Bananas: the new sports drink

Bananas are one of my least favorite fruits, but it looks like I should start keeping them around.

“We wanted to see which was more beneficial when consumed during intense cycling — bananas or a carbohydrate sports drink,” said Dr. David C. Nieman, director of the human performance lab and a member of the College of Health Sciences faculty at Appalachian.

“We found that not only was performance the same whether bananas or sports drinks were consumed, there were several advantages to consuming bananas,” he said.

Eat it, Gatorade.

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About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • unbound

    Unfortunately, when you are doing summer sports in the heat all afternoon, the Gatorade keeps a lot better and doesn’t even really need to be chilled at all.

    • Nick Johnson

      Meh. Hot Gatorade burns a lot worse going down than a warm or even hot banana would.

  • Alverant

    You mean something natural and cheap does a better job than something artificial and expensive? Look out or the sports drink lobby is going to start a petition to ban bananas because it interferes with their business.

  • kaboobie

    I hate bananas and anything banana-flavored. The sole exception is banana bread, and somehow I don’t think chomping on that while exercising is going to have the desired effect. I just drink lots of water.

  • IslandBrewer

    Don’t tell how “perfect” bananas are to Ray Comfort.

  • Nate Adams

    But Gatorade has what plants crave! It has electrolytes!

    • JT Eberhard

      You win at life.

  • suzysalaksartok

    I’m kinda indifferent to bananas. I mean, I really like them most the time, but they’re never the right ripeness from the store, and there’s like a narrow window between when they’re just right or either too hard/mushy.

    Once I started peeling them from ‘bottom’ first I think it increased my enjoyment of bananas, but otherwise they’re usually not worth the wait for them to become edible.

    Also, I seem to remember another study that said that low fat chocolate milk was actually a lot better than Gatorade, and if bananas are only as good as, then it still wins.

    Although, the fact you dont really have to refrigerate Gatorade is an advantage, plus the Strawberry Kiwi Gatorade rain, or frost, or ice or something (can’t remember) was pretty awesome.

    • Nick Johnson

      I don’t think I would be able to drink milk while doing any kind of intense exercise (is there any other kind :-O) in the heat. Milk + intense heat = me vomiting everywhere

  • Uncle Glenny

    If you’re looking for both fluid replacement and energy, unless you’re well heat conditioned, you might want something with more sodium.

    Way back before I became a couch potato I used Cytomax. Some sodium but less than Gatorade I think.

    (I used to bike in some awful weather. The liquids without the banana fiber made for easier digestion. And – after-the-fact – I’m pretty sure I suffered from some mild hyponatremia a couple times from just guzzling water on beastly hot days.)

  • Randomfactor

    The true advantage goes to bananas, which have the handy peel which can be left in your wake to slip up your opponents.

    Plus they’re biodegradable in a way that the gatorade bottle isn’t.

  • fastlane

    Disclaimer: The following comes from all the ‘research’ I did on this topic back in the late 80s/early 90s, some information may be out of date.

    Gatorade, and most sports drinks, have roughly 3-4 times the amount of electrolytes/water ratio that one needs when exercising. When I used to do my marathon bike rides (140+ miles in over 100F heat), I would generally use a small amount of powdered sports drink (I just bought the least expensive that still had electrolytes and not just sugar) to water ratio (I got about 70 mpg :-) ). It tasted terrible, but it seemed to keep me going. I also tended to stay away from energy bars, and just would hang a small bag of trail mix or nuts on the handle bars and munch as I went along. Bananas were always part of the recovery food process (and grapefruit juice, it has a really good mix of the same electrolytes as bananas, and I like the tartness better.)

  • Kazim

    HSSSSSSSS! Do not mention the hated bananas to me! For I am an atheist, and they are my nightmare!

  • Jessica Murphy

    List the other benefits in this post!

  • raymoscow

    I prefer fresh fruit (and lots of water) over sports drinks.

  • Havok

    I tend to have trouble eating solid foods when exercising intensely. Banana’s can be ok sometimes, but I’m usually better off with maltodextrin-fructose mix (2:1 ration, home made), and an electrolyte drink.