5 Reasons You Should Eat More Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are, hands down, one of the best carbohydrates an athlete can consume. From runners to weightlifters to swimmers, sweet potatoes offer athletes a superior complex carb that is stored, then efficiently broken down for future energy needs. Because carbohydrates are the body’s preferred source of energy, your daily diet should hover around 40% of carbohydrates. Some people advocate up to 60%, but I really think a 40/40/20 breakdown (carbs/protein/fat), is optimal for strength athletes.

I usually have nine to twelve heavy training sessions a week, and I make sure to eat a sweet potato at least three times a week, if not more often. Here’s why I think you should eat them, too:

  • They’re relatively low in calories for as many carbs as you get. For people watching their weight, whether for weight class reasons or health in general, caloric consumption is key. A medium-sized sweet potato (2″ in diameter, 5″ long) offers around 103 calories and 24 grams of carbs.¹
  • Sweet potatoes have a lot of fiber in them — around 4g (or 15% of your daily value). Fiber consumption is often ignored, with rather unpleasant side effects. Eat sweet potatoes and make your intestines happier.
  • They’re packed with Vitamin C; almost 35% of your daily value, to be exact. Vitamin C is not just important as immune support, but also helps your body better absorb iron, which is another very important micronutrient for weightlifters. (They also contain  iron, too.)
  • Sweet potatoes are cheap and easy to cook. Buy them on sale for around $.50/pound, and store them in a cool, dry place. They’ll last for 6-8 weeks. Then, pull them out and bake them, boil and mash them , shred them for sweet potato hash, or grill them.
  • For a similar amount of calories as 2 slices of wheat bread, you’re getting many important nutrients, including potassium, beta-carotene, manganese, and B6, while being low in sodium, cholesterol and saturated fat. It’s like hitting the nutritional jackpot without buying extra tickets: you get awesome benefits while enjoying something sweet and tasty.

To traditionally bake a sweet potato, check out the recipe below. Otherwise, pop it in the microwave and you’re good to go!

Baked Sweet Potato

Serves 2
Prep time 5 minutes
Cook time 1 hour
Total time 1 hour, 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 Medium sweet potatoes

Directions

Step 1
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Step 2
Wash the sweet potatoes well and dry thoroughly.
Step 3
Take a fork and prick the skin of the sweet potato about 8-10 times. (Otherwise it will burst in the oven. I don't recommend that.)
Step 4
Place sweet potatoes on a baking sheet (lined with foil for easy cleanup).
Step 5
Bake for 1 hour (up to an hour and a half for sweet potatoes larger than 5 inches).
Step 6
Slice in half and top with butter, cinnamon, and brown sugar. Or butter and maple syrup. Or salt, pepper and cheese. Or chili. The possibilities are endless.
¹http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2667/2

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