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How Spuds Can Help Your Sport

How Spuds Can Help Your Sport

Potatoes as a source of fuel

From mashed, to boiled to roasted, the Irish sure have a reputation for loving their potatoes!  And research suggests athletes should too! 

Carbohydrates are the preferred energy source for the body, particularly for sports and prolonged exercise like cycling and running.  Most times pasta is the carbohydrate of choice when it comes to loading, but is often highly processed. And while we love bananas as a premium fuel for sport, we understand that sometimes you need to change things up to please your tastebuds!  Research published in the Journal of Applied Physiology suggests that another vegetable – the potato may be a viable alternative! 

Researchers worked with 12 long distance cyclists to test three fueling options:  water, a carbohydrate gel and potatoes (at the equivalent of 60g/hr).  They standardized what participants ate before a 120-minute cycling challenge where several markers were measured including exercise intensity, blood glucose and GI symptoms.  Some participants did experience bloating but ultimately, they found no difference between the carbohydrate gel and the potato groups.  Both enjoyed significant performance increases that were not found in the water group. 

The nice thing about having options that support athletic goals is that you have variety in taste, flavor, texture and packability.  All things that come into play for your best outcomes!  Also carbohydrate gels are typically very sweet, so having a savory option can be a welcome change, especially when training for larger races! 

For a fun take on a classic Irish dish – colcannon – check out our potatoes and plantain mash for tasty combo! 


Published March 1, 2022

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