A recent study shows strong evidence that a simple switch in the starch that you are eating may be exactly what you need to stay fuller longer and reduce cravings for other sugars and carbs while dieting.
This study, published in the journal Nutrients, compared calorie-matched and carb-matched meals with three different starches – rice, pasta, and potatoes. All three scenarios were paired with the same amount of veggies and ground beef meat sauce. Subjective Satiety Following Meals Incorporating Rice, Pasta and Potato
Participants ate each of the three meals on three different days in random order. In addition, they also consumed similar meals on all three testing days besides the “test” meals. Participants’ baseline hunger was tested prior to eating, and the researchers found that hunger/fullness feelings were equal before all three meals. Interestingly, the “desire to eat” was slightly higher before the pasta meal. The researchers surmised that this might be because meat sauce tends to pair better with pasta, for most people.
The researchers also measured the participants’ hunger, fullness, and food desire at different points after each meal.
After the meals, hunger levels and the desire to eat dropped more with the potato meal than with either the rice or the pasta meals. The potato meals caused a greater increase in fullness. This trend was the same even three hours post-eating.
These results correlate very strongly to prior research that suggested that potatoes are highly satiating, even when eaten alone.
Potatoes Get a Bad Rap
White Potatoes have a bad reputation among many folks, because of their high glycemic index. Remember, the glycemic index is a measurement of how much a food raises blood sugar levels. In my opinion, however, glycemic index is very over-rated. Who eats just a potato for a meal? Typically, other foods will be eaten alongside the potato, and if you are also eating protein or fat or fibrous veggies loaded with fiber, then you are having a meal, where the insulin effects are being tamped down significantly because of the presence of other nutrients.
In addition, science has shown that glycemic index has no strong correlation to satiety. Another good example of this point is pasta. Pasta actually has a low glycemic index, but the majority of studies show very clearly that pasta is not very satiating, thus, often leading to gross over-eating.
Satiating Effect of Food
When we are satiated, most humans stop eating. Of course, there are diseases of disordered eating, but most people stop within a narrow timeframe. The satiating effect of food ultimately comes down to the concept of energy density, not glycemic index. Energy density is defined by nutritional science as how many calories food contains per volume/weight. So, the less energy dense, the better.
Rice has slightly less energy density than pasta, but potatoes have more than half the energy density of both. This is because potatoes contain more water, so each bite will weigh more and expand your stomach further, triggering more fullness for the same amount of calories.
If you are trying to lose weight / body fat, and you struggle with appetite control, consider switching out the pasta and rice for potatoes. Potatoes are highly versatile when it comes to cooking methods and food preparation. Just do not make the mistake of thinking that fries and chips count, because they do not. Highly processed potatoes are junk food, plain and simple. They will not provide a satiating effect. After all, the Lays Food Company, has one of the most truthful product marketing slogans of all-time when referring to their potato chips….”You can’t eat just one.”
So, skip the junk food and stop vilifying the mighty potato. It is super healthy and versatile and tastes great.