If athletes could incorporate only one food item into their daily diets, bananas would be a serious contender. Portable, self-contained, healthy, inexpensive, versatile—this delicious fruit is a no-brainer. Below, we break down a few reasons why.
Bananas not only have one of the highest carbohydrate counts of any fruit [from 25 to 50 grams], they also release their energy in three separate increments. Bananas contains three different types of sugar—glucose and fructose [both simple carbs], plus sucrose [a complex carb]. After eating one, you get a quick and powerful boost of energy, which is then followed by a steady release of complex carbs into the bloodstream.
Fuel Suggestion: 1 medium-sized banana, 30 minutes before practice or game.
Replenish Muscles Post-Workout
During intense exercise, your glycogen supply is depleted, which is why experts recommend consuming a sports drink during a workout—for an energy refill. The banana's greatest benefit could be its large amount of potassium—an electrolyte that promotes muscle growth, boosts the immune system and facilitates calcium absorption, which in turn helps build stronger bones.
Fuel Suggestion: 1 large banana with two tablespoons of peanut or almond butter
Relieve Stress and Amp Up Brain Power
When your body and mind are stressed, your potassium levels are lowered due to an uptick in your metabolic rate. A banana can help restore your system's natural balance. It can even have a calming effect due to its concentration of tryptophan, an amino acid essential for protein synthesis and the release of seratonin, a neurotransmitter that helps the body regulate appetite, sleep patterns and moods.
Fuel Suggestion: 1 cup of oatmeal with 1 scoop of protein powder, topped with 1 medium-sized banana
A banana's natural, potassium-fortified kick, combined with much-needed carbohydrates, makes it an ideal fuel source and healthy snack any time of the day.