The fuel of athletes
Bananas are easy and quick to eat, that’s why they’re a hit with sportspeople, before, during, and after sport. If you’ve got a few more minutes to spare, a smoothie with its protein and carbs, is the perfect energy boost. But there’s a lot more to bananas than just carbs and protein. They also provide the body with vitamin B6, folate, potassium, magnesium and vitamin C, and there’s absolutely no fat.
The best banana for any athlete is one starting to spot. This is because a lot of the starch has broken down to natural sugars, making it both sweeter and quicker to digest. The sugars can then readily replace the glycogen stores in the muscle and the glucose burned during an event.
Bananas have long been a favourite with athletes and active people. That’s because the carbohydrate in a banana becomes glucose in the blood providing an excellent source of long lasting muscle energy. The carbohydrate will also help replace muscle fuel stores after exercise and that makes bananas a great recovery food. A high-carbohydrate diet reduces endurance while a low carbohydrate diet reduces endurance. Wholesome carbohydrate sources like bananas also help keep blood sugar levels normal.
Another mineral that is found in the banana is magnesium, which is involved in more than 300 enzyme systems in the body, and is especially important in energy generation in the muscles.
The potassium found in bananas plays an essential role in muscle function. Deficiencies in potassium can lead to abnormal cramping and discomfort. During exercise, your body loses potassium through sweat, and prolonged periods of physical activity can significantly reduce your potassium levels. By eating bananas during and after exercise, potassium levels can be restored.
Time your snack
Like most things in life, timing is crucial. If you plan to eat a banana before you exercise, try and do it an hour before to allow for sufficient time for digestion. Eating right before you exercise will direct blood flow to your stomach and intestines to assist digestion rather than directing blood flow to your muscles and maximising performance.