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The Benefits of Bananas for Runners

By Chris Sherwood ; Updated April 18, 2017

Running is a substantial way to meet the recommended 30 minutes of exercise most days a week recommended by the American Heart Association. However, running can take a toll on your body, leading to issues like muscle cramps. To combat these issues, bananas can be a helpful addition to your diet.

Banana Nutrition

Bananas are a portable source of nutrition for your diet that provide a wide range of nutritional values in a low amount of calories. One medium banana provides 105 calories. Bananas are a good source of potassium, carbohydrates and vitamin C, as well a iron. A medium banana also provides about 3 grams of dietary fiber, or about 10 to 12 percent of your recommended daily intake of 25 to 30 grams.

Potassium

Potassium is one of the main benefits to athletes found in bananas. The muscles of your body rely on a specific mineral balance, including potassium, calcium and magnesium. When these minerals become unbalanced, your muscles can react by cramping, especially in muscles being heavily used at the time of the imbalance, such as the legs for runners. Bananas provide a portable source of potassium that can help combat this imbalance.

Carbohydrates

The carbohydrate content of bananas also benefits runners, because they need lots of energy production while running. When you go for a run, you increase the energy needed by your muscles to continue muscle movement. To make energy, your body needs a mixture of oxygen and macronutrients, with carbohydrates being the primary source of energy. As the broken-down carbohydrates from the banana are combined with oxygen, a chemical reaction occurs, releasing energy for use by your muscle cells.

Ways to Eat

Bananas can be incorporated into your diet in many different ways, from breakfast to dinner. Bananas can be consumed raw on their own for a quick snack or a side to a meal. They can also be used in smoothies as a natural sweetener due to their 14 grams of natural sugar per 1 medium banana. Consider cutting a banana into thin slices and placing them on your hot or cold cereal to get a dose of potassium in your diet as you start your morning. Add a sliced banana to your peanut butter sandwich for a lunchtime potassium boost.

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