Potatoes are one of the more calorie-rich vegetables, but they still have the same nutritional benefits that "lighter" veggies do. Notably, they're fat- and cholesterol-free, which makes them ideal foods to include in your diet if you're trying to slim down. To get the best results, track your total daily calories and include regular exercise in your weight loss plan.
Pros and Cons
Red potatoes are rich in dietary fiber as well as essential vitamins and minerals. According to ChooseMyPlate.gov, fiber-rich vegetables like red potatoes reduce your risk of obesity and overweight and cut risks of heart attack, kidney stones, stroke, diabetes, bone loss and cancer. However, it's important not to rely on potatoes at the expense of other healthy vegetables. In fact, if your goal is to eat more fresh produce, the Harvard School of Public Health suggests choosing veggies with more nutrients and complex carbohydrates over potatoes whenever possible.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, one medium red potato of about 175 g has 155 calories, 4 g protein, 0.25 g fat, 34 g carbohydrates, 3 g dietary fiber and 2.5 g natural sugar. Those values are for a baked potato with both flesh and skin, so keep in mind that you'll be getting less fiber if you don't eat the skin. Any accompaniments or garnishes you add to your potato will also change the nutrition facts. For example, 2 tbsp. of sour cream adds 45 calories, 0.5 g protein and nearly 5 g fat, and 1/4 cup of shredded cheddar cheese adds 115 calories, 7 g protein and 9.5 g fat.
A number of factors besides what you eat influence whether you're able to successfully lose weight. Chief among them are your body size, physical activity level and metabolic rate. In short, you must burn more calories than you eat on a consistent basis to lose weight and keep it off. Eating red potatoes regularly won't help unless you are able to reduce your daily calorie total. It can be useful to have a potato instead of a high-fat, high-calorie steak, for example, since you'll be making a healthier choice and working toward cutting your calorie intake.
Talk with your doctor or a registered dietitian for personalized health advice before you make any significant changes to your diet or begin eating red potatoes as a weight loss aid. If you neglect other nutritious foods in your diet plan, you do run the risk of developing nutrient deficiencies or other health problems in the long term. Thus, the National Institutes of Health recommends following a weight loss diet that includes regular amounts of whole grains, fruits, lean proteins and low-fat dairy in addition to a variety of vegetables.