A vegan blogger known for losing weight through her carb-heavy diet has pledged to take her eating plan one step further by going on a “potato cleanse” for an entire month.
Hannah Howlett, better known by her blogger name High Carb Hannah, lost four stone in less than a year by ditching processed food and alcohol in place of potatoes, rice, beans and other starches “in their least processed state”.
Howlett will be posting updates of her new food plan, which will primarily consist of potatoes, on YouTube and Instagram, but not everyone supports the idea of the restricted diet.
Nutritionists have warned that potatoes will not give the body all the nutrients it needs to be healthy and eating them in excess could lead to further complications with health.
On her YouTube channel, Howlett explains that many of her subscribers have asked her to try out the potato diet in the past.
“The reason that I’m doing it is to show people that you’re not going to die if you don’t eat any overt fats,” she says.
“It can actually be very beneficial for you if you’re trying to lose weight on a plant-based diet.”
The 29-year-old, who is in week two of her month-long potato challenge, won’t just be eating boiled potatoes. Although spuds will make up her main source of calories, she will be allowing herself the odd side, such as homemade salsa or a garnish of peas.
In a video posted on day eight of her challenge, Hannah says she hasn’t actually found the diet “that hard”.
“I’ve found three or four meals that I really enjoy and I stick with those and I’m satisfied and full all the time,” she says.
“I weighed myself this morning…I was 138lbs when I started and now it’s a week later and I weigh 135lbs.
“For the first few days I was tired and getting used to it, now I’m kind of over that and I’m sleeping just fine, I’m eating enough, I’m getting exercise every day and I feel great. There’s really nothing negative to report.”
Commenting on Howlett’s YouTube channel, nutritionist Charlotte Stirling-Reed, from SR Nutrition, says the blogger’s usual plant-based diet has positive aspects.
“Hannah’s initial weight loss probably stemmed very much from a complete change in numerous health behaviours. She self admits that she has ‘stopped drinking alcohol every night’ and stopped ‘binge eating’. This will have resulted in significant calorie reduction and therefore weight loss,” she tells HuffPost UK Lifestyle.
“It’s great that Hannah has been able to make some of these positive changes, and that she found them easy to make. The fact that she’s increased her vegetable consumption is also a huge positive too.”
However, Stirling-Reed would not recommend viewers to try a potato cleanse.
“Whilst potatoes do contain plenty of energy, vitamin C and fibre, they certainly don’t contain all the nutrients that we need to eat every day. And nutrition and health is all about variety,” she says
“Eating potatoes alone also makes eating become very boring, especially when there are so many delicious, interesting and healthy foods out there.”
Jo Travers from The Harley Street Nutritionist says a diet heavily relying on carbohydrates can “potentially cause all sorts of problems”.
“In the main, the exclusion of protein. Protein is necessary for making cells – including muscles, skin and hair – but it’s also the main ingredient of hormones and enzymes,” she says.
“A very low protein diet will lead to muscles being broken down (which will of course mean weight loss) and eventually lead to protein energy malnutrition.”
She adds that eating large amounts of carbs in one go may lead to sugar spikes and crashes, adding that the avoidance of fats “means a low intake of fat soluble vitamins”.
British Dietetic Association spokesperson Chloe Miles adds that eating potatoes for a month could “lead to low mood, social isolation and vitamin and mineral deficiencies if these restrictions were to continue long term”.
“These deficiencies can leave you feeling exhausted and impact on your physical health,” she says. “You’ll also miss out on fruit and vegetables if only eating potatoes, which are so important and can reduce our risk of certain cancers and heart disease.”
As Travers says: “A healthy balanced diet is so called because it is healthy and balanced. If you exclude protein, fat and many fruits and veg it is anything but balanced.”