If you are a known high-performance athlete, you are familiar with sports gels that serve as a carbohydrate and electrolyte enhancer.
These gels are a standard problem for cyclists, runners and many other athletes, but what if there is another solution? What if athletes can eat… mashed potatoes instead of
Usually we do not highlight research with such obvious conflicts of interest as this new study conducted by a researcher at the University of Illinois and funded by the Alliance for Research and Education for potatoes This financier has a clear interest in promoting potatoes and this particular study has various problems with it. That said, it's a fun study and we'd like to talk about it.
In this study, twelve serious cyclists ̵
Sports gels, according to The Runner's World usually consist of simple sugars, often both glucose and fructose. Some include salts and some include a stimulant such as caffeine. Potatoes are high in carbohydrates, though they are mostly starches, not sugars. But they are not as thick in carbohydrates as these gels.
Many of the gels listed in this group by Cycling Weekly offer about 25 grams of carbohydrates in a package that is usually collected in about 35 grams in total – really very thick, you will need about 150 grams of potatoes to get to 25 grams of carbohydrates, according to figures from the USDA which comes out to about one cup of diced potatoes.
In part, tell the researchers, for this large volume of potatoes, test riders "experienced significantly more gastrointestinal bloating, pain and flatulence than other groups." So it may not be fun to knock back mashed potatoes, while driving furiously for two hours but still working?
It actually happened! At least in this study. Researchers say the potato and commercial sports gel groups had almost the same numbers in terms of efficiency, heart rate and blood sugar levels, indicating that potatoes can actually work as an energy fuel. All this said: This is a study of twelve people, a rather ridiculously low sample size, and gastrointestinal distress does not seem very fun. Maybe one day we will all fill our Nalgeni with mashed potatoes. Also: maybe not.