Sweet potatoes are, hands down, one of the best carbohydrates an athlete can consume.
From runners to weightlifters and everything in between, sweet potatoes offer athletes a superior complex carb. It is stored and then efficiently broken down, for future energy when needed later on. Sweet potatoes are one of the oldest vegetables known to man. And yes they are a vegetable, a root vegetable to be exact. Most people believe that sweet potatoes and regular potatoes are similar in composition but are, in actuality, not even from the same family. Sweet potatoes are in the family of Convolvulaceae (with morning glories being the closest vegetable to them), where as a potato is in the Solanaceae family (with tomatoes and eggplants being the closest in comparison). Sweet potatoes are indeed one of the hottest forms of super foods in recent times and should be incorporated into everyone’s diet, especially athletes.
We here at TrainHeroic believe that that all of our athletes need to hop on the sweet potato bandwagon and enjoy these for three main reasons:
1.Sweet Potatoes have an extensive list of health benefits.
2.Sweet Potatoes are a great option for a post-workout snack.
3. Sweet Potatoes are one of the easiest vegetables to cook with, not to mention they taste amazing and are extremely sweet and enjoyable.
Sweet potatoes have a laundry list of health benefits that are not only your weekend warrior, but high level athletes as well. They are extremely high in magnesium and potassium which will aid in diminishing cramps and preventing muscle spasms. They also are full of Vitamin-C, Iron and the anti-oxidant Beta-Carotene. In fact, some have even said that sweet potatoes have a better source of beta-carotene than dark leafy vegetables (pre-dominantly known as the leading source of beta-carotene). Sweet potatoes are also offer the lowest glycemic index rating for root vegetables. This is important for athletes because the sweet potato digests slowly, causing a gradual rise in your blood sugar so you feel satisfied for longer. Because of the numerous vitamins, minerals and other anti-oxidants in sweet potatoes they help protect cells and muscles recover and regenerate more than other carbohydrate options.
Sweet potatoes also provide a healthy dose of complex carbs, which take longer to digest and help supply the body with energy over a longer period of time. This slow process breaks carbs into glycogen and are stored in the liver and/or muscles to be used as fuel for exercise. This differs than simple carbs, which breakdown fast into glucose for quick energy and turn into fat stores when not used right away for exercise. The reason that sweet potatoes are such a great post-workout option for athletes is because after a workout your body’s glycogen levels are dropped and the complex carbs talked about above help restore the levels of glycogen in the body. So that not only you can be refueled right away, but they'll also aid in recovery for your next workout/practice/game whether that day or the next. If you are not using sweet potatoes as a post-workout option you are missing out on some of the tastiest and best ways to recover.
Here are a few easy recipes to start adding this super food into your nutrition repertoire.
Sweet and Tasty Baked Sweet Potato
Ingredients – Sweet potatoes, coconut oil and cinnamon.
- Pre-Heat your oven to 400 degrees.
- Wrap each sweet potato individually in tin foil and place in oven.
- Cook for 45minutes to an hour (sweet potato should be soft to the touch)
- Let cool so you can handle in your hands
- Mash all the sweet potatoes in a Tupperware
- Add 1 tablespoon of coconut oil per sweet potato (if you use 5 sweet potatoes, add 5 tablespoons of coconut oil)
- Add 1 tablespoon of Cinnamon per sweet potato (same as above for coconut oil)
- Eat right away or keep in the refrigerator and use as post-workout snack
Sweet Potato Fries
Ingredients – Sweet potatoes, olive oil/coconut oil, rosemary, salt and pepper.
- In a medium size cooking pan, turn heat to medium –high and melt coconut oil
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- As the pan heats up, cut sweet potato in wedges/fries ( I have found that if you nuke the sweet potato in the microwave for about 1-2 minutes it makes cutting the sweet potato a little easier)
- In a mixing bowl add olive oil and the sweet potatoes and mix so that all the wedges are coated evenly
- Add, chopped rosemary, salt and pepper
- Mix evenly in mixing bowl
- Add the sweet potato wedges on the pan and flash fry them (we are only frying them for about 5-7 minutes)
- Transfer sweet potato wedges into oven and let bake for 20-30 minutes.