Are Bananas a Useful Nutrient During Exercise?

Bananas are a rich source of nutrients, most notably carbohydrate and potassium. The carbohydrate content of the banana can vary depending on the ripeness, as the starch in unripe bananas slowly turns to glucose as the ripening process proceeds. Studies have investigated the effects of bananas on exercise performance to see how they compare to other forms of nutrition. For example, in one study, researchers administered bananas (0.2 g power kg of bodyweight carbohydrate) or a carbohydrate drink providing the same amount of carbohydrate as the banana group. The cyclist then consumed these during a 75 km cycle ride. The results of the study showed that there was no difference between the groups given bananas or a carbohydrate drink. The performance for both groups was similar, suggesting that bananas are as good a source of carbohydrate during exercise compared to a carbohydrate drink. That bananas also have other beneficial nutrients in them suggests that overall, bananas are superior as an exercise fuel. 

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Nieman, D. C., Gillitt, N. D., Henson, D. A., Sha, W., Shanely, R. A., Knab, A. M., Clandella-Kam, L. and Jin, F. 2012. Bananas as an energy source during exercise: a metabolomics approach. PLoS One. 7(5): e37479

About Robert Barrington

Robert Barrington is a writer, nutritionist, lecturer and philosopher.
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