Low-Dose Potassium at 60 Days

In the SMTM Low-Dose Potassium Community Trial, people took some potassium and lost some weight. Specifically, they took an average of about 1900 mg of potassium per day and lost an average of 0.85 lbs over 29 days

That’s not much weight loss, but it’s also not a very big supplemental dose of potassium, and the weight loss is significantly different from zero. People who took higher doses of potassium lost more weight, as did people who weighed more to begin with.

But what about past that first span of 29 days? Some people kept going with the protocol, taking potassium up to 60 days. Today we report their data.

30+ Days Results

We took a snapshot of all participants’ data on January 5, 2023. This was more than a month after we collected the data from the first 29 days, so everyone had the opportunity to reach 60 days by this point if they wanted to. This new snapshot is available on the OSF.

All the sample sizes in this case are too small to be statistically significant with the potential effect sizes involved, so we don’t report any statistical tests in this post. 

We cleaned these raw data and are going to look at the data from Day 1 on the protocol to Day 60. Some people may have kept going past Day 60, but we aren’t going to look at that right now. 

Here are the overall trajectories for the people who reported at least one day’s weight beyond day 29. The vertical red line indicates day 29, so all data points beyond that are past the span of the original trial. 

Overall the trend seems to continue. One person ended up down more than 15 lbs, but that’s not at all representative. 

People lost weight on average, but we already knew that. In this case we are most interested in whether they kept losing weight past the official end of the trial, so here are those same data zeroed from their weight on Day 29:

We see that in this span, people also lost weight on average, though the average weight loss was not very large. The average weight change past day 29 is negative, -0.37 lbs with all data.

See that spike up to more than 10 lbs? As you may have guessed, those are the days immediately following Thanksgiving. The participant reported that this was their “heaviest weight in 9 years”, but as you can see they lost all that excess weight very quickly. 

These plots can make it hard to see what has happened for each individual, so let’s now break things down and just show their last reported weights, again relative to their weight on Day 29. 

Here’s a plot of each person’s last reported day, and their reported weight change as of that day.

You can see that there are roughly two groups — most people either made it just a few days past Day 29, or made it up to very close to day 60.

We can take a special look at that second group, people who made it to Day 60 or nearly did so. Here’s everyone who made it past 50 days, broken out by just the landmark measurements — their weight on Day 1, on Day 29 at the official end of the trial, and on the last day they reported.

And here are those same data as a table:

On average, these people lost a decent bit (2.7 lbs) in the first span of the trial, and less in the second span (1.0 lbs). But this obscures a lot of individual stories that are more extreme in one way or another, like participant 42293886, who gained 3 lbs in the first leg but lost 4.6 lbs going to day 60, for a total change of 1.6 lbs. (This participant told us, “Not going to go off potassium any time soon I suspect.  Making a little effort to lose weight, and it’s showing a small amount of success.”)

Also notable is that the only two people who had net weight gain by 50+ days are people who had already gained weight by day 29.

Summary

Probably the people who kept going past Day 29 were the ones who were most motivated, or who had seen the best results up to that point, so there may be some selection bias.

While none of this is super compelling, people who kept going did on average keep losing weight. They didn’t stick right where they were on Day 29 and they didn’t regress back to the mean. It’s a small amount more evidence in favor of the idea that supplemental potassium might cause weight loss, another tiny pebble on the scale.

In a practical sense, we still recommend that anyone who wants to lose weight should go on the potato or half-tato diet. It’s much more reliable, and more delicious.  

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