When it comes to weight loss and nutrition, few foods are as versatile, delicious, and nourishing as sweet potatoes. Baked, mashed, or chopped up into a healthier version of French fries, this vegetable packs a nutritional punch, containing essential vitamins and minerals like vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, and magnesium. But can eating sweet potatoes help you lose weight? That’s the question we’re here to answer.
We chatted with Destini Moody, RDN, CSSD, LD, a registered dietitian and sports dietitian with Garage Gym Reviews, who shares her nutritional wisdom to help us determine whether or not sweet potatoes can help you lose weight. Regardless of how you prefer to enjoy sweet potatoes, adding more of them to your may be the solution to your weight loss woes. Read on, and for more, find out Why You’re Not Losing Weight Doing Cardio.
Can eating sweet potatoes help you lose weight?
It’s no secret that weight loss is often associated with deprivation, bland diets, and rigid meal plans. Fortunately, sweet potatoes challenge this misconception. Their natural sweetness, combined with essential nutrients like fiber, can make your journey to a healthier weight more enjoyable and satisfying. And if you didn’t already know, fiber is rocket fuel for weight loss.
Fiber promotes weight loss by increasing fullness, reducing calorie intake, regulating appetite hormones, and slowing digestion. It helps you maintain a balanced weight as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle. And with 4 grams of fiber per cup, sweet potatoes are predisposed to support your weight loss goals.
“Sweet potatoes contain both soluble and insoluble fiber, which both help to slow digestion,” Moody explains. “Sweet potatoes are also a low glycemic index food, which means they don’t cause blood sugar spikes and crashes that can make you feel low-energy or prematurely hungry.”
Here are five ways sweet potatoes can help you lose weight.
Now that we’ve established sweet potatoes can help you shed those extra pounds, here are five ways sweet potatoes can help you lose weight, according to Moody.
1. They can help you feel full for longer.
Sweet potatoes are a great source of dietary fiber, which research shows can promote feelings of fullness and reduce calorie intake. Combining fiber and complex carbs in sweet potatoes can enhance satiety and satisfaction after a meal.
“Though they lack any significant amount of protein, sweet potatoes can help you manage your hunger while dieting for weight loss, especially when compared with other carbohydrate sources like refined grains and added sugars,” says Moody. “This is especially true if you eat sweet potatoes with the skin on, which adds some extra insoluble fiber. Since fiber cannot be broken down during digestion and contains no calories, it can passively reduce your food intake.”
2. They’re nutrient-dense.
Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants while being low in calories compared to other starchy foods. Additionally, sweet potatoes can help reduce calorie intake when used as a substitute for higher-calorie sides like regular potatoes or white rice.
“One five-inch sweet potato contains only 112 calories. For perspective, just one snack-sized bag of potato chips contains 152 calories and doesn’t make you feel nearly as full. Thus, sweet potatoes can be a practical, low-calorie substitute for their processed counterparts and fit neatly into a calorie-restricted diet needed for weight loss,” Moody explains.
3. They’re a good source of prebiotics.
In addition to their high fiber content, sweet potatoes contain prebiotics, compounds that fuel the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. Prebiotics help create an environment where these friendly microorganisms can thrive, aiding in digestion and promoting a healthy gut microbiome.
“Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of carbohydrates called oligosaccharides, which are considered a prebiotic,” explains Moody. “Prebiotics help with the growth of the good bacteria in our digestive system for a healthier microbiome, and a healthier gut microbiome can lead to better weight management.”
4. They’re packed with complex carbs.
With their complex carbohydrate content, sweet potatoes deliver a steady stream of energy, preventing energy crashes that can lead to sugary snack cravings. These slow-digesting carbs keep you energized and focused on your fitness goals.
“Potatoes have a high satiety score compared to other carbohydrate sources like rice and pasta,” states Moody. “The high water content and complex starch contained in sweet potatoes compared to other carbohydrates with the same number of calories, was found to make subjects feel fuller and more satisfied for longer. This can help control calorie intake over time and promote more efficient weight loss.”
5. They won’t spike your blood sugar.
Sweet potatoes have a relatively low glycemic index (GI), meaning they have a slower impact on blood sugar levels. This can help prevent energy crashes and sugar cravings, making it easier to stick to a balanced eating plan that supports healthy weight loss.
Moody tells us, “Sweet potatoes are a low glycemic index food, which means that it doesn’t cause the blood sugar spikes and crashes that can make us feel low-energy or prematurely hungry caused by refined grains or processed grains with added sugars.”