Bananas – A Fat Burning Powerhouse?

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So this post is going to be kept pretty short but it is just a quick overview about some of the controversy surrounding bananas. I know that a lot of people cut them out of their diets as they are “filled with sugar” or lacking nutrients compared to other fruit. Even too quickly released so that they may disrupt blood sugar, or are only appropriate after sports.

I have to admit that I was once also sceptical of bananas and thought they were best left in the tropics where they belong. This couldn’t be further from the truth as bananas are not only nutritious but hold a host of other unique health benefits. A few months a go I wrote a post on resistant starch which is basically a type of carbohydrate which is not only resistant to digestion but holds a some of big benefits:

  • The undigested starch helps nourish the guts lining and feeds the bacteria in the digestive system. Specifically helping colon health….
  • A consistent intake resistant starch (RS) has even been shown to increase fat oxidation. This is basically due to the RS changing the order in which food is burnt. By default our bodies will burn off carbohydrates first then move on the fat and protein. When we ingest RS the dietary fat we have just eaten is first in the firing line and gets oxidised for energy before being stored as excess adipose tissue.

So going back to the banana then we will wrap things up. The banana is also a fairly low fructose fruit leaving the rest of the sugars being resistant starch, if you decide to have a unripe banana (yellow/green) which is at an edible stage you will be getting even less fructose and more RS which makes the banana almost a free food, which might explain this (Which I really do not recommend and is a bit off the wall to say the least):

So in order to reap the benefits of resistant starch how much do we need? well the answer is not much (around 20g) especially when you consider how you can get the following amounts from bananas:

  • 1 Medium unripe Banana has around 12 grams
  • 1 Medium ripe Banana has around 4-5 grams

Most people get around 4-8 grams of RS per day without even realising it, so if you can include one green/yellow banana in your diet per day you already have half of the 20 grams in the bank. You can refer to my previous post on Fibre for some more foods including Resistant Starch but to give you a quick idea you need to have a look at foods like (lentils, beans, artichokes, cooked then cooled potatoes and brown rice)

Add to this that the humble banana contains a good serving of Sodium, Potassium and a host of other vitamins and minerals and it seems like a no brainer for everyone to eat 1 banana a day…….

Comments

  1. Grok says

    Ha-ha. You had to know I’d comment on this one!

    That’s my buddy FreeLee. She helped me ditch my carbo paranoia.

    I couldn’t gag down any green or yellow bananas, but I can vouch for not getting really fat shoveling in banana carbs. Sometimes more than 1,000 a day.

    Digestion is like a well oiled machine if they’re ripe.

    @ Grok: Good to hear and I am glad to hear you are getting over your carbo paranoia! When I say yellow/green bananas I am speaking about the stage when they just become edible, these seem easy enough to digest. Fully green bananas, thats another story lol…….

    Knew this post would appeal to you ;-)

  2. Vanessa says

    Bananas have always been a favourite for me. I love starting the day with a banana and a yogurt, it gives me that push of energy which I often need. I always recommend that my client have a banana before they work out. It helps them burn off those extra calories. Cool post!

  3. Keenan says

    Dr Eades provided the rundown on resistant starch a while back:

    http://www.proteinpower.com/drmike/metabolism/resistant-starch/

    Bananas are pretty good, especially post-workout, but I wouldn’t eat them to TRY to obtain some arbitrary recommended amount of “resistant starch”. If you like em, have them sometimes, but there’s no sense going out of your way to eat them.

    @ Keenan: Thanks for the link, I have read it and find it to be very interesting. Although he has high credentials I feel Dr. Eades is very biased towards a low carb lifestyle and will do most anything to argue his cause. He goes as far as saying that resistant starch is converted to fatty acids and therefore absorbed in the lower colon at 9 calories per gram and not 4 (like a carbohydrate) this is a bit far fetched and basically trying to scare monger people out of eating high fibre wholesome foods.

    Anthony Colpo has done a good writeup (see this link) on Dr. Eades for any of those wondering why I question his articles and credentials.

  4. Grok says

    @Chris I know what you mean. I used to enjoy them that way, but since living on fruit almost exclusively for a while now, I have become a total fruit snob. I won’t even consider them now without spotting. Just too bitter and chalky or something.

    Ripe meter: If you pick the banana up by the stem and the fruit falls off… it’s perfect!

    Developing a picky palate has made the 80/10/10 style diet a bit inconvenient, but it’s also probably part of the reason I’ve been having success. Sure makes it hard shopping for dinner if you run out of fruit though.

    I’ll also agree Eades goes a little over the top sometimes, but he’s a good resource I like to cherry pick :)

  5. Hugh says

    Good to hear that bananas aren’t so bad after all. I’ve heard both the good and bad on bananas and actually had given them up for a couple of years. In the past year or so, I’ve gotten back into them and love them. Sure they’re nutritious, but the huge benefit for me is that bananas are the ULTIMATE portable, bring with you, go anywhere food. A banana can be a lifesaver on a plane or a road trip when all of the other options are garbage.

  6. Deb says

    Just a little additional info: a friend of mine was recently diagnosed with liver disease and advised to eat a banana a day for liver health.

  7. Callie Durbrow says

    I’ve always thought that bananas are a great way for my clients to start their day. It’s a great portable snack to slip into your bag on the way to the train, etc. Great article!

  8. Mike (Panther Fitness) says

    Great post agree bananas have had much bad press, but agree they are a neglected fat burner always recommend to my clients to eat bananas especially one after a a heavy training session.
    I normally eat at least 2 Bananas daily they keep me going and obviously help with fat burning.
    Good work

  9. Adam | SEE says

    I never heard anything bad about bananas – probably a sign that I live under a very well protected rock.

    Meanwhile, if I ask the produce clerk, I can get a case of “mark down bananas” for +/- $4. These are bananas that are trimmed off in onesies and twosies, b/c they had the audacity to turn nearly completely yellow in the store. A great deal that lets me eat 5 bananas a day.

  10. Luke R. says

    While I’m not actually that big of a fan of the TASTE of bananas, I can’t deny that they’re a perfect pre-workout snack that keeps the energy levels up. That’s why I’ve been force feeding them to myself in the car before I head into the gym!

  11. Tim Singleton says

    So, between liking both bananas and grapefruit, and finally finding the shoes I need to run at 280lbs – the Brooks Beast (I do mean run, not jog, too) I have a shot at hitting 215lbs again with an actual waist.

    Awesome.

    Tim

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