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A potato inclusive diet: high glycemic or not?

May 20, 2021

Why potato can be just what your dog needs.

Pet parents tend to overlook a potato inclusive diet because it is thought to be high glycemic. But is this actually true, or has this little vegetable been mislabelled, and could it be a perfect option for grain-free, limited ingredient diets?

Let’s start by first reviewing the glycemic index. 

The glycemic index measures how quickly individual ingredients are converted into blood sugar after being consumed. The index is based on a scale of 0 to 100, with 100 being the highest.

To better understand the scale, imagine a spoonful of sugar – it would be the highest on the scale at 100. White bread also has a high glycemic index measurement of 99. Potatoes, when cooked and hot, are at 80. However, once potatoes are cooled, changes to the starch structure will dramatically lower the glycemic reading.

While cooled potatoes are on the scale at 40, this doesn’t mean that the entire diet will have the same index because potatoes are not the only ingredient in the diet. The most comprehensive way to measure glycemic properties in a diet is to measure the glycemic load. It takes into consideration the entire diet instead of measuring one sole ingredient. What you get is a complete balanced diet that includes proteins, fibre, fat and potatoes.

For example, the glycemic load on a FirstMate Pacific Ocean Fish Original is only 14, which is extremely low!

Anything that is 20 and below is considered low glycemic, and since our FirstMate grain-free products are within this range, they are low glycemic diets.

Our KASIKS product range has an even lower glycemic load because of the use of chickpeas, peas and lentils. But the difference between KASIKS and FirstMate is not as big as you might think. The index on KASIKS is just two points lower, sitting at 12. Our Grain Friendly™ diets are also low glycemic, with a glycemic load of 18.

So why is this important?

Dog owners may rule out our limited ingredient diets because of this misunderstanding, when in fact, these products are often the perfect fit for their pet. And if your pet has a sensitivity to potato, we have two great options in our Grain Friendly™ line as well as our KASIKS, which are both potato-free.

This is how FirstMate helps to ensure each dog is provided with superior nutrition in every bite.

2 responses to “A potato inclusive diet: high glycemic or not?”

  1. Doris Beers says:

    This is still too high for diabetic cats. Cats are pure carnivores. The potato and the kale, which interferes with thyroid function, are not healthy for cats, especially older cats. Thyroid malfunction is very common in older cats, as is diabetes.

    • Matt Wilson says:

      Compared to dogs, cats are more obligate carnivores. Our FirstMate kibble and canned products would be considered low to moderate carbohydrate diets to meet the requirements of cats for a high meat-based diet. For our canned products, the average proportion of calories from carbohydrates (versus protein and fat) is 17% (ranging from 10-25%); many veterinarians recommend less than 15% for diabetic pets that require medical diets. Kibble products in general will tend to have higher carbohydrates since carbohydrates are an important component for the structure and taste of an extruded product. Our kibble has an average of 22% of the calories from carbohydrates. These are acceptable carbohydrate levels for healthy cats and are well balanced with appropriate protein and fat levels (Verbrugghe et al. 2012). For reference, most kibble products on the market fall between 20-40% calories from carbohydrates, and some are as high as 55%.

      The concern with kale is the presence of goitrogens that can interfere with the uptake of iodine, thereby impacting thyroid function; studies that detected these impacts typically fed animals a diet with a very large inclusion of kale (sometimes kale was the only food provided to the animal). We include a small amount of kale as a natural source of Vitamin K. This amount of kale will not impact thyroid function.

      We hope this helps to address your concerns.

      Verbrugghe A, Hesta M, Daminet S, Janssens GPJ. 2012. Nutritional modulation of insulin resistance in the true carnivorous cat: a review. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition 52:177-182.


      Wendy Vandersteen, PhD
      Manager of Research and Development

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