I think it about time we started a little discussion about carbohydrates… and in particular, “white foods” including potatoes. One reason I wanted to talk about this is because so many health and fitness professionals trash talk potatoes about being a bad carbohydrate choice because of the high glycemic index. Some people are saying such ridiculous things as “avoid any and all white carbohydrates”.
Now while I agree that white bread and refined white sugar are two of the worst things we can be feeding our bodies. I don’t believe in avoiding any and all “white carbohydrates”.
Believe it or not “White Foods” aren’t always the enemy.
It’s true that colourful foods are great, but it is also a big mistake to specifically avoid white foods! There are plenty of white foods that have specific nutrients that are hard to find elsewhere. Let’s take a look at a few examples…
Onions and Garlic
What about onions and garlic? They are both white and they are chock full of protective phytonutrients, vitamins, and trace minerals that aren’t easy to find elsewhere in a normal diet… such nutrients as allicin, quercetin (an important flavonoid), chromium, and other unique anti-inflammatory nutrients.
Here is another example of something white, that is great for you is cauliflower. Cauliflower is full of vitamin C, trace elements, fiber, and special compounds such as glucosinolates and thiocyanates, which are abundant in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale and cabbage. One little-known fact is that some of the compounds in cruciferous vegetables help to counteract other estrogenic compounds in our food supply and environment and can help prevent excess belly fat. So eat up that cauliflower!
Not many people realize this, but even white mushrooms have high levels of unique nutrients and antioxidants. Ordinary white mushrooms are high in antioxidants called polyphenols and ergothioneine.
Now that also leads us to another example – white potatoes. Many health professionals claim that potatoes are a bad carbohydrate because they are thought to have a high glycemic index. If you’ve read my Truth about Six Pack Abs book, you will understand that glycemic index is not necessarily the most important factor in choosing your carbohydrates.
While making the assumption that most low glycemic index carbohydrate choices will help you lose body fat easier than high glycemic index choices, it is not all that it’s cracked out to be. There are many other factors that determine how your body will react-to and process the carbohydrates you ingest, such as glycemic load and also how you combine the high GI food with other foods.
For example, using glycemic load as an example… it is known that watermelons have quite a high glycemic index. However, the glycemic level of a normal serving of watermelon is just way too low for your body to start packing on body fat just because you ate a high glycemic index fruit. You would have to eat such an enormous quantity of watermelon just to get enough grams of carbohydrates to have any negative glycemic effect, that’s just not logical.
Not to mention that watermelon is also a great source of vitamins, minerals, and lycopene. There’s just no reason to avoid it simply because it has a high GI. The point that I am trying to get across is… candy bars, cupcakes, and donuts etc make you fat. Not because they contain fat but because of all the added sugar… NOT watermelons, carrots or potatoes… French fries excluded of course.
Also, as i mentioned, food combinations are important in how your body processes the carbohydrates and the associated blood sugar and insulin response you receive. e.g if you mix a high glycemic index carbohydrate with an extra source of fiber, and healthy fats, or even certain proteins, effect of the increased blood sugar and glycemic response will be slowed down considerably by the way you combined the food. I talk in great detail about this topic in my book.
Back to my point that white potatoes are actually a healthy carbohydrate as long as you eat them in the right form… with the entire skin, and please don’t ruin them by deep frying them into french fries either! French fries or Chips whatever you want to call them, are one of the most evil things ever invented for your health, but only because we ruin them by soaking them in a scorching bath of trans fats in the deep fryer from the hydrogenated oils that are typically used.
Will eating 8 potatoes per day make you fatter? of course not.
On the subject of potatoes not being bad after all, I don’t remember where I read this, but I saw a study that had participants eat at least 7-9 whole potatoes per day for several weeks.
At the end of the study, the potato eaters had consistently lost weight! I’d venture a guess that the reason the people lost weight is that they were probably so full from eating all of those potatoes. They consumed less calories than normal! An average sized potato has about 100-120 calories, and I can imagine you’d be constantly full from eating 7-9 potatoes each day.
I would never recommend going to those extremes, but my point is that an occasional potato is not going to affect your efforts to get leaner, especially if you combine it with some other fibrous vegetables, and maybe a healthy fat, and some protein. Let me share with you one of my favorite recipes for you to try, using potatoes.
Mikes’s Lean-Body Potato Side Dish
* Desired quantity of baby potatoes (I like to use this mixture I found recently at a health food store… it is a mixture of white, red, yellow, and purple baby potatoes)
* 1 red pepper
* 1 green pepper
* 1 yellow pepper
* 1 or 2 onions
* a couple cloves of garlic, finely chopped
* 1 or 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil and / or coconut oil
* a little salt and pepper to taste (I like using a sea salt instead of normal commercial salt)
Cut the baby potatoes into smaller pieces and place in a steamer until soft all the way through. Slice up the peppers and onions into strips and add with the chopped garlic into a pan with the olive oil. Slowly fry the peppers, onions, and garlic until tender, and then add the steamed baby potatoes. Mix together and serve. Its is a delicious and healthy side dish that goes great with chicken or red meat.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this little topic today about potatoes, healthy carbohydrates, glycemic index, and my healthy potato recipe idea!
Certified Personal Trainer
Certified Nutrition Specialist