If the thousands of fitness “influencer” accounts on social media are to be believed, the only way to shed those extra pounds is to ditch the carbs in favor of a high-protein, plant-based diet. plants. In recent years the humble potato has been shunned, in part due to unfounded fears that they are responsible for raising blood sugar and our mushy appearance, but are potatoes really the worst of all carbs? And are carbs really that bad anyway? If new research is to be taken seriously, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that the spud isn’t a dud after all.
M&F reviewed recent findings and consulted Dr. Emilia Thompson, a respected fitness and life coach and licensed nutritionist, to see if potatoes got a bad rap.
In a recently published study, the researchers followed 36 subjects who were overweight or suffered from insulin resistance. (When our cells become insulin resistant, it can lead to increased blood sugar levels, also known as hyperglycemia, and this can lead to prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. Study participants, aged 18 to 60, were given meat and fish-based diets with either 40% beans and peas or 40% white potatoes. Both variants also contained a high content of vegetables and fruits. “We have demonstrated that contrary to popular belief, potatoes do not have a negative impact on blood sugar,” commented one of the report’s contributors, Professor Candida Rebello.
What does recent research mean for the humble potato?
The potato diet and the pea and bean diet caused a reduction in body weight and BMI, but why? The answer is simple: it’s calories in and calories out. When eaten as part of a balanced diet, potatoes have plenty of benefits, and even better, research has suggested they have no more detrimental effect on blood sugar than peas. or beans.
Additionally, potatoes, due to their weight and relatively low calorie content, are a great way to keep you feeling full longer, which can lead to fewer snacks. “Interestingly, according to the satiety index, white potatoes are specifically the most satiating food, just ‘beating’ oats and brown pasta for fat; which is calorie dense even in low volume and easier to overeat,” says Dr Emilie Thompson. “When looking at low-carb or low-fat diets, when energy intake is equal, it makes no difference as to where the calories come from versus fat loss.” And that’s the key, it’s not the potato that makes you fat, it’s the portion sizes you eat.
Of course, the caloric content of a potato will also increase dramatically if you fry it or put slices of butter on it, but on their own they’re actually more efficient in terms of calories per gram than many other vegetables. The medium potato will provide 77 calories per 100g. Compare that with 81 calories for peas, 155 calories for baked beans, and 347 for pinto beans.
“Potatoes, like other carbs, are a great source of energy, fiber and promote satiety. They’re also very easy to make ahead and don’t require reheating,” says Dr. Thompson , who believes that in moderation, we should be open-minded about mixing our food groups: “No food is unhealthy, and no way of cooking is unhealthy. If the potatoes have added calories from frying, it may add saturated fat depending on the oil chosen. I would recommend omega 3 rich oils like olive oil. It is important to keep in mind the overall saturated fat intake, as well as the energy intake of some people.
So, carbs or no carbs?
That is the question! If you’re an athlete looking to perform at the highest level, giving up carbs can be counterproductive. “The main concern with a very low-carb diet is the potential for nutrient deficiencies, which puts you at risk for exclusion from any food group,” says Dr. Thompson. “In this specific case, there is a risk of low fiber intake because carbohydrate foods are often a key source of dietary fiber, and fiber is an essential part of a healthy diet, associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and to better metabolic and gut health.The best way to manage satiety is to mindfully enjoy a macronutrient meal that includes protein, carbohydrates, and fat.Provided there is adequate protein intake, we can supplement our calories with a mix of carbohydrates, proteins and fats according to our preferences and access. Variety of nutrients is one of the best things we can do for our health, and potatoes fit in well!”