By Dana Leigh Smith
If an expanding waistline is your problem, experts say that eating more fruits and veggies is one of the best solutions. But does that include high-carb fruits like bananas?
The short answer is yes! One medium banana has a mere 105 calories, 27 grams of carbs, 3 grams of satiating fiber and just 14 grams of naturally occurring sugar—not to mention a host of healthy flat belly nutrients. But beware: Compared to other fruits, bananas are slightly higher in calories and carbs, so no monkey business: stick to one five-inch portion a day. This ensures you’ll reap all the fruit’s benefits—without expanding your waistline.
Read on to discover why bananas should be a part of your weight loss diet plan, plus the best ways to consume the sweet yellow fruit for optimal results.
A smart weight-loss plan includes regular exercise, and many fitness experts agree that bananas are an ideal source of pre- and post-workout fuel. The reason: They’re rich in glucose. The easily digestible sugar not only provides optimal energy for your spin or Crossfit class, it also quickly replenishes energy stores that are depleted during a tough sweat session. Another reason bananas make for a great recovery snack? They’re rich in potassium, an electrolyte that wards off post-pump muscle cramps and dizziness, that’s often lost through sweat. Pair the fruit with a source of muscle-building protein like a tablespoon of almond butter or a hard-boiled egg to ensure your tired body receives the recovery nutrients it needs.
For more post-sweat session meal ideas, check out the Best Recovery Fuel For Every Workout.
& Diminish Appetite
—so long as you nosh on a green naners, at least! Prior to ripening, bananas are rich in something called resistant starch, which, as the name suggests, literally resists the digestion process. This feeds healthy gut bacteria, which suppresses the appetite and leads to more efficient fat oxidation. In fact, one study found that replacing just 5 percent of the day’s carbohydrates with a source of resistant starch can boost post-meal fat burn by up to 30 percent! Since underripe bananas are a bit bitter, we suggest adding them into a smoothie with other fruits and veggies to mask the taste. For some blending ideas check out these 10 Smoothie Recipes for Weight Loss. Green bananas also taste great in a yogurt parfait with cinnamon, raspberries, chopped nuts and a touch of honey.
Constantly feeling like a blimp? Reach for a banana. Researchers say the fruit is a good source prebiotic fiber, which helps to feed good gut bacteria and improve digestion. Bananas are also a good source of potassium, which helps diminish water retention. In fact, one study found that women who ate a small banana twice a day as a pre-meal snack for two months reduced their belly-bloat by 50 percent! If you decide to follow suit, just be sure to cut back on sugar and carbs elsewhere in your diet. And to sip your way to a flatter belly check out these 14 Detox Waters That Banish Bloat. Once you’ve kicked the bloat to the curb, your hard-earned abs are sure to shine through.
Thanks to their thick peel, bananas typically carry very few pesticide residues compared to other fruits and veggies, according to a USDA study , which is good news for your health and your waistline. Researchers say that consuming pesticides can cause weight gain, likely because the toxins—which are stored in fat cells after consumption—interfere with the energy-burning process. Swap your daily apple, peach or nectarine (three fruits that almost always test positive for pesticide residue) for a banana to lower your exposure and start losing weight. And to drop pounds even more rapidly, incorporate some of these 25 Overlooked Ways to Lose Weight into your regimen.