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HomeSuperfoodWhat’s Higher? Bananas Versus Vitality Gels as Race Gas – RUNIVORE

What’s Higher? Bananas Versus Vitality Gels as Race Gas – RUNIVORE

I’ve run ultramarathon races fueled nearly solely by bananas and I’ve run my greatest marathons fueled solely by gels. A little bit disclosure: I’m not an expert athlete, however I’ve bought 4 100k extremely marathons, alongside a dozen different ultras, and over 50 marathons underneath my belt. On the time of this writing my marathon PB is 3:43 (however I’m aiming for a 3:30) and my greatest 100k path race time is over 13 hours.

For my part bananas are an amazing supply of gasoline for lengthy and grueling ultramarathon races however they must be supplemented by further salt and different actual meals sources, whereas power gels are the very best stand alone gasoline supply for lengthy however quick races like marathons and 21k races. On this article we’ll evaluate the 2 fueling methods and summarize among the key variations.

Banana vs Energy Comparison as Race Fuel

When You Ought to Take into account Bananas as Racing Gas

Let’s begin with the plain, you shouldn’t think about bananas as a racing gasoline except it can really be offered by the race organizer on the checkpoints. In any other case, you’ll be lining up initially line with 4 bananas stuffed in your racing shorts (a few pound of bananas), simply to exchange the power you may get from 4 power gels (120 grams). You possibly can normally examine the race web site of larger occasions and see what will probably be offered on the checkpoints and the gap between the checkpoints.

Banana Nutrition Profile

Banana Vitamin Profile as a Racing Gas

You possibly can check out the USDA FoodData Central to get a whole image of the vitamins contained in bananas. For our objective we will probably be wanting on the key components that sports activities and vitamin scientists have decided are needed in right this moment’s power gels. Particularly we’ll check out the kinds and portions of carbohydrates and electrolytes in bananas.

Carbohydrate Profile and Caloric Density in Bananas vs. Vitality Gels

A mean medium (nearly 7 inch or 17 centimeter) banana weighs about 110 grams. Listed here are some key details in regards to the carbs in our banana:

  • It comprises about 20 grams of carbohydrates, primarily sugars and the sugars are primarily glucose and fructose. Typical power gels (taking GU for instance) additionally include about 20 grams of carbohydrates however the primary parts could differ between some mixture of maltodextrin, glucose or fructose. So the sugar content material is ok and it’s one purpose why so many races present bananas throughout their occasions.
  • It should offer you roughly 93 kcal of power which can also be inside a suitable vary of energy per serving, however there’s a BIG BUT. You would need to eat and digest a whole banana to get these 93 energy into your physique. Whereas a 30 gram gel (about 1/4 the burden of the banana) comprises the identical and even better quantity of power.
Electrolyte Profile of Bananas vs. Vitality Gels

Bananas are the kings of potassium however they lack the sufficient quantity of sodium when in comparison with power gels. Right here’s the breakdown:

  • The identical medium dimension banana comprises simply over 400 mg of potassium whereas power gels solely include 40 mg of the nutrient. Even accounting for the dimensions distinction, bananas are a lot richer in potassium than power gels.
  • There may be just one mg of sodium in a medium dimension banana, making it far insufficient for replenishing all of the salts that depart your physique within the type of sweat throughout endurance actions. Vitality gels include 50 occasions that quantity. When you do go together with the banana solely technique then bear in mind to additionally absorb some salts in one other format.
An Other than an Apparent Banana Shill – the Chiquita Banana Folks

Whereas researching bananas as a race gasoline for this text I bumped into some propaganda which I feel is price sharing from the banana-lover at Chiquita Banana. They level out the next tidbit which is price sharing:

bananas are wealthy in vitamin B6, which helps to transform carbohydrates into usable power. Operating is an cardio sport, so having a very good supply of simply accessible power to eat earlier than a run is necessary. And don’t overlook {that a} banana will assist to take care of the identical glucose ranges as a sports activities drink!


Some power gels, like Honey Stinger additionally include vitamin B6, so it appears that evidently sports activities nutritionist at these nicely established firms agree.

Conclusions and Suggestions

Bananas are superior, and they’re certainly one of nature’s greatest sources of power, nearly seemingly engineered for us endurance athletes. They’ll positively be a part of a fueling technique when doing tremendous lengthy (and slower) endurance occasions, ones the place additionally, you will have an opportunity to complement them with salt and extra calorie dense meals. For marathons and different quick endurance occasions, we suggest you stick with power gels for optimum outcomes.



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