I bet you wouldn’t be surprised that potatoes are one of the most commonly consumed vegetables in the average American’s diet. Especially if you knew that includes french fries and potato chips! This gives potatoes a pretty bad rap. Plot twist: a baked potato can be super nutritious! Especially for athletes.
One medium russet potato has 169 calories, 38g carbohydrates, 2.8g fiber, 4.6g protein, 0.2g fat, 35% vitamin B6, 25% potassium, 20% vitamin C, 12% magnesium, and 9% iron.
Simple, digestible carbohydrates give athletes an immediate boost of energy that they need to perform their best. The body’s glycogen stores are used as fuel during exercise, so consuming carbs can help replenish your glycogen stores for tomorrow’s workout.
Eating a baked potato the night before a big race instead of a bowl of pasta is a much more nutritionally dense way to load up on carbs!
According to this study, essential amino acids consumed with carbs stimulate muscle protein anabolism, which happens by increasing the synthesis of muscle protein within the first three hours after resistance exercise.
Vitamin B6 has a bunch of different functions. Pyridoxine, or Vitamin B6, is an important coenzyme in protein synthesis and glycogen metabolism. It also functions in the formation of precursor compounds for heme in hemoglobin.
As an athlete, you’re probably interested in knowing that Vitamin B6 functions as a coenzyme for phosphorylase, which facilitates the release of glycogen from the liver.
According to this study, vitamin B6 consumption strengthens the synthesis of melatonin which promotes sound sleep. Sleep is crucial for athletic performance, so eating a few extra potatoes might help lay the groundwork for a good night’s sleep.
Most people, athletes included, point to bananas for their source of potassium. Believe it or not, a medium potato has two times as much potassium (25%) as a medium banana (12%).
Potassium is a mineral that works with sodium to balance fluids and electrolytes in your body. Potassium also facilitates a ton of reactions and supports cell integrity. If you’re an athlete, I bet you’re interested in knowing that potassium assists in nerve impulse transmission and muscle contraction.
Potassium alone doesn’t have much of an impact on your athletic performance. That being said, staying hydrated and maintaining balanced electrolyte levels is important!
As I’m sure you’ve heard, fiber is important for general health and wellness for everyone – including athletes. Adequate fiber intake (25g/day women, 38g/day men) is important for regular bowel movements, which helps increase comfort during exercise. Fiber is also a reliable way to provide fullness after meals, lower cholesterol, prevent constipation, and regulate blood sugar.
It’s common for athletes to worry about fiber and GI distress during high intensity exercise, and I don’t blame them! Don’t worry, potatoes don’t have a boatload of fiber (3g) so you don’t have to worry about the GI distress.
How to Eat Potatoes
- 3 medium red potatoes
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- ½ tsp oregano
- ¼ tsp chili powder
- ¼ tsp smoked paprika
- salt and pepper to taste
- Rinse your potatoes.
- Slice the potatoes into fries or cubes.
- Toss the fries with the suggested seasonings - or use your favorites!
- Put the potatoes into the air fryer basket at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until crispy. Be sure to shake the basket every 5 or 10 minutes to make sure they get cooked evenly!