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Bananas as Good as Sports Drinks?


Bananas as Good as Sports Drinks?
  Jul. 24, 2012


In the quest for optimal nutrition, athletes are continually looking for convenient options that are palatable and easy to eat, especially during endurance events in which consuming calories can be difficult and unappealing. Sports drinks commonly dominate the selections simply out of convenience; and while effective many people are turned off by the idea of consuming what is essentially sugar water with added electrolytes. Research conducted at Appalachian State University’s Human Performance Lab indicates that a common fruit, bananas, not only provide athletes with the same benefits as sports drinks, they have additional advantages. In the study, published in the May 17th issue of the online journal PLoS ONE, trained cyclists consumed either half a banana or drank a cup of a carbohydrate-based drink every fifteen minutes during a simulated road race, lasting approximately three hours. Performance was the same across the board, but blood samples taken before and after exercise showed the bananas provided the cyclists with antioxidants, fiber, potassium, and vitamin B6. Additionally, the bananas contain a healthier blend of sugars than the drinks. While the study was performed on cyclists, the mode of exercise does not appear to be a factor. Dr. David C. Nieman, director of the human performance lab and a faculty member of Appalachian’s College of Health Sciences, said “The mode of exercise is not the issue… this type of research shows that you can have healthier carbohydrate sources before and after exercise that will support athletic performance just as well as a sports drink.” One caveat, in the same fashion many of the original carbohydrate-electrolyte studies were supported by Gatorade, the banana study was supported by Dole. (PLoS One, May 2012)

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