Banana

The humble banana is considered to be one of ‘nature’s best energy bars’.  They come  in their very own wrapper and are packed with easily digestible carbohydrates for fuel. Add to that the fact that they contain quality vitamins and nutrients and you will be hard pushed to find a better natural alternative workout snack.

Below are some of the key nutritional values per 100g (% Recommended Daily Allowance):

Nutrition

Value

Energy
89kcal
Carbohydrate
23g
Sugars
12g
Dietary Fibre
2.6g
Vitamin B6
31%
Vitamin C
10%
Magnesium
8%
Manganese
13%
Potassium
8%
Sodium
0%
Saturated Fat
0.30%
Cholesterol
0%

Bananas are naturally low in saturated (bad) fat and are also cholesterol free. They are also very low in sodium (salt).  Sodium is needed in the body to help maintain fluid levels and stay hydrated, but when you consider it is found in most foods it is easy to consume too much and we know that excessive levels of sodium will lead to high blood pressure. Therefore bananas are a perfect healthy snack food, but they are also a great foodstuff for exercise.

The banana is packed with carbohydrates to fuel your exercise. The main form of carbohydrate is fructose which is a simple monosaccharide.  This is absorbed directly into the bloodstream, making it fast acting when releasing energy during exercise, or for rapid replenishment when recovering from exercise. The average banana weighs about 120g so will give you about 106kcals which is great for a natural product, but how does it compare to a specialist sports nutrition product?

A pack of Sports Beans by Jelly Belly weighs in at just 28g and will provide you with 100kcals from 25g of carbohydrates. So if you are just looking for extra calories/more energy then it is far easier to carry a smaller and lighter pack of Sport Beans that will not make a mess if squashed and has a much longer shelf life. A pack of Sports Beans will provide you with the same amount of vitamin C as a 100g banana. Vitamin C boosts the bodies immune system and works as an antioxidant, so is needed during and after intense exercise. Sports Beans also contain electrolytes that help to maintain the bodies fluid balance. One key electrolyte listed is potassium. You get 40mg in a 28g bag, but compare that to a whopping 358mg found in a 100g banana and you can see why the banana is called a ‘super-food’. So what other nutritional benefits does the super banana offer over most other sports nutrition products?

As well as potassium bananas are loaded with magnesium which is needed for muscle function and also helps with the absorption of  calcium. That coupled with the essential trace mineral manganese improves bone health and brain function. With 31% of your recommended daily allowance of Vitamin B6 the banana also helps the bodies neurotransmitters and the metabolism of red blood cells. Both of these are essential in keeping muscles performing at their best. The dietary fibre provided by eating a whole food will also aid digestion and keep you feeling fuller for longer.

In conclusion, specialist sports nutrition has its place and uses, but if you are looking for a natural approach to quality sports nutrition look no further than the humble banana!

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