Are Potatoes Good for Weight Loss?
One of the most important strategies for getting fit and healthy permanently is to make the process enjoyable and sustainable. Regarding the diet it would mean still enjoying foods you love, making your meals delicious, and still getting great results, for example enjoying potatoes in your daily meals.
Today we’ll look into this delicious food that has been widely demonized and avoided but people on a weight loss journey due to their high glycemic index, fear of carbs, or by claiming that sweet potatoes are better. Let’s see what research has to say and if we are right avoiding it to get to a healthy weight or if we can finally make peace and still enjoy it in our diet.
NUTRIENTS AND SATIETY
Potatoes are a tuber, meaning they grow underground, that are packed with nutrients. One medium potato contains 79% water, 10 vitamins and minerals, 4 grams of fiber, and 4 grams of protein.
It also has a lot of vitamins and vitamin precursors (A, C, E) micronutrients, phytonutrients (the ones you can only find from plant sources), and antioxidants that can help control oxidative damage in the body, regulate our immune system, fight viruses and other pathogens, control inflammation and inhibit tumor growth.
On top of that potatoes are one of the most satiating foods you can enjoy and it has a low-calorie density as it is mostly water.
Then why it has been deemed so bad? Well mostly because of a misunderstanding of carbs, weight, and overall health; but also because when overly processed it can become a vehicle of a lot of extra salt, fat, butter, cream, etc. and can be very easy to overeat, think of french fries and how many you can easily eat in one sitting
The glycemic index (GI) is a way of measuring how quickly the glucose we ingest shows in our bloodstream raising blood sugar levels. It is widely believed that higher GI foods tend to increase blood sugar fast and lead to problems managing insulin while low GI foods are better for sugar and insulin management.
It is important to know though that these GI scores can vary widely due to potato type and variety, cooking method, added ingredients, and other foods that you eat it with, which can lower the GI; the time of day, medications you’re taking, how physically active you are, how much fiber you take and genetics
Potatoes and sweet potatoes do fall in the middle to high range of the GI scale, but as you can see by now it is a bit more complicated than just a number and scientific evidence has not shown GI to be that important in affecting appetite, body weight, inflammation or blood glucose control. In fact, the total carbohydrate and calorie intake have a much bigger effect on all of this and overall health.
REGULAR, SWEET, AND THOUSANDS OF OTHER FUN POTATOES
If you thought you only had two varieties, white potatoes, and sweet potatoes, think again!
There are over 4000 known varieties of potatoes ranging from white to orange to purple and 5000 known varieties of sweet potatoes, which interestingly are not actually “potatoes” They are a root from the Convolvulaceae family, a different food family entirely.
These different varieties of potatoes vary in their starch type and content which affects how they are digested, the GI, and how they are cooked. For example, Floury potatoes, which are fluffier are best suited for baking or mashing and are high in starch. More waxy potatoes have less starch and are better for boiling, these are digested slowly, especially if given time to cool after cooking.
CARBS AND WEIGHT LOSS
Potatoes can be a very satiating food because of the type of carbohydrates they contain. This is because the main carbohydrate form they contain is resistant starch, which like fiber can not be easily digested but is broken down by healthy bacteria in our large intestine producing short-chain fatty acids that will have lots of healthy effects:
Help keep you full longer diminishing the overall amount of calories you consume each day aiding in weight management.
Act as fuel, and nutrients for healthy gut bacteria and mucosal cells to improve digestion and overall health and increase mineral absorption and nutrient circulation.
Inhibit pathogenic bacteria and prevent absorption of toxins
Stimulate blood flow to the colon and decrease the risk of colon cancer
These benefits will depend largely on how you cook and prepare your meals. Baking, boiling, and roasting is a healthier options, as is avoiding adding too many toppings like sour cream, butter, mayonnaise, etc.
So as you can see more important than avoiding carbs altogether or a whole food group like potatoes. The amount and portions of those carbs are far more important for maintaining a healthy weight.
Here are the main takeaways to keep enjoying a delicious meal without hurting your weight and health goals:
Potatoes have a myriad of nutrients and health benefits that we can take advantage of if we include them in our diets in the right amounts.
Potatoes are very varied and nutrient-rich, they’re very satiating and difficult to overeat when cooked right. And, when eaten as part of a meal, should present no glycemic index problems.
Glycemic index is quite a complicated subject with many things that can affect it in our daily lives so should not be a determining factor when deciding what to include in our diets.
Always listen to your body. If you are not sure how your body responds to potatoes, try adding them in smaller amounts without the peel first, and then experiment with more variety and different cooking methods. Make it fun and enjoyable.
No food is good or bad. The effect they have on our weight and overall health depends mostly on the amount of it we consume, the cooking and preparation method, and the other foods we may add or consume with it.