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Potato/Starch Confusion

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  • Potato/Starch Confusion

    Since I started PB a month and a half ago, I've constantly been educating myself of the PB diet: what's okay to eat and why, what's not okay to eat and why, all that stuff. And since I started this, I've always been under the assumption that potatoes are a no-no. Atkins waves a finger at them and they're undoubtedly packed with carbs. But the past couple days, I've been doing a lot of lurking on these forums and potatoes go by a different name here: starch.

    It isn't often that anyone around here discusses the nutritional value of a potato, but lately, I'm seeing a ton of starch-worshiping here. I've seen people claim that it's impossible to build muscle in the absence of starch; muscle cramps are a cause of lack of starch; starch is a must, apparently.

    But if starch=potatoes, does that mean potatoes are okay? I've shunned potatoes from my pantry from the beginning of PB. Only two sweet potatoes have passed through my kitchen since I went primal. So should I let the potatoes back in? And what's so great about starch?

  • #2
    Lol, according to "rant" there's not enough starch worship here!

    For many people here, a potato is a disaster. My bs would be pushing 200. No potatoes here. Your mileage may vary. Do what works for you.
    “In God we trust; all others must bring data.” W. Edwards Deming
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    • #3
      Originally posted by Aly View Post
      But if starch=potatoes, does that mean potatoes are okay?
      If you want them.

      I've shunned potatoes from my pantry from the beginning of PB. Only two sweet potatoes have passed through my kitchen since I went primal. So should I let the potatoes back in?
      Potatoes do contain some phytic acid (not that much, I think). Some paleo people avoid them on account they're in the Nightshade family.

      I think Mark has said that he thinks sweet potatoes are a better option. Probably here—just googled that up—but I haven't re-read the article to check:

      Are Potatoes Paleo? | Mark's Daily Apple

      And what's so great about starch?
      Nothing. And it seems to be highly problematic for people who are metabolically deranged. If you're not ... then go ahead, if you particularly like potatoes. In the workout context, some just after the workout should help to replenish muscle glycogen.


      • #4
        I think, in general, people doing PB to lose weight avoid starches, and people working out like them after a workout and report good results.


        • #5
          ...Mark lists a form of sweet potato as 'one of the ten foods I can not live without'...


          • #6
            Originally posted by Aly View Post
            But if starch=potatoes, does that mean potatoes are okay? I've shunned potatoes from my pantry from the beginning of PB. Only two sweet potatoes have passed through my kitchen since I went primal. So should I let the potatoes back in? And what's so great about starch?
            First, it depends on your goal/health. If you are trying to lose weight, then you should not be eating them (or any starchy vegetable/tubers/roots), and those who have diabetes seem to exclude them as well. I do not have any weight problems nor any health related illness, so I eat a sweet potato (different varieties; 12-14 ounces) every day and include other starchy tubers/root vegetables, but I always keep my carb consumption within the 130-150 grams allowance. Also, sweet potatoes are better than the plain old white potatoes.

            Many paleo/primal individuals like myself do fine with including starchy sources. I don't worship starches (LOL), but at the same time, they are many within the Paleo/Primal community who seem to worship meat/fat (I can see why.......LOL). I like that many within our community are moving out of the fear of carb consumption. There is no reason why you should avoid starches if you are a healthy individual. One can include a generous amount starchy vegetables/tubers/roots and still be within the 150 gram limit proposed by Mark. I am not saying to go out and eat 10 potatoes, but they can be included in a Primal/Paleo diet lifestyle. It is your choice, and how you feel when adding them in your lifestyle. It is the same with fruits.

            Being Very Low Carb is not for everyone and it is not mandated in the Primal/Paleo lifestyle, even though the low carb zealots out there would like the mass to believe so.
            Last edited by Zed; 06-26-2011, 12:06 PM.


            • #7
              Some of us need more carbs than others. I eat potatoes and sweet potatoes in moderation, mostly sweet potatoes, as well as other primal carbs such as squash and fruit. I am fairly active and not needing to drop a lot of weight, though, so I am not as restrictive with carbs as someone who might be trying to lose more body fat. I'm happy with my gradual body composition shift, and although it could maybe go faster if I cut carbs further, I'm seeing slow progress and feel better at this carb level than when I've tried VLC (my emotional state goes in the tank on VLC). Some primals are athletes who may need significantly more carb than someone trying to drop fat--my partner is training for a marathon, and he needs those starches.

              Primal/paleo doesn't necessarily mean a low-carb diet, although it is lower carb than SAD in general because of the reduction in sugar intake--you have to work hard to hit more than 150g of carb on this diet unless you are downing multiple bananas daily. Mark himself has said that carb ranges will vary depending on a person's needs (and says so in the book too). If you're trying to lose body fat, sure, cut carbs, but not everyone around here has that as a goal.
              “If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive.” --Audre Lorde

              Owly's Journal


              • #8
                My experience is like Owly's. I came to paleo within 10 pounds of my target weight, and I know that both low carb and low fat diets send me off the deep end. I exercise a bit more than someone eating VLC would have to but keeping my moods stabilised is worth it.
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                • #9
                  I'd suggest reading The Perfect Health Diet by Jaminet. He goes into a lot about why some dietary glucose is good, and why vlc is decidedly not optimal. That being said, YMMV. Carbohydrate levels are highly individual. Potatoes are a great food, but some people are just "damaged" (for lack of a better term), and can't handle the carbs.


                  • #10
                    I eat white potatoes, I don't eat sweet potaotes. Why? Because I like white potatoes, and I don't like sweet potatoes. (They taste too sweet to me; I don't like my vegetables/starches/whatever to taste sweet; go figure. They also don't work as "dessert" for my tastes.)

                    Both white potatoes and sweet potatoes are whole, natural foods. We can debate whether the phytates in white potatoes are too much - we can have that same debate over many foods that some folks include in their diets, and other folks don't. I also don't eat rice, which many folks who find starch carbs to be a good addition to their diets eat. Why don't I eat rice? I don't like it enough to eat it.

                    I'm not trying to lose weight, I don't have hormone problems, I'm not diabetic, etc. There are some "starch foods" that I eat, and some that I don't, but that's just because I've realized over the course of a lifetime that there's no reason for me to eat foods I don't like, when there are many so good, nutritious, whole foods that I do enjoy.
                    Last edited by liza; 06-26-2011, 02:06 PM.


                    • #11
                      Trying to lose weight? Skip em.

                      At a weight you are okay with and are active, especially in a position where you are trying to build muscle? Go for it.


                      • #12
                        For me, high-starch foods make me sleep poorly and feel poorly. HOWEVER, your mileage may vary.

                        In terms of "How primal are potatoes?" I suspect that while Grok might have eaten potatoes and other starchy tubers, those tubers were probably small, nutrient dense foods rather than the large, low-nutrient versions that thousands of years of agriculture have created. I like to think of tubers as something to enjoy in moderation rather than as a basis for nutrition, and so I usually avoid them unless I'm offered something really worth it.

                        Addendum: I am a runner (I love it, my body loves it, so I do it). I ran about 14 miles this week and have very few starches in my diet. They really aren't *necessary* for energy.
                        Last edited by gunnk; 06-26-2011, 02:28 PM. Reason: Added "addendum"
                        Life is short: Void the warranty.


                        • #13
                          Well said Zed!


                          • #14
                            I haven't had white potatoes for a long time and picked some up at the farmers market on Saturday. I use to love and eat a lot of them but I found I don't like them anymore. I do eat sweet potato on occasion.


                            • #15
                              I eat very limited starches because I react very badly to them. If you have any kind of rheumatic disorder you really should drastically reduce your starch intake.
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