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Bananas for Running
FOCUS ON ... Everyday Food Episode 15231st August 2023 • She Runs Eats Performs • Runners Health Hub
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Are Bananas a helpful food? Or are we eating them because our running buddy said so? Bananas are an easy everyday food and runners seem to love them. You’ll see them being eaten in abundance and the start of many races! But why are they the pre-race snack of choice?  

Today we are shining a light on their nutritional properties and discover how they can pre/during and post fuelling:

1.    The nutritional properties and health benefits of a banana

2.    A look at how bananas can be used for pre/during/post fuelling

3.    Foodie suggestions for eating bananas – over and above the simple approach of just peeling one and eating it whole!

A BIG thank you to our Show Sponsor AMAZING JANE ACTIVE WEAR. Please use discount code RHH10 for 10% off ALL purchases at



Bananas are a Real Food Option for Runners.

An encouraging move towards a FOOD FIRST approach is highlighted in a recent study published in 2023. Many athletes are interested in a food first approach, because food is seen to be a more cost-effective choice than sports products, and carbohydrate whole foods offer wider nutritional benefits, as they include other nutrients e.g., vitamins, minerals and fibre. READ MORE …

Carbohydrates and Endurance Exercise: A Narrative Review of a Food First Approach


Nutritional properties of a banana.

Most runners would know that a banana contains Carbohydrate and Potassium. However they also contain other vitamins and minerals

An average medium-large banana according to the USDA weighs approx. 118g and contains approx 30g CHO and includes a combination of glucose/fructose/sucrose

Nutrient Value of 100g Banana

More about bananas


GL Rating of a Banana


Green bananas vs ripe yellow bananas


Carbohydrate and sugar content of a banana.



An average banana contains 400-420mg of potassium which is approx. 9-12% of the recommended daily intake of potassium which ranges from 3500-4700mg per day for an adult.

As an endurance runner we tend to sweat and as a result lose minerals (also known as electrolytes) such as potassium, sodium and magnesium which may lead to an electrolyte imbalance. This in turn can lead to muscle cramping in our legs or feet, or side stitches and can influence stomach cramps/diarrhoea.

A banana will contribute to potassium status but don’t forget to include potassium rich foods in your everyday diet and and adding food and drinks to your pre/during/post nutrition plan to support electrolytes will be helpful.


Other vitamins and minerals

Bananas also include trace amounts of other minerals such as calcium, iron, phosphorus, sodium, zinc, copper, manganese and selenium. 100g banana includes 8.7mg Vit C, 0.4mg of Vit B6 and 9.8mg choline.These nutrients are in small amounts but will contribute to overall nutrient status.


FOS, Fibre and FODMAPS

 Bananas are a good source of FOS which is a prebiotic – they feed our gut bacteria so help us have a balance microbiome. Some people have difficulty digesting foods which contain FOS (from the oligo-fructan group of foods). For example, it may lead to symptoms such as bloating or diarrhoea. We talked about this in episode 87 IBS, Fodmaps and Running.


Bananas as a pre run snack

 At 30g of CHO in the average banana this sounds an ideal easy pre run snack … but how does it stack up against a sports product? A 2020 study Iooked at various sources of pre-exercise CHO, including banana slurries, which was 54g CHO mixed with water (not sure how tasty that is!).

They observed 10 trained runners in a hot environment, running 10k on a treadmill one hour after ingesting one of six different test solutions. The outcome was the different types of CHO had no influence on 10 km running performance. Although they noted that this isn’t surprising, as when running less than 1 hour pre exercise CHO fuelling may not be necessary for performance. But of course it may have been a different outcome on a longer run duration including during run fuelling.

Pre-exercise carbohydrate and fluid ingestion: influence of glycemic response on 10-km treadmill running performance in the heat.


During Run fuelling

General guidelines would be to consume carbohydrate at the rate of 30-60g per hour for exercise that is of 1-3 hours in duration.

From a practical point of view to reach 60g of CHO/hour that would mean 2 bananas every hour which for most runners just wouldn’t be feasible!

Try portable banana fruit pouches as an alternative 


Post run fuelling

Eating a banana as a post-run snack would be easy for most runners on arrival home or at the end of a race. We suggest having a QUICK RELEASE CARBOHYDRATE snack within 30 minutes of completing your long endurance run. Guidance is to consume Carbohydrate at 1-1.2g/kg/bw post exercise - so if you were a 70kg woman, then you’d be taking on board 70-84g CHO. Most people wouldn’t want to eat 3 bananas, but you could have a mixture of Quick Release Carbohydrate to hit your target.


Karen’s favourite post run banana snack


Adding honey to your banana snack or eating it alone as a post run fuel


Our banana FOODIE suggestions include adding to smoothies, homemade banana ice cream, as a topping with porridge or overnight oats or yoghurt, on toast or in a sandwich or made in to banana bread or muffins.


Key Take Aways

1.    Bananas are an everyday nutritious fruit which include CHO, Potassium, B6, Vit C, choline and a wide range of trace minerals.

2.    There are lots of different ways to use them as either a pre or post run snack and perhaps even as a during run snack alongside other foods.

3.    Whether you choose to eat bananas or not please don’t neglect your pre/during/post run fuelling using CHO strategically to support energy, performance and recovery.

4.    Always consider REAL FOOD as it has multiple benefits!

Download our FREE E book TOP Running Snacks and Nutrient Timing to Fuel Peak Performance


Related Topics:

IBS FODMAPS and Running

Hormone Health in Mid-Life

Perimenopause and Performance


The suggestions we make during this episode are for guidance and advice only, and are not a substitute for medical advice or treatment. If you have any concerns regarding your health, please contact your healthcare professional for advice as soon as possible.

A BIG thank you to our Show Sponsor AMAZING JANE ACTIVE WEAR. Please use discount code RHH10 for 10% off ALL purchases at

​Also, when you're ready, here are FOUR ways that we can help you:

1) Join Easy Nutrition For Healthy Runners HUB. Please join our FREE private facebook group for education, tips, inspiration with like- minded female runners.

2) Get our Easy Nutrition For Healthy Runners Online Programme. As a THANK YOU, please use COUPON CODE POD to get 33% discount off the full price which brings the price to £199. 

3)Find out if you are the right fit for our Healthy Woman Healthy Runner Programme. Please book a free Discovery Call.

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We love to hear from our listeners - what are your nutrition and running goals, challenges and successes, please drop us a line at


Best Wishes and Happy Running!

Karen and Aileen 

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