Friday, July 30, 2010

The Notorious BWP (Baked White Potato)

The white potato has a poor dietary reputation. This is probably due to the fact that “white foods” are widely considered “bad” for you. As a “carbophobic” society, it makes sense that we would fear ALL starchy white carbohydrates. When I speak to many people who are struggling to lose weight, they say, “I eat extremely clean. I eat nothing made with white flour, and no white rice, pasta, or potatoes.” But the problem with carbohydrates in general (as stated in numerous articles on this blog, but must be emphatically repeated), is that we have a huge tendency to over consume them. Some white starchy carbohydrates like pasta are just too easy to over consume, and are relatively high in calories compared to the portion size. The baked potato however, is full of nutrients (has almost double the potassium of a banana, and can make you feel very satiated [so you wont overeat]), and thus, I put it in a separate category than other white starchy carbohydrates.

Top 2 Reasons to include baked white potatoes into your diet:

1. Caloric Economy.
Caloric economy is getting the most nutrients for investing in a certain amount of calories. One cup of a baked white potato has on average 120 calories, or a medium baked white potato has on average 150 calories. With that 120 to 150 calories, you get 3 grams of dietary fiber, 500 mg of potassium, a high level of vitamin B6 (~20% of the daily value), along with lower amounts of other B vitamins (thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, which are involved mainly in providing your body with energy), and a small amount of magnesium (involved in energy metabolism, maintaining normal blood pressure, and keeping bones strong). Potatoes also contain a small amount of manganese; a mineral involved in energy metabolism, antioxidant function, and wound healing. Potatoes are also filled with phytochemicals, which are plant compounds that have anti-cancer properties and help keep cells healthy (by preventing cell damage). According to the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, recent research suggests that the amount of phytochemicals in certain potatoes, are comparable to those in broccoli, spinach, and brussel sprouts. In addition, potatoes contain an extremely rare phytochemical called kukoamine, which may help lower blood pressure. More research is needed to further explore this compound and its potential health benefits.

2. Fullness Effect. How many potatoes would you eat in a row? Be honest. It is probably “one and done”. A baked potato added to a meal can make you feel really full. One study done on the satiety index of foods (how full a food can make you feel) showed that the highest satiety index score was produced by boiled potatoes. Because responses to foods really depend on the individual, add a baked potato to your dinner and let me know how full it makes you feel.

Whether your goal is health, weight management, or you just want to feel jacked, the potato will get you there.

                                                 THE NOTORIOUS BWP


Jan Susckiw, Agricultural Research Service. "Phytochemical Profilers Investigate Potato Benefits". September 2007 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.

Holt SH, Miller JC, Petocz P, Farmakalidis E. A satiety index of common foods. Eur J Clin Nutr.1995.49(9):675-90.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Exercise and Nutrition Q’n’A

A. If you’re hungry do you suggest eating before you work out or waiting until after?

It depends on the type of exercise and how you perform when you are hungry. If you are hungry, your blood sugar may get low during exercise (especially intense exercise) and that can decrease performance. When your blood sugar gets low, you can feel tired, irritable, or unfocused, and may even faint. If you get hungry right before you want to workout, you could have a combined drink of carbohydrate and protein. Because it’s a liquid, it will have fast absorption that will go quickly to your cells to fuel your workout endeavors. An awesome drink to have right before (15-30 minutes) you work out is whey protein and a banana. The amount of each will depend upon your individual calorie needs and how intense your workout will be.

B. If you eat before you work out, do you recommend eating directly after?

It depends on how much time you spent working out and the level of intensity. If you eat before you work out, you will have nutrients flowing through your body that will probably be used to fuel your working muscles.

So, the following advice is for those who eat a meal shortly (within 1 hour) before they workout: If it’s a short and low intensity workout, it isn’t imperative to eat immediately after (but it would be wise to eat something within an hour after the session). If you work out for a long period of time (~ 2 hours), you will most likely deplete a large percentage of carbohydrates that are stored in your liver and muscles. In addition, you will burn stored fat and possibly a bit of stored protein. This means, it is very important to eat after longer duration workouts (within 30 minutes to 1 hour), to refuel your body. If you do a high intensity weight training or conditioning session, you should also try to eat within 30 minutes to 1 hour, because the quicker food gets into your system, the faster your body will use the food to help it recover from exercise. Remember, it is in the recovery process that your body changes its shape and size. Lastly, the way you devise your eating habits mainly depends on your goal. Do you have a goal?