If you’ve been around cycling long enough you might remember the days when bananas were customary fuel source found in jersey pockets.
Well, a new research study titled Bananas as an Energy Source during Exercise: A Metabolomics Approach revisits this idea by examining the effects of consuming only bananas and water versus a standard 6-percent Gatorade solution during a 75 kg time trial.
The authors noted:
In conclusion, in this randomized, crossover study, cyclists ingesting BAN or CHO at a rate of 0.2 g/kg carbohydrate every 15 min (and one 0.4 g/kg carbohydrate dose pre-exercise) were able to complete 75-km cycling trials with no differences in performance measures.
CHO (carbohydrate) was the 6-percent solution of Gatorade.
It’s not all that surprising that there wasn’t much difference between the Gatorade and Banana groups as Gatorade is a dated formula that hasn’t been significantly updated since it’s development in the 1960s.
Granted, bloating was a negative effect experienced by some of those consuming only bananas due to the quantity required per session (6 to 7) and their relatively high fiber content. Personally, I can’t tolerate feeling bloated while training or racing, and I certainly wouldn’t want to carry 6 bananas while riding. However, there’s no reason bananas can’t be used in conjunction with other natural energy sources to fuel your physical endeavors.
It’s unfortunate that people have been brainwashed through million-dollar marketing campaigns to believe that florescent-colored drinks loaded with processed sugars are superior to the natural alternatives they are intended to replace.
It’s worth noting that the vast majority of carb/electrolyte formulas available today are simply revisions on the original Gatorade formula. Label inspection usually reveals a blend of cheap, highly-processed carbohydrate sources: sucrose (table sugar), fructose, dextrose, and/or maltodextrin. Sometimes one or more of these may be labeled under a trade name to differentiate it from other products. Other products will use organic sources of these, which is commendable, but the effects remain the same.