According to a study posted on the website of the University of Illinois, when people undergo prolonged exercise, consuming of potato puree has the same impact or effect on sustaining blood glucose levels and boosting performance in trained athletes as does any commercial carbohydrate gel.
This research was conducted with the participation of 12 individuals who were healthy and were very devoted to their sport. The participants were used to ride an average of 165 miles or 267 kilometers on their bicycles every week. All of the participants also had been undergoing regular exercises and training for years when they decided to participate in the study. Before being selected for the research, the participants had to undergo a tough examination of reaching reach a specific threshold for aerobic fitness as well as complete 120-minute cycling challenge and a time trial.
Each of the participants in the study was subjected randomly to one out of three conditions for the tests. The conditions included the participants would either consume water alone or intake a commercially available carbohydrate gel or an equivalent amount of carbohydrates obtained from potatoes.
The food intake of the cyclists was standardized by the researchers for a period of 24 hours and then repeated the 120-minute cycling challenge and time trial – these were so designed that it replicated typical race conditions. The participants’ blood glucose, core body temperature, exercise intensity, gastric emptying and gastrointestinal symptoms were measured by the researchers throughout the entire period of exercise. Concentration of lactate, a metabolic marker of intense exercise, in participants’ blood was also measured by the researchers.
“We found no differences between the performance of cyclists who got their carbohydrates by ingesting potatoes or gels at recommended amounts of about 60 grams per hour during the experiments,” said UI kinesiology and community health professor Nicholas Burd, who led the research. “Both groups saw a significant boost in performance that those consuming only water did not achieve.”
Those consumers who consumed potatoes and gels noted similar amounts of increase in plasma glucose concentrations. The heart rate of the participants also increased by a similar amount over the water-only cyclists and additionally, they were speedier on the time trial.
However the researchers also found that compared to the other groups, significantly more gastrointestinal bloating, pain and flatulence was seen in the participants who consumed potatoes. Burd said that the reason for this was possibly because of the greater volume of potatoes that are required to obtain the comparable quantity of glucose provided by the gels.
Despite this compared to previous studies, the average GI symptoms were lower which, the researchers noted, indicated that both carbohydrate conditions were well-tolerated by the majority of the cyclists in the study.
“All in all, our study is a proof-of-concept showing that athletes may use whole-food sources of carbohydrates as an alternative to commercial products to diversify race-fueling menus,” Burd said.
(Adapted from XinhuaNet.com)