Potatoes: Part Deux

Last week, I made the case that potatoes aren’t nearly as bad as some people make them out to be. They’re carby, sure, but lean, active people who can tolerate carbs are way better off eating potatoes than grains, and even for low-carbers, a potato makes for a good, gluten-free cheat meal. Their place in your diet depends on the metabolic context. In my so-called “final word,” I said there isn’t one, at least not ordained from above. You have to figure out for yourself whether or not they fit into your diet. You might even say you have to go with your gut on this one (in more ways than one, as you’ll see).

So: potatoes. Just what are we to make of them? They are lumpy, white things that appear mostly harmless. They are, some would say, non-toxic sources of essentially pure starch. But actually, there’s more to the potato than glucose. First, the standout numbers for a standard white potato, baked, just the flesh (skin removed), 200 grams worth (which is a decent sized Russet):

Carbs: 43 g
Fiber: 3 g
Protein: 4 g
Fat: 0.2 g
Vitamin C: 20 mg
Magnesium: 50 mg
Potassium: 782 mg
Copper: 0.43 mg

That’s actually pretty decent. It’s certainly more interesting than rice. It contains very little phytate, so the minerals will be plenty absorbable. The carbs are almost all starch, meaning they’re perfect for replenishing glycogen stores after a workout. It’s a solid tuber, and a better, more nutritious starch source than are grains.

I also promised to discuss the secondary concerns people have with potato consumption. More specifically, I’m going to get into the potentially toxic glycoalkaloid content, the intestinal permeability issue, and the anecdotal reports of joint pain and inflammation.

Potatoes, being the reproductive organs of potato plants, have “passive” defenses against predators. They are stem tubers. They can’t run or bare teeth, so they chill underground to stay safe and employ toxic chemical defenders. For a group of smart, tool-wielding apes like ourselves, that first line of defense is easy enough: dig ‘em up. The second is a bit more difficult to circumvent: the toxic glycoalkaloids are in the potato itself. If we plan on eating the potato, we plan on eating the glycoalkaloids, too.

The glycoalkaloids most prevalent in potatoes are alpha-solanine and alpha-chocanine, which the plants use to repel pests. Most of the glycoalkaloids are luckily concentrated in the skin of the potato, forcing less refined pests to eat through the toxic stuff to get to the good stuff. We have the luxury of employing peelers (pinky in the air, no doubt) to avoid most of the glycoalkaloids (which are not reduced through cooking; you have to physically remove them). This is probably why traditional potato-eating cultures peel the potatoes they eat, unless you count the urbanized Quechua migrant eating cheesy tater skins at the Chili’s in Lima. And, as commenter Anand points out in Don’s excellent post, our ancestors would have definitely removed the charred skins after roasting tubers directly in the hot coals. These days, the most common potatoes, like Russets, also tend to have the lowest amount of glycoalkaloids (see Stephan’s chart); this is no accident, instead being the product of generations of careful agricultural selection by farmers. Throughout history, then, humans have tended to avoid the bulk of potato glycoalkaloids, either unwittingly, by peeling potato skins, or by selecting the low-glycoalkaloid varieties that didn’t provoke stomachaches, digestive issues, or inflammation and sold well at the market.

But glycoalkaloids remain. Are they harmful? Certainly, but the devil lies in the details. High dose glycoalkaloids are clearly harmful, but most peeled normal potatoes do not contain high doses of glycoalkaloids (again, I refer to Stephan’s chart). Most studies showing harm used supra-physiological doses of pure glycoalkaloids; one of the only studies to show harm using physiological doses that you’d normally get from eating potatoes used intestinally permeable rats with a genetic proclivity toward inflammatory bowel disease. This is a useful study, though, because it tells us that potatoes might be a danger for humans with leaky guts or existing inflammatory bowel disease. I’m sure you know someone in that position. It may even be you, or a loved one. How common is leaky gut? It’s difficult to know for certain, but I think looking at how many people still eat wheat, grains, sugar, and vegetable oil as a significant portion of their diet can give us a pretty good idea.

The Paleo Diet newsletter on nightshades pointed out a couple studies showing increased inflammation markers upon potato feeding, but one altered multiple dietary factors simultaneously (not just potatoes) and the other used potato chips. Was it the rancid seed oil the chips were fried in, or the potatoes? Was it the wheat bread or the potatoes? These tell us very little about the effects of whole, untarnished potatoes on inflammation.

I can also see potato glycoalkaloids being problematic in the context of the inflammatory standard American diet (rich in gluten, omega 6, and sugar). This is similar to the persuasive argument that casein is only problematic once gluten has perforated the gut lining and allowed entry. Do potatoes pose an issue for people with intact guts? As it stands now, there is very little published evidence that potato gycoalkaloids cause problems in metabolically health individuals without compromised guts, but there are anecdotal accounts.

Like my own. I avoid grains, vegetable oils, and excessive sugar, and I’m pretty darn healthy, but I have found that eating potatoes on a regular basis, especially potatoes with the skin, seems to lead to joint pain in my feet and ankles (of all places). So I don’t eat them on a regular basis. This doesn’t happen when I eat other starchy foods, like yams or squash. Only with white potatoes. That said, I still eat the odd spud – though I prefer Yukon golds, red potatoes, fingerlings, or any of the strange farmers’ market varieties. I’ve heard from people who get crippling joint pain from a single potato meal, though, so I’m not sure what to say about potatoes for everyone.

If you feel up to it, head out to the store and try some potatoes. The basic Russets are good, but dozens of varieties exist. Grocery stores should carry Yukon golds, red potatoes, fingerlings, and maybe a couple boutique varieties, but the real interesting ones are found at farmers’ markets. At the local Santa Monica market, there’s a whole stand devoted to potatoes of all kinds. They’ve probably got a dozen varieties, and it’s always changing. Purple potatoes, half yellow/half purple potatoes called Laker potatoes (hey, it is LA), tiny little red ones the size of gumballs, multicolored gnarled ones that look like an old crone’s rheumatic claw – these guys are committed to their tuberous artistry. Even for someone who doesn’t eat a ton of potatoes (I, honestly, don’t train hard enough anymore to require a lot of glycogen repletion), I find myself generally picking a handful or two up when I’m there. I’m rarely disappointed.

Always store your potatoes in a cool, dark area. Avoid light exposure, which can turn them green and increase the glycoalkaloid density. Cut off any sprouts or stems; better yet, just toss ‘em altogether if they sprout. You don’t want to take the risk, and they’re cheap enough to sacrifice. For heavy lifters and highly active exercisers who want to incorporate potatoes, it makes sense to bake a bunch at once and store them in the fridge for easy post-workout consumption. They’ll stay good in the fridge for about a week and a half. For PBers interested in trying a carb refeed, potatoes are a great choice.

Other bloggers have put up some incredible series on potatoes. By and large, they agree that humans have a long and storied history with potatoes and other tubers, and I find it difficult to argue. Reading their thoughts has made me reevaluate my own views on potatoes. I highly suggest reading both series.

Don’s Primal Potatoes series, in which he makes a strong argument for the tuber’s prevalence in our ancestral diets (especially when game was lean), even making the case that tubers gave us an advantage in the hunt: Primal Potatoes

Stephan’s Potatoes and Human Health series, in which he goes into more detail on the glycoalkaloid concerns (short version: very little evidence that normal levels of potato glycoalkaloids poise a problem for healthy humans) and discusses several traditional cultures that fared well on high-potato diets: Parts 1, 2, 3.

A Few Additional Thoughts on Potatoes

It is impossible to argue with your own personal anecdotal evidence. Anecdotes won’t stand up to peer review, but I find it difficult (and unwise) to discount a barrage of them.

If you’re overweight, avoid potatoes for the carb count and because you’re probably still fairly inflamed, and potatoes might aggravate your condition.

If you’re sensitive to nightshades (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant are the common ones) and have experienced negative effects from consuming them in the past, be wary of potatoes. Potatoes are also nightshades.

If you have a known autoimmune disease, a leaky gut, or are especially sensitive to dairy, grains, eggs, or nuts, avoid potatoes until it clears up.

If you insist on “cheating” with wheat, avoid potatoes to minimize any collateral damage to your gut.

If you need an affordable source of whole food calories, consider potatoes.

If you’re having trouble recovering from workouts on a very low-carb diet, try adding some post workout potatoes for the glycogen. Your muscles, having been drained of glycogen, will be insulin sensitive and most of your dietary glucose will go to good use.

If you’re stalling on weight loss as you near your goal, try carb refeeds with potatoes to restore leptin and jumpstart the leaning out process.

If potatoes give you fits, don’t eat them. You’re not missing much beyond a cheap source of calories that converts to glucose almost instantly. If lots of people you trust on other matters are reporting problems with potatoes, be mindful, be wary, and always pay close attention to how they affect you.

Thanks for reading and let me know what you think in the comment board. Grok on!

TAGS:  is it primal?

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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100 thoughts on “Potatoes: Part Deux”

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    1. Can you talk more about, “leaky gut”? I am confused about the opposing research. Thanks

    2. I see in the news where the head of the Washington State Potato Council will be eating 20 potatoes a day for two months. I guess we’ll find out about any bad effects with such an extreme potato diet! Maybe we can have a spud or two every so often without guilt.

  1. I don’t know Mark. The primal diet is so good on its own I don’t see why cheat with a potato?!. If, I want to cheat I do it with steak and oyster rockefeller topper. Hey wait that’s primal. All kidding aside potatos like grains I think raise glucose levels fast and can lead to falling off the wagon into starch madness. But, if potatos are your thing…. I for one never really liked the pasty, bland things anyway. I have found much better things to sop up my butter and cream with.

    1. Great post, Mark.

      We eat potatoes occasionally, always organic and always peeled. They help stretch our Primal budget. It would be nice if we could afford to eat our fill of steak or grass fed ground beef every night, but we can’t, so occasionally we add white and/or sweet potatoes, usually cooked in butter, to round out our meals, and ease the budget. Haven’t noticed any ill effects, but we’ll pay more attention, just in case.

  2. So if you eat red/purple/fancy potatoes, should those all be peeled as well? It seems easy enough to avoid the skins on the bigger potatoes like russet and yukon gold, but the smaller potatoes are usually served with the skins still on.

    I still won’t eat them very often, but I’m just curious as to what to do with the smaller spuds.

    1. “the smaller potatoes are usually served with the skins still on.”

      They are in US, and that was a big surprise for me when I first saw it. Potato eating cultures always peel potatoes before cooking. It is a very boring process, especially if you have to serve a lot of potatoes. I think Americans decided not do that. Why waste time? Time is money.

      1. wow you’re always so quick in with first cmmneot . you’re right, hasselbacks are great. how were they done in the class? there seems to be so many different twists on these, but they’re all good!

  3. Whatever works for you I guess. I cut out rice and replaced them with sweet potatoes and never looked back :I

  4. The chart lists Snowden potatoes has having a very high glycoalkaloid level – I couldn’t find much on them, but one sentence on Wikipedia says that they’re often used for potato chips. That might explain why potato chips create digestive issues.

  5. I added potatoes back in small amounts after having been on PB for 9 months, and I find I’m tolerating them much better now than pre-PB. Still not at my goal weight, so I don’t do it every day (or even every week) but it makes a nice change, and I’m tolerating them MUCH better than the rice I also recently tried again. I eat Yukon Golds from the farmers market and I don’t peel them. So far, so good.

  6. you’re on a roll again, Mark! It’s great to be back to the well thought out and information-laden articles. For a while there all of the recipe posts and grok-picnic posts were getting old.

  7. Potatoes are delicious with tons of butter and sour cream! But they are not a part of my diet at the moment. They have been a lifesaver when out though. Case in point, we went to a big pizza franchise that caters to kids. Pizza, Pasta, and crazy other junk. If it were not for the salad bar and baked potato I would have not survived. So I am thankful it is a gluten free alternative when necessary.

  8. I haven’t had any in a long time, but i think one good-sized one would be okay in a stew with plenty of bison, elk, vegetables, and arrowroot.

  9. It is interesting to see many recommendations these days to remove the peel of potatoes, many fruits etc. This after years of people telling me that the peels had all of the nutrients, so I should make sure to eat them.

    I suppose it is a trade off in many instances of losing some nutrients in order to avoid the toxins.

    Would you say that in general the Primal lifestyle avoids peels on most or all foods, or is this a gross over generalization??

  10. Mark-

    What this, and Stephan’s article lack, are thoughts & analysis on sweet potatoes, specifically. Personally, I have done my own analysis comparing the white russet potato versus the sweet potato and yam, and the SP is the superior choice for “health” when comparing Glycemic Load, Vitamins, and Inflammation (I’d post a link to my blog post, but the comments section won’t allow url’s). I know sweet potatoes are technically potatoes and could be lumped into this article, but I think they are different enough to deserve their own paragraph.

    Aside from that, I have found that sweet potatoes (and yams on occasion for variety) make for an excellent CHO/fuel source during periods of heavy exercise. Hell, I even use them for pre-race meals, and have had fantastic results with them! In summary, I agree with your (changing) viewpoint.

    Thanks for posting!

    ps- This article was much better than the previous one. When you said “stay with me here…”, I already had a “glazed over” look 😉

  11. Geez, first rice, now potatoes…what’s next? corn is okay too? Kidding. It’s good to know I don’t have to change my recipe for curry chicken (with potatoes, over rice of course)…totally primal :P. I have to watch it though because I’m fat but my skinny family members can enjoy!!

  12. Nice Mark.

    My perspective is that potatoes are an excellent food to cycle into the diet for nutrition and diversity’s sake. I first eliminated them (~6 months), then added them back in to my diet after I reached a healthy equilibrium. I now find them a nice addition every week or two, or incorporated into a post-workout meal.

  13. Another thing to put bacon, butter and cream on that won’t inflame my gut?! Yay!! My kiddos won’t mind a change from yucca (casava) and sweet potatoes… Woohoo.

    Thanks for the update Mark. I’m down almost 30 lbs 157-128 lbs since this summer and as I approach my ideal (well, my vanity weight) of 125 lbs and really upping the anti with my workouts I’m glad to know I can add this to the mix at least for my ‘feast’ day which is followed by my ‘famine’ day!

    What’s next Mark… pasta from non-grains??

  14. I Too would like to know if sweet potatoes fall into the “peel the skin” category.

  15. Michael Pollan Has some interesting potato tidbits in “The Botany Of Desire”. The one that really gets me is that Monsanto’s “NewLeaf” is not considered a food by the FDA, but a pesticide. They are being discontinued because McDonald’s has just stopped buying most of the crop.

  16. Bummer, I have always eaten the skins of potatoes and sweet potatoes as they have the most overall nutritious aspect of it.

    I really wonder what the prop/con of doing this is. I’ve never felt bad after eating a potato skin so I am curious as to what the actual effects may be.

  17. Hi Mark,
    Please give us your advice on sweet- potatoes/yams skin. I always ate the skins thinking they were healthy. Any help at all would be most welcome.

  18. Hi Mark and all primals!
    In Sweden potatoes are being consumed in large amounts, and always has been. It’s one of the most common foods in diet, historically. Tell your grandpa that you’re on a paleo, non potato diet, and they’ll likely wack you with their walking stick for being such a fool.
    Therefor I kinda like to see you ease up your position on this matter, even though I won’t go on a potatofrenzy just because of this.
    I do have one question though. What’s the difference between an ordinary potato and a sweet potato or a yam? It seems that it’s been allright to indulge on sweet potatoes every once in a while, but not on regular potatoes. How come?

    1. How would potatoes be historical when they came to Europe after the americas were “discovered”? The earliest they would appear was 1500’s and that’s dubious because people were wary of them.

      1. By historical I meant that they’ve been a big staple for us during a couple of hundred years. We’ve had it in the country since around 1600 though.
        Historically perhaps wasn’t the best word to use. How about traditionally?
        And any answer to my question would be welcome.

      2. Potatoes are a huge staple food in many North European countries. In Sweden and Norway potatoes are eaten in huge quantities, but always peeled (after boiling). The potato saved many families from starvation in Scandinavia for hundreds of years. (The first potatoes in Norway were grown in 1757)

        1. The fact that they have been eaten in quantity does not mean we should eat them. One of the main reasons to eat paleo is to avoid the diseases of civilization. All of North European countries have plenty of diseases of civilization.

          The reason it became popular in those countries is it grows well in a cool climate and has a high yield per the planted area.

  19. Great post Mark. When I started on paleo/primal I was leery of any carb heavy foods but have learned to embrace, not fear the potato as an integral paleo food.

    One suggestion: It looks like there is a lot of questions regarding the potato’s relation to the sweet potato, which are very different – not even the same biological family. Mark, I am sure a post discussing the differences between the two would be helpful for the readership.

  20. Hey Mark! I was wondering what you thought of Cassava, since it is literally toxic unless heated (it produces arsenic as a defense mechanism). Are they still primal?

  21. Hey Mark,
    I want to thank you for changing my life for the better. I’ve been trying to convert my parents to The Primal Blueprint eating plan, but you know how that goes. I have a question that I’ve been pondering for quite some time now, and no, it’s not about potatoes. I was wondering if you’ve ever talked to Tony Horton about your eating strategy, because I know he’s into the whole “vegan thng”. I don’t mean to stir the pot, but he recommended your book on Facebook when it first came out, which is the reason why I was introduced to your knowledge in the first place. I just want to know if you’ve talked about it with him.

    1. @Dillon, Tony is one of my best friends. Over the past 24 years that we’ve known each other we’ve debated this diet thing a lot and have agreed to disagree in minor nuances of all this. We both agree that veggies and some fruits, certain nuts, etc should be the basis of the diet and that avoiding simple sugars is critical. OTOH, I eat everything that moves (animals). He does get a fair amount of quality protein from non-vegan sources (eggs, fish on occasion, protein powders, etc) and some from vegan-friendly (primal-unfriendly) things like legumes and whole grains. He also trains like a fiend almost every day – I do as little as possible to still stay fit.

  22. Well…certainly interesting…especially the part about IBD…have stayed away from potatoes, rice and grains for quite awhile, and decided to slice a few tiny cooked ones into my scrambled eggs, along with diced cooked onions and bacon…the variety helps once in awhile with an anti-fungal diet…excuse me….lifestyle. Yum! Now…excuse me, I must take my sexy brussels sprouts out of the steamer.

  23. “director of the US-based Washington State Potato Commission Chris Voigt has pledged to eat nothing but potatoes (with no toppings) for two months” – googled “eat only potatoes”. It might be interesting to see how he fares after the two months.
    Thanks for the info about the feet and ankles aching. I kept thinking something grainy unknowingly snuck into my diet.

  24. I’m glad to see you pointed out that potatoes are stem tubers. As far as I know they are the only stem tuber that we eat. The tubers are pretty close to the surface. When I’ve passed potato fields I see that the farmer has mounded dirt around the plant. Being at or near the surface requires more anti-nutrients than a root tuber that is far under the surface.

    I think potatoes (and rice) are an okay cheat food when eating out. Often you won’t have much choice and you do want to fill up. At home I see no reason to eat them. You have complete control over the ingredients available in your kitchen and there are more paleo alternatives readily available.

  25. At the farmer’s market the other day I was asking the farmer where I buy my eggs what he feeds his pigs and whether he gives them the food he can’t sell. He replied that he gives most of what he can’t sell to the chickens. Except the potatoes. Neither the chickens or pigs will touch them. It is the only thing he grows that they won’t eat.

    Back when Neanderthin was the only paleo diet book available, one of the rules we followed was the food had to be edible raw. Cooking was okay, but it had to pass the raw edibility test.

    1. I used to have a few chickens. They wouldn’t eat potato, oranges, asparagus. They loved cooked greens, watermelon, tomato.

  26. I am going to interpret this post as a subliminal message to go get a super-sized fries.

    thanks Mark!

    1. fries would be cooked in rancid oil, pro oxidant. i still might do it ONCE in a while

  27. Interesting blog post. I’ve recently reintroduced potatoes into my diet after being primal for over 3 months. For one thing, I was getting too thin and for another, I needed more energy at times. I far prefer the sweet potatoes, but there are some good potato recipes too.

  28. Thanks for the info Mark. Being Irish I always thought potatoes were part of my genes. However, I feel better without eating them, so maybe I am reprogramming my genes.

    1. As I recall, the Irish ate all those potatoes because England took all the good farming land and forced the Irish Catholic peasants to live on the stuff that would grow nothing but potatoes. So when the potatoes failed (as monocropping ain’t too great for any soil), the resulting famine was devastating.

  29. A couple of years ago, after almost 15 years of suffering from dermatitis, I attended a newly opened local clinic specialising in skin conditions. The practitioner I saw analysed my diet and suggested removing all nightshades (incl potatoes, which at the time I consumed almost every day) from my diet. Within 3 months, my skin had almost completely cleared (~98%) and has stayed clear since. It is quite obvious to me that I have a sensitivity to these plants, but it is not the same for everyone.

    I guess I’ll add them to the list of Elmo’s ‘sometimes foods’!

  30. I don’t care for potato at all.

    i prefer taro (the big type) & yam or sweet potato & fermented rice & some fruit as my carb. taro seems very carby. so have to be a little careful.
    anyway whatever works for you. cheers,

  31. Well this is exciting, I always felt SO guilty when I would find myself eating the odd baked potato… now that I know it’s not SO bad, I’ll consider it part of my carb refeed strategy!

    1. Why are they better? Aren’t they more sugary? Or is it just their name that plays a trick on me 🙂

  32. This is really interesting……ive only been ‘primal’ for about 10 months now and i stumbled upon this way of life because i suddenly found myself having very severe reactions following the eating of potato’s and was intrigued to educate myself in matters of a healthier diet.
    I havent looked back!!! I feel great, have heaps of energy, my skins improved and ive lost nearly a stone. With reference to pains in ankles/feet, i always had problems with swelling in my lower limbs and now its gone….coincidence???……

    1. this is incredle. This sounds exactly like my story. I have only been Primal for 3 weeks though.

  33. What a great site. And great to find real science in witty and plain English. This is the kind of exchange that feeds my mind as potatoes are sustaining my body.
    Chris Voigt, the 20 Potatoes a Day guy

    1. What I’d like to see from your experiment is before and after numbers for these measures of health:

      full VAP cholesterol panel

  34. i just love potato dishes. may it be just a simple mashed potato. im not afraid of the carb it would bring because i read from one article that potatoes has lower carbs. it’s a matter of moderating what we eat. we can’t fully blame it on the potato.

  35. I’ve found the key is to have organic potatoes every now an then like twice a week in small portions.

  36. Good post Mark, You look at it from more sites. But why take the risk? We know that sweet potatoes and yams do not cause problems. The percentage of people with a leaky gut and suffering from autoimmune diseases (https://bit.ly/a9Gvjk) is much higher than is often thought. Perhaps it even affects us all. Why are people still trying to prove that unhealthy neolithic foods are (when prepared in a special energy spoiling manner) edible for men?

  37. Has the question on eating the skin of sweet potatoes been answered yet? Good? bad?

  38. I remember reading somewhere (I think Wikipedia, but there may still be wisdom in it) that in Medieval Europe before potatoes were brought over from the New World, parsnips were used in places that potatoes later came to dominate.
    With that in mind, what are the thoughts on parsnips round here? Personally, I love them.

  39. I prefer potatoes to grains. I don’t see the harm in the occasional potato but I prefer them with fat – such as chips done in dripping or roasted in goose fat. On their own I find them a bit stodgy but with fat they don’t have that effect. I get bloating from a jacket potato without fat but not from chips or roasties. Does the fat make them go down better? I don’t know. I see them as not something I would cook (as well as the carbs they are time consuming to prepare)but if my friend (who makes a mean roast and uses goose or duck fat)invites me over to share it I am no way gonna turn that down

  40. Side-note: I wonder if the glycoalkaloids are high in the actual green part of the potato plants too. I just remember always hearing that you should not but the potato leaves in your compost bin… maybe this is why?

  41. Its such as you learn my mind! You seem to grasp a lot about this, like you wrote the e-book in it or something. I believe that you simply could do with a few percent to pressure the message house a bit, however instead of that, that is wonderful blog. An excellent read. I will definitely be back.

  42. Thank you for this post! I have just started the pb diet for the last few weeks and hubbie and I are about to start the 21 day challenge. I was wondering about potatoes as we have two teenagers (one whom is celiac ) and being able to keep potatoes in the diet in moderation will make a big difference for them and our budget. I find that we will usually peel them, put some olive oil and fresh garlic and grill them and they are very tasty without anything added. I will likely elminate mine, but it will make the transition for hubby easier ( on me as well )

  43. I didn’t read the full article but it’s saying that potatoes are OK to eat as long as you peel them right?

    But then I was wondering, most of the nutrients of the potato are in the skin right?

  44. Are you eating organic potatoes? That might make a difference in how you feel also….

  45. The Dutch eat massive amounts of potatoes (peeled and boiled). I taught English to a man who represents the EU potato farmers in Brussels and I asked him “why don’t people in Europe eat sweet potatoes? They are far more nutrient dense.” He had heard about them but never tried one! In northern Europe you can find sweet potatoes and yams in the Asian market shops, not the regular food stores. I have bought a few at the organic farmer’s market but they COST. A. FORTUNE. I paid 7 euros ($10) for two potatoes. It’s insane. We don’t have Whole Foods here (just in London) and I pay top euro for organic.. I miss America.

  46. Ok, how can a potato be bad for you, I mean they are from the earth and people should consume foods grown from earth. Same with grains, it is grown from earth naturally like potatoes and now it is unhealthy for people, whaaat?

  47. Hi Mark,

    The part that does it for me is; “If you need an affordable source of whole food calories, consider potatoes.”

    I cut out potatoes years ago before I’d ever heard of Primal just because I knew I ate too many. My family always had, because we were broke.

    Now, I find myself broke again, by choice, because my partner and I are living lean after immigrating to a new country. I’m a large man and I eat A LOT. I feel plenty healthy and I’m losing weight, but I’m driving up our food bill to a level we can’t afford. Good greens and meat, I can eat them until the fridge is bare. I love it. But add even one small potato to my meal and it cuts what I need by a 3rd, which is a whole meal for my partner.

    Ideally, I’d eat all the greens and meats I want. But on a budget a single potato goes a long way.

  48. I’ve been fermenting white potatoes with recycled sour kraut brine. Can’t do much other that mash em, cause they fall apart in cooking. Love the built in sour cream flavor (with metric fckton of butter, of course).

    Can’t find quality research on the physiological effects on glycoalkaloids and such, but I assume it helps. Best that I could find was an article stating that this method is not used due to limitations on a commercial scale. Thanks capitalism, you never fail to disappoint me.

  49. Potatoes(cooked/baked) make my willy limp, whether eaten with butter, sour cream, or plain…
    Though I’ve had mashed potatoes with meat gravy and meat (moderate fattyness, butter in the mashed potatoes) and that didn’t cause any problem of the sort.

  50. Hi,
    I left a post on one of your other articles about potatoes/sweet potatoes.

    After reading this article and how inflammation shows up eating potatoes, I think I have my answer.

    Around the same time I incorporated potatoes/sweet potatoes/rice and bananas into my diet, two separate areas of inflammation showed up – my right knee and right shoulder, both old injuries.

    Also, I don’t eat grains but since adding these food sources, my gut has had me passing gas, rumbling and also I put on 3.5kg in about 3 weeks!

    Do you agree that the new additions could be the source?

  51. What about the distinction between modern hybridized potatoes and ‘heirloom’ or ancestral varieties? I’ve heard that there is more starch, and different starch, in commercial varieties.

  52. Hello mark,um well thanks by the way for your website and telling me about them but a lot of people say the are really bad for you but I would really believe you instead ????????

  53. So, to eat the skin or not? You say they contain glycoalkaloids and that we can easily peel the skin but then you also mention that you like to leave the skin on. Do you have any citations on your opinion here?

  54. Hello, my name is Daniel and I am in the first day of my apple detox program which will last 3 days. Do you think I can replace apple with boiled potato ? I really hate apples :p

    Thanks in advance 🙂

  55. I ear them out the wazoo. I reason I’m going to die, someday, why deprive myself of everything. I have given up bread and my all time favorite food…oatmeal.

  56. I know this is an old article, but I’ve been obese since college (only briefly dipping down to a healthy weight back on 2010). I’ve struggled with weight due to bad habits and bad fad diets.

    Then I found Spud Fit in June. He’s the dude who lost 120 lbs in a year of eating nothing but potatoes. I decided to try it, with June 30 being the first day in. I opted not to restrict myself to only potatoes, but have them be the staple of my diet with no animal products except honey and a minuscule amount of butter if I buy the potatoes at a restaurant.

    From 6/30 to 7/27 (today), I’ve gone from 251.4 lbs to 235.8—that’s a drop of 15.6 pounds in a month. (To put this in perspective, I’ve been working out and trying to lose weight since January 1. In six months, I’m down ~32 pounds. Half of that came off in one month.) I feel fantastic. I’m obviously slimmer. Since I allow myself other vegetables and fruits, I know I can keep this up long-term and not get bored.

    I’m of the opinion that the best diet is the diet that works for you, so I don’t think people who have other diets are wrong or that everyone on earth should switch to a high-starch vegan diet. But since anecdotal evidence is worth consideration, I hope someone reads my comment and decides to give it a try.

  57. Thanks for the great advice. I am new to the primal world and I am working on your primal coaching certification. Thanks for all the great information and post.

  58. Although potatoes were only introduced around 1500 (I think), there is strong evidence that tubers were being roasted and eaten with meat for approximately 170,000 years. Previously the evidence said about 30,000 years ago, but new evidence has pushed it back to around 170,000.

    I think eventually it will be proven that we’ve been eating them even longer than that. But either way, widespread use of tubers in the human diet from that long ago, even when they had access to fatty meat etc. must mean they were important or at least not harmful to most people.

    There’s a lot of evidence that starch is important in the human diet and the fact that potatoes with lots of butter are one of the best tasting foods, especially paired with red meat, is all the evidence I need. I think, nowadays, the VLC diet, although it works well for some people, is unnecessary.