I'm going to post some interesting geek-speak on why the potato diet seems to be a very effective, fat burning tool. In the 'Eat MOAR Taters' thread http://www.marksdailyapple.com/forum/thread67137.html people have experienced a range of stellar weight loss to minimal, but at least no one ballooned up!

In the next couple posts, I will put up some of the science behind this, for your enjoyment...

From: Hyperlipid: Potatoes and weight loss (1)

"Eating 2-3000kcal/day of potatoes spikes blood glucose. The more potatoes you eat the more you spike glucose. The pancreas responds to hyperglycaemia by secreting insulin but also by upregulating pancreatic glucokinase production, which increases insulin secretion per unit rise in glucose. After a couple of days on an all potato diet your pancreas will be producing impressive amounts of post prandial insulin.

Adipocytes respond to the insulin by shutting down lipolysis. Plasma free fatty acids drop and fat loss stops.

Insulin is degraded by insulin degrading enzyme. Very, very, very crudely (with a ton of qualifications, read the paper!) insulin action leads to insulin degradation. All insulin sensitive tissues degrade insulin. The liver is a massive sink for insulin, especially on a high carbohydrate diet. Anything which increases hepatic insulin sensitivity should increase hepatic insulin degradation. A sudden ceasation of free fatty acid supply from adipocytes will increase both hepatic insulin sensitivity and hepatic insulin degradation. A potato diet supplies relatively little in the way of fatty acids so there is also little dietary fat to supply the lipid intermediates to encourage hepatic insulin resistance.

Much of the hepatic uptake of glucose occurs without the direct intervention of insulin. The liver has large numbers of GLUT2s on its cells, which allow insulin-independent hepatic glucose uptake via a simple concentration gradient. The gradient is maintained by the intracellular phosphorylation of glucose, which allows its prompt removal to metabolism or storage as glycogen. Hepatic glucokinase does this phosphorylation and the production of the glucokinase enzyme in the liver is, of course, controlled by insulin. Increased insulin leads to increased glucokinase production and enhanced GLUT2 mediated glucose uptake.

Without fat, bulk calories are stored as glycogen, excepting that there is a little de novo fat synthesis from glucose in the liver. Hepatic glycogen does not cause hepatic insulin resistance. In the near absence of FFA supply the liver maintains insulin sensitivity and the ability to degrade insulin. Nothing like as much insulin reaches the periphery as is produced by the pancreas in response to 2-3000kcal of potatoes.

The second effect of shutting down free fatty acid supply from adipocytes and diet is the loss of fatty acid intermediates in muscle. Insulin sensitivity increases, the amount of insulin needed to facilitate glucose uptake by muscles decreases. Insulin secretion from the pancreas will then decrease but hepatic extraction of insulin continues while ever carbohydrate adaption continues.

The ultimate determinant of weight loss is fasting insulin. This determines how much lipolysis occurs during the period before the next meal. No one expects to lose weight during the 4 hours immediately after any meal. The following 8 hours, especially overnight, is when weight loss occurs.

Post absorptively, without dietary glucose input, there is no stimulus for anything other than basal insulin secretion. Fasting insulin will be low because muscles are insulin sensitive so relatively little insulin is needed for glucose uptake. As fasting insulin levels drop lipolysis will restart. Free fatty acids will feed back to the liver to cause some degree of hepatic insulin resistance, decrease first pass metabolism and stop too profound an hypoinsulinaemia occurring. But fat loss will happen.

So you have to ask whether an almost all potato diet genuinely leads low fasting insulin and subsequent weight loss. For my perspective the answer is yes. The precedent for this has to the Kitavans with fasting insulin levels of 4.0microIU/ml.

The next question is whether anyone could do this. That, I suspect, depends on how broken your liver is, ie is there irreversible hepatic insulin resistance. If you are overweight secondary to simple fatty liver, which is completely reversible, I suspect the answer is yes. If you have pathology in your liver such as NASH, especially with fibrosis, I think you might not respond in the same way. The more of a problem you have with obesity the less likely you are to lose weight or experience appetite normalisation (translates as access to adipose tissue calories). Ultimately the ability to live on varied macronutrient ratios comes down to how broken you are, especially your liver. Why a broken liver requires low carbohydrate eating is another post.

Is it healthy for someone with a functional liver to live on potatoes? It is clearly possible in the medium term. Cooked tubers have a respectable history of human usage. If you are not broken it might be a reasonable diet. There are no trans fats in spuds. There are minimal omega 6 fats. There is no gluten. There is just enough fructose to activate hepatic glucokinase without generating de novo lipogenesis. There is adequate high quality protein. On the down side there are a stack of vitamin and mineral deficiencies waiting in the wings.

I have no doubt that Chris Voight lost weight on an all potato diet. I also have no doubt that he was neither chronically hyperglycaemic nor hyperinsulinaemic.

There is no way of putting numbers to the framework with the data I have at the moment, but the physiology is comprehensible."