By Kiersten Hickman
When it comes to weight loss, bananas don’t seem like the common fruit to turn to. Berries tend to be a superior fruit due to their low carbohydrate and sugar content—along with the high fiber content—while common fruits like bananas and apples sit on the shelf. Why? Because these fruits are higher in carbohydrates and sugar compared to the rest and many have deemed them to be the “unhealthy” fruit to eat. But this is a wild misconception. In fact, many dietitians say that bananas can help you lose weight quickly, making them one of the best fruits to eat for weight loss.
No matter the fruit or the vegetable, having a diet rich in these natural plant foods is key to weight loss success. The USDA My Plate Guidelines even suggest you fill half your plate with fruits and/or vegetables with every single meal. Bananas are certainly on that list of fruits to include on your plate.
Bananas Are Facing Extinction
“Fruits and vegetables form a crucial part of a healthy diet,” says Edie Reads, RD and chief editor at healthadvise.org. “This usually forms the basic part of my talks, meal plans, and advice to my clients. But given the misinformation in circulation about these fruits, knowing which fruit and when to eat it is crucial. I love bananas, they hardly miss on my and my patients’ grocery shopping lists.”
Here’s why you should consider reaching for a banana if you’re trying to slim down, and for even more healthy eating tips, be sure to check out our list of The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.
1 Green bananas make your gut healthier and give you energy.
“If you eat your bananas whilst they are still a little under-ripe (the less ripe the better in this instance) you actually attain a dense source of gut-healthy prebiotic resistant starch,” says Kara Landau, RD and founder at Uplift Food – Good Mood Food. “This means that you are actually nourishing your gut, assisting with satiety, and helping your cells be more responsive to insulin. When your cells are more responsive to insulin, this impedes one of the usual fat storage mechanisms in your body, and instead, you are able to feel fuller for longer, and may even eat less at your next meal, ultimately supporting total energy intake.”
2 Bananas have fiber, which keeps you full.
“Bananas have gotten a bad rap in the nutrition world due to their higher carbohydrate content in a carb-phobic world,” says Theresa Gentile, MS, RDN, Owner of Full Plate Nutrition and a media spokesperson for the NY State Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “But, bananas can actually help you lose weight if eaten as part of a balanced diet. A medium banana contains 3 grams of total fiber and 0.6 grams of soluble fiber, helping you to feel fuller longer. Unripe bananas also contain resistant starch, which escapes digestion in the gut helping to produce beneficial bacteria in the gut, which may help prevent obesity.”
“This fiber found in plant foods helps keep us fuller longer, which may lead to eating fewer overall calories throughout the day,” says Mackenzie Burgess, RDN, and recipe developer at Cheerful Choices. “To boost this satiety effect, try pairing bananas with a protein like Greek yogurt, peanut butter, or scrambled eggs.”
3 They’re sweet enough to be a healthy dessert.
“Bananas can help you lose weight by incorporating them into your eating habits as a good replacement for sweets/desserts,” says Ricci-Lee Holtz, RD and expert at Testing.com. “If you combine banana with a protein source like almonds, peanut butter, or even a cheese stick, this allows your body to feel satiated and help your mind feel satiated by providing that sweet replacement. By replacing dessert treats with a choice like bananas, it can help you lose weight by providing your body with a more nutrient-dense option as opposed to a calorie-dense option that does not have good nutrition, which benefits your body as a whole.”
4 Bananas can help with overeating.
“Bananas will help you feel full longer, which can lead to weight loss by avoiding overeating,” says Trista Best, MPH, RD, LD, a registered dietitian at Balance One Supplements. “Bananas are full of soluble fiber, pectin, and resistant starch, which reduce appetite and increase feelings of fullness post-banana.”
“Bananas are relatively low in calories but have a high fiber content, about 3 grams per medium banana,” says Megan Byrd, RD, from The Oregon Dietitian. “Fiber helps to keep us full because it’s difficult for our bodies to break down, so it stays in our GI tracts for longer periods of time. This gives us the sensation of fullness that helps to curb our cravings and prevents us from overeating later in the day.”
5 Bananas help with blood sugar levels.
“Bananas improve insulin sensitivity, which helps the body process glucose more efficiently, thereby reducing weight,” says Best. “Bananas are an excellent source of resistant starch, which has a positive impact on insulin resistance.”
6 Bananas can assist with sleep.
“Improvements in sleep can help boost energy throughout the day for more efficient workouts and improved eating,” says Best. “Bananas contain melatonin, the natural chemical responsible for sound sleep, and can help to improve sleep quality.”
According to a study published by the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, sleep loss can modify energy intake and expenditure, meaning that a reduced sleep causes a reduced rate of weight loss. Because bananas can help with your sleep quality, they can only benefit your sleep resulting in faster weight loss over time.
7 Bananas help with workouts.
“Your workouts may be more efficient due to fewer muscle cramps as well,” says Best. “Muscle cramps can be associated with an electrolyte imbalance, especially from potassium, and bananas are packed with this nutrient.”
Workouts are important for building muscle, and muscle is closely connected to having a faster metabolism—which aids weight loss over time. Bananas can help keep your muscles healthy and safe and give you that boost of energy you need for a workout.
8 They’re low in calories, but rich in nutrients.
“A medium-sized banana has about 100 calories and contains 3 grams of fiber,” says Lisa Young, PhD, RDN, and author of Finally Full, Finally Slim. “Bananas are full of fiber which helps keep you full and stabilize blood sugar making them a great food for weight loss. They are also rich in the minerals potassium and magnesium which help muscles relax and may even aid with sleep.”
“[The] pack of nutrients is what fascinates me the most,” says Reads. “It has a perfect balance of vitamins (B6 and C), fibre, magnesium, manganese, potassium, and carbs—a larger percentage of which consists of calories. The number of calories in bananas is often the reason most people associate bananas with weight gain. However, please note that a banana contains only 102 calories, 12% of your recommended calorie intake.”
9 Bananas help prevent belly bloat.
“Banana is a great addition to a healthy diet as it has a wide range of important nutrients and fibres,” says Shannon Henry, RD for EZCare Clinic. “It doesn’t reduce weight directly but helps to prevent bloating, control appetite, and it is a good replacement for processed sugar.”