By Joan Kent, Ph.D.
“Sugar is bad stuff, but what should I eat on a long ride?” Over the years, many cyclists have asked me that question. In reply, I came up with the idea for Dr. Joan”™s Potato Goo. (No, that”™s not a brand name, just my private joke.)
I”™ve used Potato Goo successfully on many long rides, including indoor centuries. The late, very great Jim Karanas made it the staple of his diet on long rides (he also ate other foods on ultra rides). I”™ve often made extra for group rides, and it has developed quite a following. It even brought a skilled rider back from a complete bonk after he”™d been eating bars and gels all ride long.
Never one for complicated recipes, I make this the easy way. You”™ll need:
- raw potatoes of any kind (red potatoes have a really terrific, smooth texture, and I use organic)
- salt (sea salt is nice for the minerals, but not essential)
- a little water (I used distilled)
- snack-size zipper bags
- a food processor.
Select about 3 or 4 potatoes and cook them, with skins, any way you like. I microwave because I”™m the laziest cook in the known universe, but choose your favorite method. They should be soft when done.
Let the potatoes cool. Slice them and place them in a food processor with some sea salt. How much salt depends on the number and size of the potatoes, but you”™ll need to taste the mixture once you”™ve started mixing. IMPORTANT — It should taste salty, but not overly salty.
Add water, a little at a time, to make a paste. You”™ll be squeezing the Goo out of the corner of the zipper bag, so adjust the consistency. Too thick will obviously not squeeze out easily; too watery will make a runny mess.
Once everything”™s in the food processor, just start it and let it run until the Goo has a uniform texture. Taste for the salt, add more if necessary, add water if necessary, and done!
Spoon the Goo into snack-size zipper bags, filling each bag with only the amount you”™d want to consume at a rest stop. I actually carry a few zipper bags of Goo in my back jersey pocket, inside a light-weight plastic bag from the grocery store, and keep the empty zipper bags in the plastic bag until I find a place to dispose of them.
So what do you get with Potato Goo that you don”™t get with bars, gels, shots, or other sugars? You get the recommended electrolytes — potassium from the potatoes, sodium from the salt — along with the fastest carbs going. Much faster than sugar. Glycemic index (GI) is hardly the be-all/end-all, but here”™s one instance in which it”™s quite helpful. The GI of potatoes is far higher (faster) than that of sugar, so the potatoes start working almost immediately. You can really feel them. There”™s no sugar crash. And potatoes don”™t cause the gastro-intestinal upsets commonly associated with fructose — a common ingredient in many bars and sports drinks.
For anyone who”™s sensitive to sugar, this is a better way to fuel because you won”™t find yourself dealing with sugar cravings, withdrawal, malaise, or other after-effects of sugar consumption.
Caution: No nutrition surprises on Performance Day! If you have a major ride coming up, try this on a training ride first. Know how your body responds before you invest 100% in Potato Goo. Please always eat a solid pre-training meal before your ride.
Dr. Joan”™s Potato Goo has worked for indoor and outdoor cyclists, runners, and indoor rowers. If you try it, please let me know how it works for you.
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