“To be honest, I think bananas are a pathetic fruit.” — Andy Murray
Whether sliced up on peanut butter toast, mixed into a smoothie or eaten plain, bananas have been a staple in the tennis player’s diet for decades, especially during breaks in a match or practice. But what’s so appealing about the fruit? Are bananas really the best court-side snack for you? It’s time to stop monkeying around when it comes to the food you use to fuel yourself: MyTennisLessons dissects the health benefits of the banana so that you can make the right choice with your match-time meal.
Skip the Sports Drink:
A 2012 study conducted by Appalachian State University compared the effects of eating bananas versus drinking sports drinks had on athletes while cycling, measuring each individual’s performance and recovery. While performance levels were about the same, those who ate bananas had higher dopamine levels, according to a report of the study on Examiner.com. Why is this important? Dopamine helps increase focus, reaction time and perseverance as well as makes you feel happy and excited. That’s something to chew over when picking what to pack in your tennis bag.
Pain, Pain Go Away:
You’ve probably heard that bananas are rich in potassium. But how exactly can the mineral benefit tennis players? Potassium balances body fluids and electrolyte levels, supports cardiovascular health and prevents muscle cramps — a definite concern for many players. However, the USTA reminds players that sweat lost while playing is mostly sodium, not potassium. So when suffering from muscle cramps due to heat, know that bananas will most likely not help.
A medium banana has about 14 grams of sugar. That’s more than what’s in a serving of Lucky Charms and Cinnamon Toast Crunch. And despite common belief, the sugar in fruit is no better than the sugar in candy, according to a CNN article written earlier this year. Bananas however, also have about 3 grams of fiber, which slows digestion, preventing the body from storing this sugar as fat.
A satiety index produced by University of Sydney researchers found bananas fill you up and keep you full the same amount as cookies, french fries and cereal. Sure, bananas have more nutritional value, but their satiety lags far behind that of apples and oranges. So if you’re feeling famished go for one of these fruits instead.
It’s Not Easy Being Green:
If you like your bananas unripe, good news: green bananas have lower sugar content and more fiber that help you burn fat faster and feel fuller, according to OneGreenPlanet.org. At the same time, green bananas don’t contain as many antioxidants. Our advice? Try eating the fruit unripe while playing a match and see if it sustains you longer than the more ripe version (if you can handle its bitter taste, that is).
Hopefully we didn’t spoil your appetite for bananas after reading this post since there are bunches of ways they can benefit you as a tennis player. But it’s also helpful to know why, when and how you should eat them. And now you know why bananas have appeal.