Imagine a bowl of crispy French fries. Golden yellow. Fresh from the oven and sprinkled with flakes of salt. Delicious? You bet. Nutritious? Not so much.
But before you go dismissing this fast food fave entirely, know there’s a big benefit to giving into your cravings for these types of carbs.
Researchers from McMaster University have found that potatoes – or starchy vegetables – can help women maintain muscle. Reason being? It’s a source of high-quality, plant-derived protein.
For the study, published in the journal Nutrients, a group of women in their early twenties were asked to follow a diet containing the RDA of protein (0.8grams per kg of body weight per day.) This equates to approximately 60g of protein for the average woman or around 70g for the average man.
Half of the participants consumed an additional potato protein isolate in the form of pudding. This effectively doubled their intake to 1.6g per kilogram per day, while the other half received a placebo instead.
Over the course of the experiment, those in the group with the extra potato protein isolate increased the rate at which their muscles made new protein.
“This was an interesting finding that we did not expect,” the study’s lead author, Sara Oikawa said. “While the amount of protein found in a potato is small, we grow lots of potatoes and the protein, when isolated, it can provide some measurable benefits.”
To investigate how this affected their training, the women were then instructed to weightlift using only one of their legs. Although this method may sound unconventional, it allowed the researchers to see the effect in the small sample size, without needing to add more participants to the study.
And while they didn’t note any extra benefits from potato protein, they maintain that the protein is helpful in making new muscle proteins.
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