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Are Sweet Potatoes Good for Weight Loss? +5 Health Benefits
Weight Loss

Are Sweet Potatoes Good for Weight Loss? +5 Health Benefits

Dennis-Njoroge-author-at-healthreporter
Written by Dennis Njoroge | Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD check
Published on September 26, 2022
206 Views
6 min

Sweet potatoes are a nutritious vegetable, but you might wonder whether their high starch content interferes with your weight loss. We’ll discuss how sweet potatoes affect weight loss and give a guide on their health benefits, nutritional value, and calories.

are sweet potatoes good for weight loss

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There’s a lot of chatter in online health circles about whether sweet potatoes can help one lose weight. People have enjoyed them for centuries, thanks to their rich nutrient profile. However, are sweet potatoes good for weight loss?

The vegetable is packed full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Today, this vegetable has attracted a lot of attention from people trying to melt away excess pounds. 

Sweet potatoes have numerous associated health benefits, and some athletes enjoy them as a daily snack. However, they are predominantly carbs, and you might be worried whether they’ll sabotage your attempts to tilt the scale.

If you are confused about how to fit them into your weight management program, check out our dietitian’s take on how this food impacts weight loss.

What Is Sweet Potato?

Sweet potatoes, also known as Ipomoea batatas, are a large and starchy edible root vegetable. They are a nutritious alternative to regular potatoes due to their higher antioxidant and fiber content.

They are known for their copper-colored vibrant flesh, though hundreds of varieties worldwide display colors such as white, purple, yellow, and cream.

True to their name, they are known for natural sweetness, but one can enhance the taste through cooking methods like roasting. Their shoots and leaves are sometimes consumed as greens. 

They are among the top sources of beta carotene and have less saturated fat and fewer calories, making them an ideal go-to for meal replacement. 

Sweet Potato Nutrition

Sweet potatoes have an impressive nutritional profile. A 100g serving contains:

  • 77.3g of water
  • 1.57g of protein
  • 20.1g of total carbs
  • 3g of fiber
  • 4.18g of sugars

The high fiber and water content keep you satiated for longer, thus potentially lowering your food intake. They are a rich source of starchy carbohydrates, but most of these are complex carbs.

Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin C, providing more than twice the recommended daily dose. They are also rich in other nutrients, such as vitamin A, B6, potassium, sodium, soluble sugars, protein, and iron.

How many calories are in sweet potatoes?

A 100g serving of sweet potatoes contains 86 calories. A medium potato has a calorie count of 103, and a large one contains 162 calories. This is lower than the calorie count in regular potatoes.

Though this calorie count seems high, it is worth noting that not all calories are similar. Most of their calories are from complex carbs, which are more nutritious than refined carbs.

Foods like white bread have refined carbs that the body quickly absorbs, but other veggies, fruits, and whole grains are rich in complex carbs.

It would be best to watch your carbohydrate intake to avoid weight gain when you’re on a calorie-restricted diet. If you want to eat more than one serving of a vegetable at mealtime, opt for quality carbs vegetables like lettuce, cucumber, or whole grains.

Are Sweet Potatoes Effective for Weight Loss?

Yes, depending on how you incorporate them into your diet, sweet potatoes can be effective for weight loss. They are rich in fiber, complex carbs, and high water content, which helps consume fewer calories.

Peer-reviewed studies show that people who increased their dietary intake of fibers for over 12 months lost at least 5% of their body weight

Unlike other starchy foods like whole grains, sweet potatoes do not cause blood sugar spikes due to their high dietary fiber content. 

Blood sugar control helps minimize the risk of insulin resistance linked to weight gain, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.

If you are on a restrictive low-carb diet, you can still enjoy very small amounts of sweet potato with other vegetables. However, it is crucial to pay attention to how they are prepared. Some preparation methods like deep frying may hinder your weight loss progress.

Losing weight is about maintaining a calorie deficit, and this root vegetable is no magic superfood for losing excess weight. You need to control your portions and combine them with a balanced diet for sustainable weight loss.

How to Eat Sweet Potatoes for Weight Loss

The best weight-loss-friendly preparation method for sweet potatoes is baking, roasting, or steaming. You can enjoy baked sweet potatoes with a bit of butter or roast them with cinnamon.

You can also enjoy boiled sweet potatoes with some chopped onions or roasted ones with some olive oil. You can also slice them into thick discs and season them with onions, chopped tomatoes, and lemon juice before roasting.

Adding spices like cinnamon to roasted sweet potato helps manage cravings and adds some dash and flavor.

You should, however, avoid sweet potato fries, sweet potato pie, or adding high-calorie condiments like sour cream, which have high amounts of added fat and will rapidly rack up extra calories. 

Most people avoid starchy foods due to their high glycemic indices. However, boiled sweet potato has a low glycemic index, making boiling the best preparation method.

The combination of suitable preparation methods, and portion control, offers a satisfying and delicious option that doesn’t compromise your weight loss goals.

Five Surprising Benefits of Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are classified as a superfood due to their diverse nutrient profile. They are versatile, easy to cook, and a great addition to a well-rounded diet. Below are some of the health benefits of sweet potatoes.

#1 Digestion support

Sweet potatoes have antioxidants and dietary fiber that are good for gut health. It contains both soluble and insoluble fibers that improve digestive health. Soluble fibers absorb water and soften stool, thus helping prevent constipation.

Studies show that eating a fiber-rich diet is associated with more regular bowel movements and a lower risk of colon cancer.

Sweet potatoes also have antioxidants good for supporting gut bacteria growth of certain lactobacillus species.

#2 Anti-inflammatory properties

Sweet potatoes have specific anti-inflammatory properties that help protect the body against certain cancers. Some animal studies show purple sweet potato extract contains anti-inflammatories that help reduce the risk of obesity.

White sweet potato also has anthocyanins, antioxidants that reduce the risk of bladder, colon, and stomach cancer.

They are also rich in vitamin A, which reduces the likelihood of having gut inflammation and improves the ability of the immune system to combat threats.

#3 Full of nutrients

Sweet potatoes are packed with fiber, resistant starch, vitamins, and other nutrients necessary to improve overall health. They contain manganese, which helps prevent blood clotting and helps the body in connective tissue formation.

They also contain potassium which is suitable for fluid balance regulation, sending nerve signals, and muscle contractions. 

#4 Heart health

By supporting healthy weight management, sweet potatoes improve heart health. Losing excess body fat improves metabolic function and lowers the risk of hypertension, reducing the strain on the heart.

Losing weight is also associated with improved cardiovascular health due to reduced cholesterol levels. 

#5 Great for skin and hair

Sweet potatoes have vitamin C, an essential mineral for making collagen, the protein in hair, muscles, and bones. As a person ages, the body’s natural collagen production slows down.

Consumption of foods rich in vitamin C stimulates the body to continue producing collagen, thus supporting skin and hair health.

FAQs

Is sweet potato fattening?

Depending on how you incorporate them into your diet, sweet potatoes can be a fattening vegetable. However, adhering to proper preparation methods and exercising portion control can help you lose excess body weight. They are fiber-rich and can help you stick to a low-calorie diet.

Are sweet potatoes suitable for a diet?

Yes, they are suitable for a diet depending on how you enjoy them. They have a diverse nutrient profile, which improves overall body health. However, if you are on a strict diet such as keto, you might have to avoid them to maintain ketosis.

How many sweet potatoes should I eat a day to lose weight?

Ideally, you can eat 3–4 ounces of sweet potatoes daily to lose weight. The amount of sweet potatoes you consume in a day varies with your weight goals, diet type, and the calorie deficit you want to create.

A Word From Our Nutritionist

Adding sweet potatoes is an excellent way to help dietary adherence to a low-calorie diet. Sweet potatoes have vitamins A and C that improve immune health and other essential minerals like manganese and potassium.

However, they are not a fast weight loss gimmick and can lead to weight gain if improperly incorporated into your weight loss diet. Some preparation methods, such as deep-frying, add unnecessary calories, leading to weight gain.

For best weight loss results, it is best to combine a healthy diet plan with a regular workout routine. If you have trouble losing weight, consult a licensed nutritionist or a personal trainer for professional advice.

Conclusion

Sweet potatoes are an excellent addition to your weight loss diet due to their high fiber and water content. They help lower hunger pangs and have a lower amount of calories compared to other starchy foods.

However, eating sweet potatoes doesn’t guarantee weight loss. You need to consume them as part of a healthy diet to lose the excess weight.

Dennis-Njoroge-author-at-healthreporter
Written by
Dennis is a seasoned writer who focuses on writing health and wellness articles. His career goal is to educate people on how to reprogram their lives by breaking free from unhealthy eating habits and fostering new sustainable habits. Dennis tries to give easy-to-follow advice based on scientific research. He strongly believes that regardless of age, fitness level, a person can always learn something new and reach their health goals if they have a positive mindset.
Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD
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