Friday, September 14, 2007

Quit Acting Like A Sack Of Potatoes And Start Eating Them

I was asked the other day (as well as the last 1479 days) if potatoes were allowed to be eaten. Of course the sarcastic answer was the last time I checked it wasn?t against the law so yes, I?m quite certain your allowed to eat them. Only rule of thumb is be sure they?re not in the twice baked form if you goal is to be fit and lean.

Unfortunately potatoes have earned a bad rap ever since the Atkins and low carb craze became mainstream. This is for no other reason than the white potatoes ranking on the glycemic index. The glycemic index is a ranking system for carbohydrates based on their effect on blood glucose levels in the first two hours. It compares carbohydrates gram for gram in individual food, providing a numerical, evidence-based index of post-meal blood glucose levels.

Carbohydrates that break down rapidly during digestion have the highest glycemic indices. Carbohydrates that break down slowly, releasing glucose gradually into the blood stream, have a low glycemic index. A lower glycemic index suggests slower rates of digestion and absorption of the sugars and starches in the foods and may also indicate greater extraction from the liver and periphery of the products of carbohydrate digestion. A lower glycemic response is often thought to equate to a lower insulin demand, better long-term blood glucose control and a reduction in blood lipids. But in fact, some foods having a low glycemic index or having very little carbohydrate cause a high insulin response, or raise blood lipids. That last sentence is where this whole GI thing gets a little confusing so I will save that discussion for another time so lets get back to our potato.

The truth about potatoes is that they will make an excellent addition to any nutritional plan aimed at building muscle and burning fat. Examine the nutritional value of a potato and you will find it meets every criteria of a perfect carbohydrate. They?re an all natural complex carb low in calories but very filling and also contain fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

In order to burn calories at our bodies optimum level we should try and consume carbohydrates proteins and fats from whole food sources with each meal over our entire day. We all know from the low carb lifers that there are good and bad carbs (glycemic index). A baked potato by itself with little to no toppings is a phenomenal carb source. Now take that same simple potato and smother it with margarine, sour cream and bacon bits and you?ve got yourself an 800 calorie giant, with as much fat as a Big Mac. Compare that to a baked potato with just a touch of real butter, or your favorite low calorie topping and you?ll find a big difference.

The next time you walk into the grocery store head for the fresh produce section and load up on sweet potatoes, red potatoes, white potatoes and yams. These should be staples in your nutritional plan along with a variety of other whole foods. Try to eliminate processed foods as much as possible and get the majority of your calories from whole foods like the good ole potato. Remember to keep your portions in control and don?t get carried away with high calorie high fat toppings and you will be well on your way to mastering your metabolism and building long lasting fat burning muscle.

Geoff Kalmbach is a Fitness Expert, columnist, speaker, and Certified Fitness Professional. Geoff has incorporated health and fitness into thousands of lives all over the world. Sign up for his FREE monthly newsletter at

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