Hi. I’m a 38-year-old woman who is trying to lose weight. I’ve heard before that it’s not good to eat corn and white potatoes because of the amounts of starch/carbs in them. Also, I’ve heard not to eat fruits that are high in sugar because it will slow your weight loss efforts down. Is this true? If so, which ones should I avoid?
It’s all relative, my dear. A small corn on the cob and a few new potatoes as part of a balanced unprocessed diet are FINE! Corn tortillas and French fries, on the other hand, offer little nutrients or fiber yet have added sodium and fat.
Tossing some corn kernels on a Southwest-style salad with greens, chicken breast, beans, jicama, and tomato is great for color, flavor and nutrition (notice I didn’t say tortilla strips). Having a huge slice of cornbread to go with a full bowl of chili is not good. Likewise, a cup of roasted, skin-on new potatoes with parsley complements a dinner of pork loin and broccoli (or other lean protein and green vegetables). On the other hand, a cup of mashed potatoes from an instant-mix box is practically devoid of fiber and offers only about 6% Vitamin C compared to the roughly 45% that the fresh potatoes offer.
Okay, so now let me address the starch/carbohydrate concern. There are no more carbohydrates in corn or white potatoes than there are in cereal, rice, pasta, pretzels, crackers, or oatmeal. The body might digest and absorb them differently, but those with fiber in the form closest to the original plant source are particularly good (bad are white flour products). By volume, popcorn has fewer carbohydrates than any of them, except puffed wheat cereal.
Now, on to your question regarding fruits. Anything that is excessive in calories — especially added sugar — will slow down your weight loss. Fruits that are high in sugar are just as nutritious as the low sugar ones, but you may want slightly less of them. For the sugar that’s in a small banana, you could eat a bowl full of melon. If you’re sticking to a straight measure across the board, then yes, eating a lower-sugar fruit will save you a few carbohydrate calories. The important thing is to blunt the rise in blood sugar by pairing fruit with a protein or fat, such as a string cheese, hard-cooked egg or nuts.
– Debbie J., MS, RD
Do you have a question about your diet or nutrition?