IF you want to lose weight, the last food you should be eating are potatoes. Sounds odd, but an intriguing discovery by a team of Havard researchers is that potatoes, especially the fried variety, is the No.1 food that drives weight gain.
According to the study, small changes in lifestyle behaviours such as physical activity, sleep duration, and TV-watching are strongly correlated with long-term weight gain.
But the most important factor was diet-and among the report’s most intriguing findings is precisely how much weight gain (or loss) can be attributed to consuming an additional daily serving of a variety of specific foods over a four-year period.
The long-term impacts of small but significant lifestyle changes-especially to diet were emphasised.
In a new report published in The New England Journal of Medicine, a team of Harvard researchers has revealed the results of a study of 120,877 people showing that 10 foods were found to be especially correlated with long-term changes in weight.
Among foods promoting weight gain, potato chips topped the list. The researchers’ conclusion was that potatoes and extra kilos go together, so anyone seeking to shed weight should steer clear French fries and every other variety of the “spuds”.
From the study, a daily extra serving of potatoes, whether, boiled, fried, baked or mashed, could add up to five kilos over the course of four years. An additional serving of nuts, fruit or vegetables, on the other hand, will add up to weight loss. The scientists noted in their results that potatoes are very calorie dense, noting that it is best to cook potatoes so that the starchy goodness can be converted into glucose.
A medium sized pack of potato chips contains about 300 calories, 15 grammes of fat and 45 grammes of carbohydrates. Even the relatively medium baked potato has about 160 calories, less than a gramme of fat and and about 37 grammes of carbohydrates.
According to the research, potato is not exactly diet ood to begin with. Nuts are far more diet friendly.
In a related study, researchers evaluated three large cohorts of people who were free of chronic diseases and not obese at the start of the evaluation process. They measured specific lifestyle factors and weight gain every four years, with follow-up times ranging from 12 to 20 years.
One striking if somewhat predictable take-away from the study is that focusing on overall dietary quality- such as eating less refined sugars and refined grains and more minimally processed foods – is probably more important to long-term health than monitoring total calorie or fat intake or other nutritional markers. Nutritionists say the idea that there are no “good” or “bad” foods is a myth that needs to be debunked.