Can You Live Off Potatoes Alone?

Can you live off of potatoes? Probably not forever, but as a staple food, they’re unexpectedly nutritious.

There aren’t many foods that could sustain you for weeks on end. It is tough (ahem, impossible) to find a nutrient profile in one single natural food that supplies all of the essential nutrients that you need to survive. But you can certainly scrape by for a while off a few special foods. Potatoes are one.

Throughout 2016, Andrew Taylor consumed only potatoes. It’s not unheard of. He was simply trying to redirect the passion he had for overeating into other areas of his life. Limiting what he ate to the bare, boring basics seemed like the best way to do that. He ate all sorts of potatoes, from white to sweet, and occasionally mixed in tomato sauce, soy milk, salt, and herbs (and B12 supplements). But other than that, it was all potatoes, all the time. Breakfast, lunch, dinner. Winter, spring, summer, fall.

And guess what—he lost weight. He broke his sugar addiction. He started feeling better. His blood tests, which had been all over the map, returned to healthy ranges. So does that mean potatoes are a miracle food? Yes and no.

Potatoes are great. They supported the vast majority of the Irish population in the early 1800s. That’s pretty impressive. And they are certainly cheap and widely available. But that doesn’t give you permission to order a side of fries at every meal either.

Preparation often diminishes the health value of the potato, as they are often fried or smothered in cream and gravy. Even if you just eat baked spuds, white potatoes are also still high in highly digestible starch that can throw off insulin levels, and potatoes are by no means remotely close in nutrient profile to your one-a-day multi.

But regular potatoes aren’t a bad bet if you need a staple food. White potatoes, around 5 a day, actually contain all the amino acids you need to keep your body building and repairing itself. And eating 10 potatoes will actually provide you with your daily dose of protein.

But, of course, white potatoes lack the wide range of minerals and vitamins. Sweet potatoes, with their vivid orange flesh, pick up some slack with vitamin A, C, and E. But you’d still have to consume multi-dozens of potatoes each day to get your minimum RDA of everything, from minerals to protein requirements. That’s a lotta hot potatoes.

Chopping Sweet Potatoes

Can you live off of potatoes?

As successful as Taylor’s experiment was, it is not healthy to eat only one food all the time.

It doesn’t matter if it is kale, salmon, potatoes, peanuts, or Cheetos, diversity is so important. It is the only way for your body to fulfill its wide range of nutritional needs. We need all 20 amino acids to maintain our bodies, especially the 9 essential ones that we can only get from food. We need minerals and vitamins to catalyze the thousands of chemical reactions that make our bodies do so many incredible things. Eventually, every standalone food will fall short… even potatoes.

Now, if you want to go off and replace all your meals entirely with soylent, the liquid meal replacement that contains everything you need to survive, that’s your prerogative. But eating a diverse range of foods is so intrinsically human, why not relish in the joy of nourishment?

Related at Care2

Images via Thinkstock.

59 comments

Beryl Ludwig
Beryl Ludwig4 days ago

Thank you

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Mia G
Mia G4 days ago

Thank you

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Philippa P
Philippa Powers7 days ago

I grew up having potatoes at every dinner.

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Kelsey S
Kelsey S8 days ago

Thanks

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Ruth S
Ruth S9 days ago

Thanks.

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Edith B
Edith B9 days ago

I could eat potatoes every day, they are very satisfying and have multiple recipes.

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Elena Poensgen
Elena Poensgen9 days ago

Thank you

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Elena Poensgen
Elena Poensgen9 days ago

Thank you

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Toni W
Toni W9 days ago

TYFS

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Toni W
Toni W9 days ago

TYFS

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