Bananas are good for bodybuilding. They're a great source of carbohydrates, which means they're a great choice to eat before or after exercise. Bananas are also high in potassium, which helps replace electrolytes lost during exercise, in addition to other micronutrients such as manganese, vitamin B6 and vitamin C.
Here's what to discuss:
- Banana Nutritional Value: Calories and Macros.
- The advantages and disadvantages of eating bananas for fitness.
- Is it okay to eat bananas before or after training.
- If banana helps in muscle growth.
- How to Make Delicious Muscle-Building Banana Splits.
Banana Bodybuilding: Overview
Banana nutrition facts
The nutritional content of a large banana (136 grams) is as follows:
- Calories : 121
- Carbohydrates : 31 grams
- Fiber : 3.5 grams
- Fat : 0.5g
- Protein : 1.5 grams
The calorie content of bananas varies depending on their size. An extra- small banana (81 grams) contains approximately 72 calories, while an extra-large banana (152 grams) contains 135 calories.
Choose the right size based on your daily caloric intake. For example, if you are in the cutting phase and want something sweet, you can choose extra small or mini bananas. However, if you are in the weight-gaining phase, you may be able to choose from a medium to extra-large size.
The best way to track calories is to weigh your food on a food scale and use a calorie tracking app like MacroFactor.
- Related article: Bananas make our list of the best low-calorie, high-carb foods.
Bananas are a great source of carbohydrates if you want to boost your energy levels during the day. Remember, it only provides carbohydrates. The amount of fat and protein it provides is not important for bodybuilders.
One of the questions I get asked often is whether green bananas are the same as ripe bananas.
Although their calorie content is almost the same. Carbohydrate content does vary. Green bananas are mainly composed of starch. This means they are similar to oats or potatoes. They provide a longer, more consistent release of energy.
Ripe bananas, on the other hand, tend to be higher in sugar. The more ripe the fruit, the higher its sugar concentration.
The most important thing is to choose bananas that you like, whether they are green or ripe.
Each has its benefits. One releases energy more steadily (green bananas) and the other releases energy more quickly (ripe bananas). They are both high in carbs, so I recommend adding a protein source (like Greek yogurt) and a healthy fat (like nut butter) to balance your macros.
Bananas are a great source of many micronutrients. They are rich in vitamin C, riboflavin, vitamin B6, folate, magnesium, potassium and manganese.
Each of these nutrients contains more than 10% of the recommended daily intake. Some nutrients, such as manganese, vitamin C and vitamin B6, contain more than 30% of the recommended daily intake.
Here are some reasons why you should pay special attention to these nutrients.
- Vitamin C. It is a potent antioxidant. This means your muscles recover better, leaving you ready for your next training session.
- Riboflavin (B2) . Allows the body to use oxygen. More oxygen during training means more effective and efficient exercise. This increases your aerobic capacity during aerobic exercise.
- Vitamin B6 . It aids in the process of converting food into energy. Without this essential vitamin, you won't have the energy you need to train, let alone be active during the day.
- Potassium . It helps muscles contract. Without enough potassium, this means you're more likely to experience muscle cramps during training.
- magnesium . Magnesium, along with potassium, helps prevent muscle cramps. It also aids in protein production and blood sugar control.
- manganese . Plays a role in the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates. This means you can use them as fuel.
Remember, each fruit offers different properties and nutrients. Variety is key to a healthy diet. Make sure to eat other fruits throughout the day and don't just stick to the same fruit.
3 advantages of eating bananas for fitness
Bananas are a very easy to obtain food and can be found almost everywhere. They are cheap and easy to carry.
If you're a bodybuilder, you may see other benefits of eating bananas.
1. Control your craving for sweets
If you're in the sugar reduction phase, you're probably trying to avoid sugar at all costs.
However, bananas are a great way to control sweet cravings. Even though they are high in sugar, they are also high in nutrients. They're also high in fiber, which makes them the perfect fruit if you want something sweet and filling at the same time.
Pro Tip: If you're looking for something sweet but are in the cutting-back stage, try these recipes:
- Combine a teaspoon of cocoa powder, an egg, a teaspoon of vanilla extract and a small banana in a coffee cup.
- Place in the microwave and heat for a minute or until cooked through.
- Now you have a cup brownie under 150 kcal!
2. Improve muscle recovery
Bananas help muscle recovery in a variety of ways.
Since they are a source of carbohydrates, they replenish muscle glycogen (fuel in the muscles). This allows the protein to be used to build muscle rather than for energy.
Potassium and magnesium prevent muscle cramps and fatigue.
Therefore, since bananas are high in both of these substances, adding them before or after training is a great food to help improve muscle recovery.
- Want a high-protein banana smoothie recipe? Check out my Banana Pudding Protein Shake.
3. Improve mood
Bananas are rich in vitamin B6, an important vitamin that helps regulate mood.
Vitamin B6 is responsible for the production of hormonal messengers (serotonin, dopamine, and GABA) that regulate mood (1).
Some research shows that low levels of vitamin B6 are associated with more symptoms of depression and anxiety ( 2 ).
During the taper phase, when calories are restricted, it can cause changes in your mood, making you feel cranky or in a bad mood. Therefore, consuming B6 foods can help improve your mood symptoms.
- Bananas are on my list of cheap carbs. See where it ranks among 15 different carbohydrate sources
2 disadvantages of eating bananas for fitness
Although bananas are highly nutritious, they also have some disadvantages. They lack the protein that bodybuilders need, which means you have to add extra foods to balance your diet.
If you are a bodybuilder, here are some other disadvantages of adding bananas.
1. Cause migraines
Some foods are more likely to trigger migraines. Bananas are one of the foods that may increase migraine symptoms.
Bananas are rich in tyramine. People who are sensitive to tyramine may experience migraine headaches ( 3 ).
If you are prone to migraines, other foods you may want to avoid include aged cheese, processed meats, wine, soy sauce, oranges, lemons, grapefruit and barrel beer. They are both rich in tyramine.
2. Increase insulin levels
Overripe bananas tend to have higher sugar content. Even though it's a natural sugar, they still respond to insulin levels. That’s why as nutritionists, we often recommend that people with diabetes avoid eating bananas unless they are green and not too ripe (4).
For people who are insulin sensitive, a sudden increase in insulin may lead to subsequent hypoglycemia.
This can be very dangerous, especially if you eat a banana before training. Therefore, if you may be suffering from hypoglycemia, try to avoid eating bananas.
Can I eat a banana before exercise?
Bananas are one of the best choices for a pre-workout snack. They're easy to digest and high in sugar, which makes them a perfect energy booster. If you want to replenish energy, do so 15-30 minutes before exercise. Add healthy fats (nut butter) or protein (protein shakes) for a more consistent energy release.
Carbohydrates must be consumed before exercise to provide energy for training.
Not only do bananas provide the aforementioned carbohydrates, but since they are rich in potassium, they can promote muscle function. Potassium aids muscle contraction and helps prevent cramps. So if you're likely to get cramps during training, it's also a good idea to add a banana before training.
If you're in the weight loss phase, a small or medium banana will give you the energy you need to train. On the other hand, if you are in the weight-gaining phase, medium to extra-large bananas are a good choice.
Pro Tip: If you feel hungry during training, I usually recommend that my clients eat a banana. Since they are easy to carry and digest, they can relieve your hunger during exercise.
Can I eat bananas after exercise?
Yes, bananas are a great post-workout option. Since it is a source of carbohydrates, it helps replenish energy lost during exercise. Bananas can provide you with a variety of vitamins and minerals that are essential for reducing inflammation, thus speeding up recovery.
Bananas are highly nutritious and therefore have been extensively studied in the field of sports nutrition.
One study compared the effects of sports drinks and bananas on athletes' recovery. It was concluded that bananas provided equivalent recovery benefits as sports drinks - with the same recovery benefits from carbohydrates and nutrients ( 5 ).
Since bananas are high in sugar, they can increase insulin levels. Usually, we want to avoid this situation. However, insulin spikes allow for better amino acid uptake by muscle cells after exercise.
However, optimal recovery from muscle building is achieved when carbohydrates and protein are present. Banana is only high in carbohydrates, which means it lacks other essential macronutrients.
To make it the ultimate post-workout snack, add a protein source like a protein shake or Greek yogurt to help you realize those gains.
For bodybuilders in the weight loss phase, one medium banana will provide the necessary carbohydrates for recovery. In contrast, for bodybuilders in the muscle-building phase, opt for extra-large bananas.
Do bananas help muscle growth?
Bananas contain ideal carbohydrates for muscle growth. Carbs allow protein to replace energy to build muscle. It also contains manganese and vitamin B6, nutrients critical for energy production. However, bananas alone don’t give you these benefits. Always add a protein source (like a protein shake).
A calorie surplus is always necessary for muscle building. Bananas are an easy way to increase your daily calorie intake. They also provide the carbohydrates needed to increase muscle glycogen (energy in the muscles).
Additionally, they contain nutrients critical for protein metabolism ( 6 ) . Manganese is a mineral that aids in fat and carbohydrate metabolism. Without it, we would be unable to produce energy from these two important nutrients.
Vitamin B6 is another vitamin found in bananas. They also aid in the metabolism of macronutrients and help convert carbohydrates into usable energy sources ( 7 ) . If you can convert food into energy, you can perform intense workouts that build muscle.
Bodybuilding Banana Recipes
If you are in the weight loss phase, or even the weight gain phase, but are mindful of your diet, you may be missing out on some foods. Banana boat might be one of them.
Banana chips are typically high in sugar, low in nutrients, and very low in protein. Bodybuilders need just the opposite.
This recipe will put banana splits back into your life, making sure they fit in with your weight-gain goals. It is low in sugar, high in protein, and rich in vitamins and minerals.
Muscle Building Banana Boat
- Calories : 129
- Carbohydrates : 57.3
- Fat : 8.9
- Protein : 34.3
- 1 medium banana
- 1 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
- ½ spoon vanilla protein powder
- ½ cup chopped strawberries
- ¼ cup blueberries
- ¼ cup granola
- 1 tablespoon sugar-free chocolate syrup
- Cut the banana in half and place in a bowl.
- In another bowl, combine Greek yogurt and protein powder.
- Spoon Greek yogurt mixture over bananas.
- Add strawberries, blueberries, granola and chocolate syrup (or peanut butter) on top.
- If you are in the cutting stage, choose small bananas instead of medium bananas. Also, cut the granola in half.
- If you want to add healthier fats, swap out the sugar-free syrup for almond butter or peanut butter.
- Add sugar-free chocolate chips for extra chocolate flavor.