Potatoes - Friend or Foe for a Lean-Body?
by Mike Geary
I'd like to start a little discussion
today about carbohydrates... and in particular, potatoes. One
reason I wanted to mention 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
even say such ridiculous things as "avoid any and all white
||Ok, now while I
certainly agree that white bread and refined white sugar
are two of the worst things we can be feeding our bodies,
I definately don't agree with avoiding any and all "white
Now I know all of the buzz lately has been about colorful
foods and the protective antioxidants that they contain.
They tell you to focus on colors and stay away from white.
It's true that colorful
foods are great, but it is 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 look
at a few examples...
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 eslewhere in a normal
diet... such nutrients as allicin, quercetin (an important
flavonoid), chromium, and other unique anti-inflammatory
Another example of something white that is great for you is
cauliflower. Cauliflower is loaded with vitamin C, fiber,
minerals, and special compounds such as glucosinolates and
thiocyanates, which are specifically abundant in cruciferous
vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage.
Not many people realize this, but surprisingly, even white
mushrooms have high levels of unique nutrients and
antioxidants. White mushrooms are high in a couple types of
antioxidants called polyphenols and ergothioneine.
Now that also leads us to another example - white potatoes
(which by the way, can also be found in red, yellow, purple
varieties, etc). Many health professionals claim that potatoes
are a bad carbohydrate because they are thought to have a high
glycemic index. First of all, if you've read my Truth about
Six Pack Abs book, then you understand that glycemic index is
not necessarily the most important factor in choosing your
While a generalization can be made 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 up 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 watermelon has a high glycemic index. However, the
glycemic load 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 it is just non-sensical.
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. My point is... candy
bars, cupcakes, and donuts make you fat... NOT watermelons,
carrots, or potatoes.
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. For example, if you
mix a high glycemic index carbohydrate with an extra source of
fiber, healthy fats, or even certain proteins, many times the
blood sugar and glycemic response will be slowed down
considerably by the way you combined the food. Again, I talk
in detail about this entire topic in my Truth about Six Pack
Alright, so 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 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.
Keep in mind that potatoes contain so many vitamins and
minerals that the list is way too long to even try. Also, as
long as you eat the skins, you get a decent shot of fiber too.
On the topic of potatoes not being so bad after all, I don't
remember where I saw this referenced, but I recently saw a
particular study that had participants eat something like 7-9
whole potatoes per day for several weeks. At the conclusion of
the study, the potato eaters had actually consistently lost
wei.ght! I'd venture a guess that the reason the people lost
we.ight is that they were probably so full from eating all of
those damn potatoes, that they actually consumed less calories
than normal! An average sized potato only has about 100-120
calories, and I can surely imagine you'd be full constantly
from eating 7-9 potatoes each day.
Now I would never recommend going to those extremes, but my
point is that an occasional potato is not going to hurt your
efforts to get lean, especially if you combine it with some
other fibrous vegetables and maybe a healthy fat and some
protein. On that note, I have one of my favorite recipes for
you, using potatoes.
Geary'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
* a little salt and pepper to taste (I like using a sea salt
instead of normal commercial salt)
Cut the baby potatoes into slightly 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. Cook the peppers, onions, and
garlic until tender, and then add the steamed baby potatoes.
Stir it all together and serve. This 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 killer potato
recipe idea! That's about all for today.
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Mike Geary is a fitness coach, nationally certified
personal trainer (CPT), the author of the
internationally popular book -
Truth about Six Pack Abs, and a contributing writer
for Weider Publications, which publishes Men's Fitness,
Muscle & Fitness Magazine, and others.
here to read more on
The Truth about Six Pack Abs