But are they a good post-workout fuel? Let’s peel back the facts.
The benefits of nomming on ’nanners are extensive, truly.
Speeds up glycogen recovery
Eating carb-rich foods like bananas after a workout sesh allows your body to release your hormone insulin. Insulin then helps move sugar from your blood into your muscle cells, where it’s stored as glycogen, according to a research review.
The same research review above showed that it also increases insulin sensitivity in your muscles, which makes it easier for them to replenish glycogen stores after you hit the gym.
Full disclosure: Most peeps can replenish muscle glycogen stores in full before their next-day workout by simply eating a carb-rich diet — bananas or not. You also don’t necessarily need to nosh immediately after exercise to reap recovery benefits.
But if you plan to work out intensely, multiple times within 24 hours, the more carbs (especially nutritious, filling ones like bananas), the better. Eating higher quantities of carbs right after exercise can aid in recovery. That way, you have enough energy to go hard in your next sesh.
This combo cocktail of compounds may help prevent excess inflammation and promote a faster recovery post-exercise. So, if you’re used to your muscles acting achy after a cycle sesh, a banana might ease the swelling, according to a research review.
Helps kick cramps
Muscle cramps can sometimes signal an electrolyte imbalance, especially one onset by low magnesium or potassium levels. Certain health conditions, menstruation or excessive sweating can also trigger this imbalance.
There’s a reason why sports drinks contain electrolytes like, potassium and magnesium. After a hard workout, many athletes need to replenish these nutrient sources to recover properly. Bananas provide a similar recovery effect because they’re rich in potassium and magnesium.
Bananas aren’t strictly a cooldown snack. Here are the deets on eating nanners before, during, and after your workout.
Before a workout
A research review showed that you can hit your peak workout performance by chowing down on a banana about 30 to 60 minutes before you work those muscles.
The same research review above showed that this time window is ideal for eating a light carb snack with a little protein (think PB or almond butter). Doing so can increase energy stores during exercise, increase amino acid availability, and minimize muscle damage.
Compared to other foods, bananas are an ideal carb pick because they’re easy on your stomach, according to a research review. (Some people do have issues with bananas and gassiness, so find out what’s best for your bod.)
During a workout
It might sound weird to pause Downward Dog to take a big bite of banana, but srsly, don’t rule it out.
In a small 2012 study, some people reported that they feel too bloated if they eat bananas mid-workout, so find what works best for your bod.
After a workout
If you have less than 24 hours before your next workout, eat your banana asap following your cooldown. Otherwise, eat it within a few hours for restorative benefits.
- Berries. Like bananas, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries are high in antioxidants and contain healthy carbs. They also have sirtuins, which help promote a healthy metabolism and assist your bod with recovery, according to a research review.
- Oatmeal. According to the Dairy Council of California, oats are quick n’ easy, high in whole-grain carbs, and rich in antioxidants. If you want to fill up while you get fit, 1/2 cup oatmeal will get the job done.
- Nuts. All nuts are rich in the omega-3 fatty acids, protein and the healthy carbs you need to fuel up or recover after your workout.
- Sweet potato. Rich in vitamin A, potassium, and complex carbs, a sweet potato is the perfect starchy alternative to your post-workout banana. Roast it, bake it, mash it — any way you serve it, they’re healthy, delish and energizing.
Bananas are rich in nutrients like potassium and carbs, which will aid in exercise performance and muscle recovery. They’re also easy to digest and can slow sugar absorption, making them a legit post or pre-workout snack.
If you’re not a banana fan, you can get similar benefits from noshing on foods like berries, oatmeal, nuts, or sweet potatoes for your exercise fuel.