When it comes to weight loss, many people are very fearful of carbs and avoid things like bread, rice, pasta, and potatoes. They assume that these foods are automictically fattening, and even a small serving will lead to weight gain.
In actual fact, there is no such thing as a fattening food, and you can lose weight even if you eat pizza, candy, and cookies. It all comes down to the amount of food you eat and how many calories you consume.
To lose weight, the most important thing is to burn more calories than you eat. It’s only when you go overdrawn at the calorie bank that your body is forced to burn fat for fuel. This is called a calorie deficit.
The bottom line is that you CAN lose weight eating all sorts of foods, and that includes potatoes.
So, are sweet potatoes good for weight loss? Yes indeed!
But, because they are pretty high in calories, you’ll need to control the amount you eat to ensure that you create the negative energy balance necessary for fat burning.
What are Sweet Potatoes?
Sweet potatoes are so-called because they taste sweeter than most varieties of white potato.
They’re a tuberous root vegetable and are very similar to yams.
Sweet potatoes originated in Central and South America but are now grown all around the world and are a very popular vegetable.
A lot of people prefer their taste to that of regular potatoes.
Sweet potatoes have a low glycemic index but are high in carbs, which means they’re not ketogenic diet-friendly.
That said, eaten in moderation, there is no reason not to include sweet potatoes as part of a calorie-controlled diet.
Sweet potatoes can be cooked and prepared in several different ways, including roasted, mashed, or made into wedges.
It’s often thought that sweet potatoes are lower in calories than regular potatoes, but that’s not the case. By weight, both white and sweet potatoes have roughly the same number of calories – about 90 per 100 grams.
While sweet potatoes have about the same number of calories as regular potatoes, the sweet version is arguably healthier because they contain more beneficial nutrients.
200 grams (seven ounces) of sweet potato provides the following:
- Calories: 180
- Carbs: 41.4 grams
- Protein: 4 grams
- Fat: 0.3 grams
- Fiber: 6.6 grams
In addition, sweet potatoes contain an abundance of these vitamins and minerals:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin B6
- Pantothenic acid
Sweet potatoes are also very high in antioxidants, which offer protection from free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that cause a host of unwanted health issues, including aging, wrinkles, and macular degeneration. They are also linked to cancer.
Sweet Potatoes and Weight Loss
Sweet potatoes can help you lose weight when eaten as part of a calorie-controlled diet. They’re filling and tasty, so eating them won’t make you feel like you are being deprived of your favorite foods.
However, like regular potatoes, pasta, bread, and rice, sweet potatoes are relatively high in carbs and calories, especially compared greens like broccoli, spinach, and cabbage.
Where you can eat a lot of broccoli without having to worry about weight gain, eating too much sweet potato could tip you over the edge and into a calorie surplus. Eat too much of ANY food, and you could gain weight.
Also, it’s important to think about what you eat with sweet potatoes. For example, slathering them in butter or cheese will invariably add to their caloric content.
If you want to include sweet potatoes in your weight loss diet, take care to avoid eating too much, and don’t inadvertently increase your calorie intake by adding additional ingredients.
Additional Benefits of Eating Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are very nutritious, and as such, they provide several valuable benefits:
Better digestive and gut health – the fiber in sweet potatoes is indigestible, but it’s very good for your digestive health.
Eating fiber adds bulk to your stools, making them easier to pass.
This reduces the strain on your digestive system and may help prevent constipation, diverticular disease, and colon cancer.
Eating sweet potatoes may also be good for the bacteria in your gut. These good bacteria play a crucial role in immunity, digestion, and even fat burning.
Healthier gut bacteria may also lower your risk of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and leaky gut syndrome.
Lowered cancer risk – sweet potatoes are packed with cancer-fighting antioxidants. Studies suggest that the antioxidants in sweet potatoes could reduce your risk of bladder, colon, stomach, and breast cancers. These benefits are, in part, linked to the orange color of sweet potatoes.
Healthier vision – like carrots, sweet potatoes are high in beta carotene, which is a precursor of vitamin A and a powerful antioxidant.
An adequate intake of beta carotene is linked to better eyesight. Eating sweet potatoes could help prevent a condition affecting the light receptors of the eye, which could lead to xerophthalmia, which is a type of night blindness.
Improved brain function – the antioxidants in sweet potatoes may provide protection from Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, dementia, and age-related cognitive decline.
Improved immunity – sweet potatoes are very high in vitamin A, which plays a crucial role in healthy immunity. Immunity is your body’s ability to fight off illnesses and diseases. Vitamin A plays an important role in the health of your mucous and cell membranes.
Other than their high calorie/carb content, sweet potatoes are generally safe and healthy to eat.
That said, because they’re high in potassium, people taking beta-blockers should speak to their doctor before eating a lot of sweet potatoes, as a high intake of potassium combined with beta-blocker use could cause kidney problems.
Also, because sweet potatoes are very popular, they’re often grown using herbicides and pesticides, which can be toxic in large amounts. Avoid contamination by seeking out organically grown sweet potatoes.
Contrary to popular opinion, sweet potatoes aren’t automatically better for weight loss than regular potatoes. They contain roughly the same number of calories, so swapping from regular potato fries to sweet potato fries won’t lead to increased fat burning.
However, sweet potatoes are a little more nutritious than regular potatoes and are exceptionally high in antioxidants and vitamin A, so they’re definitely worth adding to your diet.
However, like white potatoes, pasta, rice, and bread, sweet potatoes are quite high in calories and carbs. This means a small serving could be enough to put you out of your calorie deficit and lead to weight gain.
This issue will be worse if you serve your sweet potatoes with lots of butter, sour cream, or cheese. But, eaten in plain and in moderation, sweet potatoes could help you lose weight. After all, they’re very filling.
Eat too much of any food, and you could gain weight, and that includes all vegetables. Sweet potatoes are no better and no worse for weight loss than regular potatoes, but they’re potentially healthier simply because they’re more nutritious.