Although eating bananas cannot directly lead to weight loss, some of the properties of these fruits may help a person reduce bloating, control their appetite, and replace processed sugars.
Learn more about eating bananas for weight loss in this article. We also look at their nutritional information and sugar content.
Are bananas good for weight loss?
Some of the properties in bananas may help with appetite control.
Bananas are an excellent source of fiber. A medium banana contains 3.07 grams (g) of fiber, and the recommended daily intake for adults is 25 g for those on a 2,000-calorie diet.
Research shows that there is a link between higher fiber intakes and lower body weights. This nutrient may also help reduce and stabilize blood sugar levels.
Fiber can help people feel full for longer, which may reduce the total number of calories that they eat. The body takes a long time to digest certain types of fiber, allowing it to regulate food intake better.
The authors of a review that looked at more than 50 studies suggest that increasing the daily intake of fiber by 14 g could lead to a 10% decrease in overall energy intake and a weight loss of 2 kilograms (4.41 pounds) over 4 months.
Research from China looked at the effects of dietary fiber on appetite in 100 overweight but otherwise healthy adults. The results showed that an increase in dietary fiber reduced feelings of hunger, as well as how many calories the participants consumed.
Fiber may also help lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Unripe green bananas contain resistant starch. Resistant starch is a carbohydrate that does not break down easily in the small intestine.
Instead, it passes through to the large intestine, which means that it does not increase blood sugar levels. It then ferments in the large intestine, stimulating the growth of good bacteria in the gut.
Eating more resistant starch may help people lose weight, as it acts in a similar way to dietary fiber. It may reduce a person's appetite by making them feeling fuller for longer.
Research suggests that resistant starch could also help improve insulin sensitivity. The benefits that it provides for gut health can help with constipation and reduce the risk of colon cancer.
Other Benefits of Banana
People most often associate bananas with their high potassium content, but they contain plenty of nutrients that are important for the body.
The recommended daily intake of potassium is 2,600 milligrams (mg) for adult females and 3,400 mg for adult males. Pregnant or breastfeeding women will need to increase their regular intake.
A medium banana contains 422 mg of potassium, which equates to about 12% of the recommended daily intake.
Potassium helps regulate the levels of sodium in the body, which can lower blood pressure and help prevent heart disease and stroke. It is also vital for kidney health and can reduce the risk of kidney stones.
Bananas are also a good source of magnesium. A medium banana contains 32 mg of magnesium, which is about 8% of the recommended daily intake.
Magnesium is essential for energy production, nervous system function, and the regulation of blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
The flavonoids and magnesium in bananas may also help improve insulin sensitivity and reduce the risk of insulin resistance.
Insulin controls blood sugar levels in the body. If the body cannot use insulin properly, this can lead to conditions such as diabetes.
Bananas are also a great source of energy when exercising. The results of a 2012 study showed that eating a ripe banana during exercise had a similar effect on endurance as a carbohydrate drink.
The small study involved 14 male trained cyclists completing two 75-kilometer cycling time trials, and the researchers took blood tests before and after the exercise to show the effects.
The study showed that eating a banana before and after endurance exercise was effective for performance, but no more so than the carbohydrate drink. However, those who ate bananas had higher dopamine levels. Dopamine is a chemical in the body responsible for feelings of motivation and reward.
A medium banana is a good source of fiber.
The precise nutritional content of a banana varies depending on its size. A medium banana, measuring 7-8 inches in length, contains:
- energy: 105 kcal
- protein: 1.29 g
- fiber: 3.07 g
- carbohydrates: 27 g
- fat: 0.39 g
- potassium: 422 mg
- magnesium: 31.90 mg
- phosphorus: 26 mg
- calcium: 5.90 mg
- vitamin C: 10.30 mg
- iron: 0.31 mg
- folate: 23.60 micrograms (µg)
Bananas also contain small amounts of vitamin A, E, and K.
Foods that have a glycemic index (GI) score of 55 or less are low GI foods. These foods will help keep blood sugar levels steady. The riper a fruit, however, the higher its GI score.
A ripe banana weighing 120 g has a GI score of 51, and an underripe banana has a GI value of 30.
In a 2014 study, researchers recruited 45 people with high cholesterol or type 2 diabetes to see if a daily intake of 1-2 ripe bananas would improve their blood sugar and lipid profiles.
Despite the sugar content of this fruit, the results indicated that eating it daily was harmless for people with diabetes. Adding banana to the diet also slightly improved blood sugar levels and lipid profiles in people with high cholesterol.
If people have concerns about the sugar content of ripe bananas, eating a less ripe or smaller banana can lower the sugar intake.
While bananas do not specifically affect weight loss, they do have properties that can help a person manage their body weight, such as high fiber content.
Unripe bananas contain resistant starch, which can help make people feel fuller for longer periods. This satiety may aid weight loss by reducing the tendency to overeat.
Overall, people looking to lose weight should consider how many calories they are taking in compared with the number of calories that they are burning.
Bananas are healthful and nutritious to eat in moderation as part of a balanced diet.