Bananas are eaten widely around the world and are particularly popular amongst athletes, regular exercises and in particular runners. You probably have heard about the slow release carbohydrates in bananas and you might know bananas tend to contain between 20 – 30g of carbohydrates. What else about them makes them special? And how can they aid running performance?

Benefits Of Bananas For Runners

Mineral and Vitamin Rich

Banana’s contain a range of nutrients and help to provide the body with energy in the form of carbohydrates where needed. 1 medium banana contains:

  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin C
  • Manganese
  • Fibre
  • Copper
  • Potassium
  • Biotin

Out of all these minerals, banana’s are most commonly known for having high levels of potassium which aid the regulation and control of muscular contractions within the body. This, of course, is vital for optimum performance. In addition, potassium helps to regulate water levels in the body and can possibly help prevent cramps.

They even contain powerful antioxidants such as dopamine and catechins which can help to deal with free radicals and combat oxidative stress caused by running.

Slow Release Carbohydrates

Bananas are full of carbohydrates which are released slowly into the bloodstream. Since bananas have a low glycemic index, blood sugar is not spiked suddenly like would occur with sugary treats, chocolate or sweets. This helps to keep blood sugar levels stable and ensure a steady supply of energy in the hours leading up to a training session when you don’t want to be eating too much and at lower intensities, can help to provide glycogen to the muscles whilst running.

The more green the banana is the more unripe it is. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat it, it simply means that it contains more resistant starch than yellow, ripe bananas.

For reference, an unripe banana has a glycemic index of around 30 whilst a ripe banana has a glycemic index of around 60. A higher glycemic index corresponds to how quickly sugar levels are raised by that food. If you’re concerned about blood sugar or want a slower releasing effect of sugar into the bloodstream, you probably want to go for the more unripe banana’s. You’ll get a similar amount of sugars released into the bloodstream, just at a slower rate.

If you want a bit of a boost of energy, ripe bananas are the perfect way to go for runners, providing simple forms of sugar which are easy to digest. Definitely, swap these in for chocolate bars if you can as a healthier option!

Aids Sleep

This may be surprising, but the minerals magnesium and potassium, both found in bananas help to relax your muscles. They even contain tryptophan (an amino acid), which is converted by the body into serotonin (the feel-good hormone) and melatonin (the sleep hormone). This helps to get a good night’s sleep which is essential for recovering from training.

Cheap and Portable

Finally, what other reason to buy bananas other than that they’re cheap and portable. You can buy them from pretty much any supermarket or grocery store and they even come wrapped naturally! Just avoid bumping and bruising them, unless you like mushy bananas and they’re good to eat! In fact, because of their natural defence layer – the banana peel, you’ll find that bananas rarely contain pesticides or pollutants due to how thick the peel is. Win win!

I like to eat bananas when I’m feeling like I need a bit of sugar or as a snack between meals. They’re very satiating. Otherwise, I like to eat them after training to help replenish glycogen or maybe a couple of hours before a race.

Do you consume bananas as part of your diet? Did I miss any benefits of bananas for runners? Let me know down below!