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Are bananas good for building muscle?

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  • Nutritional values* of bananas: This is what it contains
  • Do bananas make you fat?
  • Are bananas good for building muscle?
  • Bananas before or after training?
  • Ripe or unripe bananas – which is healthier?
  • Fitness recipes with bananas
  • Store bananas correctly: This way they stay yellow for a long time

No other fruit is as popular among athletes as the banana. And for good reason: It delivers new power in a very short time and is therefore a good choice as a quick pre- or post-workout snack both shortly before and after training.

But does this only apply to endurance sports or also to strength training? Are bananas good for building muscle or do they even sabotage it? Can you eat bananas if you want to lose weight?

We’ll tell you what the banana’s “fattening image” is all about, what nutrients are hidden under the yellow peel and whether they’re also good as muscle food.

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Nutritional values* of bananas: This is what it contains

A medium-sized banana (weighs an average of 110 grams) provides around 105 calories and a relatively high amount of carbohydrates at 24 grams. This makes it one of the most nutritious types of fruit and has relatively many calories compared to many other fruits.

Calories 105 kilocalories
carbohydrates 24 Gramm
of which fructose around 4 grams
Fiber 2 Gramm
Proteins 1 Gramm
Slices 0 Gramm
Magnesium 40 milligrams
Potassium 432 milligrams
Calcium 10 Milligram
Eisen 0.4 milligrams
Vitamin C 13 milligrams
Folic acid 22 micrograms
Vitamin A 42 micrograms
Vitamin E 0.3 milligrams

However, this shouldn’t be a reason to eliminate bananas from your diet. The short-chain carbohydrates it contains provide a quick energy boost during exercise. And if you compare the calorie content with other snacks, such as bars or nuts, it is rather low.

Another plus point: The high magnesium and potassium content makes bananas particularly interesting for athletes: with 40 milligrams of magnesium and 432 milligrams of potassium, which a medium-sized banana provides on average, it is optimal muscle protection. According to studies, both minerals are important components of energy metabolism, reduce fatigue and improve regeneration. They are also responsible for communication between muscles and nerves. It has to function smoothly so that you can give your all in training. But a banana cannot prevent or cure muscle cramps; that is a myth.

Do bananas make you fat?

The sweet fruits always have to fight against this prejudice. Given the high calorie and sugar content, that’s no wonder, right? Not really. If you just look at the relative proportion of nutrients (and don’t take the water content into account!), the carbohydrates stand out in terms of quantity with a proportion of over 90 percent, yes.

But don’t let that fool you: If you look at all the components of bananas together – including the high water content of over 70 percent – the carbs only make up a small part. This makes it clear: Bananas are not the calorie bombs that many people think they are.

And what about all the (fruit) sugar in bananas? Yes, bananas contain a lot of sugar, both glucose and fructose. Too much fructose, especially in the form of syrup in processed foods, can actually make you sick and, according to studies, can promote insulin resistance, obesity (especially excessive belly fat), fatty liver disease and other metabolic diseases.

Natural fructose in fruit (and vegetables) is absolutely fine, because fruit is beneficial to health due to its ingredients, as numerous studies have shown. The German Nutrition Society (DGE) recommends 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day (3x vegetables: 2x fruit) – no matter what type.

Eat a variety of foods and eat other fruits in addition to bananas

Bananas also have a relatively low glycemic load (GL). This factor indicates how much 100 grams of a carbohydrate-containing food affects your blood sugar level. Foods with high GL make him ride a roller coaster and thus cause cravings. Bananas have a mid-range GL due to their high fructose content. In other words: your blood sugar level rises after eating a banana, but does not immediately fall again. A clear plus point for the yellow exotic.

In summary it means: Bananas can only become fattening if you eat them in excess, i.e. if you regularly give your body more calories than it uses. As long as you enjoy bananas in moderation, i.e. eat around one banana per day, you will definitely benefit from the quick source of energy. And bananas are definitely better than chocolate.

Are bananas good for building muscle?

Classic muscle building foods are usually high in protein, such as eggs or wings. According to studies, increased protein intake in combination with strength training is the best way to effectively build muscle. You can read here how much protein you should consume per day if you want to build muscle.

However, bananas cannot score points when it comes to protein content, as they only provide a meager 1 gram per 100 grams per gram. Nevertheless, they are recommended for strength athletes – as a healthy source of energy before or after training.

As a pre-workout snack, the simple carbohydrates in bananas (glucose and fructose) give you a quick energy boost without putting too much strain on your stomach before exercise. Because bananas are easy to digest. (Exception: green banana!). Snacked after exercise, the carbs (especially glucose) help you replenish your empty glycogen stores (energy stores). Endurance athletes can also grab a banana during training. A study of cyclists showed that bananas were just as effective as a carbohydrate drink.

Bananas before or after training?

Bananas quickly provide you with new energy, mainly due to the two sugar building blocks glucose and fructose. The simple sugar glucose immediately enters the blood, causes blood sugar and insulin levels to rise and thus supplies the body with energy. The fructose takes a metabolic detour via the liver, where it is converted into glucose, among other things, and therefore has no influence on your insulin level – but still provides your body with energy after a little delay.

A banana before or after a workout provides quick energy

Whether you need the energy boost before or after training is up to you. If you are an endurance athlete, you can also grab a banana during exercise if you notice that your strength is dwindling. Bananas are ideal as a last, small snack before a run or workout in the gym because:

  • are easy to digest
  • provide you with quick energy for training
  • contain magnesium as potassium for your muscles

Immediately after exercise, a banana will also replenish your empty glycogen stores (glycogen is the body’s storage form of sugar/energy). However, you should eat a post-workout meal one to two hours after training. You can read here which nutrients your body absolutely needs after exercise.

Ripe or unripe bananas – which is healthier?

As already mentioned above in the text, bananas are generally easy to digest – except for green bananas, because they can be difficult for you to stomach and lead to constipation. The reason: unripe, very green bananas contain a lot of starch (hard-to-digest, complex carbohydrates). The riper the banana, the more starch converts into simple carbohydrates and becomes more digestible. But that doesn’t mean green bananas are unhealthy, as studies show the health benefits of unripe bananas.

Fitness recipes with bananas

Not only can you snack on bananas straight out of the peel, you can also bake with them or use them in a smoothie. Together with whey, oat flakes and peanut butter, there is a quick mass gainer shake for hard gainers that provides a lot of calories. Or how about these delicious protein pancakes with banana?

  • 1 Banana
  • 2 Owner
  • 15 g Whey-Proteinpulver
  • 1 pinch of cinnamon
  • 1 tsp coconut oil

Preparation: Process the banana, eggs, whey and cinnamon in a blender to form a smooth dough. If you don’t have a mixer, mash the banana with a fork in a bowl, stir in the eggs and protein powder and beat everything by hand until it’s nice and fluffy. Heat some coconut oil in a pan and fry small banana pancakes in it. You can top these as desired with low-fat quark, honey, fresh banana pieces and nuts, for example.

Healthy athlete’s breakfast: banana pancakes with an extra portion of protein

Store bananas correctly: This way they stay yellow for a long time

To ensure that bananas end up nice and ripe in the supermarket, they are harvested unripe, which is why they can sometimes still be a little green. Ripening usually only takes a few days. To ensure that the healthy nutrient bombs remain edible for a long time, they definitely don’t belong in the fridge. The cold causes black discoloration – which, by the way, isn’t a bad thing. This also applies to brown bruises, because overripe bananas are still great to eat and can be used as a natural sweetener in a smoothie or protein shake, for example.

When storing, however, you should make sure that bananas do not “get along” with every fruit in the fruit bowl: some varieties, for example apples, release ethylene. This is a ripening gas that causes bananas to ripen faster – and therefore brown faster.

A banana is much more than an in-between snack for a quick energy reload. Thanks to its many health benefits, it has more than earned the title of “sports favorite fruit”.

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