Over the past few years, media has been busy highlighting that consuming carbohydrates is the most obvious way to become obese. This is why several high carb foods such as bread, pasta, rice, and potatoes have got a bad reputation as monster foods. It is not uncommon for even some fitness experts to advise people to completely cut such carbohydrate-rich foods out of their diet.
This is not justified. People do need to switch to good carbs to lose weight but they do not need to throw the poor potato or other foods out of their diet. Nearly all delicious foods require this staple vegetable for preparation and its goodness is not something that people should stay away from.
Carbohydrates are high-energy biomolecules that power our body to carry out daily functions. If we don’t have enough carbohydrates to meet our energy needs, then our body’s metabolism would slow down. It would switch to starvation mode to preserve energy reserves and that can lead to weight gain or dizziness and lower BP levels. It may even lead to a collapse!
Tip: All sugars, starches, and fibers in fruits, grains, vegetables, and milk products come in the form of carbs.
So it is not the intake of carbohydrate itself that will make you fat- it’s rather the quantity, type, and amount of activity a person does that might. Eating potatoes in their simple form will not cause weight gain in most cases. However, it’s what potatoes are eaten with, and how they are prepared that makes them fattening foods.
For example, eating French fries and deep-fried potato chips could be fattening. Having it with other high-calorie foods, especially junk and cola drinks or alcoholic beverages, can also lead to obesity and belly fat. Such “heavy” food would also cause your digestive system to be bogged down with more resistance than it can handle. The situation may be worse with emotional eaters and those stressed.
Often potatoes are fried in oil, or served with butter or sour cream or high-calorie sauces. Eating large quantities of this starchy vegetable in this way could cause weight gain and gradual buildup of fat, especially accompanied by inactivity.
Suggested article: Here are two delicious recipes that are made of potatoes and are carb-rich but can help you shed some weight.
Nutrient content of 10 major staple foods per 100 g in order of rank
Nutrient -- Potatoes -- Sweet potatoes
Water (g) -- 79 -- 77
Energy (kJ) -- 322 -- 360
Protein (g) -- 2 -- 1.6
Fat (g) -- 0.09 -- 0.05
Carbohydrates (g) -- 17 -- 20
Fiber (g) -- 2.2 -- 3
Sugar (g) -- 0.78 -- 4.18
Calcium (mg) -- 12 -- 30
Iron (mg) -- 0.78 -- 0.61
Magnesium (mg) -- 23 -- 25
Phosphorus (mg) -- 57 -- 47
Potassium (mg) -- 421 -- 337
Sodium (mg) -- 6 -- 55
Zinc (mg) -- 0.29 -- 0.3
Copper (mg) -- 0.11 -- 0.15
Manganese (mg) -- 0.15 -- 0.26
Selenium (μg) -- 0.3 -- 0.6
Vitamin C (mg) -- 19.7 -- 2.4
Thiamin (B1) (mg) -- 0.08 -- 0.08
Riboflavin (B2) (mg) -- 0.03 -- 0.06
Niacin (B3) (mg) -- 1.05 -- 0.56
Pantothenic acid (B5) (mg) -- 0.3 -- 0.8
Vitamin B6 (mg) -- 0.3 -- 0.21
Folate Total (B9) (μg) -- 16 -- 11
Vitamin A (IU) -- 2 -- 961
Vitamin E, alpha-tocopherol (mg) -- 0.01 -- 0.26
Vitamin K1 (μg) -- 1.9 -- 1.8
Beta-carotene (μg) -- 1 -- 8509
Lutein+zeaxanthin (μg) -- 8 -- 0
Saturated fatty acids (g) -- 0.03 -- 0.02
Monounsaturated fatty acids (g) -- 0 -- 0
Polyunsaturated fatty acids (g) -- 0.04 -- 0.01
The above values are taken from Wikipedia.
When you are not burning the energy from carbohydrates by doing regular exercises or some other form of movement, your body will store the excess energy as fat. This is the case with any food that rich in carbohydrates because it requires the burning of excess energy. If you eat more such calories, be it in the form of carbs or other foods, then you might become obese and your belly fat would show it.
The energy gained from eating high-carbohydrate food such as potatoes and sweet potatoes is less likely to lead to weight gain than eating high-fat food. It is so because carbs contain about half the amount of energy compared to fat and if they are not burnt by fitness activity, they can quickly result in flab.
Other factors to consider are the Glycemic Index (GI) (a measure of how quickly a food converts to glucose) and the glycemic load (GL) (how much a food converts to glucose). If gaining fat is a concern, it is best to avoid foods with high GI and/or GL.
Despite people fearing potatoes as a high GI/GL food, in reality, they are on-par with other high carb foods such as bananas and lentils. The crucial factor to note while consuming carbohydrates is that they should be followed with physical exercise too, or else they may lead you to obesity and pot belly.
Note: There is a lot that we all can learn from the way French citizens go about their food habits. They eat calorie-rich meals and back it up with red wine, but they remain just as healthy as ever. Here’s an article explaining how they do it.
When potatoes are eaten along with lean protein, healthy fats, and other high fiber fruits and vegetables, they are less likely to cause you to gain fat. This is why most healthy and active people can eat potatoes and sweet potatoes without worrying about their weight.
It is better to choose better forms of energy like brown grains and whole-grain cereals. Sweet potatoes are also an alternative to regular white potatoes for their slightly better GI and GL values. You can get better health results by going with such nutritious food options.
Like all vegetables, they are healthy, delicious foods when eaten in their most natural form and they can also be very satisfying. Eaten in moderation and a part of a fitness-centric lifestyle, potatoes could be your best friends ever too!
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