3 Reasons Why Sweet Potatoes are Great for Your Workout

Photo by Emma Simpson on Unsplash

Better, faster, stronger. Sweet potatoes contain a powerful mix of nutrients, as well as phytonutrients – plant compounds that are important for good health – all in a 103-calorie package.* Whether you are an avid athlete or an occasional gym-goer, your body requires balanced nutrition to keep you performing at your peak and aid in your recovery.

Here are 3 reasons why sweet potatoes are important for your fitness fuel-up, recovery and an overall healthy lifestyle.

1. Complex Carbohydrates – Sweet potatoes are made up of complex carbs – long chains of sugar molecules (polysaccharides). When eaten, carbohydrates break down into glucose (sugar) – the body’s main energy source.

  • Pre-Workout: Experts suggest fueling your body with carbs. As your exercise intensity increases, muscle glycogen is used, which causes a greater need for carbohydrates.
  • Post-Workout: Your body needs carbs paired with protein for rebuilding and repairing muscles. Getting carbs into your system is vital post workout to help replace stored energy (glycogen) that was lost during exercise.

Research has shown that some of the vitamins and minerals found in sweet potatoes are especially important in athletes’ diets – these include iron and vitamin C. (1, 2)

2. Mineral: Iron – Endurance athletes – particularly females and adolescents – may be at risk
for reduced iron stores due to the increased iron demands during training. Sweet potatoes contain iron, thus helping to counteract iron depletion. (1, 3)

3. Vitamins:

  • Vitamin C is an antioxidant that plays an important role in protecting cell membranes from oxidative damage. Sweet potatoes contain vitamin C, which helps fight infections, heal wounds and absorb iron.
  • Vitamin A also acts as an antioxidant, which has been shown to have a protective effect on cells. It is especially important for athletes because exercise produces free radicals and an excess of free radicals can damage cells. When eaten with the skin on, a sweet potato provides 100% of the daily recommended value of vitamin A, which plays a vital role in vision, bone development and immune function.*

Whatever your fitness path you choose, sweet potatoes should be an integral part of your health and fitness journey. For more information, visit our “Sweet Potato and Fitness” page to learn more.

Research References:

  1. Powers SK and Jackson MJ. Exercise-induced oxidative stress: cellular mechanisms and impact on muscle force production. Physiol Rev 88: 1243-1276, 2008.
  2. Thomas DT, Erdman KA, Burke LM. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, American College of Sports Medicine, and Dietitians of Canada. Position of the American Dietetic Association, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine: Nutrition and Athletic Performance. Acad Nutr Diet 2016;116(3):501528.
  3. Beard J, Tobin B. Iron status and exercise. Am J Clin Nutr 2000;72(2), 594s-597s.

*Baked with the skin on


2 comments on “3 Reasons Why Sweet Potatoes are Great for Your Workout

  1. I love sweet potatoes. I bake 5-7 per week. I eat them as snack or breakfast with pecans. I also do not at sugar or I make sweet potato pancakes. I would like to know how to bake sweet potato fries without frying. They are not crispy of crunchy when baked. Hope you can suggest a recipe for baking crunchy fries. My air fryer is not any better than the oven.

  2. While we have not tried this at the NCSPC ( I will be soon) I did find this link I’m hoping this works out well.

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