Have you ever been advised against eating a banana while on a weight loss diet?
There are many who consider bananas to be super healthy while others term it as a cause of weight gain.
In fact, banana for weight loss might seem a paradox.
Let’s examine the nutrition and facts about bananas and find out if you should really avoid them while losing weight.
Here is a table that gives the approximate calories contained in a banana according to size :
|Extra Small (less than 6″ long)||81||72|
|Small (6″ to 6-7/8″ long)||101||90|
|Medium (7″ to 7-7/8″ long)||118||105|
|Large (8″ to 8-7/8″ long)||136||121|
|Extra Large (9″ or longer)||152||135|
A medium size banana contains (approx values):
- 27 grams carbohydrates
- 1.3 grams protein
- 0.4 gram fat
- 3.1 grams dietary fiber
- 0.4 milligram vitamin B6 (22% DV)
- 10.3 milligrams vitamin C (17% DV)
- 0.3 milligram manganese (16% DV)
- 422 milligrams potassium (12% DV)
- 31.9 milligrams magnesium (8% DV)
- 23.6 micrograms folate (6% DV)
- 0.1 milligram riboflavin (5% DV)
- 0.1 milligram copper (5% DV)
- 0.8 milligram niacin (4% DV)
- 0.4 milligram pantothenic acid (4% DV)
- 26 milligrams phosphorus (3% DV)
*DV is the recommended Daily Value for an individual.
Banana is a rich source of Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Potassium, Manganese, Magnesium and Folate.
Moreover, it is rich in antioxidants like Dopamine and Catechin that have several health benefits.
As you can see the majority (about 90%) of the calories in banana comes from Carbohydrates.
A high carbohydrates intake is mostly seen as the reason for weight gain.
Maybe this is the reason why bananas have a bad reputation when it comes to weight loss.
But there are other factors to consider.
Fibre Content in Bananas
The daily recommended value (DV) for fibre intake is around 25 gms as per the FDA guidelines.
A medium-sized banana provides around 3.1 gms of fibre which is approximately 12% of the DV.
Bananas are a good source of fibre, such as pectin. Some of the pectin in bananas is water-soluble.
Fibre helps in controlling blood sugar levels as it reduces the release of sugar during the digestion of food. It also helps in adding to the bulk in food to aid in good bowel movement.
Unripe green bananas consist of Resistance Starch which acts like fibre in the body. The quantity of starch in the banana decreases as it ripens and is converted into sugar.
Resistant starch is not completely digested in the body. Fewer calories are produced for each gram of resistant starch than for each gram of other carbohydrates.
In your large intestine, this starch is fermented by bacteria to form butyrate that has beneficial effects on gut health.
Benefits of resistant starch include increased feeling of fullness, treatment and prevention of constipation, decrease in cholesterol, and lower risk of colon cancer.
Hence, do not be intimidated by the amount of carbs in a banana as it is accompanied by fibre that keeps a check on the energy surge.
Low Energy Density of Banana
Many studies have confirmed that consuming a lower energy-dense diet can be an effective strategy to control
hunger while reducing calorie intake.
Low energy-dense food provide feelings of satiety and control hunger.
Energy density values are influenced by the composition of foods. The water and fibre content in food determines its energy density.
Bananas contain almost 74 percent of water by weight with high fibre. Hence they fall in the category of low energy-dense foods.
Having a banana can aid your weight loss program by adding fewer calories at the same time keeping your hunger at bay.
Low Glycemic Index (GI) of Banana
Glycemic index is the scale which determines the rate at which the food item releases energy into the bloodstream.
The lower the GI the better the food item and better control on insulin level.
Despite having a high carbohydrate content bananas have a low Glycemic Index.
Banana has a GI of 51 (average value) which means it is healthy to eat without bothering about high sugar content.
Ripe bananas have a higher GI than green bananas as they have higher sugar content.
Struggling to lose weight?
How to eat a banana in a weight loss diet?
Although bananas are loaded with good carbs that include high fibre, there must be a check on how and when to consume them on a weight loss diet.
On a calorie restricted diet, you must accommodate banana as a pre workout or post workout snack.
The carbs in banana help replenish the glycogen levels in the muscles and the high potassium content help in recovery and impede water retention in the body.
It can also be included in a healthy breakfast or a mid meal snack.
Bananas can be teamed with milk and other fruits like berries to create nutritious and filling smoothies for breakfast.
Also bananas are naturally sweet which can help to avoid or minimizing adding sugar to your meals.
Try to avoid a binge on bananas as a small banana itself contains about 90 calories.
Restrict the number of bananas to 1-2 in a day.
Whenever you consume banana as a breakfast meal or a snack, keep in mind the high carb content in it and plan the meals accordingly.
Which type of Banana is good to eat in a Weight Loss Diet
When you are looking to shed some pounds it will be handy to keep a note of the colour of banana best suited for you.
Basically, we can classify banana into three states or colours on the basis of its ripe.
1) Green Banana
This under-ripe form of banana is hard and least sweet in taste. In fact, they might taste more bitter than sweet.
Though not be as appetizing as a yellow one, this type has the highest content of resistant starch and pectin which is also a type of fibre.
It has the least amount of calorie content and a low glycemic index of around 30.
Green banana can keep you full for longer times and help in improving digestive health.
2) Yellow Banana
As the banana ripens it turns to yellow colour than green.
It tastes sweet because the resistance starch has turned to sugar. The glycemic index of a yellow banana is also more than an unripe one.
The antioxidants (including dopamine and catechins) content also increases as the banana ripens.
Antioxidants reduce damage from free radicals and help to lower the risk of some diseases.
How about a healthy Banana Smoothie?
3) Brown Banana
Brown bananas are the overripe ones with dark brown patches on the skin.
Here most of the starch has turned into simple sugar. They are too sweet in taste and easy to digest for an average person.
The antioxidant content of the brown banana is the highest with the highest glycemic index.
As far as weight loss is concerned you must try to incorporate light yellow or green coloured banana in your diet as it will help you ingest more fibre and less simple sugar keeping you away from a sugar spike.
Banana is one of the best sources of energy and nutrition with high fibre content and a low glycemic index.
It is a great go-to snack which has a lot of health benefits.
There are no specific studies that show that eating banana can cause weight gain or weight loss.
Hence, completely avoiding bananas to achieve weight loss is to lose on a delicious fruit packed with nutrition.
You must keep a check on the number of bananas consumed while having a weight loss goal in mind.