We all know just how beneficial fruits and vegetables can be to our diets, yet unfortunately, many of us simply aren’t getting enough on a regular basis to really benefit from the natural goodness that they contain. Bodybuilders and athletes or fitness enthusiasts in general, for that matter, pay special care and attention to their diets as they are looking to eat to not only look great but to function more efficiently in the process too.
When we think of beneficial fruits, people often tend to picture oranges, apples, and citrus fruits as prime examples and whilst it’s certainly true that these foods are indeed beneficial, we shouldn’t overlook the nutritional value of bananas. Bananas are delicious and vastly underrated food, that provide even the most sedentary of individuals with a number of different benefits. Add bodybuilders to the mix, however, and the nutritional value of bananas really does become apparent. If you’re looking to bulk up, build muscle, burn fat, and just generally function more efficiently in the gym, here’s a look at several reasons why you may wish to make bananas much more of a staple part of your daily meal plan.
They Provide Instant and Sustained Energy
We all require energy to get us through the day, even if we have very little physical activity which needs undertaking. If you’re physically active, like a bodybuilder, for instance, you’ll need vast quantities of energy, and fast! Bodybuilders push themselves to their absolute limits in the gym, pumping iron for hours each week, on top of strength and conditioning drills and routines as well.
To get them through these routines, they need a lot of energy, which is where bananas come into the mix. Bananas are a fantastic source of complex carbohydrates that provide an instant and sustained release of energy which will last for a number of hours after consumption. An average banana contains around 110 calories, making it a great source of energy for when you need it fast. For this reason, bananas work either as a pre-workout food, or post-workout food.
For pre-workout purposes, bananas are ideal as they instantly get to work on supplying your body with energy. For post-workout purposes, they’re also fantastic as they help to immediately replenish glycogen stores which will be almost fully depleted during your workout.
They Prevent Muscle Cramps
The bigger the muscle, the more prone to cramps it may find, and unfortunately, the bigger the muscle, the more painful the cramps may be. If you’ve ever experienced muscle cramps, particularly in your hamstring, you’ll immediately know just how painful it can be. When we exercise and work out, a natural by-product produced by the body is a substance known as lactic acid.
As lactic acid builds up, it penetrates our muscles and leads to painful muscle cramps, which is the last thing you want when you’re in the middle of a workout. Bananas, however, are fantastic for preventing muscle cramps as not only do they help to replenish lost minerals, the natural magnesium, and potassium that they contain can also suppress lactic acid production, which means that you can work out harder and for longer before your muscles begin to feel tight and fatigued.
They’re Great for Stomach
Another example of how the nutritional value of bananas becomes apparent is the fact that they’ve proven to be extremely beneficial for our stomachs, for a number of reasons. To begin with, as bananas contain soluble fiber, this fiber when ingested breaks down in natural waters in the stomach, forming a thick paste that coats the stomach lining and digestive tract.
Why is this beneficial? Well, to begin with, it helps keep us feeling full for longer, so we can better regulate our calorie consumption, but on top of that, it helps to prevent LDL (bad) cholesterol from being absorbed by the bloodstream, making it beneficial for the heart as well. The paste also provides a protective barrier to the stomach lining, protecting it against stomach acids and therefore helping with conditions such as acid reflux, indigestion, and even stomach ulcers.
They’re also full of protease inhibitors, which have been found to eradicate harmful bacteria from the stomach, which again improves digestion and stomach health in general.
They’re Great for Weight Loss
As a bodybuilder, your primary objectives will be to build muscle and burn fat, or if you’re already in shape, to prevent fat from accumulating on your physique. For this reason, you need to ensure that you’re consuming the best possible foods in regards to managing your weight, and again, bananas are ideal. As mentioned, the soluble fiber in bananas will form a thick gel-like paste in the stomach, making you feel full for longer and suppressing your appetite.
This is beneficial because obviously if you don’t feel hungry, you won’t eat anything else. It also prevents hunger cravings so you’ll be less likely to feel peckish in the evening, and crave unhealthy foods. Bananas are also naturally low in calories, at just over 100 calories per banana, making them a perfect snack food for when you do get the dreaded hunger pangs.