Bananas has long been a staple for an endurance athlete’s nutrition arsenal. They are rich in antioxidants, potassium, fiber and vitamin B6.
Research conducted at Appalachian State University's Human Performance Lab in the
Kannapolis-based North Carolina Research Campus (NCRC) has shown additional banana benefits.
"We wanted to see which was more beneficial when consumed during intense cycling -- bananas or a carbohydrate sports drink," said Dr. David C. Nieman, director of the human performance lab.
"We found that not only was performance the same whether bananas or sports drinks were consumed, there were several advantages to consuming bananas," he said.
The bananas provided cyclists with antioxidants, fiber, potassium and vitamin B6. In addition, bananas have a healthier blend of sugars than sports drinks.
In the study, trained cyclists consumed either a cup of carbohydrate drink or half a banana every 15 minutes during a 75-kilometer simulated road race lasting 2.5 to 3 hours. Blood samples taken from the cyclists before and after the exercise were analyzed at the NCRC Metabolomics Laboratory for more than 100 metabolites -- molecules associated with metabolism.
"This type of research shows that you can have healthier carbohydrate sources before and after exercise that will support athletic performance just as well as a sports drink," Nieman said.
Do you already incorporate bananas into your regular nutritional diet?
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David C. Nieman, Nicholas D. Gillitt, Dru A. Henson, Wei Sha, R. Andrew Shanely, Amy M. Knab, Lynn Cialdella-Kam, Fuxia Jin. Bananas as an Energy Source during Exercise: A Metabolomics Approach. PLoS ONE, 2012; 7 (5): e37479 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0037479