Most people associate sweet potatoes with their orange flesh, creamy texture, and sweet flavor. But these superfoods come in a variety of colors and textures, including white sweet potatoes that have a milder flavor. Rich in complex carbohydrates, sweet potatoes may be beneficial for those trying to shed excess pounds.1 In this clinical trial, researchers evaluated the potential benefits of sweet potatoes for weight loss.
Published in the Nutrients journal, the trial involved 58 adults, aged between 30 and 50 years, with a body mass index (BMI) range of 24 to 30 kg/m2.
Before the start of the intervention, researchers thoroughly recorded participants' anthropometric measurements (e.g., body weight, height, hip circumference, and blood pressure), blood work, dietary records, and others.
All participants followed an energy-restricted diet of 1,200 kcal/day for women and 1,500 kcal/day for men. The three meals they consumed included vegetables, fruits, whole grain cereals, lean meat, and low-fat dairy. About 55% of the total energy came from carbohydrates, 30% from fat, and 15% from protein.
For eight weeks, half of the participants replaced two daily meals with shakes containing white sweet potato. At the end of the study period, participants underwent the same measurements to assess the effects of using sweet potatoes as meal replacements on weight regulation.
Both groups showed reduced body weight parameters over the course of eight weeks. However, the sweet potato group had more significant (5%) reductions related to body weight, body fat, BMI, and mid-arm circumference.
The sweet potato group participants also had substantial changes in the levels of various blood components, including albumin, phosphorus, and blood urea nitrogen levels. They also showed a 3.5% reduction in HbA1c, which is used to diagnose prediabetes and diabetes.
What Does this Mean?
The results of this trial indicate that following a calorie-restricted diet as well as using white sweet potatoes as a meal replacement can help with weight loss.
While both strategies led to improvements, replacing meals with white sweet potato shakes caused more notable changes in body weight parameters as well as diabetes markers.
Meal replacements are foods that are made to provide balanced amounts of carbohydrates, protein, healthy fats, and micronutrients, but with fewer calories. They can be a helpful complementary tool for those struggling with losing excess weight as they are portion- and calorie-controlled meals, making it easier to keep track of one's food intake.
By helping treat obesity, sweet potatoes as meal replacements can help reduce excess weight-related complications, including diabetes, heart disease, and more.
- Nutrients, White Sweet Potato as Meal Replacement for Overweight White-Collar Workers: A Randomized Controlled Trial, 2019
- Journal of Food Science. (2017). Purple Sweet Potato Attenuate Weight Gain in High Fat Diet Induced Obese Mice. Retrieved March 17, 2023, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28135399/