Carbo-loading for Comrades?

Carbo-loading or eating a high-carbohydrate diet in the days before an endurance event for increased stamina doesn’t only have to involve pasta. According to the 5-a-day for Better Health TRUST, potatoes are equally as effective and can be included as part of a successful 5-a-day diet along with a variety of other vegetables and fruit for endurance athletes.

A study by Rauch et al of the UCT/ MRC Research Unit for Exercise Science & Sports Medicine shows that potato starch is an excellent form of nutrient-rich carbohydrate, increasing glycogen stores thereby delaying their depletion and preventing fatigue during endurance events like the Comrades Marathon.

“Carbohydrates are found in food types such as potatoes, maize, bread, rice and pasta and ingesting large amounts of these increases the glycogen stores and thereby delays the muscle glycogen becoming depleted, which in turn prevents fatigue” says Leigh-Ann Silber, a registered dietitian and a trustee on the 5-a-Day for Better Health TRUST.   In the study by Rauch et al, referred to previously, potato starch proved to be highly effective as a carbohydrate loading food type. “Comrades athletes looking for sustained energy release, particularly for that gruelling second half, can effectively carbo-load with potatoes three to four days before the event. Athletes should also include potatoes as part of their daily diet to meet the fuel requirements of their training programme, as potatoes replenish daily glycogen stores, optimising training.”

So this Comrades season, make sure you pick up a pocket or two of potatoes – they’re nature’s own energy source.

Five facts about potatoes

  • Great news is that potatoes can be included as part of your 5-a-Day eating plan along with a variety of other vegetables and fruit.
  • One medium (100g) jacket potato provides 35% of your body’s daily vitamin C needs – the key however, is to eat your potatoes with the skin on.
  • Potatoes are naturally fat and cholesterol free so learn to enjoy them on their own rather than smothered in butter and creamy sauces.
  • Potatoes, boiled or baked in their skin can keep one satisfied for up to three hours making them a great accompaniment to 5-a-Day meals.
  • Potatoes are available all year round and can be used in a multitude of ways – baked, boiled, added to soups and stews, making them accessible and versatile.