Sweet on sweet potatoes? We don’t blame you one bit.
But there’s a whole lot of back-and-forth online about whether sweet potatoes can be part of a healthy diet for weight loss. “They’re carbs!” “But they’re healthy carbs!” And so on. Ad nauseam.
So, let’s cut through the noise and get right to the meat (and potatoes) of the issue: Are sweet potatoes good for weight loss?
Sweet potato nutrition
Here’s a snapshot of what you’ll get from 1 medium, 150-gram sweet potato:
- Calories: 164
- Protein: 2 grams
- Fat: 6 grams
- Carbs: 25 grams
- Fiber: 4 grams
Here’s the sitch on sweet potatoes and weight loss.
They contain fiber
Sweet potatoes are rich in fiber, which might help you with weight loss in several ways.
Fiber is filling, helping you stay satisfied on fewer calories. In fact, higher fiber intake has been linked to a healthier body weight and successful weight loss maintenance in some studies.
Additionally, fiber is a prebiotic — or a food source for the healthy bacteria living in your gut. And when these bacteria are healthy, they help you manage your blood sugar better — potentially helping to prevent hanger and food cravings.
So just call it fi-brrr, cause it’s pretty cool.
Potatoes are filling
Compared to rice and pasta, an equal amount of potato (white potatoes included) may actually be more filling when consumed as part of a larger, balanced meal.
This makes sense, because sweet potatoes and white potatoes are actually lower in calories than rice and pasta — so you can eat a little bit more for the same amount of calories.
So swapping out other starchy carbs for potato or sweet potato is a super easy way to slash some calories and stay fuller while doing it.
They’re OK for some low carb diets
Sweet potatoes are also a pretty good option for people who are eating low carb (with the exception of the ultra-low carb keto diet).
As mentioned above, a medium potato only contains 25 grams of carbs — so it’s an easy addition to a lower carb diet that limits carbs to 80 to 150 grams daily, like the South Beach diet, the Zone diet, and some versions of Atkins.
And if you’re restricting your carbs even further, even having half of a sweet potato with your meal is an easy way to add some of its “filling factor.”
They don’t skyrocket your blood sugar
Because of their fiber, along with the little bit of protein and fat they provide, sweet potatoes — when boiled — don’t send your blood sugar to the moon like other starchy carbs like bread, rice, or pasta (or Game Stop stock). However, this doesn’t apply if they’re baked or roasted.
This is key, because your blood sugar is tightly controlled by a hormone called insulin. When your blood sugar spikes, this causes a spike in insulin to bring it back down (which causes your body to store all that excess sugar as body fat).
Over time, your body may start ignoring insulin — so you’ll need even more insulin to have the same blood sugar lowering effect. This is called insulin resistance, and it’s been linked not only to weight gain, but also to type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Keeping your blood sugar a smooth, even line helps make sure that your levels of insulin and other hormones are where they need to be to keep you from gaining excess weight.
Boil ’em, mash ’em, stick ’em in a stew.
LotR jokes aside, here are some delectable ways to enjoy sweet potatoes that won’t add tons of extra calories:
- baked (with a little bit of butter)
- mashed (also with a little bit of butter)
- cubed and roasted in olive oil
- air-fried as sweet potato french fries
On the other hand, if weight loss is your goal, you’re gonna want to avoid things like deep-fried sweet potato french fries, sweet tater casserole, and sweet potato pie.
If you’re on a stricter low carb diet, like keto, sweet potatoes probably won’t work for you either.
Just remember, sweet potatoes don’t have a secret weight loss ingredient. Your overall calorie intake is really what matters when it comes to weight loss, and reasonable portions of sweet potatoes might make sticking to a cal deficit a little easier because they’re tasty and filling.
Sweet potatoes are a perf addition to any healthy weight loss diet (except keto) because they contain fiber, they’re filling, and they’re lower in calories and carbs than other starches like rice or pasta.
Roast them in olive oil, mash them with some butter, or have a baked or boiled sweet potato with your meal so you can relish the root while losing weight.
BUT, it’s important to remember that adding sweet potatoes to your diet isn’t a quick weight loss fix. Successful weight loss takes a consistent, sustainable calorie deficit — which sweet potatoes just might help you achieve.