Should you pass the potatoes please?

Is your metabolism fast or slow? Is there actually any truth to this idea and what factors influence your metabolism’s speed?

Have you been wondering if certain foods like potatoes are good for you? Seems like I hear they are fattening and weigh you down – pun intended. With so many varieties of potatoes available I also have wondered if choosing sweet potatoes or yams over white potatoes is really beneficial?

From thinking of them as superfoods to having a phobia about eating them at all here are some facts I uncovered to help get your potatoes in!


Metabolism: The body’s need for energy. The total amount of energy required for every physiological action.


Your metabolic rate is influenced by many factors including by your size, (therefore the energy needed to maintain vital functions), the thermic energy of feeding, exercise activity, and non-exercise activity thermogenesis.

Our modern lifestyle does not sustain a high metabolic demand. Look at the factors below that influence it by answering these questions.

Do you:

  • have a physically demanding job?
  • live in a climate controlled environment all day?
  • consume a fair amount of foods that don’t require much digestive effort? (processed)
  • eat only when hungry?
  • stop eating when satisfied?
  • have disrupted sleep cycles due to stress, noise, and and exposure to artificial light?
  • live indoors rather than outdoors?
  • use escalators and elevators instead of taking the stairs?

So now you can honestly examine some truths to your metabolic rate with your answers. Your metabolic rate will increase after adjusting these factors on a daily basis. So I ask,  “What can you change?” to speed it up.


Body Composition: The relative relationship between lean body mass (bone, muscle, water) and fat


Your body composition is also influenced by many factors including energy balance, macronutrient intake (especially protein), age and sex hormone levels, exercise style/frequency/intensity/duration (e.g. resistance training vs marathon training vs walking), medication use, genetic predisposition, sleep quality and quantity, and stress. (-3) I hope you can start to appreciate that how you look and feel is more than just a calorie in and out!


So are potatoes good or bad for your body’s metabolism and composition? Which are really healthier?


The answer I hope you were looking for is yes but of course it depends! One of Precision Nutrition’s most popular infographics to date has been this one on potatoes which I have taken the info below from. How you prepare those spuds and of course you portion size are important but clearly potatoes can and should be part of your nutrition if you enjoy them.



Still thinking that the carbohydrates in potatoes will cause weight gain and slow you down?


The carbs in potatoes and sweet potatoes are mostly starch and fiber which help you stay lean and healthy. Potatoes contain beneficial resistant starch which like fiber, doesn’t digest at all. (-1) Resistant starch and fiber get fermented in your gut producing short-chain fatty acids. Short chain fatty acids can keep you feeling full for longer, decrease inflammation, increase mineral and nutrient absorption, and decrease the risk of colon cancer.

So say “Yes!” to potatoes, even white ones. Look at the chart below and please limit the fried and loaded varieties and eat the roasted, baked, and steamed varieties more often. Remember portion size and enjoy them in a balanced nutrition plan. They are a non-processed carb that will help you feel physically and psychologically satisfied.


Certified Sports Nutritionist Brian St. Pierre states, “It’s the context of someone’s entire intake that determines their body weight and body composition, not any one food. (-2)

Your long-term health, body composition, performance goals, and quality of life are all influenced by your nutrition. Of course you need nutrients and fiber, and protein, etc… but you also need satisfaction and satiety. Most people are not going to count their macros and calories long term so the focus and time needs to shift to educating ourselves on how minimally processed foods look, cook, and satisfy our needs.

Get your spuds in especially on more active training days for energy balance and enjoy the many benefits they hold for you!

Written by: Sheila Hamilton Copyright June 2017

Click here to listen to Sheila discuss this topic on the Jon McComb show.  The Fitness Segment airs live every Thursday at 9:05 on CKNW 980 am.


Certification Manual Precision Nutrition: The Essentials of Sport and Exercise Nutrition. Page 104  Obesity System Map

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