Should I Eat Bananas Before Or After a Workout?

Nowadays there are so many different things we are told to do when it comes to working out and reaching our fitness goals. We constantly hear new ideas of what exercises are best, what time of the day we should work out, what to eat before we work out, what to eat after a workout, and so much more. But it is so hard to know which advice you should actually listen to and follow to better yourself and your workouts. What you consume before and after you exercise can have a great impact on how your body recovers and how you perform during your workout sessions. There are a lot of conflicting arguments about what you should eat to compliment your workout and whether it is more beneficial to eat it before or after you are finished working out. While there are a lot of new supplements and fad diets that come up seemingly every day, something as simple as a banana can be the perfect pre or post workout snack.

Should I Eat Bananas Before Or After a Workout?

As the world of fitness has expanded over time, we have notoriously depended on sports drinks and other man made supplements to get the necessary carbs, protein and electrolytes in before and after working out. However, bananas are packed with all kinds of nutrients that fuel your body, including vitamin B6, vitamin C, fiber, potassium, phytonutrients and antioxidants which come from nature and are in their purest form. Eating a banana before or after your workout can provide many benefits that may help fuel your body better for a workout or help your body better recover from an intense gym session. Let’s first talk about the nutritional benefits of eating bananas, period. This delicious yellow fruit is comprised of mostly carbs, but also has a good amount of fiber, 3.9g to be exact, which is about 12% of your daily value. The carbs in bananas help to fuel our bodies for exercise as the natural sugars in this fruit help give our bodies energy, while the fiber in bananas helps to keep our blood glucose levels stable so that we don’t experience the sugar high, and the unfortunate crash that can come along with it. It is widely known that bananas have a lot of potassium, which is said to have many health benefits, but not everyone really knows what they are. Most well known, is the belief that the potassium in bananas can help with cramping. While this is true, it isn’t as simple as that. Potassium is an essential electrolyte for the body’s nervous system and helps to regulate the contractions in our muscles in balance with other electrolytes such as calcium and magnesium. If any single electrolyte is at an abnormal level (too high or too low) this can create the conditions for a muscle cramp, therefore, having too much potassium could be harmful for your body if consumed before you workout. 

Before a workout your body can greatly benefit from carbohydrates because this macronutrient is known best for keeping us full longer than its counterparts, proteins and fats. Bananas are also high in sugars (which is a carb) and natural sugars can help give our bodies energy without the intense crash we might get from artificial sugars like candy and other processed, non-fibrous foods. As mentioned earlier, bananas also contain a good amount of fiber, which can help to slow the absorption of sugars in your body and as a result prevent a spike in your blood glucose levels, which is why we don’t experience a sugar high from this fruit. This is important for workouts lasting longer than 30 minutes. Any workout intended to last longer than 30 minutes should include a moderate amount of fibrous carbs before exercising, about 30-50grams. If you’re planning on a longer workout such as a long bike ride, or a day-hike, your body will need to consume carbs continually throughout the period of exercise, about every 20-30 minutes. This is to prevent feeling tired, or the “come down” from physical exhaustion. So bringing a banana with you if you intend to exercise for a longer period of time is a great idea, and can help you stay more energized for the duration of your workout!

After a workout, your body needs the nutrients necessary to sustain and promote muscle growth and help in the recovery stage. The carbohydrates in bananas paired with a good source of protein can be perfect to help your body recover after an intense workout session and keep you full for a few hours until your next meal. Check out some Healthy Banana Smoothie Recipes to Recover from a Workout (link to other article) to get some fun and healthy, and delicious smoothie ideas that include great sources of protein and carbs to help you refuel! Feel free to add your favorite protein powder or any superfoods such as chia, goji, acai, hemp and more for an even better post workout treat! But remember, it is very important to make sure that you eat as soon as possible post workout, and include the right balance of proteins and carbohydrates, to ensure that your body can begin to repair your muscle.

What we’ve learned so far is that it is important to eat both before and after you exercise so that your body has the necessary sustenance to prepare for a workout and to recover after you’ve had a good workout. Whether you choose to eat bananas, before or after is truly up to you and what you feel is best for your own body. There are benefits that your body gets from this nutrient dense food regardless of if you eat them before or after exercising, but you may notice a difference between the two. Try experimenting yourself, eating a banana before your workout, then the next day try eating a banana after your workout, then compare how you felt. We are all very unique and our bodies react differently to exercise and what we eat so find what feels best for yourself.

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