We are already big fans of this fruit, for all kinds of reasons, so this is like icing on the cake:
A banana might reasonably replace sports drinks for those of us who rely on carbohydrates to fuel exercise and speed recovery, according to a new study comparing the cellular effects of carbohydrates consumed during sports.
It found that a banana, with its all-natural package, provides comparable or greater anti-inflammatory and other benefits for athletes than sports drinks. But there may be a downside, and it involves bloating.
For decades, athletes and their advisers have believed, and studies have confirmed, that eating or drinking carbohydrates during prolonged exertion can enable someone to continue for longer or at higher intensities and recover more quickly afterward than if he or she does not eat during the workout.
The carbohydrates rapidly fuel muscles, lessening some of the physiological stress of working out and prompting less inflammation afterward.
The most digestible and portable form of carbohydrates is sugar, whether glucose, fructose or sucrose, and for athletes, this sugar frequently is provided through sports drinks.
But sports drinks are not a substance found in the natural world. They are manufactured and can contain flavorings and chemicals that some people might wish to avoid.
So a few years ago, researchers at the North Carolina Research Campus of Appalachian State University in Kannapolis, began to wonder about fruits as a healthier alternative to sports drinks during exercise.
Most fruits, including bananas, are sugary and high in fructose; fructose, after all, means fruit sugar. But they also contain other natural substances that might have an impact on sport performance and recovery, the researchers speculated.
In a preliminary experiment, published in 2012, the scientists found that cyclists performed better during a strenuous bike ride if they had either a banana or a sports drink compared to only water. They also developed lower levels of inflammation in their bodies afterward.
But that study had left many questions unanswered, particularly about whether and how the carbohydrates might be aiding athletes’ recovery.
So for the new experiment, which was published last month in PLOS One, the researchers decided to use more sophisticated techniques to track molecular changes inside cyclists’ bodies.
(Dole Foods, which sells bananas, partially funded both studies. According to a statement in the study, the company did not have any involvement in “the study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish or preparation of the manuscript.”)…
Read the whole story here.