Many people think of bananas as the perfect post-workout snack.
They’re convenient, easy to digest, and contain a combination of nutrients that’s believed to help promote quicker recovery after exercise.
This article helps you decide whether to eat a banana following your next workout.
Bananas are nutritious and particularly rich in water and carbs, both of which have consistently been shown to help improve exercise performance and recovery (
Can help replenish muscle glycogen
Eating carb-rich foods after exercising promotes the release of the hormone insulin, which helps shuttle sugar from your blood into your muscle cells, where it’s stored as glycogen (
It also helps muscle cells become more sensitive to insulin, making it easier for them to replenish their glycogen stores after exercise (
Most people can replenish their muscle glycogen stores fully before their next workout by simply eating a carb-rich diet, regardless of how quickly they eat carb-rich foods after exercise.
However, those with fewer than 24 hours of recovery before their next workout benefit from eating carb-rich foods, such as bananas, as quickly as possible after exercise, as well as in the hours following it (
This helps speed the rate of muscle glycogen formation, ensuring you can start your next session with fully or close-to-fully replenished glycogen stores (
May help your body utilize protein more effectively
Eating carb-rich foods, such as bananas, together with a source of protein immediately after exercising is often recommended as a way to help your muscles recover more effectively from a resistance-based workout.
The idea is that the carbs help stimulate your muscles’ ability to absorb or utilize protein, in turn increasing the creation of muscle and limiting its breakdown (
However, recent research suggests that this combination may not be necessary in most cases. Still, more research is needed (
May help reduce inflammation
In addition to being rich in carbs, bananas contain good amounts of beneficial compounds, such as dopamine and polyphenols (
The combination of carbs and these other compounds may help prevent excess inflammation from occurring after exercise. This effect is thought to possibly promote quicker recovery (
Eating a banana after a workout may help boost muscle glycogen production, reduce inflammation, and possibly even help your body utilize protein more effectively — all of which may result in a quicker recovery.
While eating a banana after your workout may help with recovery, eating this fruit before or during your workout can also be beneficial — although in different ways.
To maximize performance during your workout, eating a banana 30–60 minutes prior to a workout may be most beneficial. Meanwhile, eating 1–2 bananas in combination with other carb sources can aid recovery after a workout or during a longer one (
That said, eating bananas while working out may cause feelings of fullness or bloating in some people. If this is the case for you, consider trying alternative carb-rich foods, such as dried fruit, fruit purées, sports drinks, or sports gels instead (
If your goal is to minimize inflammation and speed recovery, eating a banana after your workout may be best for you (
Those who have less than 24 hours of recovery before their next training session may benefit from eating a banana as soon as possible after their workout (
Keep in mind that bananas aren’t necessarily more effective than other carb- and antioxidant-rich foods at boosting your workouts or helping you recover from them. So if you’re not fond of bananas, simply pick the fruit that you like best.
Those wishing to maximize their performance may benefit most from eating a banana before or during a workout. Those wishing to optimize their recovery may benefit most from eating the fruit after a workout.
Like most fruit, bananas are a great food to eat after a workout.
Doing so can reduce inflammation and replenish muscle glycogen stores, ultimately promoting quicker recovery.
In addition to helping with recovery, eating this fruit before or during a workout can be beneficial. So there’s little to lose by adding bananas to your pre- or post-workout regimen.