Depending on who you ask, potatoes are either good for your diet or a weight-loss saboteur. While it's true that potatoes ride the fence when you're trying to lose weight, how you prepare it will determine whether you can effectively incorporate potato for weight loss.
While potatoes can be part of a healthy diet, how you prepare them makes a big difference in how they affect your weight loss efforts.
Read more: Why Potatoes With More Color Are Healthiest
Consider the Nutrients in Potatoes
Plain potatoes, whether white or sweet, are fat-free, rich in nutrients, and low in calories; they make a good addition to any weight-loss diet.
A 3.5 ounce baked white potato has 92 calories, 21 grams of carbs, 2 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber. It's also a good source of vitamin C, potassium, folate and vitamin B-6, meeting more than 10 percent of the daily value per serving.
However, consumption of fresh potato has continued to decline while processed forms of potato have become more popular and more readily available, according to a 2013 article published by American Society for Nutrition.
These fried versions of the potato are a more concentrated source of calories and higher in fat and may not make the healthiest choice for your weight-loss diet.
According to the USDA, a 1 ounce serving of potato chips has 149 calories, 10 grams of fat, 15 grams of carbs and 2 grams of protein. A 3 ounce serving of french fries has 150 calories, 19 grams of carbs, 2 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber. Neither the chip nor the fry are as good of a source of any vitamin or mineral as the plain potato.
A serving of one medium baked sweet potato has 103 calories, 24 grams of carbs, 2 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber. The baked sweet potato is not only a better source of fiber than the white potato, but it's also a better source of vitamins C and B6, as well as potassium.
Keep It In Balance
According to Harvard School of Public Health, whether baked or fried, potatoes cause a rapid increase in blood sugar and insulin levels, which may have a negative affect on appetite and weight.
However, if you're limiting your overall calorie intake to lose the weight, eating a potato might not hinder your progress. A 2014 study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition compared weight loss on a group of people following a reduced-calorie diet with or without potatoes and found that the potato did not cause weight gain.
Even though the plain potato makes a healthy addition to your diet, if you eat more calories than your body needs, you'll gain weight. When trying to lose weight on your reduced-calorie diet, you need to take all foods consumed into consideration when tracking your calorie intake.
Read more: Are Baked Potatoes Healthy?
Potato for Weight Loss
You can enjoy potatoes on your weight-loss diet other than just eating them plain. Saute a cubed sweet potato with onions and a touch of olive oil and serve with a poached egg at breakfast.
Top a baked white potato with steamed broccoli and a sprinkling of low-fat cheese for a filling lunch or toss quartered red potatoes in olive oil and roast in the oven for a delicious side at dinner.
You can also cut either the white or sweet potato into strips and bake them in the oven for a healthier french fry.
- Harvard School of Public Health: "The Problem with Potatoes"
- USDA FoodData Central: "White Potato Chips, Regular Cut"
- USDA FoodData Central: "French Fries"
- American Society for Nutrition: "White Potatoes, Human Health, and Dietary Guidance"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Sweet Potato, Cooked, Baked in Skin, Flesh, With Salt"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Potatoes, White, Flesh and Skin, Baked"
- Journal of the American College of Nutrition: "Potatoes, Glycemic Index, and Weight Loss in Free-Living Individuals: Practical Implications."