Eating good simple foods like a banana is an ultimate fueling option. Bananas are not only delicious, but also extremely nutritious, that’s why many runners and athletes use bananas for pre-race, race fueling and post-training refueling. Bananas are full of healthy carbohydrates, vitamins and potassium. Bananas are a balanced blend of nutrients that help restoring tired muscles, and give us energy boost even for our brain. Bananas also provide 15% of your daily vitamin B6 daily recommended intake to tune up the nervous system, which makes our body very happy.
Nutrients in Bananas:
- Potassium (essential mineral)
- Vitamin B
- Vitamin C
- Low Glycemic Index (GI)- More slowly digested, absorbed and metabolized which causes slower rise of blood glucose, and insulin levels (no sugar spike)
If you like bananas, you should eat them, especially on training and racing days.
Why do Runners Need These Nutrients?
Potassium is a mineral and electrolyte that isn’t produced naturally by the body. As runners, we need potassium to support the blood pressure and heart rhythm. If runners consume bananas, it will help to keep a regular heart rate and blood flow while running.
Vitamin B is a water-soluble delicate vitamin, when our body is depleted of vitamin B it causes a lack of energy. Because vitamin B is delicate, fresh bananas will have higher levels of vitamin B than cooked bananas. Vitamin B helps the body process carbohydrates, proteins, and fats that our body needs for fueling while running and recovery.
Vitamin C is essential for runners, running creates many microtears in the body’s muscles, and vitamin C helps healing those microtears. For runners, it maintains the connective tissue healthy, and prevents infections so you can keep running long-distance with no issues. It also helps to prevent many other infectious diseases. Vitamin C is also more efficient when absorbed from fresh foods, eating fresh bananas will provide higher levels of vitamin C.
Carbs are a great source of sugars and starches, essential for good energy. Runners need a lot of energy and carb fueling. Bananas contain fructose, a simple carbohydrate that provides a faster release of energy which is digested and processed more quickly in the body, but from bananas we still don’t get sugar spikes. Complex carbohydrates are very healthy, but it takes longer to process and digest than simple carbs. For pre-run and during a run simple carbs are more efficient to provide energy, digested more easily and don’t cause stomach issues like complex carbs during a run. The body processes bananas faster, allowing to fuel the body during the run and refuel post-run. Average size and ripeness bananas contain about 23g of carbs, similar to one gel.
Low GI (glycemic index)
Bananas are low on GI scale, less than 55 is considered low and bananas have a glycemic index value of 51. Foods with a low GI scale cause blood sugar to rise gradually, not quickly after eating them. Bananas will provide no sugar highs and lows as your body processes the food. A consistent level of sugar is better for runners as it provides a constant source of fuel rather than sugar spikes, which causes our body to crash.
Fiber is the part of the bananas that can’t be digested or absorbed by the body, but it helps to support gut health and keep our digestive system regular. This type of natural fiber doesn’t cause any stomach issues during a run.
Antioxidants help to stop and prevent oxidation. Oxidation is a common chemical reaction (it happens when our cells extract energy from food), in which atoms or molecules lose electrons. Losing electrons causes imbalance as they have to be connected in pairs. When a molecule has uneven electrons, it will roam through the body, looking to grab electrons to even up the numbers and rebalance the cells. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals by providing their own electrons without becoming free radicals themselves, so they don’t have to go find electrons to rebalance the cells. When eating bananas, the body processes carbohydrates for energy and at the same time, antioxidants balance the electrons.
That is why runners should eat bananas if they like that nutritious fruit to provide healthy, easy to digest, and body stabilizing energy.
Eat Well, Train Well, Run Strong!