy. Eating just potatoes, which have very low levels of some important amino acids, for over a year our intrepid astronauts would die of kwashiorkor. Their muscles would waste away and internal organs fail. Perfect for the one-way Mars mission. Although really, why send food at all? Just launch them fat and save weight later in the mission when mass is at the more expensive end of the rocket equation. :-)

    If you eat a diet short on some macronutrients (here protein) you’re probably going to lose weight. In this case, it will be mostly lean muscle mass and internal organs (they conveniently didn’t check). Also, many (but by no means all and perhaps not even most) bodies will adjust their carbohydrate and fat consumption down to balance their lower protein consumption, since beyond a certain point eating carbohydrates without amino acids is nutritionally gratuitous even in most our evolutionary ancestors’ environments. This guy adjusted his intake down to 1,600 calories per day. Like plants (and all other living things) we need nitrogen and grow more with more of it.

    I’m afraid Stephan Guyenet, like the vast majority of people dispensing nutritional advice, is a quack.

  4. Googaw

    BTW, Chris Voigt, the lone “subject” of this “experiment”, is Executive Director of the Washington State Potato Commission.

    Quack, quack, quack…

  5. Brock

    I’m afraid that Googaw, like the vast majority of people dispensing nutritional advice, is an uninformed know-it-all.

    People have survived, under clinical conditions, an an all-potato diet for as long as six months without any drop in nitrogen balance (aka, they didn’t lose any muscle tissue). Potatoes provide sufficient N and a complete protein; more than the average person needs to get by.

    Don’t be a tater hater. There is no macronutrient deficiency.

  6. Larry J

    There may be a simple explaination for the weight loss:

    “What’s for supper tonight?”
    “Potatos”
    “Again. We’ve had potatos every meal for the last week. I’m not very hungry all of a sudden.”

  7. Andrea Harris

    Gosh, I don’t know, I heard that a whole lot of Irish people died on their meals of “nothing.” All those dead people are sort of an argument against the “no food diet.”

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