Appalachian State

Refuel with Bananas

September 08, 2016

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Sucrose Sugar Helps Replenish Energy Stores Post-Exercise

If you’ve been following the Dole Nutrition News for a while, you’re probably already packing bananas in your gym bag. Dole research has found bananas are a top fuel for endurance athletes and that eating bananas during long-distance events may even help your muscles recover more quickly. Now, a 2016 study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology finds snacking on bananas after your event may hold benefits too.


Credit: Dole

Researchers from the Netherlands and the UK wanted to see which kind of carbohydrate was best for post-race recovery—glucose (the simplest form of sugar) or sucrose (a sugar made up of glucose and fructose). Fifteen male cyclists completed two energy-depleting rides on different days. Afterwards, they drank a beverage containing either glucose or sucrose every 30 minutes for five hours. During recovery researchers measured liver glycogen (stored energy) to see how quickly it was replenished.

After drinking the sucrose beverage, liver glycogen was replenished about twice as quickly compared with the glucose beverage. Not only that, athletes reported fewer complaints—nausea, stomach aches, burping—after drinking the sucrose.

This difference could hold great benefits for athletes who have another competition on the calendar—enough stored fuel for an estimated three to five minutes of additional strenuous exercise during the next race. “During long duration exercise, the glycogen stored within the liver drops to low levels,” explains Dr. David Nieman, exercise physiologist at the North Carolina Research Campus. “The liver glycogen must be restored quickly in order for the athlete to put in another hard workout the following day.”

The good news for fruit enthusiasts: Bananas provide sucrose—nearly 3 grams in a medium banana, plus about 6 grams each of glucose and fructose. You’ll also get potassium, vitamins C and B6, manganese and plenty of antioxidant compounds. That’s far more than any sports drink can offer and for a fraction of the cost!

“Eating bananas that are high in sucrose during the first several hours of recovery is an excellent strategy,” according to Nieman. Time to stock up on bananas!

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