Potatoes Cause Weight Gain? Who Knew!

I am completely underwhelmed by the results of a twenty-year Harvard diet study that came out this week. What is apparently cool about this study is that it can show how much someone would gain by eating certain foods every day, watching TV, or exercising less.  The Wall Street Journal gives this example: “Eating more potatoes correlated with a gain of 1.28 pounds, with French fries in particular associated with a 3.35-pound gain.”

The big takeaway from this study is that dieting is not as simple as eating less calories and exercising more. Big news: you’ll stay thinner if you eat less simple carbs (white potatoes, white bread, white rice) and instead eat more complex carbs (whole wheat bread, rolled oats, quinoa), and you’ll do even better if you also eat foods with protein and a little fat, like nuts. (Please read “big news” with a big tinge of sarcasm.)

We talked about blood sugars the other day. When you consume simple carbs, they break down quickly into sugar, which causes your blood sugar to spike (hyperglycemia). In response, your pancreas produces more insulin, which then causes your blood sugar to drop too low (hypoglycemia). Result: you have to consume more sugars to bring it back up. The problem is that most people are so shaky and hungry when their blood sugar drops that they eat too much sugar in response, and then the cycle repeats. By eating complex carbs with protein (i.e. nuts) and some fat, your blood sugar will remain more level and you will feel better and eat less over the course of the day.

I’m being snarky, but I guess if this research helps to drive home how to not become obese, then it’s a good thing. Maybe people don’t want to know about body chemistry and just want to be told, “French Fries, bad!” and “Oatmeal, good!” If it works to help slim down America, then I’m all for it.

Print Friendly


  1. Brittney Saline says:

    I emphasize with your snarkiness. It can also be difficult not to flip out and run screaming from the room in exasperation when, for example, a coworker tells you that the dingy, grease-laden processed-pepperoni- smothered takeout pizza in the breakroom is “healthy” for you because it has thin crust. I know that people just aren’t informed – the work is cut out for us when we fight not only a lack of accessible information and abundance of bad information, but also the active desire not to know.

Leave a Reply