Bananas may as well be the most misunderstood food on the planet.
In my experience with nutrition counseling, I see an unprecedented fear of bananas. Repeatedly, I hear, “Bananas are fattening!” Fattening? What?! I’m always in shock when I hear this about a food that has no fat! If I had a dollar for every time I heard, “I can only eat half a banana at a time because I don’t want to gain weight,” I would be one wealthy sports nutritionist!
Let’s review some basic facts about bananas.
Bananas have very little fat and no saturated fat. A medium-sized banana has approx. 100 calories and 3 grams of dietary fiber. They contain a high level of potassium (about 400 mg), B6 and Vitamin C. They are also fantastic source of complex carbohydrate and are almost void of sodium. They have a very low glycemic load and have a moderately low rate of inflammation response. In fact, I believe that bananas are perhaps the most nutrient-packed food I can think of! When combined with a lean protein, such as peanut butter or roasted nuts, they can have very complimentary effects on blood sugar levels and provide a great deal of energy to an athlete in training. In my practice, I commonly recommend 1 WHOLE banana per day. I recommend this to athletes and non-athletes alike. In the build phase, and racing phase of an athlete’s training season, I may even recommend 2 bananas per day!
Aside from all of the nutritionally-sound reasons to eat bananas frequently, they happen to be the cornerstone of a really good smoothie! You can add practically anything to a banana in a NutriBullet and be successful in creating a delicious and nutritious smoothie. The consistency of a blended banana is unique in texture and makes an ordinary smoothie extraordinary! Currently this is my favorite combination:
Chocolate-Covered Cherry Smoothie
- 1 whole banana
- 1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder
- ½ cup frozen cherries
- ½ cup nonfat chocolate milk
- ¼ cup nonfat milk (feel free to replace milk with almond milk!)
- 1 tbsp toasted wheat germ
- 1 tbsp ground flax seed
- Combine all ingredients into NutriBullet and blast!
This smoothie is appropriate for a post-workout recovery snack or an afternoon pick-me-up on an off-day! It’s also a great snack for children looking for something sweet in lieu of nutritionally-void ice cream or cookies.
*I love using cherries in my recovery smoothies because of their anti-inflammatory effects. Decreasing inflammation post-workout is a crucial in the body’s ability to recover!
*I also like combining wheat germ and ground flax seed into smoothies. Wheat germ is high in vitamin E (a fat soluble vitamin) and flax seeds provide the healthy fat needed to absorb vitamin E.