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Why Are Bananas Good for Athletes?

by
author image Kiki Michelle
Based in Los Angeles, Calif., Kiki Michelle has been writing health-related articles since 2007. Her work has appeared in "Environmental Science and Technology Magazine." Michelle holds a Bachelor of Arts in human biology from Stanford University.
Why Are Bananas Good for Athletes?
Sliced bananas in bowl Photo Credit tycoon751/iStock/Getty Images

Bananas can help athletes boost their performance when consumed before, during and after workouts and competitions. Eating half a banana every 15 minutes during exercise is as effective as sipping a comparable amount of sports drink in terms of sustaining exercise performance, as reported in a 2012 study published on the website PLOS ONE. Often included as part of a low-fat, heart-healthy diet, bananas offer additional benefits beyond providing energy because they contain a broad range of vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber and phytonutrients.

Source of Energy

Each banana, on average, contains 30 g of carbohydrates, making it an effective source of energy for athletes. Carbohydrates supply athletes with the fuel for working out, as carbs support all muscle activity. Carbs are also essential for central nervous system maintenance and activity, helping to keep the mind responsive and reflexes intact. Gymnasts who consumed carbohydrates prior to performing balance beam routines had fewer falls from the beam, concluded a 2012 study published in the "Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition."

Packed With Potassium

The average banana has more than 450 mg of potassium, which is about 13 percent of the potassium you need per day. Potassium is an essential mineral necessary for blood-sugar maintenance and proper heart function. Loaded with potassium, bananas can help protect against high blood pressure and atherosclerosis. As an electrolyte, potassium helps you retain fluid balance in your body's cells, which can prevent muscle cramping. Potassium is also necessary for proper muscle growth and development.

Vitamin C Powerhouse

Bananas are a rich source of vitamin C. One banana contains about 15 percent of the vitamin C you need per day. Vitamin C is essential for strengthening muscles, tendons and ligaments, and keeping your immune system strong under the stress of exercise. Vitamin C also helps speed and promote the repair of wounds and soft tissue damage incurred by activities like rigorous exercise. It also plays an essential role in the synthesis of adrenaline throughout physical training.

Convenient and Cost-Effective

Eating bananas is one of easiest ways to provides athletes with the nutrients they need for working out. Bananas are fairly cheap, readily available throughout the year and mix easily into protein shakes. They also work well as a simple addition to any kind of breakfast. Eating a banana within two hours before exercise can help sustain energy levels throughout a long workout and help reduce recovery periods after a workout.

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