Bananas are among the most popular and enjoyed fruits across the world. In fact, they are a staple in some countries. They contain a lot of nutrients and carbohydrates, which is one of the reasons they are very popular among athletes.
But perhaps you want to include bananas in your diet, but you’re not so sure about the number of calories in a banana. In this post, you’ll get to learn about the type and amount of carbs in a banana, the health benefits of bananas as well as how to incorporate them into your diets.
How many carbs in a banana?
Usually, before a banana ripens, it has more starch than carbs. When it ripens, the starch converts to sugar, which now provides carbohydrates. However, while all bananas provide the same nutrition, the amount of carbs and calories they offer depends on various factors like the size of the banana itself, how they are served, and portions. However, an average-sized banana will usually have about 100 calories.
So depending on size and portion, here is the amount of carbs and calories in a banana;
– An extra small banana that’s less than six inches, and weighing 81g will offer 19 carbs and 72 calories.
– A small banana; between 6-7 inches and 101g heavy has 23 carbs and 90 calories.
– A medium-sized banana; 7-8 inches long, weighing 118g will give you 27 carbs and 105 calories
– Large bananas; 8-9 inches and weighing 136g provide 31 carbs and 121 calories each.
– Extra-large bananas, 9 or more inches long and weighing about 152g will offer 35 carbs and 135 calories each.
– One cup of sliced bananas, weighing 150 grams has 34.2 carbs and 134 calories.
– A cup of mashed bananas, 225g has 51.3 carbs and 200 calories.
There you go. From this information, you can figure out how many bananas will provide the right amount of carbs and calories for you.
The type of carbs in a banana
The next important question is: What type of carbohydrates do bananas have? Well, the carbs in a banana are not very different from other carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are made of simple 1 or 2 sugar molecules. The simple sugars mostly present in bananas are glucose (which is the simplest form), fructose and sucrose.
However, while bananas are very rich in carbs (they actually have more carbohydrates than oranges), they are also loaded with starch and fiber, which are responsible for the extended full-felling you get after eating bananas. The fiber in bananas helps to slow down the release of the carbohydrates into the bloodstream.
Bananas have a low glycemic index (GI) of 42-58 and also a low glycemic load of about 60. Glycemic load and glycemic index measure blood sugar levels, which is critical for individuals with diabetes. It is also worth mentioning that the high content of fiber and starch in bananas mitigates the effects of the bananas’ high sugar content on blood sugar levels. This means that bananas are still a good fruit choice for anyone.
The benefits of banana carbohydrates
I. Banana carbs provide energy and boost proper cell function
Carbohydrates are a major source of energy even in low-carb diets except, of course, in keto diets. When you consume food, your body breaks it down into starches and sugars so it can be absorbed into your bloodstream. During digestion, the starches and sugars are converted into blood sugar (glucose). The human body needs glucose to function properly. It not only provides energy but supports several other body organs including the brain.
You might also have heard of ATP (adenosine triphosphate). This compound is an essential source of fuel that’s found in body cells. It is created from carbs, fats or protein after digestion through various chemical processes. Body cells use ATP to provide energy for proper cell functioning, and bananas are one of the best plant sources of ATP.
II. Banana carbs help in digestion
As noted earlier, a banana has a relatively low glycemic index value, meaning that it does not have a bad effect on your blood sugar level. But you might be wondering how the super sugary bananas do this. Again, as noted in a previous section, the fiber content in bananas help to mitigate any negative effect the sugars in bananas can have on your glucose level. The fiber keeps the food digestion process at the right pace, which allows the body to convert the carbs into simple sugars at a rate that provides an easier digestion process.
Again, bananas contain a type of fiber called pectin. Some form of pectin is water-soluble. Now, in the ripening process of a banana, water-soluble pectin increases which in turn, increases the amount of fructose in the banana. Fructose has been known to stabilize the rate of digestion. Also, bananas have fructose-filled carbs called fructooligosaccharides (FOS) which are metabolized by enzymes in the digestive tract into such good bacteria as Bifidobacteria. Such bacteria are good for digestive health, helping to get rid of digestive problems like a leaky gut.
III. Provide athletes a mental and physical boost
One study (an NIH report) found out that many athletes preferred eating bananas before, during and even after their endurance runs as they provided a quick energy boost. In another Cornell University study (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8499937), bananas were found to be very effective in boosting endurance during exercises. These studies among many others (like this one here https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/23875791/) clearly show that bananas are an excellent source of energy anyone who is physically active. However, nutrition experts advise that to reap the most out them; you’d better eat them 1-2 hours before a physical event.
Incorporating bananas into your diet
The number of bananas you’ll consume, say, per week or daily depends on various factors. For instance, individuals on low-carb diets should probably eat fewer bananas and monitor the calories. You might also want to consider the potassium content in bananas. While it’s a good nutrient for the body, studies have suggested that too much of it can lead to kidney problems. But according to a BBC report (http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-34225517), you would need about 400 bananas in one day to get harmful levels of potassium. So if you love bananas, you don’t have to worry. However, just like in any other thing, moderation is important. Eating one or two bananas per day in a well-balanced diet isn’t bad.
There are various ways to include bananas in your diet. You can eat bananas alone, in a pudding, in a smoothie, or in some baked food. Some low-carb recipes included the following, among others;
– Low-carb banana bread
– Chocolate banana nut smoothies
– Flourless peanut butter banana-muffins
– Banana flax pancake
Bananas are great fruits, offering a wide range of nutrients and health benefits. However, it is extremely important to note that if you experience some allergic reactions after eating them, consider seeking professional medical advice.