If you have seen the movie “The Martian“, you must have seen the characters of Matt Damon and Mark Watney stranded on the red planet without anything to eat except potatoes. An Australian man, Andrew Taylor, runs a diet based The Martian. He consumes only potatoes for 1 year. Taylor claims that he is able to lose weight in a short time. The question is whether this diet is able to provide enough protein and fat.
Taylor consumes approximately 3 kg a day, or about 2000kcal, a reasonable amount for a man.
Potatoes are a good source of carbohydrates and fiber. According to rough calculations, a man weighing 120 kg need 90g of protein per day, but the potato diet is only able to give 60g. To note, the protein is composed of amino acids, and surprisingly, a potato is able to provide a balance between the various amino acids.
As already mentioned above that the potatoes provide a balance between the various amino acids, however the potatoes are not able to provide ready-made long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids which can only be produced by the fish. These fats have a very important role, namely as a hormone controlling blood pressure.
Diet run by Taylor is also poor in fat, 9g per 3kg. This diet is not able to provide enough two types of essential fatty acids that help the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. Some examples of fat-soluble vitamins are vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, and vitamin K. The diet is also poor in vitamin B12.
Taylor lived in Australia, a country rich in sunshine, so that he could ignore the intake of vitamin D, but he cannot escape from vitamin B12 deficiency. The lack of vitamin B12 can cause pernicious anemia and nerve damage.
The diet is also very vulnerable to zinc deficiency (only able to give 6mg of the average requirement of 9mg a day). Zinc deficiency will cause various problems related layers of the skin, the lining of the gut, and immune system.Several other minerals, such as chlorides, selenium, and iodine also cannot be obtained in sufficient quantities.
Shortage of various minerals will bring some serious problems, such as thyroid disorders, reproductive disorders, to a deficiency of antioxidants. The conclusion that we can achieve is that every diet only with one type of food can bring terrible consequences in the long term.