For my master’s thesis in grad school, I had to conduct a research study. I chose to examine the prevalence of inadequate micronutrient intakes in collegiate and professional athletes. At this point in my career, I was already meeting one-on-one with clients and analyzing their current nutrition and it was absolutely amazing to me that an athlete could be consuming 4000+ calories, over 200% of their protein needs, yet still not be meeting the needs of several micronutrients that are crucial to proper recovery and improving performance.
One of the micronutrients shown in my study to be significantly below % RDA was potassium, and even today when I meet with clients I notice potassium tends to be a micronutrient people struggle to meet the RDA.
So in this week's 1-minute nutrition video, I cover potassium – what it does, and where to find it in food…you may be surprised to know that there’s actually over TWICE as much potassium in a baked potato as there is in a banana. I have several clients come to me and say something like ‘oh well I have a banana everyday with my breakfast, so I should be good with potassium’ – when that’s really only covering about 9% of your daily needs. I’ve also had several clients come to me and say they don’t eat white potatoes because they’ve heard they are ”nothing but carbs” and “as bad for you as white bread” - truth is, they aren’t any less nutrient dense than sweet potatoes, they just contain different types of nutrients!
- Potassium is an electrolyte that plays a crucial role in hydration, muscle contraction, and controlling blood pressure and heart rate. Failing to replace potassium during and after workouts could potentially lead to muscle aches, cramps, fatigue, or even spasms and heart palpitations.
- Potassium and sodium are minerals that together regulate fluid levels and electrolyte balance. If you eat a diet high in processed foods (fast food, chips, frozen meals) chances are you are getting way too much sodium and too little potassium, which could lead to an electrolyte imbalance. Your body needs to maintain steady levels of electrolytes and fluids to avoid dehydration.
- Adults should be getting up to 4700 mg per day but extra may be needed based on training and sweat rate as potassium is lost in sweat.
- Foods rich in potassium include potatoes (926mg in a baked potato), avocado (690mg in a california avocado), coconut water (600mg in 1 cup), sweet potatoes (438mg), bananas (422mg), melon (417mg in 1 cup cantaloupe), and spinach (334mg in 2 cups)
Watch the full video below!