While it’s not entirely new, news – I remember hearing about using the ‘mashed potato in zip-locked bags’ approach during the Sports Dietitians Australia course at the Australian Institute Sport (I attended the course back in 2013 to get my sports dietitian qual’s) – a recent study has shown that consuming potatoes is just as effective as carbohydrate gels to support endurance performance.
Despite some popular belief, it’s well known that carbohydrate consumption helps to improve endurance performance – muscle glycogen is the primary fuel source during prolonged activity.
So, race day fuel sources (aka gels/bars etc.) need to not only sustain performance but they also need to be readily digested to provide said fuel and to prevent GI issues.
With an increasing number of athletes opting for whole food options to fuel races, the latest study to show the benefits of carbohydrates during endurance activity, published in the Journal of Applied Physiology (2019) has revealed that good ol’ fashioned potatoes – specifically potato puree – might just do the trick when it comes to sustaining endurance performance.
Despite this randomised-crossover study being a small one (12 cyclists – although it’s hard to get a big number of elite athletes in these types of studies normally), with participants randomly chosen to consume either potato, a gel or just water during a two-hour cycling time trial, the results revealed improved time trial performance in both the potato and gel groups compared to the water group.
Study authors concluded: “Potato and gel ingestions equally sustained blood glucose concentrations and time trial performance. Our results support the effective use of potatoes to support race performance for trained cyclists.”
For athletes who want to try the more whole-food approach to race day fuelling, mashed potato might just be the way to go – a great savoury option when flavour fatigue hits from too many sweet options.
To read the full study, visit: www.physiology.org/doi/abs/10.1152/japplphysiol.00567.2019
If you’d like help sorting out your nutrition plan for your next race, contact me today! I’d love to help.