You’ve seen those long-distance runners eat their bananas even during the run. So what is the real reason why they prefer bananas over any other fruits?
Running is one of the most popular sports worldwide. As competitive as running is, you would want any competitive edge that you can get. In other words, you would be all ears for any way to fine-tune your performance for optimum results.
Runners usually maintain a very healthy lifestyle and a major part of their performance is based on what they eat. Their diet is composed of fuel that will help them to sustain energy levels for a longer period of time, thereby allowing them to run greater distances. Hence, considering what you eat before a run is very important to performance. The right types of food can make or break a runner and bananas have been known to be a hugely popular pre and post running snack.
When it comes to vitamins and minerals, potassium takes the crown for being the most useful for runners. Potassium plays an essential role in muscle function. As a result of this, having a deficiency of potassium in the body could cause cramping and discomfort. Bananas are a great source of potassium, which is why it is such a useful fruit for runners.
When it comes to long-distance running, very few other fruits provide the runner with ample amounts of potassium to prevent cramping during the event. Running requires a lot of muscle action and are coupled with factors such as dehydration and electrolyte loss. These factors combine together to brew a perfect storm for cramps, which could essentially end the event for any runner.
All runners will know that a cramp during the event is as bad as it gets. If you get a cramp during a run, you would have to stop running and obviously would lose any competitive edge you had on winning the event.
Let’s dive a little deeper and try to understand why bananas are so important for long-distance runners.
Nutrient Profile of Bananas
One medium sized ripe banana contains,
- 110 calories
- 0 grams fat
- 1 gram protein
- 28 grams of carbohydrates
- 15 grams sugar
- 3 grams fibre
- 450 mg potassium
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin C
Are Bananas Good Before a Marathon?
Marathons are a long-distance event that requires you to run great lengths non-stop. You don’t have time to stop halfway and refuel. If you are going to refuel during the event, you want something that is easy to consume and provides the runner with an ample boost to keep them going.
Bananas are a high carbohydrate energy booster that works wonders when consumed before a run. When running, you tend to lose valuable minerals through sweat. Hence, it is important that you have a good source of the minerals that are essential for the body, thereby preventing the effects of deficiency.
As mentioned, potassium is one such mineral that is integral for the success of any runner. A good amount of potassium in the body will prevent cramping and thereby enabling you to perform better. Bananas contain a healthy dose of potassium. Eating it before a run allows you to stock up on potassium, making it readily available during a run. If you stock up on potassium by eating bananas, you should have sufficient potassium to prevent deficiency from potassium loss through sweat. This helps the runner prevent cramping, thereby enabling you to maintain optimum performance for a longer period of time.
Bananas also contain a good amount of glucose which works to provide the body with a readily available source of energy. Bananas contain the same amount of glucose as sports drinks. The concentrated dose of carbohydrates that bananas provide enable the runner to reap the benefits of using bananas as fuel.
Thus, when it comes to long-distance running, bananas are a reliable source of nutrients that is sure to help you perform better. The potassium content of bananas alone makes them a great selection for runners who are looking for a competitive edge.
Bananas and Stamina
One of the main reasons why bananas are such a sought after fruit by runners is due to the fact that they help boost stamina. Stamina relates to the ability to sustain prolonged physical effort. When running long distances, stamina is one of the most important elements to consider. The better stamina you have, the more likely you would be able to perform at better levels.
Building and maintaining stamina is very important to long-distance runners. In order to build stamina and prolong high-intensity physical effort, you need a diet rich in carbohydrates. Further to a diet rich in carbohydrates, certain foods before a run or even during a run can provide the runner with an ample source of carbohydrates. Bananas are a reliable source of high-quality carbohydrates. They contain glucose which can easily be burnt in the body to produce energy.
A 100 gram serving of banana contains about 23 grams of carbohydrates. This provides the runner with an ample source of energy to build stamina to prolong performance.
It is the fact that bananas are such a reliable source of high-quality carbohydrates is what makes them a reliable nutrient source to build stamina. They contain natural sugars and starch that provides the body with ample energy to excel during the run.
The energy that you derive from bananas is clean and efficient, which is why they work great as a snack to be had during the event. Eating a banana before or during a run will provide the runner with all the necessary energy sources to run longer, thereby enabling them to build stamina.
Bananas and Metabolism
Cardiovascular exercise such as running helps to boost metabolism. They stimulate metabolism which helps you burn calories. The stronger of a metabolism you would have, the easier it would be to effectively burn calories.
Bananas are high in resistant starch which is a healthy type of carbohydrate. They help to boost the metabolism. The potassium in bananas helps to better regulate the transfer of nutrients into cells, which thereby works to boost metabolism.
Boosting metabolism allows you to promote weight loss. This means you are more likely to burn unnecessary fat that is stored in the body. Fats are not a reliable source of energy for long-distance runners. The energy derived from burning fat is not as effective for performance when compared to energy derived from burning carbohydrates.
The better your metabolism, the more calories you will burn at rest; this includes stored fats. As a result, you will have a leaner body with muscles capable of performing at a higher intensity. Hence, better metabolism will help to improve athletic performance, allowing you to build the physique that you require to excel.
Bananas work to boost metabolism. When you combine that with the fact that running also boosts metabolism, eating bananas help you to fine-tune your metabolism for the best results. The combination of the two will allow you to have a faster metabolism, thereby preventing body weight and fat from hampering performance.
Bananas Pre and Post-Run
Eating before a run is just as important as the run itself. It allows you to load up on the fuel that you will need to burn during the event. Pre-workout meals for runners have to include rich carbohydrate sources that will allow for easy conversion to energy during the run. Also, it should contain good amounts of fibre to prevent any digestive issues from hampering performance.
Since digestive issues are something that can hamper performance, when it comes to pre-run meals, fruits are considered a wise option. Amongst fruits, as mentioned within this article, bananas are on the top of the list. They provide your body with a good dose of glucose while ensuring that it does not sit heavy in the stomach thereby hampering performance. There really isn’t a better snack to eat before a run to load up the fuel that you require for the event.
Bananas contain good amounts of vitamins, minerals and glucose. They provide the body with exactly what it needs to recover from a run. As a result, they work really well as a post-run meal too. It works to help in quick recovery, preventing muscle cramping from intense activity.
During the run, runners tend to lose many vitamins and minerals. Not just that, they also use up glycogen reserves in the body. Bananas are a great way to gain the nutrients that you lost during the event, thereby allowing your body to recover the nutrients that it lost through sweat. This enables more effective and efficient recovery from the run.
A delicious and cool banana smoothie can be a great drink to enjoy right after a run. If you consume a banana within 15 minutes of a run, it will work to provide the body with all the lost nutrients, thereby enabling your to recover much faster.
How Long Before a Run Should I Eat a Banana?
Bananas are a great pre-run snack that will provide your body with the nutrients it needs to fuel up before a run. Eating a banana 30 to 60 minutes before a run provides the body with quick fuel that you can burn during the event. It works best for long-distance runners who are looking to run for longer than 60 minutes.
You can try eating about a 1/4 cup of bananas about 30 to 60 minutes before a run. Bananas are not heavy on the stomach and are easily be digested. They won’t cause any uncomfortable digestive issues during the run and will surely work to keep you well fueled.
Banana can slow the absorption of sugar in the bloodstream and contains high amounts of essential carbohydrates and minerals that are very valuable for long-distance runners. Regardless of the length of your run, you have much to gain from including bananas in your pre-run meal.
Other Fruits that are Good for Long Distance Runners
It goes without saying that bananas are a very reliable and useful fruit for long-distance runners to include in their running routine. When used during training, it will allow you to fine-tune your performance, allowing you to perform better and recover faster.
Apart from bananas, there are some other fruits that are also great sources of nutrients for long-distance runners. Avocados are also a rich source of potassium. Potassium is important to prevent cramping during a long run. Hence, fruits that are high in potassium are especially important for long-distance runners. Avocados are one such fruit that contains the highest amount of potassium. Further to this, they also contain monounsaturated fats that will help lower blood pressure and reduce cholesterol, thereby improving heart health and blood flow.
Cantalopes are also another fruit that is great for runners. They provide the body with a good amount of hydration which is also an important aspect of long-distance running. When you suffer from dehydration, brain functioning such as hand-eye coordination is impaired. Cantaloupes are a great way to stay hydrated and prevent the effects of dehydration from hampering performance.
Another fruit that is great for hydration is watermelon. Watermelon is about 90% water which is great when you are trying to stay hydrated or even recovery after a long run. They contain healthy natural sugars which are excellent sources of glucose and contains various antioxidants which help you fine-tune your body for optimum performance. Though the potassium content in watermelon is about half that found in bananas, they are still a good source of potassium.
Lastly, bone strength is an important aspect of performance for long-distance runners. Stronger bones mean you are less likely to injure yourself during a run and more likely to stay strong during the event. Dried figs are a great way to improve done density and improve bone strength. They contain helpful amounts of calcium and vitamin K that helps improve the quality of bones. The stronger of a skeletal system you will have, the better your performance will be.
Though bananas rightfully take the crown for being the best fruit for runners, these other listed fruits are similarly useful and can provide you with a good source of nutrients that can help you improve performance.
Bananas are a great way to fuel up before a run. They are also great for recovery after a run. All in all, there is no better fruit when it comes to long-distance running. This is why you see so many long-distance runners eating a banana during the event. It helps to provide their body with an added boost that is sure to help them prevent cramps and keep running the distance.
It is important that you understand the benefits of bananas when it comes to running, so you too can tweak your training routine to build stamina and improve your metabolism. This will help you perform better and may even give you the competitive edge that you are looking for to beat your opponents.
We aimed to provide you with a clear cut answer as to why bananas are so important for long-distance runners. After reading this word to word, we hope you have a clear idea of how to include bananas in your training and have a better idea about the value of the fruit for performance.
We hope that you do include bananas in your training and that you do see the improvements in performance that we are confident bananas will deliver. So there you have it, valid reasons for you as a runner to go bananas over bananas.