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Is It OK to Eat Bananas Before Exercising?

author image Toby Pendergrass
Toby Pendergrass began writing and editing in 1998. He has served as editor for numerous custom health publications and physician journals. His work has appeared in publications such as Hospital Corporation of America's "YOU." He enjoys writing about cardiology and cancer care and holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
Is It OK to Eat Bananas Before Exercising?
Bananas are a healthy source of carbohydrates. Photo Credit: George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images

The foods you eat play a key role in your ability to perform at your best during exercise. Bananas represent a healthy source of carbohydrates and give your body the fuel that can help you stay active for longer periods, including during swim competitions or weightlifting or other physical activities. While snacking on a banana a few hours before exercise is unlikely to hinder your performance, TeensHealth suggests limiting your intake in the 60 minutes prior to activity. Obtain your doctor’s opinion before starting any exercise plan.

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Bananas and Exercise

Fruits such as bananas are rich in carbohydrates; they contain sugars and starch that serve as primary sources of energy for your body. Your body converts the carbohydrates from bananas into sugar during the natural digestion process. The sugar then travels to your bloodstream and eventually to your cells to provide energy. Athletes who follow low-carbohydrate, fad diets often suffer weakened performance, since failure to consume sufficient amounts of bananas — and other fruits, whole grains and vegetables with carbohydrates — contributes to feeling tired and sluggish.

Eating Before Your Workout

You can eat a healthy breakfast or meal that contains bananas on the morning of your exercise, or at least two hours prior to physical activity. Your body also benefits from pre-workout meals that include protein, such as lean meats or fresh fish, as a complement to your carbs. Consider a smaller meal or even a banana as a quick snack if a busy schedule necessitates exercise within an hour after you eat. Eating too much in the hour leading up to your workout puts you at a greater risk for stomach cramps and diarrhea. A large meal too soon before exercise also makes you more likely to feel tired, since digestion requires energy. A small banana or other piece of fresh fruit eaten in the minutes before you exercise will not likely provide energy, although the snacks will elevate your blood sugar and reduce hunger cravings.

Food for Recovery

An effective workout drains your body of energy and weakens your muscles. Help your muscles recover — and restore energy to your body — by eating a banana or even drinking a sports beverage as soon as your exercise ends. You’ll also reward your body by carving out time at least two hours after your exercise to eat a meal that contains both carbohydrates like bananas, as well as protein.

Exercise Exhaustion

Eating bananas and other fruits with carbohydrates on a consistent basis benefits your exercise, although avoid unhealthy sources of carbohydrates — including soft drinks and candy bars. The sugary products differ from bananas in that they lack essential nutrients. People who drink soda or consume candy immediately before exercise for the purpose of gaining a short energy boost face a greater risk of suffering exhaustion before the workout ends.

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