Whether you are trying to keep up with your new year’s resolution, or you’re a bonafide fitness freak already, if you’ve got your quick-nutrition-before-the-workout on point, you got it!
And for those of you who haven’t yet found the perfect pre-workout drink or snack, we implore you reach inside your fruit basket. That’s right!
A recent study conducted in Appalachian State University of North Carolina, USA, points towards something more natural that can replace your chemically produced sports drink.
And it’s a Banana we’re talking about!
The study used twenty trained male and female cyclists who regularly participated in professional competitions, testing them in different conditions, including water, sports drinks and bananas, as a pre-exercise snack. Blood samples were taken at various intervals to check the changes in the cyclists’ bodies at the molecular level.
It was found that cyclists who had eaten bananas before their laps had lesser inflammation and a shorter recovery period as compared to their water-only and sports drink counterparts.
Sciences dealing with the human body have long concluded that intake of carbohydrates before an exercise regime allows the body to generate enough fuel to last during the entire workout, and even perform at a higher intensity. It also aids in recovery, meaning that an individual is likely to be less tired and sleepy after a workout if they eat something beforehand as the carbohydrates reduce the impact of the physiological stress that the muscles go through during a workout, which reduces inflammation.
This has led to many searching for a quick, easily digestible snack rich in carbohydrates. Sports drinks provide carbohydrates in the simple form of sugar, which meets all the criteria mentioned above – and thus, it has become a beverage of choice for the fit.
However, all the advertising and popularity of sports drinks has not overshadowed the fact that they are artificially manufactured, and often contain various chemicals (including artificial sweeteners and colours) that many health-conscious people may wish to avoid.
Thus, this peer-reviewed study, published in the scientific journal PLOS One, is a significant find, as it provides a cheap, natural and easily available alternative to these artificial drinks. It is of interest to note that the study was partially funded by a company that sells bananas, but it did not have any hand in the design of the study or the conclusions drawn. The fact that the negatives of regular banana consumption – such as bloating – have been highlighted, show that the study is indeed objective and thus reliable.
Apart from the energy kick, replacing sports drinks with bananas is a sensible choice on many levels. Economically, they are cheaper and more easily available. In terms of nutrients, they have antioxidants, fibre, potassium and vitamins not often found in sports drink.
Practically too, they are easy to carry and consume, and they are easily disposable and more environment-friendly than plastic sports bottles.
This comes at the heels of the fact that researches over the years have shown that the impact of sports drinks is often exaggerated, and the negatives downplayed. Consuming these drinks post-exercise may provide an energy kick and quick hydration, but they actually lead to lesser energy production in the body in the longer run. Additionally, these drinks are often advertised as a valuable commodity to reach out for when your workout regime leads to a loss in electrolytes, particularly sodium. But researches have shown that these drinks do not usually make an impact in the electrolyte balance of athletes, ranging from footballers to marathon runners, and indeed, the over processed sodium in these drinks may not be a good replacement for the natural salt we consume.
The key to healthy living, no matter what diet or exercise fads may come and go, has always been the same – moderate exercise along with healthy eating. Keeping that (and research data supporting it) in mind, replacing sports drink with bananas as a workout snack is surely a step in the right direction.