Contrary to what you might think, soft is the way to go. To get all of the readily available energy from the carbohydrates mixed with insanely amazing amounts of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, your banana should be spotted like a cheetah, slightly soft, and taste sweetly delicious. You peel me?
To name a few benefits, bananas, when ripe:
- Are high in potassium and carbohydrates, perfect pre- and post-workout
- Act as a prebiotic- stimulating growth of friendly bacteria in the bowel
- Help overcome depression due to high levels of the essential amino acid tryptophan, which is converted into serotonin- the happy-mood neurotransmitter in the brain
- Have the natural sugars to replenish glycogen stores, preventing muscle cramps and have a speedy recovery from a work out
- Are a natural antacid, providing relief from acid reflux, heartburn, and GERD
- Have been shown to improve mood and reduce PMS symptoms
It’s not as easy to stash in your drink carrier, but according to Women’s Health Magazine, a banana is effective workout fuel. “Researchers had cyclists either drink a cup of a sports drink or eat half a banana and a cup of water every 15 minutes during a 46-mile ride. Both groups finished in the same amount of time and had about the same levels of glucose (an energy source). Study authors say bananas seem to have a near-perfect natural mix of carbohydrates, potassium, vitamins, and antioxidants.”
Scared of the sweet simplicity of their sugary carbohydrates? Don’t be. Carbohydrates are the main source of energy among the three macronutrients: carbohydrates, fat, and protein. The Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Ranges (AMDR) for adults states that carbohydrates should be 45-65% of total calories, fat should be 20-35% and protein should be only 10-35%. All of the macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats, and proteins) may be used as energy, but the body uses carbohydrates the most easily and quickly. Your body was made to burn carbs as fuel! It would much rather burn sugars than have the burden of converting fatty acids and proteins into sugary energy. Don’t make it more difficult for your body than it has to be. At 4 calories per gram, carbohydrates are not the culprits of weight gain; they should not be cut out of the diet to lose weight. Overall energy balance of calories in and calories expended are what lead to weight loss and weight gain.
There are so many fun ways to handle your banana:
- Chilled Water
This is a staple for my favorite breakfast here at kappa:
Orange Banana Cream Cereal
- 2 oranges chopped
- 1 apple chopped
- Banana Milk
Place chopped oranges and apple in bowl and pour banana milk over. Enjoy in good health! Feel free to use any kind of fruit you can get your hands on!
Banana Ice Cream
- 6-8 ripe bananas, peeled, broken up into thirds or quarters, and frozen for at least 7 hours (until solid)
Process with S blade in food processor until creamy. This is delicious! Add other fresh fruits like mango, blueberry, or even try adding some walnuts or cinnamon! Simply divine.
The carbohydrates I justify being scared of?
The refined ones that get nutrients enriched back into them, like white rice or Lucky Charms. Whole-grain foods are made from the entire grain kernel: the fiber-rich bran and germ, and the endosperm. The bran and the germ are sources of iron, magnesium, selenium, B vitamins, and fiber. Refined grains contain mostly just the endosperm. Remember: Whole foods first for good nutrition. Not supplements, fortified, or enriched refined and processed foods. So at the line at Chipotle, don’t be an idiot. Get the brown rice.
Eating more nutrient dense foods should be a goal for everybody. No comprehendo? Eat an apple instead of apple pie, or lean ham instead of bacon. Less empty calories from added refined sugars and saturated fats. All the calories from fresh fruits and vegetables…and bananas…are full of antioxidants, phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals, fiber, the benefits are endless. From the potassium and party in your tummy, to peace of mind and peace on Earth. Don’t have a cow, go bananas!