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Are Potatoes a Good Pre-Workout Snack? (3 Amazing Benefits)

Connor Sellers
Published by Connor Sellers
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED

Potatoes have a bad reputation for being full of carbs, which is why you’ll often hear it’s best to avoid them if you want to reap the benefits at the gym.

As a fitness trainer with a decade-long experience, I’ve learned to be skeptical of fitness myths. That’s why I teamed up with a registered dietitian to find out if potatoes might actually be beneficial as a good pre-workout snack.

Let’s see what information I’ve gathered.

Quick Summary

  • Potatoes contain all twenty-two necessary amino acids that serve as the building blocks of proteins and generate complete proteins when digested.
  • Taking potatoes before working out may provide your system with the glucose it needs to build more sustained energy.
  • Potatoes contain potassium, which is essential for muscle strength.
  • The more fiber-rich pre-workout snacks you consume, the easier it will be to stick to low-calorie right foods.

How Does Eating Potatoes Impact Your Body?

Top view of potatoes on a metal bowl

The following are a few things that happen in your body when you consume potatoes daily.

It will make you feel satisfied until the next meal. Potatoes are highly satisfying compared to certain other carbohydrate-rich pre-workout meals.

Boiled potatoes have the highest fullness index value of 323 for a healthy snack [1].

They have a specific protein known as proteinase inhibitor 2 (PI2), which might further lower your appetite [2].

“If you're dieting or have a big appetite compared to your energy expenditure, potatoes can have the advantage of filling you up.”

- Adam Cornwell, Fitness Coach

This plant is also rich in zinc, magnesium, and iron, all of which help to develop and maintain bone structure. In addition, iron and zinc are essential for collagen formation and maturation [3].

Most runners prefer a simple healthy snack that will fuel their bodies for the task ahead.

That’s why they choose potatoes, as they are natural and contain essential nutrients that fuel the body to boost energy before a workout.

I have been eating sweet potatoes as my pre-workout snack for an energy boost. It gives me added strength that I require to finish my sets on time.

Finally, research shows that the starch breaks down into maltodextrin, which metabolizes well as a great source of energy on the run [4].

3 Benefits of Eating Potatoes Before Working Out

Top view of raw potatoes in a box

Potatoes are packed with essential nutrients and amino acids that benefit your body in different ways.  Let’s look at the advantages in more detail.

1. Amino Acids

Potatoes contain all twenty-two necessary amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins and form complete proteins upon digestion, making them an ideal healthy snack.

2. Nutrients

Potatoes are packed with nutrients, like copper, tryptophan, and manganese, that make your bones stronger to sustain intense workouts.

They are also high in vitamin C and B6, increasing your energy levels. Studies show that potatoes are high in antioxidants, which help prevent infection. They are also rich in vitamins, which make your body operate properly [5].

Eating potatoes provides your body with essential nutrients such as calcium which helps build and maintain bone strength and structure.

In addition, fiber can assist in preventing heart disease by maintaining healthy cholesterol and blood glucose levels, promoting good health.

3. Potassium and Magnesium

Close up shot of potatoes being cooked

Roasted sweet potato skin is high in magnesium and potassium, which lower blood pressure.

A potassium-rich pre and post-workout meal can thus help lower blood pressure while safeguarding the heart and lowering the likelihood of stroke [6].

That said, when you eat simple roasted or mashed sweet potatoes as a healthy pre-workout snack, you will feel more energetic and powerful during your workouts.

So, are potatoes one of the best pre-workout snacks? Yes, but always remember that eating too many of them will make you gain weight.

When to Consume Your Pre-Workout Potato Meal?

A person holding a bunch of potatoes

Potatoes are one of the recommended pre-workout meals that you should consume an hour before your exercise to ensure that you are satiated but not bloated.

If you haven't consumed carbohydrates in several hours, your blood glucose level may decrease, making your workout feel much more difficult.

If you like endurance sports, sweet potatoes can help you fuel your workouts.

For two hours of cycling, participants in a study consumed either roasted russet potato mush or a carb gel containing 120 grams of carbohydrates every 15 minutes.

Both were comparable in terms of improving workout performance throughout the session [7].

My body always has that extra energy to carry me through my workout whenever I consume a sweet potato pre-workout snack.

This is due to the added glucose in my system, which has proven to improve performance.

Potato Recipes to Add to Your Diet

A potato dish in a bowl

Crispy Rosemary Potatoes

Ingredients:

  • 6 large potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon dried rosemary

Instructions:

  • Cut the potatoes into pieces.
  • Sprinkle them with rosemary and olive oil.
  • Season with pepper and salt to taste.
  • Bake at 425 °F until golden.

Preparing potatoes this way is quite simple yet healthy.

Potato Salad

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium-sized potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon powdered pepper

Instructions:

  • Boil the potatoes in mildly salted water.
  • Stain them and once they’ve cooled, cut them into pieces.
  • Marinade the potatoes by mixing them with all of the ingredients.
  • Optional: Add some diced cucumbers or onions.
  • Season with salt to taste.

Mix everything thoroughly and top with some chopped cilantro.

You can eat it as a pre or post-workout dish.

Potato Soup

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium-sized potatoes
  • 1 onion
  • ½ cup of carrots
  • 2 tablespoons maize
  • 2 tablespoons peas
  • 2 tablespoons garlic
  • ½ cup milk
  • ¼ cup yogurt

Instructions:

  • Cook the potatoes until soft and mash them.
  • In a large pan, stir sliced onion, diced carrots, boiled maize, and cooked peas in some olive oil.
  • When vegetables begin to soften, add chopped garlic and season with salt and pepper.
  • Keep stirring and add milk, allowing it to simmer thoroughly.
  • When it reaches a thick viscosity, add the mashed potatoes and continue stirring to prevent lumps.
  • Mix in the yogurt and remove from heat.

This dish is best when served immediately.

2 Disadvantages of Eating Potatoes Before a Workout

A person holding cooked potato fries

Consuming potatoes prior to exercise has its disadvantages as well. Let’s take a look at some of the most common ones.

1. Potatoes Have a High Glycemic Index

A higher glycemic index may sound complex, but it implies that potatoes break down quickly and provide rapid fuel.

Although this is beneficial in the short term, it might cause an energy slump and hunger a few hours after ingestion [8].

When you're striving for weight loss, a power decrease and hunger are not ideal since your system will seek a quick source of energy to bring you back to feeling better.

2. Potatoes Lack Sufficient Protein to Help You Build Muscle

The most crucial component in muscle growth and function is sufficient protein intake necessary for your muscle fibers to recuperate and recover post-workout.

Studies recommend a protein diet of 2.4 grams to help you lose weight fast and enhance muscle function and building.

For instance, a person who is 200 pounds (90 kilograms) would require roughly 206 grams of protein daily [9]. 

Potatoes have only 4 grams of protein for 250 grams, making them a minor source.

That’s why I make sure to take protein from other sources to compensate for the limited proteins that potatoes provide.

FAQs

Do Potatoes Help Build Muscles?

Yes, potatoes help build muscles as they have high carb content that provides an energy boost.

How Do Bodybuilders Eat Potatoes?

Bodybuilders eat potatoes by combining them with other pre-workout snacks that provide protein and fiber, which slows the pace at which food is metabolized into blood sugar.

Are Potatoes a Good Post-Workout Food?

Yes, potatoes are a good pre and post-workout food since they provide all the essential amino acids.

Is Potato a Good Protein?

Potatoes are not a good source of protein since they only contain low doses.

Does Potato Make You Fat?

Potatoes cannot make you fat when eaten in moderation. However, they can cause weight gain if cooked with nut butter or other fatty substances.

Potatoes as a Pre-Workout Nutrition

Potatoes are packed with nutrients that are essential for building muscles, thus making them a great pre-workout meal.

However, potatoes will not supply you with all of the minerals you need for effective workouts.

I usually advise my clients to take pre and post-workout meals that provide the best nutrients.

These meals can be helpful for your workouts, but if you want to maximize your nutrient intake, check out these pre-workout supplements to enhance your performance further:

My female colleagues and I have tested these products to determine their efficiency and safety, so check out our list to find the most suitable one for you.


References:

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7498104/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7049780/
  3. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/280579
  4. https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/is-maltodextrin-bad-for-me
  5. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-potatoes
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4175295/
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6962613/
  8. https://nutritionfacts.org/video/glycemic-index-of-potatoes-why-you-should-chill-and-reheat-them/
  9. https://examine.com/guides/protein-intake/
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