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Q:

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I recall hearing somewhere that bananas are actually better than caffeine to get a quick energy boost when feeling tired.

Can anyone confirm this, and if possible, throw some science in to back it up? (Or a link or two?)

Thanks!

Big Dave from SLN asked this
April 18, 2012 at 9:51 AM

A:

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Dave-

Interesting question! I like that you ask if it's "better" rather than the "same". Here's what I found:

http://www.australianbananas.com.au/public/media/b26.pdf

Chenu says, “It can be well argued that the best food-for-energy intake for young people can come from a banana because of the banana’s incredible natural health and nutrition qualities...Comparing a banana with a high-caffeine sugar drink is like comparing chalk and cheese. One is a natural fruit loaded with goodness, but devoid of fat and cholesterol, and the other is loaded with ingredients processed by man to artificially pump the body to make it work harder or stop it from slowing down. The only goodness that we can see in high-caffeine drinks is the water...A banana can give you the same pick-me-up feeling as these drinks without the caffeine because of the carbohydrates they contain. At the same time a banana is delivering a host of goodness including protein, fibre, potassium, vitamins A, B6 and C, and folate,”

Bananas are low-GI foods, which means their refuelling qualities last a long time. The carbohydrates in a banana are released slowly after consumption prolonging the energy boost that they deliver.

"When a muscle contracts during exercise it burns the glucose that has been released from the muscle ‘fuel tank’ called glycogen, which is made from the carbohydrate found in food. If the meals and snacks before physical activity are low in carbohydrate, the muscles become low in glycogen, and you will run out of energy before you have finished."

Stumbled across this site you might also find interesting - "30 Bananas A Day"

http://www.30bananasaday.com/page/testify-1

Erin Froehlich answered
April 23, 2012 at 2:03 PM

While caffeine is a true stimulant, nutrient-rich foods such as bananas provide energy in the form of calories. These are two very different aspects of our diet.

It is true that nutrient rich whole foods will provide us with the energy we need to make it through the day, they will never cause us to feel anxious or shaky as may be the case with a tall cup of joe. I imagine the reason the banana is called out on the site you mention is because in comparison with fruits such as apples or pears, bananas are quite starchy and sugary with a bit less fiber - making them very easy for our body to digest and therefore resulting in a faster blood sugar release into our blood stream.

It is also important to note that while food does provide us with caloric energy, if we consume too much (banana after banana), it will do just the opposite making us feel groggy and tired as our body diverts all of its energy toward the digestion process, leaving very little for our own 'get up and go'.

Hope this helps to clear up the confusion!

Jessica Corwin, RD

Jessica Corwin MPH RDN Health Coach answered
September 8, 2012 at 9:05 AM
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Nutrition

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