Training & Nutrition

Foods to Fuel Cycling: White vs Sweet Potato?

We look at how the big guns of carbohydrates stack up

When you’re out riding, your body is burning through predominantly carbohydrates, and foods with a high carb content play an important role in keeping cyclists going.

Potatoes are a popular source of carbohydrate – as well as providing fuel for the energy furnace of a cyclists metabolism, they’re also packed full of vitamins and minerals, as well as fibre which keeps your gut healthy.

By far the most widely consumed potato in the UK, white potatoes offer plenty of goodness, but sweet potatoes have been taking over in the popularity stakes as of late.

We looked at the values of each to see who should be the victor in the potato vs sweet potato battle…

White potato

100g serving of white potatoes, baked without butter or salt, contains 93 calories, and 21g of carbohydrate, 2g of fibre, and 1g of sugars. That means you are getting a healthy dose of carbs, without taking on too much sugar.

The white potato does have a glycemic index of 82, which is fairly high and means your baked potato will give you a quick burst of energy that might not last as long as other foods.

Protein is important for helping to restore muscles after exercise, and your 100g of white potatoes contains 3g of protein.

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The humble white potato also offers 9.6 mg of Vitamin C, which supports your immune system, 10 mg of Vitamin A. You also get 535 mg of potassium, a vital electrolyte which can fight fatigue and muscle tiredness, plus 28mg of magnesium – which helps your body maintain healthy blood pressure.

So – overall, the white potato is looking pretty good, but how does it stack up?

Sweet potato

Competitively, the 100g of sweet potato contains 21g of carbohydrates, too – in 90 calories, this time with 3g of fibre, but 6g of sugar, as the name would suggest. The protein is down too, with 2g.

On the GI index, Sweet Potatoes come in at 70, so they might keep you fuller for longer than the white version.

Recipe: Sweet potato and tuna warmer

The lovely orange root vegetable offers 38 mg of calcium – which is great for maintaining bone health. This little critter also provides a similar amount of magnesium, at 27mg, plus 475mg of potassium.

The real seller for the sweet potato is that it provides 384% of your vitamin A requirement, in just 100g, which aids growth, development, and maintains the immune system.

So, what’s the answer?

Both forms of potato will provide you with carbs to fuel up before a ride, as well as helping you restore glycogen stores after a ride with good quality carbohydrates.

Sweet potatoes, being lower GI, might keep you fuller for longer and help you maintain a constant blood sugar level.

However, both contain essential vitamins and minerals, in different doses. Really, you’re best off varying your potato consumption, and of course, picking the one that tickles your taste buds the most.

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