If you’re an Atkins or a South Beach dieter, you might worry that eating starchy spuds will cause you to pile on excess poundage. However, Chris Voigt, the head of the Washington State Potato Commission, could probably tell you otherwise.
It’s part of Voigt’s job to promote potatoes as a healthy, accessible and affordable vegetable. From October 1 to December 1, he decided to “walk the walk” and eat nothing but potatoes — about 20 potatoes per day- prepared in a variety of ways.
Over the course of the two month diet, Voigt lost 21 pounds and dropped his cholesterol level by 67 points to a healthier level. Registered dietitian Cynthia Sass appeared on the TODAY Show with Voigt to weigh in on the diet.
“Potatoes are an incredibly nutritious food, but eating them exclusively for 60 days can lead to [negative] long-term side effects,” she said. “Anytime you do limit calories and lose weight, your cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure will come down, no matter how you lose that weight.”
As for the positive effects Voigt reported, Sass cautioned people not to attempt any extreme diet without consulting a physician, as Voigt did.
Was the drastic diet an attempt to make the next big diet discovery or was it merely a stunt? Voigt said he merely wanted to “debunk the myths” about the potato and return it as a staple to a well-balanced meal plan.
Rather than promoting weight loss, Voigt’s primary goal was to draw attention to federal proposals that ban or limit potatoes in some nutrition assistance programs.
“This is not the new fad diet. It was really to make a bold statement, to remind people that the potato is truly healthy and nutritious,” Voigt told the TODAY Show.