Does Eating a Banana Before Workout Help? What Experts Think

Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT
Published by Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT | Staff Writer
Last updated: December 6, 2023
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As a fitness trainer, I’ve had a lot of clients come to me seeking to know if bananas are a good pre-workout snack.

I sat down with my dietician and went through dozens of research papers and relevant information to get to know if it is best to eat bananas as a pre-workout.

Let’s see if bananas are worth the hype.

Quick Summary

  • Eating a banana before working out can provide a quick energy boost due to its high carbohydrate content.
  • Bananas are packed with potassium, which helps prevent muscle cramps and supports overall muscle health during exercise.
  • According to the National Institute of Health, a medium-sized banana contains about 27 grams of carbohydrates, making it an excellent source of pre-workout energy.
  • Personally, I find that a banana is the perfect pre-workout snack because it's not only nutritious but also light on the stomach, ensuring I don't feel sluggish during my workout.

Banana As Pre-Workout Food

Protein powder in a drink

Bananas are a versatile snack, easily added to shakes, drinks, fruit salads, or oatmeal, offering a quick energy boost before exercise.

Rich in carbohydrates, the primary energy source, and packed with potassium, bananas are favored by elite athletes before competing, as per a Healthy Living study [1].

However, relying solely on bananas for pre-workout nutrition is insufficient, lacking other essential nutrients. To enhance your regimen, balance with the following pre-workout supplements:

Related Article: Is It Better to Eat Before or After a Workout?

3 Benefits Of Banana As A Pre Workout Snack

Bananas in yellow background

The nutritional composition of a banana is ideal for a meal that offers the energy needed to get past strenuous, sweaty exercises. Here’s why.

1. They Are High In Carbohydrates

In my own training sessions, I've noticed that eating a banana, which the National Institute of Health (NIH) confirms packs about 27g of carbs, gives me that quick energy boost I need. It's a natural and effective way to fuel up, and I've seen it work wonders for my clients too [2].

Your system breaks down carbohydrates to generate sugars as well as glucose, which are required for power generation.

NIH also notes that eating carbs helps restore glycogen supplies; glycogen is a sort of reserved glucose accumulating within the liver and muscles [3].

Glycogen stores are generally depleted throughout long-duration exercises, placing trainers and athletes in particular danger.

As a result, eating carb-rich bananas before a workout is suitable for individuals in this profession and can enable them to maintain their energy, improve their exercise performance and promote muscle function for extended periods.

2. They Are Rich In Potassium

Peeled off banana on a chopping board

A study by HealthLine shows that bananas are a good supply of potassium, with just one average banana providing around 10-14 percent of the necessary daily requirement for this vitamin [4].

Another study by NIH notes that potassium is an essential mineral because it regulates blood pressure levels, neuron activity, and fluid balance [5].

A lack of potassium is linked to muscle cramps and discomfort, which has been shown by HealthLine, and is significant in putting a stop to an exercise [6].

To address this, potassium aids in the regulation of muscle contractions, which help ease muscle soreness, and helps support muscle health.

"A medium banana is nutrient-rich, providing 24 grams of carbohydrates—14 of which are sugar and 3 of which are fiber,"

- Kelly Jones, MS

3. They Are An Easily Digestible Source Of Energy

In addition to providing a good quantity of carbohydrates per serving, bananas also contain fiber.

A study from the National Library of Medicine shows that fiber can assist decrease blood sugar uptake, supplying your cells with a constant flow of glucose to aid you in pushing through your exercise [7].

Ripe bananas are high in simple carbohydrates and low in fat, rendering them as easily digested in comparison to other meals.

Related Articles:

4. Antioxidant Properties

Bananas contain antioxidant compounds like dopamine and catechins, which can help reduce exercise-induced oxidative stress.

These antioxidants counteract free radicals, aiding in muscle recovery and minimizing inflammation.

Including bananas in your pre-workout diet can support your body's defense against oxidative damage and promote overall recovery.

How Long Before A Workout Should You Eat Banana?

Banana slices in a bowl

I always munch on a banana about 30 to 60 minutes before hitting the gym. It's amazing how quickly the energy kicks in. I advise my clients to do the same, and they've reported feeling more energized and ready to tackle their workouts.

This allows your body plenty of time to start processing the carbohydrates while also allowing you to load up with potassium before your next workout.

I often advise my clients to experiment with various timings to determine what makes them feel more comfortable and improves their efficiency the most.

Bananas have a reduced glycemic index, making them ideal for pre-workout fueling. As per ROS Nutrition, their fullness effect may also help to prevent hunger [8].

Who Can Benefit From A Banana As A Pre-workout?

Holding a single banana

Athletes, cyclists, and persons who can not tolerate caffeinated beverages benefit from bananas as a pre-workout.

Although effective, these beverages are frequently filled with additional sugars and stimulants; excessive sugar may be harmful.

Furthermore, excessive caffeine consumption can create jitters or even panic, not to forget that many individuals are caffeine sensitive.

Having swapped out some pre-workout supplements with a simple banana, I've personally felt a steadier energy level without any of the jitters or crashes. This natural alternative has been a hit with my clients who are sensitive to caffeine.

FAQs

Is It Okay To Eat Bananas Before Workout?

Yes, it is okay to eat a banana before a workout. It contains elements like potassium and carbohydrates, which are essential for energy production.

Can I Eat Bananas On An Empty Stomach?

No, eating bananas on an empty stomach is not a good idea. Bananas' high natural sugar content provides a burst of energy that will leave you feeling drained within a few hours.

Do Bananas Help Build Muscles?

Yes, bananas help build muscles as they are ideal fruits for muscle growth due to their high potassium content.

What Are The Side Effects Of Bananas?

Banana side effects may include bloating, gas, cramps, softer stools, vertigo, and vomiting.

What Is Unhealthy About Bananas?

The unhealthy thing about bananas is that too many bananas and a lack of basic dental hygiene can contribute to tooth decay.


References:

  1. https://www.weekand.com/healthy-living/article/can-bananas-athletes-18005119.php 
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3355124/ 
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3905295/ 
  4. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-many-bananas-a-day 
  5. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Potassium-HealthProfessional/ 
  6. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/potassium-deficiency-symptoms 
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3257631/
  8. https://www.rosnutrition.com/ie/insight/the-glycemic-index-in-sports-nutrition
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About The Author

Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer
Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Holistic Nutrition from Clayton College of Natural Health and is the owner of Taylor Made Fitness. Her philosophy centers on cutting through the hype and misinformation surrounding dietary supplements, focusing instead on practical, science-backed strategies for health and weight loss.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Kristy June Dayanan, BS, MD is an author with a BS degree from University of the Philippines and an MD from University of Perpetual Help System. Her ability to simplify medical science complexities and dietary supplement jargon for the average reader makes her a valued medical fact checker and reviewer.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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