– September 04 - 2017
I remember as a kid we played hot potato. Do you remember that game? It involved players gathering in a circle while they tossed any object they could find (not necessarily a hot potato) while music played in the background. The player left holding the object when the music stopped was eliminated from the game. Nobody wanted to be caught with the hot potato. And it seems that the trend has continued…
According to a 2016 study by Akilen et al.1, potato consumption has decreased by 41% in the past 40 years. These researchers surmise that the drop in consumption may be related to certain studies that have linked eating potatoes to an increased risk of obesity… maybe that and Facebook.
Akilen explains that the studies link the weight gain to the high glycemic index (GI) of potatoes. However, he also explains that potatoes are typically eaten as part of a meal that includes protein and other foods. The combination of foods significantly reduces the glycemic index of the potato when compared to eating potato alone. (Note: The glycemic index is a system that ranks foods on a scale from 1 to 100 based on their effect on blood sugar levels. Foods with higher GI values break down more quickly during digestion and raise blood sugar levels faster than foods with lower GI values.)
So do potatoes cause weight gain? Does the glycemic index matter? Akilen and colleagues asked the same questions, and here is a part of their conclusion!
They found that eating potatoes as part of a meal that included meat resulted in a 40% lower energy intake (kcal). So it seems that the actual glycemic index of potatoes doesn’t really matter, given the way we normally eat potatoes. Maybe the study results would have been different if we typically ate potatoes without meat, but I’m not sure how many people actually do that, except in the form of fries. So maybe that’s the advice: Be sure to eat your potato accompanied by a food that will help to lower its GI.
I always say that I can find research to support any of my multitude of beliefs. I can find research that states you shouldn’t be caught with a hot potato, and other research that says when the music ends don’t worry about being caught red handed.
But when the music stops, what do YOU believe? Do you believe that potatoes cause weight gain? Do you believe they can help reduce your overall calorie intake? Or do you believe it’s okay for potatoes to be part of your diet as long as your caloric intake is not higher than your physiological needs (from a weight-loss perspective)?
For now, I will continue to do what I do. When my wife makes potatoes, I eat potatoes. Not only are potatoes rich in vitamins, they are rich in “appreciate what your wife made you” vitamins. For that reason, I’m also healthier. I also take the stance that eliminating specific foods or food groups is not the best solution from a weight-management perspective.
So FM’ers, haters are going to hate and taters are going to tate. As for me, I find potatoes extremely appealing. (What would a blog be without potato puns?!?)