Bananas to most people are just another fruit. We see people eating them every day and they’re arguably the most popular fruit of all. There are a number of benefits associated with bananas, from their content of potassium, Vitamin B6 & C and carbohydrates; to their ability to help protect from muscle cramps, reduce swelling and lower blood pressure.
Banana’s only contain around 120 calories for a large banana, and around 100 for a medium banana – but they boast a large profile of micronutrients beneficial to a number of aspects of health!
Potassium is one of, if not the most popular benefit to be associated with bananas. It helps to regulate fluid balance and maintain the normal functions of the heart; resulting in decreasing the risk of high blood pressure and heart problems.
Furthermore, potassium can help with anxiety, reduce the risk of a stroke and it can also enhance muscle strength, the nervous system functions and metabolism.
Vitamin B6 is one of the most beneficial vitamins; it helps to develop a healthy brain as well as maintain a generally healthy body. B6 makes the process of turning food into energy quicker for the body and as a result increases metabolism.
Incredibly, Vitamin B6 influences mood by telling the body to create more hormones; as this vitamin has such as variety of benefits from helping improve brain development, general health and metabolism it’s safe to say that bananas definitely have a number of benefits.
Benefits for Training
In terms of training, bananas also have a number of benefits; they’re useful as a pre-workout snack and are used by a number of athletes; the average banana contains 30g of carbohydrates which are in a simple form meaning they are turned into energy very quickly.
In terms of post-workout, due to their very beneficial micronutrient profile bananas are very useful for decreasing recovery time.
Bananas for Pre/Post training
1) Due to their simple carbohydrate form, bananas provide a quick energy spike which makes them ideal for eating just before exercise
2) Bananas help to keep you more alert and your reflexes on point
3) Muscle cramping is less likely due to bananas containing potassium which is an electrolyte
4) Vitamin C. One regular banana contains around 15% of your RDA for Vitamin C, which is absolutely essential for strengthening muscles, tendons and ligaments
5) Vitamin C also repairs soft tissue damage sustained when carrying out weight training and synthesises adrenaline
6) Bananas also help to reduce the amount of time it takes to recover from exercise
7) The potassium in bananas can aid towards muscle strength, making eating them before training a valuable benefit
Banana Meal Ideas
Bananas are a quick and easy snack to eat on their own… but if you’re looking for some more exciting ideas, here are a few ways you can incorporate bananas!
1) If you make smoothies, bananas are a fantastic ingredient to add in if you’re looking to thicken/bulk out a shake. Adding in a banana will not only improve the taste and thickness of your smoothie, but will also improve the micronutrient content as well and help aid in mental awareness.
2) Try slicing a banana on wholemeal toast (or even pancakes) for a pre-workout snack which will help maintain a rise in blood sugar levels while you train; (it tastes pretty great too) thereofre helping you to refrain from becoming fatigued early.
3) Add a serving of peanut butter to your banana for a slow releasing healthy fats hit with extra protein after your workout to aid recovery. As bananas are made up of mainly carbohydrates, eating them with peanut butter will allow you to provide your body with a healthy serving of protein and fat as well; making your overall macronutrient intake higher and giving your body everything it needs to recover quickly.
Take Home Message
Bananas are a very beneficial food for a number of reasons. You should definitely consider including them into your nutrition plan each week; pre or post workout (why not even both?!).
Finding space in your plan should be very easy as the average banana contains just 120 calories pretty much completely from carbohydrates (which we all know by now we should not be afraid of!).
Be sure to include a number of micro-nutrient dense foods into your nutrition in order to benefit your health as well as your body composition!