Why Do Runners Eat Bananas?

by Jim Richardson | Last Updated: November 28, 2020

Whether you’re watching athletics on the television or in person, you’ll often notice athletes eating bananas. What is it that makes this fruit so valuable to those running these races and why do runners eat bananas?

Photo by Tim Foster on Unsplash



Bananas Give Runners Fuel

For a runner to power themselves through a race, they need to have fuel. Bananas are a great source of carbohydrates the glucose molecules your body needs during physical activity.

Carbs can improve a runners performance by delaying fatigue. So foods that are rich in carbohydrates like bananas can boost a runners endurance.

There are 105 calories and 27 grams of carbohydrates in one medium banana.

Bananas Give Runners Potassium

One of the main reasons that runners eat bananas is Potassium.

This electrolyte permits the movement of fluids and nutrients across our cells’ membranes. We need to keep this in balance to prevent muscle cramps, stomach cramps or side stitches.

Eating bananas is a great way to get Potassium. Other sources includes potatoes, spinach, tomatoes, and avocado.

Bananas Give Runners Vitamin B6

Bananas are rich in Vitamin B6 which helps convert carbohydrate into usable energy. This is helps a runner to maintain their energy levels during a race or training.

Bananas Give Runners Magnesium

Magnesium is an important mineral in the human body playing a role in over 300 biochemical reactions. It is crucial for energy production, muscle function, protein synthesis and insulin metabolism.

Magnesium is vital for the conversion of glycogen to glucose – the body’s main fuel during exercise. Without enough Magnesium you get a build up of lactic acid decreasing muscle efficiency and causing a burning sensation.

Magnesium is more important to bone health than calcium. So it is essential for runners who are pounding the road day after day.

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When Should Runners Eat Bananas?

As with most things this can differ from runner to runner. So a little trial and error is needed to understand what works best for you.

General advice is to eat a banana roughly 30 minutes before you run. This gives your body the chance to start to digest the food and enough fuel to get you started.

Don’t Forget That Post Run Banana

Bananas are great pre-run snacks for runners, but there are also benefits to eating a banana after a run. A banana can quickly replenish the Carbohydrates, Potassium and Magnesium that you have used up during your run.

The American Dietetics Association recommends that you eat a banana coupled with a source of protein within 15 minutes of finishing a run, for the maximum recovery.

This is why so many races give out bananas at the end of a race.

As well as benefitting our running performance, bananas have plenty of other benefits for runners:

Make you happier

Bananas contain a high level of tryptophan which the body converts into serotonin which helps to regulate anxiety, happiness, and mood.

Aid weight loss

High levels of vitamin B-6 quickened metabolism it also helps suppress cravings for unhealthy carbs that may get in the way of your weight loss.

Keep you healthy

Bananas are high in antioxidants, providing protection from free radicals and chronic disease.

Prevent heart disease

Bananas are officially recognized by the FDA as being able to lower blood pressure and protect against heart attack and stroke.

For all of these reasons bananas are a runners favorite fruit. Are you a runner who loves bananas? Do you feel that eating bananas help you to produce a better performance?


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