Snacking on a tasty, healthy food after a tough workout is a common method to resupply your body with nutrients and energy. Potatoes are starchy vegetables that provide an abundance of carbohydrates for your muscles to use as fuel. However, if you enjoy eating a raw potato after working out, you might be causing more harm than good.
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Raw potatoes contain an abundance of raw starch, which our stomachs digest poorly. The raw potato passes through the stomach and upper intestines mostly intact, yielding minimal nutritional value. When the raw potato reaches the lower intestine, digestive bacteria causes the potato to ferment. This fermentation can cause gas, bloating and uncomfortable indigestion. These symptoms are not dangerous, but they are not ideal directly after a workout. In addition, the lack of nutrients gained from the raw potato makes your post workout meal of little value to your recovering muscles. Cooking the potato breaks down the starch so your body can digest it and make use of the abundance of nutrients. Raw potatoes can also harbor harmful bacteria on their skin that cooking kills. To be safe, thoroughly wash the potato to remove all bacteria before eating it raw.
Nutrition Required after Working Out
Directly after a workout, your muscles crave two things: protein and carbohydrates. Exercising creates small tears in muscle fibers; the protein helps them heal by providing their required amino acids. Carbohydrates help your body increase torn muscles’ glycogen stores, providing them with more energy to heal and keep moving. A cooked potato is an excellent source of carbohydrates, but for the best recovery, your body needs a source of protein as well. Ideally, you should provide your body with post-workout nutrition within 30 minutes of exercising.
Good Post-Workout Foods
If you would like to eat potatoes after your workout, enjoy them baked or mashed for your carbohydrate source. Fresh fruits, such as apricots, dates, bananas, grapes, apples, raisins and strawberries are tasty sources of carbohydrates that do not require cooking. Other vegetables that contain carbohydrates include yams, carrots and radishes. For protein, foods such as nuts, eggs, lean meats, fish, legumes, dairy and soy products are all suitable choices. Try to combine protein and carbohydrates equally in your post-workout meal to best fuel your body. Some sports drinks supply your body with suitable carbohydrates if you do not have an appetite after working out. Opt for a sugar-free variety to keep calorie content down.
Never consume any raw vegetable or fruit without thoroughly washing its exterior. Green potatoes and potatoes with roots growing on them contain the toxic compounds chaconine and solanine. Cooking does not neutralize these toxins; always avoid green or sprouted potatoes. If a potato you would like to consume has a root growing on its exterior, cut it away and remove any discolored flesh beneath it, or at least 1/2 inch of the flesh.