For years, bananas were the go-to snack for the person who was seeking to lose weight and lose it quickly. Hungry? Grab a banana; it’s good for you. You won’t gain weight from it, and it’s full of good nutrients for your body. So, they said back in the day.
But, nowadays, the myths are flying around that bananas are full of starch and not good for weight loss at all. How do you know whether or not to get that bundle of bananas at the store? Is it going to be good for your weight loss goals or are you only adding on the calories when you snack on this yummy and simple snack?
It can be challenging to find healthy food and keep up with your diet, especially when it seems like all the good stuff is out to get you. If bananas aren’t good for you, then what is?
What Are The Accusations?
What exactly are people saying about bananas and should you really pay attention? First, we’ll go over the “accusations,” and then we’ll discuss the benefits of bananas to help you make an informed conclusion.
Throughout history, food has been observed and loved and hated. There is always some new opinion on whether or not something is good for you. So, it’s no surprise that something as seemingly innocent as a banana will be attacked on whether or not it’s going to make you fat. Here are what people say about bananas causing weight gain:
- They are jam-packed with calories. From a dieter’s perspective, hearing these words can be a reason for alarm. Calories? Aren’t they your worst enemy? Too much of them yes. Do bananas really have too many?
- They have a lot of sugar in them. Yes, there is no doubt that sugar is our enemy when it comes to weight loss but what kind of sugar are we talking about and how much of it are you eating?
- They are high in carbs. Again, another word that will have people running. Carbohydrates are terrible in many people’s opinions, and while there is truth to the fact that you shouldn’t eat too many when dieting, you’ll discover the truth about carbs from bananas is actually not as bad as it seems.
When you read these claims, you may want to throw out all of your bananas and never eat them again when dieting. Understandable. But, before you do something so dreadfully drastic, read on about all the healthy components of bananas.
Healthy Components of Bananas
There has to be a reason why we’ve been told that bananas are good for us and to eat them. The good news is that there is. In order to show you the benefits of bananas, let’s debunk the “accusations” against them:
- Are bananas full of sugar? Yes. They do have about 14 grams of sugar in them but let’s consider what kind of sugar this is. Are you eating processed sugars when eating bananas? No. So, you don’t have to expect the negative results from processed sugar like bloating and weight gain. While you do want to stay away from processed sugar and an excess of sugar found in fruit, your body (and your brain!) do need some glucose to function well.
- Bananas have dietary fiber. With around 5 grams of dietary fiber, a banana can actually be a very good idea. Because fiber helps you to feel full longer, eating bananas can help you to avoid overeating, especially sugary foods. Fibers are very good for your health and overall digestive system.
- What is the nutritional value? What are the good things that you’ll get from eating bananas? A whole lot of amazing nutrients. For example, did you know that a banana is full of vitamin C and A, as well as fiber and healthy sugar and carbs. Sure, the sugar and carbs may scare you a bit at first glance, but a healthy amount of healthy carbs and sugar isn’t as bad as you may think. Plus, with all the vitamins that a banana provides, it’s kind of worth it.
- Calories? Yes, bananas have calories, and they do have more calories than several other kinds of fruit, but along with these calories, you’re also getting a bunch of potassium, which is very good for your body, as are the other nutrients mentioned above.
While the calories are higher than in other fruits, that doesn’t mean that they are as high as say, a cheeseburger. When you realize that you’re comparing the calorie amount to other fruits and not your average meal, it puts things into perspective, doesn’t it? A banana a day is not going to make you gain excess weight.
- Are carbohydrates a big no? When you hear the words carbohydrates, what is the first thing that you want to do? Maybe you want to run and say no carbs, but before you do that, consider why eating a banana could be a good idea—regardless of the carbs.
The carbs you’re eating from a banana aren’t your average carb. They are resistant starch which means that they don’t fully digest, so your body doesn’t take on all the calories from the starch and you also feel full, which is a win-win situation.
With that being said, eating a ton of bananas in one day probably isn’t the best idea, because yes, they do have carbs, but that can actually be a good thing. Your body does need some carbs, and it’s better to eat resistant starch in bananas than your favorite white bread.
- The glycemic index is low. So many foods that we eat on a daily basis have a high glycemic index. This can lead to you getting spikes in your blood sugar levels, which is never good. Because bananas have a moderately low one, your blood sugar levels stay controlled.
These are just some of the ways that bananas are good for you. It’s a misconception that eating them is going to be terrible for your body. Eating a pack of cookies a day is probably terrible for you, not one or two bananas.
The Big Question: Do They Help You Lose Weight?
The straightforward answer to this question is simple: they don’t make you gain weight. But, it’s important to pay attention to some things regarding your diet and your active lifestyle to consider how and when to eat bananas, in order to lose weight.
Here are some tips on including bananas in your diet:
- Consider what you’re eating on a daily basis to figure out when to eat bananas. If you’re eating a lot of fattening foods full of carbs and starch, eating a lot of bananas is not going to help you lose weight. In fact, if your diet is already rich in carbs, you may find that you won’t be losing weight any time soon.
- Don’t go all “King-Kong” on your banana eating. If you do eat a healthy diet, but you pack in those bananas as if they were going out of style, you may find that they aren’t doing much to help you lose weight and you may even see some weight gain. Of course, most people don’t eat bananas as if they were the best snack in the world but if you’re one of the few, reconsider your munching habits.
- One or two a day is ideal. But you have to also make sure that you don’t end up constipated. If your digestion starts to suffer, then reduce the amount you take in.
- Add bananas to your protein shake. A good way to eat bananas is when you’re supplementing a meal. Because they are packed with nutrients and fill you up quickly, they can be especially beneficial in your morning shake.
Not only will they help you feel full so that you don’t binge on them when combined with other healthy ingredients, but they can also be a very healthy way for you to start your day. Personally, I add them to my vegan pre-workout shake, check out my recommendations.
- Carry a banana with you as a healthy snack should hunger strike. It’s so easy to go through the day trying to be good in regards to your diet, but then hunger comes along, and you weren’t prepared. Avoid eating the bad stuff and carry a banana with you.
So, as you consider if you should include bananas in your diet, we’ve compiled some of the important factors and numbers concerning bananas and their amounts of nutrients and “bad stuff.”
Take a look:
- A medium-sized banana has around 110 to 150 calories. Yes, it’s not the smallest number of calories but compare a banana to a pack of Oreo cookies to snack on, and well, you can see that the banana is probably a much wiser and healthier choice of calories.
- It provides your body with 477 mg of potassium, which is a vital electrolyte. This is about 10% of the daily intake you should be getting.
- It contains around 19-30g of carbohydrates. Carbs may not be your best friend, and this is a high amount for fruit, but the nutrients that it provides your body with are certainly worth making bananas one of the carbs on your diet plan.
- They contain 14.5g sugar. No one will say that sugar is good for you, but it’s important to actually look at the fact that the sugar in bananas is the natural slow release kind. This means that you won’t be getting the same results as from processed sugar.
- It provides your body with around 15% of your daily value of Vitamin C. This is something you can never get enough of.
- It gives you 3 g fiber. Fiber is vital for your digestion and is something that many people lack enough of.
- Bananas have a GI ranking from between 42 to 62. Not the lowest ranking but low enough to not result in the rollercoaster blood glucose spikes that are so common.
So, Should You Eat Bananas?
As you can see, some of the accusations may actually be true, such as the idea that bananas are high in calories and have carbs and sugar. These things are true. But, when you put it in perspective, the overall nutritional value and amounts of these purported bad things are actually not that bad.
Healthy sugars and carbs are okay to include in your diet within reason and when those same carbs and sugars come with really healthy things like vitamins and potassium, well, then it makes sense to add bananas to your diet.
Are you on the road to weight loss? It can be a challenge to choose your foods and know which ones to eat and which ones to stay away from. When it comes to choosing bananas, choose them over other foods that won’t provide you with as much nutritional value as they do.
Consider the fact that your body does need some carbs and sugar for it to function properly. You definitely don’t want to eat too much but what better way to give it what it needs than to be eating healthy sugars and carbs and not processed ones? If you’re going to cut anything out of your diet, make it the unhealthy packaged foods that you may be buying.
A banana is actually a “godsend” for people who need to get healthy things in their body but don’t have much time to be preparing snacks all the time. When you eat a banana or two a day, at least you know you’re getting some healthy nutrients.