The conventional wisdom is that potatoes – especially white potatoes – have no role to play in a low-carb, low-calorie diet. However, the current medical and nutritional evidence is that potatoes are an important source of vitamins and minerals. As long as you’re baking or steaming them, they’re a perfectly acceptable part of any diet.
In short, it’s possible to shed some inches off your waistline, even if you’re consuming potatoes on a regular basis. In one 12-week study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, test subjects who included potatoes in their diet still lost weight. The key, say the researchers, is reducing your overall calorie intake. As long as you’re burning more calories (preferably, via exercise) than you’re consuming, it’s OK to include potatoes at mealtime.
So why have potatoes been given a bad reputation, then? One reason is that, yes, potatoes are rich in carbohydrates. But here’s the important point to keep in mind – they are rich in complex carbohydrates, not the type of refined or processed carbohydrates that you find in white rice, white bread or pasta. That means that the body takes more time breaking them down, and that keeps you feeling full longer.
Moreover, as long as you’re baking or steaming them, potatoes are a classic whole food. That means they are rich in nutrients and possess no additives or artificial substances. From a nutritional perspective, potatoes are filled with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They are a good source of fibre, low in sodium, and are actually a better source of potassium than bananas. Finally – and here’s the really good news – potatoes have NO cholesterol and they are very low in fat. A small potato that weighs 138 grams only has 0.2 grams of fat.
While white potatoes have a higher Glycemic Index (GI) than sweet potatoes, they are still much better options than the processed carbs found in pasta and white bread. In fact, since white potatoes have a higher GI than sweet potatoes, that makes them even more efficient at replenishing glycogen supplies after an intense workout.
Finally, pay close attention to how you cook and prepare potatoes. In general, you want to preserve as many of their vitamins and nutrients as possible. For example, some people don’t enjoy eating the skin of potatoes, but that’s actually a good source of the vitamins and nutrients. Also, avoid soaking potatoes too long in water or cooking them at too high a temperature.
So, instead of eliminating potatoes from your diet, enjoy them for the nourishing food they are. If you’re still feeling guilty about eating potatoes, then include them as part of your post-workout meal. It’s a great way to reward your body – literally – for becoming stronger and healthier.