By Korin Miller; Photograph by Freepik
They’re full of sugar, but does it matter?
One of the basic truths that everyone learns about healthy eating is that fruit is good for you. So it’s kind of weird that many low-carb diets say that you should swear off bananas.
After all, bananas are a fruit, but they are starting to get a reputation as a sugar-laden, kilojoule-packed fruit. More than 70,000 Google “how many kilojoules in a banana” each month, and even celeb trainer Harley Pasternak recommends that dieters avoid bananas to lose weight. And eating bananas on a keto diet? Forget about it.
Why: A medium banana packs 27 grams of carbs, more than two slices of white bread, as well as about 14 grams of sugar. That sugar occurs in the from of fructose, a simple sugar that the body digests rapidly and can lead to blood sugar and insulin spikes. And, for the record, there are 439 kilojoules in a banana.
But if you’re a banana fan, you don’t have to give up the yellow fruit just to shed a few kilos: Bananas aren’t going to make or break your weight-loss efforts, says Alissa Rumsey, founder of Alissa Rumsey Nutrition and Wellness and creator of the free e-guide 5 Minute Mindful Eating Exercise. “One food does not cause weight gain, just like one food doesn’t cause weight loss,” she says.
After all, while bananas do contain sugar, it’s natural sugar, which isn’t the same as added sugar, like the stuff you add to your coffee, and they are also a great source of potassium and contain fibre, vitamins C, and B6, and inflammation-fighting antioxidants, points out Beth Warren, author of Living a Real Life With Real Food.
And that fibre can actually help you lose weight, she says. According to research from the University of Massachusetts Medical School, simply increasing your fibre intake to 30 grams per day leads to as much weight lossas full-fledged diets do. One medium banana contains 3.1 grams of fibre, blunting the rapid spike in blood sugar that accompanies other high-sugar foods. That way, you don’t feel hyper after eating one… and then hangry 30 minutes later.
Eat your bananas with a little protein and fat from some almond or peanut butter, and you’ll give the sweet snack even more staying power, Rumsey says. Try eating them before or after exercise to help fuel your workouts and recovery, she suggests.
Bottom line: Bananas aren’t the enemy. If you’re trying to lose weight, focus on your overall diet and exercise instead of one fruit. It’ll get you so much further.