Getting Well On Twenty Potatoes a Day
Chris Voigt is the executive director of the Washington State Potato Commission. In an effort to educate the public about the nutritional value of potatoes, he ate 20 potatoes a day, for 60 days straight. That’s right, his diet consisted of only potatoes and nothing else. No toppings, no chili, no sour cream, no cheese, no gravy – just potatoes and maybe some seasonings or herbs and a little oil for some of the cooking.
Watch the video about Chris Voigt’s potato diet:
Chris’s diet started on October 1, 2010 and ended November 29, 2010. His mission was to show the world that the potato is so healthy that you could live off them alone for an extended period of time without any negative impact to your health.
Of course, those of us involved in the science and practice of healthy living were curious what impact this would have on his health and well-being. We all know how potatoes have received a lot of bad press over the last few years. They’ve been said to be high in the glycemic index, will raise your blood sugar, increase your risk for diabetes, raise your triglycerides and increase your risk for heart disease and even possibly some cancers.
For the record, his goal was not to lose weight but to consume enough calories (2,200) to maintain his weight – which is the equivalent of 20 average potatoes a day.
Take a look at Chris’s numbers:
Cholesterol: 214 (high)
LDL: 142 (high)
Glucose: 104 (high)
Chol/HDL ratio: 4.75
LDL/HDL ratio: 3.15
After 60 Days (11/29/2010)
Chol/HDL ratio: 3.0
LDL/HDL ratio: 1.75
Overall Results (After 60 Days)
Weight: -21 lbs (-11%)
BMI : -3 pt
Cholesterol:-67 pts (-31%)
Triglycerides: -60 pts (-44%)
HDL: +3 pt
LDL: -58 pts (-41%)
Glucose: -10 pts (-9%)
Chol/HDL ratio:-1.75 pts (-37%)
LDL/HDL ratio: -1.40 pts (-44%)
As we can see, even though Chris was not attempting to lose weight, he did; but more importantly he had highly significant reductions in his cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL, glucose, TC/HDL ratio, LDL/HDL ratio. These numbers indicate that Chris dramatically reduced his risk for heart disease and diabetes.
The improvements were in fact greater than what we see from drugs and many intensive lifestyle programs. And he did it all in 60 days!
While I would not recommend an all potato diet for the long-term for anyone, all of this points to the simple fact that in spite of all the bad press, potatoes are a nutritious and healthy food.
How a Plant-Based Diet Helped Make Me an Ultra-Runner
I sat in my college nutrition class listening to my professor talk about nutrition. He mentioned that you could be a vegan or vegetarian and meet all your requirements to be healthy. I thought to myself, “Oh this guy is crazy! You need to eat meat, I mean, where would you get your protein from?”
I have been athletic all my life and was good at all the sports I played growing up. I maintained great fitness throughout adulthood. In 2004 I decided I wanted to run a marathon. I started running in high school and have always maintained a steady base of 3-6 miles. I figured I would read up on training for a marathon and do it right, nutrition and all.
My diet at the time consisted mainly of meat, dairy, potatoes, bread, with a little bit of fruit and vegetables. I had no problems at all with my marathon training program until I reached my higher mileage of 12+ miles. At one point I had run a few 18 milers and my body said no way. My joints were achy and it took me a week to recover just from one long run. On top of that, my immune system was crashing. I was getting sick frequently and my digestive problems seemed to get worse. I was 33 at the time and thought this should not be happening. So I backed off the running but kept my goal of running a marathon for a later date.
In the meantime, I had three young children I was raising. The colds and flus were never-ending and the diagnosis of my oldest daughter with juvenile arthritis was all I could take. I knew diet and disease were related so I decided to do some research. I learned that dairy can have horrible health effects on children. So I immediately eliminated all milk products from their diets. Once we eliminated it, my children’s health turned around. For myself, I put dairy aside too. I was stronger, less achy and soon able to run my first marathon.
Given the good results we were having sans dairy, I decided to do some research on eliminating meat. After a year, I decided that going on a plant-based diet would be a great thing to do. Shortly after all the animal-based food was gone, my health and athletic performance improved again. And in 2009 I finished my first Ironman race. I loved it so much I did it again in 2010 and finished an hour faster. On top of that I have finished numerous marathons and ultra-marathons. My recovery is faster than ever, and frequent colds are a thing of the past.
All the vitamins and minerals I get from plants aid in my recovery and keep me going strong. I have not supplemented with any protein powders of any sort and I have never felt stronger and healthier in my life. I am hoping this year will be the year I finish my first 100-mile ultra-marathon. I wish I could let my college professor know he was right.