Are potatoes healthy?
If we go by the standard definition of what Paleo is. Theoretically we should be able to eat potatoes. We can gather them from the Earth, they are low calorie with only 150 Calories per potato, offer 3 g protein, 620 mg potassium, 4g of fiber, and are high in vitamins A, B, and C.
The problem with potatoes is what we eat with them. Most people don’t just eat potatoes, we eat potatoes with cheese, sour cream, butter, salt, bacon, grease, and/or salt. If you leave off these ingredients a potato can actually be a great weight loss food—for some.
Why for some you ask? People respond differently to carbs. Potatoes are a starchy carb that cause the body to store carbohydrates within muscle cells as glycogen. Glycogen is great if you are an endurance athlete, but storing glycogen in your muscles causes the body to store less intra-muscular triglycerides–IMT. The Paleo diet was designed to control blood sugar levels and conserves the muscle glucose levels within normal ranges. If you aren’t an endurance athlete, avoiding starchy vegetables will allow IMT stores to increase, resulting in an increased breakdown of fat for energy.
Adam wrote a great explanation of who can consume potatoes comparing Sam and Frodo from the lord of the rings in his article: Is Samiwise Gamgee right about potatoes. To sum up his opinion, Sam is an emotional eater whose body is more efficeint at storing carbs. He is an endomorph. Frodo is more likely a mesomorph. These of course are all theories as I’m not sure traditional human classifications apply to hobbits.
If you are like Frodo, here are some ways to properly eat potatoes to aid in weight loss.
- Eat all of the potato. To get the full health benefits of a potato, you need to eat the skin as well. If you are making mashed potatoes mash up the skins as well!
- Avoid unhealthy and fatty additives. Instead of adding extras like cheese, sour cream or salt add salsa, rosemary or garlic, or even avocado.
- Prepare potatoes in a healthy way. Avoid frying them, as this adds a tremendous amount of fats. Baking potatoes tends to get the most nutrients out of them, especially if you eat the skin too! You can also sauté them with a little olive oil and add some other healthy foods like lean meats, veggies, and/or eggs!
- Eat Potatoes with other vegetables. Potatoes are not the only nutrient you need. Adding in other vegetatbles such as broccoli, peas, and carrots with balance out the amino acids and vitamins you are consuming.