Nutrition

White Potatoes vs. Sweet Potatoes for Bodybuilders

Find out who’s the spud and who’s the dud in the battle between white and sweet potatoes.

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White Potatoes vs. Sweet Potatoes for Bodybuilders

You know it, we know it. Nothing goes better with steak than a baked potato. We’ve been warning you for years, though, that white potatoes are extremely high on the glycemic index, which means they digest quickly and can send insulin levels skyrocketing. That may spell post-workout glory, but when you’re having a late-night steak dinner with pals — well, no joy. As for sweet potatoes, they’re chock full of vitamins and would love nothing more than to break away from their Thanksgiving-topped-withmarshmallows reputation and become your constant consort.

THE WINNER IS:  Draw

REASON: It’s not a cop-out.

There actually is a spot in your diet for each, depending on when you eat them. Overall, they’re pretty evenly matched: both contain strikingly similar amounts of calories, protein, carbs and fat. In the content of a couple of key minerals, though, white potatoes are the winner. They contain more than three times the folate of sweet potatoes and have more potassium (which is important for postworkout recovery) than their sweet cousins. So feel free to eat white potatoes, just make sure it’s right after working out, when the insulin boost will be directed straight to your muscles.

Sweet potatoes, on the other hand, can (and should) be eaten at any meal. Their claim to fame (as one of the healthiest foods on the planet) is their beta-carotene content. Besides being a  potent antioxidant, beta carotene is responsible for aiding growth and repair of the body’s tissues, which include muscle. That staggeringly high carotenoid content accounts for the sweet potato’s color and possibly its slower rate of digestion, which stabilizes blood sugar and reduces insulin resistance. 

This table compares the nutrient content (including skin) of a potato to a sweet potato, both medium-sized and baked.

NOTE: g = grams, mg = milligrams, mcg = micrograms

 

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