Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Here's the Story...of a Lovely Potato...

Let's face it. Pasta is the "Marsha" of the Brandy Bunch of training foods. It get's all the glam, all the attention, all the pre-race dinners. The potato on the other hand, is the "Jan" of the bunch. I can hear the ole spud now sitting in the burlap sack in the back of the pantry saying, "Pasta, Pasta, Pasta! All I ever hear is Pasta!" Well, before that spud runs off feeling unloved and gets replaced in all the reunion movies with a doughnut or a bagel or something, let's take a closer look at this "plain-Jan" misunderstood veggie.

This step-child of the veggie world often gets a bad rap. Many people seem to have the misunderstanding that potatoes aren't nutritious. I guess it's because they're not leafy or dark green, but actually potatoes are loaded with vitamins and minerals. Did you know that a regular baking potato contains 64% of your daily value of vitamin C and 53% of your daily value of vitamin B6, and a sweet potato has 700% of your daily value of vitamin A? Being prone to calf cramps, the thing I like most about potatoes is that they contain over 1,500mg of potassium. That's three times more than a banana! It's a bit of a myth that you have to eat the skin to get all the vitamins. The skin accounts for about 50% of the potato's fiber, but actually most of the nutrients are inside the spud.
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Potatoes are also a great source of complex carbohydrates. Pasta doesn't even have as much! No, they're not as romantic as pasta. And you don't normally have them by candlelight. And Lady and Tramp would have looked kind of funny sucking on opposite ends of a potato, but the fact is, potatoes make a great food for runners.

Now, I know what you're thinking, "Hey but aren't potatoes high on the Glycemic Index?" Yep, they do have a high GI, but for runners that's a good thing. It means they're easily and quickly digested and get into your system to be used as energy quickly. If you have trouble with potatoes spiking your blood sugar too quickly, you can remedy this by eating a little fat or protein along with your potato. Greek yogurt is high in protein and is very similar in consistency to sour cream. Adding a dollop to your spud will help prevent that spike and slow down the digestion helping to provide a steadier stream of energy. You'll get the same result if you add a little Smart Balance margarine which will provide some fat(the good kind--polyunsaturated and monounsaturated). Or try eating a potato with a little chicken or turkey.

After a run, you need to replenish your spent carbs really quickly and that's the perfect time to ingest fast-acting carbs. Potatoes are perfect for this. Add a little protein and you have the perfect post-run recovery snack.

Now beware. Your sedentary friends will be quick to tell you (as they munch on their Mickey D's fries) that potatoes are bad, that they spike your blood sugar, and will turn to fat on you quickly. The sad thing, is that for them, that thinking is exactly right. If you're not active and you're not using those carbs as pre-run fueling or post-run re-fueling, it may very will have all of those negative effects. But I for one am elated, that I can mix-up a little homemade potato salad (using lowfat mayo) and wolf-it down after a run.

So Marsha...I mean Pasta, move aside! Potato Jan is moving into her own!

18 comments:

Acey said...

One of my faves is a baked potato with a mashup of black beans, canned, and stewed tomatoes (all just dumped out of cans and heated together in a pot). quick and easy for the night before a race...and soooo good.

RunnerDude said...

Hi Acey! Man, that sounds great! Gonna have to try it!

Nicki said...

I love potatoes! I never really looked into the nutrient content or the GI index of them. Thanks!

And, Acey, thanks for that little "recipe" because it sounds delicious!

René said...

I love sweet potatoes.

Iron Mike said...

I eat a sweet potato/yam every other day.
Just drop it in the microwave for a few minutes.
No toppings necessary.

RunnerDude said...

Hi Rene and IronMike! I'm a big fan of sweet taters too! Yum!! Hey Mike, how long do your nuke yours for?

AshleyR said...

I love sweet potatoes! I make a dish with sweet potatoes, granny smith apples, a little brown sugar, some cinnamon, and a tiny bit of cloves. It's like having dessert as a side.

Also diced red potatoes sprayed with a bit of oive oil and topped with some dill and baked is great as well. One of the few veggies I can get my toddler to eat.

RunnerDude said...

Hi AshleyR! Both of those sound great! When you have a chance, send me the recipe for hte sweet potato dish and I'll post it on the blog. Take a picture of you and your family with the dish.

AshleyR said...

I will make it my project for the week!

Lesley Jones said...

Just found your blog! Wow... super informative. I'm bookmarking it for tomorrow when I'm more awake and can read some of your previous posts!

RunnerDude said...

Hi AshleyR! Awesome!

RunnerDude said...

Hi Lesley! Welcome to the blog!!

Tina said...

Hi RunnerDude! Just stumbled upon your blog - awesome!! I'm currently training for my first 50miler and really paying attn to food. Plus, I have been gluten-dairy-soy-nitrate-free (finally figured out health issues were food intolerances) for 8 months and potatoes (incl sweet) are my new favorite afternoon snack before workouts. My fellow work peeps look at me like I'm a bit crazy for diggin into taters instead of they typical snack items, but it has really been working for my long weekday runs.

RunnerDude said...

Hey Tina! Welcome to the blog! I'll have to try diggin into some taters pre-run. Man, now I'm craving some spuds. LOL!

Lauren Slayton said...

Love potatoes and Jan, this post was fantastic. Potatoes are a great option for those who are GF or do not do well with wheat. I also think potatoes encourage a more balanced meal, which athletes do better with, such as fish/potato/veg vrs a big heap of pasta. My fave is a small baked potato with a spoonful of guacamole. Makes me happy.

Boris Terzic said...

I like how you related the potatoes to the Brady bunch. Nicely done sir.

RunnerDude said...

Thanks Boris!

FruitFly said...

Hallelujah!! This is the best news I've read all day! *happy dance*