Bananas as effective as sports drinks for athletes

May 29, 2012 in Nutrition Topics in the News, Sports Nutrition and Exercise

Bananas as effective as sports drinks for athletes

Bananas have long been a favorite source of energy for endurance and recreational athletes. They're a rich source of potassium and other nutrients, and are easy for cyclists, runners or hikers to carry.

Research conducted at Appalachian State University's Human Performance Lab in the Kannapolis-based North Carolina Research Campus has now revealed additional benefits.

The researchers wanted to see which was more beneficial when consumed during intense cycling -- bananas or a carbohydrate sports drink.

They found that not only was performance the same whether bananas or sports drinks were consumed, there were several advantages to consuming bananas.

The bananas provided the cyclists with antioxidants not found in sports drinks as well as a greater nutritional boost, including fibre, potassium and vitamin B6. In addition, bananas have a healthier blend of sugars than sports drinks.

For the study, trained cyclists consumed either 1 cup of carbohydrate drink or half a banana every 15 minutes during a 75-kilometer simulated road race lasting 2.5 to 3 hours. Blood samples taken from the cyclists before and after the exercise were analyzed for more than 100 metabolites (e.g. molecules associated with metabolism).

Many athletes who don't like the thought of drinking carbohydrate sports drinks, which are essentially flavored sugar water. This research shows that there are healthier carbohydrate sources before and after exercise that will support athletic performance just as well as a sports drink.

Source: PLoS ONE, 2012

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