Bananas are one of the most popular fruits in the world. They are rich in vitamins and fiber that are good for health. It is commonly known as the “happy fruit” not only for its curvy shape but because it increases levels of the “feel-good” hormone dopamine.
Among its many benefits, bananas are said to be helpful for people trying to lose weight. However, it is important to note that this yellow fruit does not directly make you lose weight. For one, it packs in calories. A cup of banana slices contains about 135 calories while a cup of apple slices has about 60.
That said, how do bananas help you lose weight?
Fiber: the key to banana’s weight-loss link
The weight-loss benefit of banana is due primarily to its fibrous content. Bananas are good sources of fiber – a medium banana has about 3.07 grams of it.
Research shows that a high-fiber intake is associated with lower body weight. A review analyzed over 50 studies and found that increasing fiber intake by 14 grams is linked to a 10 percent decrease in overall energy intake and a weight loss of 2 kilograms or 4.41 pounds over four months.
Fiber makes you feel full longer, leading to less eating and less consumption of calories. Certain types of fiber take longer to digest so food intake is better regulated. This is supported by a study from China that examined the effects of dietary fiber on the appetite of 100 overweight but otherwise healthy adults. Results show that eating more fiber-rich foods reduced feelings of hunger, in addition to reducing the amount of calories the participants consumed.
Unripe green bananas can be particularly filling. They contain resistant starch that does not break down easily in the small intestine. Instead, resistant starch passes through the large intestine, where it ferments and feeds the good bacteria in the gut. Thus, resistant starch has the added benefit of not raising glucose levels. Other starches, on the other hand, breaks down into glucose as they get digested.
Overweight individuals who are predisposed to diabetes will particularly find unripe green bananas beneficial in this manner. (Related: A banana a day keeps the doctor away? Study suggests wild banana species may have anti-diabetic properties.)
How to optimize banana intake for weight loss
The fiber in bananas, especially plantains and unripe ones, is good for weight loss. But experts recommend that instead of adding banana to your diet, you should eat it as a replacement to high-fat, higher-calorie foods.
Furthermore, weight loss is a result of either consuming fewer calories or burning more calories – or both. Hence, simply eating bananas and calling it a day does not exactly amount to progress.
Balance is a crucial part of any diet. It is therefore important to have a balanced diet when eating bananas as part of your weight loss regimen. Eating a range of fruits and vegetables, as well as having a good relationship with food, can have a better impact on your weight.
But the good thing about bananas is that they are more nutrient-dense than other foods. A banana contains potassium, magnesium and even vitamin C, among many other nutrients. Moreover, it is an excellent source of energy when working out. A study found that eating a ripe banana when exercising is as effective for endurance as a carbohydrate drink.
Furthermore, you can have several options for an enjoyable meal or snack with a banana. Consider the following food ideas:
- Oatmeal – Add sliced bananas and other fruits to your morning oatmeal.
- Cinnamon-sprinkled banana – Dust slices of the fruit with cinnamon.
- Yogurt – Mix chopped banana into fat-free plain Greek yogurt
- Frozen coins – Freeze banana slices or top it first with no-sugar-added strawberry yogurt and chopped peanuts and freeze.
Learn more about the healthiest banana recipes at Recipes.news.