When it comes to a rehydrating post-sweat sesh beverage, sports drinks well and truly hit the spot. But if recovery is your main priority, you’re better off opting for a humble banana.
A new study by the North Carolina Research Campus of Appalachian State University has found that the natural nutritional profile of the fruit boasts greater benefits when it comes to fighting inflammation. This is because the carbohydrates they contain fuel our muscles rapidly, thereby lessening some of the physiological stress of working out.
Researchers asked 20 competitive cyclists (including both males and females) to complete a 75km bike ride on several occasions. During one ride, the participants only drank water. In others, they consumed water and a small amount of sports drink or a half a banana every 30 minutes.
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The scientists analysed their blood before the workout, immediately after and up to 45 hours later – checking for markers of inflammation and hundreds of molecules (known as metabolites) that change during exertion to signify how much pressure the body is under. They also looked into the activity of certain genes involved in inflammation.
The results? In the cycling sessions they consumed banana, the riders produced less of a genetic precursor of an enzyme called CoX-2. This is known to prompt the production of Prostaglandins (the stuff responsible for intensifying inflammation.)
It wasn’t all good news for banana-lovers though.
The study’s lead author, David Nieman, said those who consumed the fruit experienced “quite a bit of bloating.” Still, he maintains that if you’re looking for a natural energy hit that’s kind on your wallet, “bananas look pretty good.”
We'll take it.