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Potato puree as race-fuel? Scientists say “Why not?”

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Posted October 28, 2019

Carbohydrate gel is a quick shot of energy whenever you need one. Athletes use them in exercises that require tremendous amounts of endurance – marathons, cycling races and such. People use them on long hikes too. But did you know potato puree could help you achieve them same thing?

Humble potato can help you win races. Image credit: Usien via Wikimedia (CC BY 3.0)

Even if you’ve never used a carbohydrate gel, you’ve definitely seen other people eating them straight from the package. It is a great source of energy when you need it the most. However, it is expensive and more nutritious organic options are few and far between. Furthermore, carbohydrate gels are usually very sweet, which some people really don’t like. But now scientists say that a savoury option has been available all along – potato puree.

12 people who are healthy and average 267 kilometers per week on their bicycles were involved in this study. During this study they had to complete their usual physical routine while either consuming just water, carbohydrate gels or potatoes. Don’t forget that potatoes are also carbohydrates and is a great source of energy as well. Scientists say, however, that they found no differences between the performance of cyclists who got their carbohydrates by ingesting potatoes or gels. And that is surprising at first, because participants eating both at recommended amounts of about 60 grams per hour.

Potato puree helped raising glucose levels, heart rate and allowed athletes maintaining a higher speed than those who only consumed water. However, there were some negative effects as well, including gastrointestinal bloating, pain and flatulence. Scientists say that they were probably related to the fact that potato puree was more volume. Even so, scientists believe that this study proves that whole-food sources of carbohydrates are available for athletes and could be used as alternatives to carbohydrates. They can diversify in-competition menu, which is a good thing, especially for those who do not like sweet carbohydrate gels. Negative effects, likely, would not affect everyone anyway.

Different kinds of food for different people – this will be a possibility. Bloating could be avoided using different kinds of recipes and products. Majority of participants tolerated both carbohydrate sources equally well. It would be interesting to see, however, how improved potato puree would fair against other commercial products. Also, maybe it is time to experiment with other vegetables and their mixes? The end result will be pleasant – athletes will have a wider choice of race-fueling foods.

 

Source: Potato ingestion is as effective as carbohydrate gels to support prolonged cycling performance

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