If you’re a marathon runner (or have been roped into conversation with a marathon runner), then you’ll be familiar with sports gels, which are packets of concentrated sugars, electrolytes, and carbohydrates that athletes can carry on the go for a mid-workout refuel. These gels come in various flavors already, but a new study asks the obvious question that was definitely on all of our minds: what if you squeezed a packet of literal mashed potatoes into your mouth on mile 15 instead?
As Modern Farmer points out, this University of Illinois study was funded by the Alliance for Potato Research and Education, making it more reliable as a source of entertainment than as nutritional gospel. Still, the findings were interesting: when 12 serious cyclists were given either plain water, sports gel, or potato puree throughout a two-hour ride, the gel and potato groups both clocked a similar performance and ended up with roughly the same heart rate and blood glucose levels.
So should you grab your trusty masher and start bagging up potato slurry for your next triathlon? Consider carefully. The study also noted that the mashed-potato-slurping cyclists “experienced significantly more gastrointestinal bloating, pain and flatulence than the other groups.” For the sake of those in your wake, you might just want to stick to your typical sports gel for now.