If you workout often, you've probably bought a sports drink or two. Or maybe you've stuck with just plain old water to dodge extra sugar and carbs wherever you can. But a new study has found that fruit, especially bananas, are the ideal workout snack. Next time you hit the gym, or even your yoga mat, eat a banana for an added kick to your workout routine.
A banana gives your body everything it needs to push through grueling exercise and helps your muscles bounce back afterwards. And unlike those sugary sports drinks, they're all natural, down to the convenient, biodegradable packaging. In a new study comparing the cellular effects of carbohydrates consumed while working out, bananas came out on top.
It's a well known fact that carbohydrates quickly fuel muscles and help repair them by fighting inflammation afterwards, but you may not know that sugar is the easiest and fastest way to digest carbohydrates during a workout, which is why sports drinks have become an $8 billion industry. But is that sugary sports drink worth it? Sports drinks contain artificial sweeteners and hard to pronounce chemicals, while bananas are all natural, healthy, and have added benefits that sports drinks don't offer.
The study tracked 20 cyclists and compared bananas to water to sports drinks to see which had the biggest impact on the athletes performance and recovery. As expected, the study, published in PLOS One, found that the cyclist performed better if they had a banana or sports drinks vs. just plain water. They also experienced less inflammation afterwards.
But when another experiment was done to track molecular changes, they found that the cyclists who ate half a banana during their workout produced less of the enzyme COX-2, than those who consumed sports drinks or water. COX-2 is responsible for increased inflammation, and is the same component that people take aspirin and ibuprofen to reduce. Fewer markers for COX-2 means less inflammation, and a speedier recovery after working out.
Bananas are also a great source of potassium, an electrolyte that helps your muscles contract. They're full of vitamin B6, vitamin C, magnesium, and fiber. The only downside? They do cause a little bit of bloating. But as a natural alternative to a sugary sports drinks, bananas are a great alternative. Eat them raw, blend them into delicious smoothies, top your oatmeal with a few slices, or indulge in a childhood favorite — peanut butter and bananas. Anyway you eat em, it really is impossible to beat em.
Looking for a quick but effective workout? Here's your guide to a real 10 minute workout. Or bring the fitness studio home, with these tech enhanced fitness trends. Here's a simple, 5 minute banana smoothie recipe to fuel your muscles before you hit the mat.
By Taste of Home Serves: 4
Banana SmoothieTaste of Home
2 cups of milk of choice
2 medium ripe bananas
¼ cup of honey
Directions: Combine all ingredients in a blender until smooth and serve.