It’s no secret that as an athlete, the food you eat before, during and after race day can make or break your progress and your performance. For optimal results, endurance athletes need high-quality, whole foods that are easy to prepare and easy for the body to process. Potatoes are one of the most versatile foods available, acting as a canvas for herbs and spices, protein-packed toppings and additional veggies, while also delivering essential nutrients to the body.
Here’s why sports nutritionists are recommending athletes turn to potatoes as their fuel source for athletic performance1:
Carbohydrate: The 26 grams of carbohydrates in a 5.2-ounce skin-on potato are important for optimal physical and mental performance as the primary fuel for your brain and a key source of energy for muscles. And, because your body’s own stores of carbohydrate are limited and may be depleted – even in a single session of intense and/or prolonged exercise– it’s important to replenish them.2
Potassium: A medium-sized potato with the skin has 620mg of potassium - more potassium than a medium-sized banana. This important electrolyte aids in muscle, cardiovascular and nervous system function.
Energy: Potatoes are more energy-packed than any other popular vegetable. Adequate energy intake supports optimal body functions and it’s critical to take in the appropriate number of calories to match the demands of the day, especially while training.
Are potatoes your fuel of choice?
If so, join the Team Potato community. Train and compete fueled by potatoes and share your experience to earn Team Potato gear including performance shirts, running jackets, and other exclusive rewards. Learn more and join the team here.
Hungry to try potatoes before your next race?
Try On-the-Go Potatoes, created by sports registered dietitian Leslie Bonci MPH, RD, CSSD, for a portable exercise snack. For more potato recipes for athletic performance, click here.
Petite potatoes are coated in panko crumbs, sesame seeds and spice mix to make an easily-portable snack perfect for mid-exercise.
Recipe by: Leslie Bonci, MPH, RD, CSSD, LDN
Serves: 8 servings (about 5 potatoes per serving)
24 oz. of petite yellow potatoes (about 40 petite potatoes)
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. Soy sauce
1 cup panko crumbs
¼ cup tuxedo sesame seeds
2 tsp. Chinese 5-Spice seasoning mix
Put potatoes in a bowl and toss with the olive oil and soy sauce. Mix to coat well. In a separate bowl, combine panko bread crumbs, sesame seeds and 5-spice seasoning and mix well.
In small batches, put the potatoes in the bread crumb mixture and roll around to coat well. Transfer to a cookie sheet. Bake at 450 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes, until cooked through.
Per serving (8 servings; about 5 potatoes per serving): Calories 174, Fat: 5.7 g, Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 257 mg, Carbohydrates: 26.8 g, Fiber: 2.5 g, Potassium: 485 mg, Protein: 4.3 g, Vitamin C: 7 mg
1Nutritional data is based on a 5.2 ounce skin-on potato.
2 Burke LM, Hawley JA, Wong SH, Jeukendrup AE. Carbohydrates for training and competition. J Sports Sci. 2011; 29(Suppl 1): S17-27.