You’re in the doctor’s office for a check-up. Your physician is thrilled to tell you there is a drug that is sweeping the country and starts gushing about the laundry list of benefits. Patients are reporting the following:
- Better energy and performance (real energy, not stimulant)
- Stress relief and relaxation
- Improved mood, concentration, and vision
- Better body composition and feelings of fullness
- A more youthful appearance
It turns out the miracle drug also fights inflammation and cancer and doesn’t come with any negative side effects. Do you take the doctors advice and start on your prescription of... sweet potatoes?
Sweet Potato Nutrition is a Dream
I admit I have a flare for the dramatics… but is the doctor’s office story that far off? The Center for Science in the Public Interest rates the sweet potato the #1 most nutritious vegetable by a wide margin.
How would you go about using sweet potatoes for your benefit though?
Sweet Potatoes for Pre-Workout (for Men or Women)
I am a huge fan of coffee, clean pre-workout powders, and caffeine in general. We have to remember though that caffeine is a stimulant, and doesn’t actually provide any useable energy to our bodies, just the perception of alertness.
If you are seeking to gain lean mass or increase performance, eat a medium sweet potato as your pre-workout carbohydrate and then ask yourself after your workout how you felt. Don't want to eat? We have you covered in a powdered organic sweet potato powder.
Sweet Potatoes for a Post-Workout Meal (for Men or Women)
So, we developed an organic sweet potato carbohydrate powder. Reasons? You're not in the mood to eat before or after workouts, but the sweet potato carbs start replenishing glycogen and shuttle proteins into depleted muscle cells for repair.
I researched post workout recovery biochemistry extensively this year and I learned that most carb powders are literally equal to drinking a soda from your cell’s perspective. They basically tell your 37 trillion cells, “Hey guys! Here’s some inflammation so you can’t function properly!” and “Hey adipose cells – store some fat!”
Read the ingredient on your current post-workout recovery supplement. If it is like Muscle MilkTM or ProgenexTM and includes maltodextrin, evaporated juice, dextrose, fructose, sucralose or anything that end in –ose… it is likely equivalent to drinking soda sugar. Here is a full list of the 56 names for sugar.
Another reason I go with my sweet potato clean carb powder is because it’s inconvenient to bring a fully cooked potato the the gym everyday! I have done it though plenty of times.
Sweet Potatoes as the Best Source of Carbohydrates
Sweet potatoes are known as the “king of the slow carbs” because they are digested slowly and keep you feeling fuller and energized longer. Slow carbs are good because there is a less dramatic insulin spike, which means you will actually use more of the energy you ate, and less will be stored as fat.
Here is a quick, non-scientific meta-analysis of some “Best Carb” lists:
Healthy Carbs You Should be Eating – (Food Network) - #1
25 Best Carbs That Will Uncover Your Abs List - (Eat This) - #14
10 Best Sources of Carbs List - (Men’s Fitness) - #3
10 Best Carbs for Weight Loss List – (Redbook) - #8
Best Carbs for Athletes – (Active) - #1
The Best Multi-Vitamin is A Sweet Potato
We throw around the term vitamin constantly, but what is a vitamin?
A vitamin is any molecule that is essential for normal growth and survival and cannot be made by the body. The Latin word of origin here literally means “life.”
This is incredibly interesting for two reasons:
- We are talking about things that we absolutely have to have for our normal growth and survival.
- This definition means that a molecule that is a vitamin for humans, may not necessarily be a vitamin for other forms of life, if they are able to synthesize that molecule within their own organism. For example, while ascorbic acid is “Vitamin C” to us, is not a vitamin to most animals.
I think of sweet potatoes as big orange vitamin bombs. They contain all of the following and much more:
Vitamin C – Helps form connective tissues (bones, ligaments, skin) and produces collagen which helps maintain skin’s youthful feel and appearance.
Vitamin A – Boosts vision, immune system functioning, cell growth.
Antioxidants – these neutralize free radicals (carcinogens) and nitrites (those preservatives that keep your deli ham looking brand new, when it’s not).
Vitamin B6 - Involved in the process of making serotonin and norepinephrine (your feel good chemicals).
Magnesium - There are over 300 important bodily functions that are dependent on magnesium, but the most important for performance and well being is energy production. Currently, 57% of the US population is not getting the US RDA of magnesium. 
I can hear you saying "But wait! I am already taking a multivitamin… I’m good to go!"
Au contraire mon frère – remember, source matters. We've already written about Why You Should Skip a Multivitamin.
The truth is, when you take a multivitamin, you are getting many synthetic forms of nutrients in amounts that do not represent whole foods. The point is that just because you put it in your mouth doesn’t mean your body is using it.
However, make no mistake, micronutrients are insanely important for processing macronutrients.
Translation: Do you want to actually use all the great fats, carbs, and protein you’re eating? Then eat nutritious whole foods like sweet potatoes.
The Best Fuel is Sweet Potato Nutrition
Food is fuel. Don’t be afraid of good carbohydrates. Use them to create truly energizing meals. Remember that your diet is not supposed to be punishment, you should be eating to support your activities, your goals, and your life. You are eating food for the benefits of the food, not just the taste. That being said, still make it taste amazing too! Here is one of my favorite sweet potato skillet recipes for dinner after an evening workout.
Disclaimer: I found some people at work look at me funny when I crush a whole sweet potato. Don’t worry if this happens to you. You will probably inspire them to eat more whole foods or at least spark a great conversation about food, health and fitness.
The Key to Great Energy is Sweet Potato
If you want great energy, stop looking for the best snack bar or the best vitamin pill or the best drink. Do yourself a favor and try adding a sweet potato in your breakfast, pre-workout, or post-workout routine for tremendous, real energy.