Go Bananas for Exercise Performance
Fourteen seasoned cyclists (mean age 37+/-1.9 years) underwent two trial conditions performed three weeks apart. The testing sessions involved consumption of 0.4 gm/kg of carbohydrate either in the form of a banana or a six percent carbohydrate sports beverage prior to, and every 15 minutes during, a 75-km cycling trial at the fastest pace possible. The researchers took blood samples from the participants before, immediately after, and one hour post-exercise to evaluate levels of blood sugar and lactate, white blood cell count and nine inflammatory markers.
The investigators found that exercise performance did not differ between the banana and sports drink trials. Likewise, blood sugar and lactate levels were not altered during or post-exercise and did not significantly differ between the two testing sessions. Both trial conditions resulted in significant increases in the white blood cell count but banana consumption yielded a significantly greater increase in two anti-inflammatory compounds: IL-10 cytokine and chemoattractant IL-8 chemokine. Kennerly et al. concluded that banana consumption can sustain exercise performance in a similar manner to a six percent carbohydrate sports drink when total carbohydrate intake is the same.
A banana is a great snack for the athlete. One medium banana contains about 29 grams of carbohydrate. Carbohydrate is the main source of fuel for your body during exercise. Bananas also contain potassium and their consumption can help offset an exercise-induced electrolyte imbalance. Furthermore, bananas provide you with fiber and small amounts of protein. Ripe bananas are easily digested, making the carbohydrate readily available.
Poster Presentation at the 58th Annual Meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine, May 31, 2011; "Influence of Banana Vs. Sports Beverage Ingestion On 75-km Cycling Performance and Exercise-Induced Inflammation"; Krista Kennerly, et al.; Appalachian State University, Kannapolis, NC.