Should runners eat bananas every day?

By Thuy Hanh   February 17, 2024 | 06:00 pm PT
Should runners eat bananas every day?
Bananas on sale. Illustration photo by Pexels
Bananas provide energy for running sessions, but it's important to consider their use in specific cases.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, on average, a banana contains nutritional values equivalent to 105 calories, 27 carbs, 14 grams of sugar, 5 grams of fiber and 422 milligrams of potassium. It also provides other nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin B6, and electrolytes such as sodium and magnesium.

With this nutritional content, a banana can provide the same amount of calories as a packet of energy gel. Eating a banana before a workout is a quick and effective way to boost energy. Additionally, bananas are easily available in many places like supermarkets, markets, etc. Therefore, many running events now provide bananas for runners to replenish energy during and after the race. Bananas can be used in various ways, like blended into smoothies or sliced to eat with milk and oatmeal.

"Eating a banana every day is a good habit to add more nutrients. For a normal person, it's almost impossible to have excess potassium in the blood from eating one banana daily, especially if their diet doesn’t include other potassium-rich food," nutritionist Lauren Manaker told global magazine Runner's World.

However, bananas might not be the appropriate daily nutrient source for everyone. According to Manaker, people on a potassium-restricted diet or those with high blood sugar levels should not eat bananas daily. Bananas also contain high amounts of carbohydrates and sugar, which people with diabetes need to consider. Nevertheless, according to research by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the carbs in bananas are less absorbable starches, similar to fiber, meaning they release less glucose into the blood.

Besides carbs, bananas contain potassium - an important electrolyte for cell function, muscle health and cardiovascular health. Potassium and sodium operate together and need to be kept in balance.

"Eating a banana daily is good for most people, but it’s better if you eat a variety of fruits, and bananas are just one part of that," Manaker said, adding that the number of bananas one should eat depends on their daily diet. However, it's not good to eat many bananas along with other carbohydrate-rich foods.

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