BOONE, N.C.—Endurance athletes who consume a drink made from bananas get an extra boost of nutrients, including antioxidants, fiber, potassium and vitamin B6, compared to athletes who drink a carbohydrate-base sports drink, according to a new study published in the journal PLoS ONE. The findings suggest consuming healthier carbohydrate sources before and after exercise support athletic performance just as well as a sports drink.
Researcher at Appalachian State University’s Human Performance Lab in the Kannapolis-based North Carolina Research Campus (NCRC) conducted a study to see which was more beneficial when consumed during intense cycling—bananas or a carbohydrate sports drink.
For the study, trained cyclists consumed either a 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 at the NCRC Metabolomics Laboratory for more than 100 metabolites—molecules associated with metabolism. They found bananas provided the cyclists with antioxidants not found in sports drinks as well as a greater nutritional boost, including fiber, potassium and vitamin B6. They also noted bananas have a healthier blend of sugars than sports drinks.
“We found that not only was performance the same whether bananas or sports drinks were consumed, there were several advantages to consuming bananas," the researchers said. “Bananas come prepackaged with fiber, nutrients and antioxidants."