When the bananas in the fruit bowl are past their prime, a loaf of banana bread is a delicious way to prevent waste. Baking a healthy banana bread recipe at home gives you more control over the calorie content. That's not so with store-bought varieties that are often loaded with sugar and fat.
The number of calories in a piece of banana bread depends on many factors, including the ingredients and the size of the slice. Some could provide hundreds of extra calories.
Banana Bread Calories
A basic banana bread recipe contains bananas, sugar, butter, eggs and flour. Mixes and store-bought, prepackaged banana bread may contain other ingredients, such as sour cream, margarine, dry whole milk, canola, palm or soybean oils, margarine, nuts and chocolate. The calories in a slice of banana bread depend on the ingredients used to make it.
The higher the sugar and fat content, the higher the total calories. Per gram, fat provides 9 calories — more than double the calories of protein and carbohydrates, which contain 4 calories per gram, according to the federal Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Sugar is a carbohydrate and contains 4 calories per gram, but it provides no nutrition or satiety value.
According to the USDA Food Composition Databases, one brand of commercial banana bread contains 11 grams of fat, 29 grams of sugar and 339 calories per 3.5-ounce slice. Another brand contains 16 grams of fat, 42 grams of sugar and 421 calories per 3.5-ounce slice.
Added sugars in the American diet are closely linked with obesity and being overweight. The American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugars to no more than 100 calories, or 25 grams, per day for women, and no more than 150 calories, or 37.5 grams, per day for men.
Choosing Banana Bread
Grabbing a sugary coffee and a big slice of banana bread at your local cafe can add hundreds of extra calories to your diet. If the total calories you consume exceeds the calories you expend each day, over time you will gain weight.
Any added sugar in your diet increases your chances of a calorie surplus. Eating lots of added sugar from baked goods makes it very hard to stay in a calorie deficit, which is required for weight loss. Since most prepared banana bread is high in sugar, it's a smart idea to avoid it altogether.
If you do indulge occasionally, read labels and look for low-sugar banana bread options. These will be few and far between, so your options are limited. Also look for banana bread made with nutritious ingredients such as whole-grain flour, and skip varieties made with margarine, fructose, whole milk and sour cream.
Pay attention to the serving size and stay under 200 calories per serving. Make sure to include that piece of banana bread when tallying your calorie intake for the day.
DIY Banana Bread
The healthiest option for satisfying your banana bread craving is to make your own low-sugar banana bread at home. Banana bread is one of the easiest things you can bake, and it takes less than an hour to make a hot, fresh loaf.
A healthy banana bread recipe that is low in sugar and fat includes the following ingredients:
- Whole-wheat flour
- Butter or oil
- Baking powder
- Mashed banana
- Nonfat Greek yogurt
- Vanilla extract
One slice of this banana bread contains closer to 100 calories. For an even lower-sugar loaf, you can reduce the sugar, in this case honey, in a recipe by up to half, according to Bon Appetit's newsletter Healthyish. You can also replace the honey with a non-caloric natural sweetener such as erythritol. Adding extra fruit, such as blueberries, can help increase the natural sweetness.
Even with homemade, low-sugar banana bread, it's still important to eat only one serving. Eat it slowly with a nice cup of black coffee or tea, and enjoy each bite. You'll likely find that you feel more satisfied from a small portion eaten mindfully than scarfing a larger portion quickly.
- Kitchn: "How To Make Banana Bread"
- Health.gov: "Nutrition and Your Health: Dietary Guidelines for Americans"
- USDA: "Banana Bread"
- USDA: "Banana Bread Loaf Cake, Banana Bread"
- American Heart Association: "Added Sugars"
- Healthyish: "I Baked These Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies With Half the Sugar and Loved Them"