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

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

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

For my part bananas are a terrific supply of gasoline for lengthy and grueling ultramarathon races however they have to be supplemented by extra salt and different actual meals sources, whereas power gels are one of the best stand alone gasoline supply for lengthy however quick races like marathons and 21k races. On this article we’ll examine the 2 fueling methods and summarize a few of the key variations.

Banana vs Energy Comparison as Race Fuel

When you need to take into account bananas as racing gasoline

Let’s begin with the plain, you shouldn’t take into account bananas as a racing gasoline until it’s going to 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 couple of pound of bananas), simply to interchange the power you possibly can get from 4 power gels (120g). You may normally test the race web site of larger occasions and see what will likely be offered on the checkpoints and the gap between the checkpoints.

Banana Nutrition Profile

Banana vitamin profile as a racing gasoline

You may check out the USDA FoodData Central to get an entire image of the vitamins contained in bananas. For our objective we will likely be wanting on the key elements that sports activities and vitamin scientists have decided are obligatory in at present’s power gels. Particularly we’ll check out the categories and portions of carbohydrates and electrolytes in bananas.

Carbohydrate profile and caloric density in bananas vs. power gels

A median medium (virtually 7 inches or 17cm) banana weighs about 110g. Listed below are some key info in regards to the carbs in our banana:

  • It comprises about 20g of carbohydrates, primarily sugars and the sugars are primarily glucose and fructose. Typical power gels (taking GU for example) additionally comprise about 20g of carbohydrates however the principle elements could range 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 is going to give you roughly 93 energy of power which can be inside an appropriate vary of energy per serving, however there’s a BIG BUT. You would need to eat and digest a complete banana to get these 93 energy into your physique. Whereas a 30g gel (about 1/4 the load of the banana) comprises the identical and even higher quantity of power.
Electrolyte profile of bananas vs. power gels

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

  • The identical medium measurement banana comprises simply over 400 mg of potassium whereas power gels solely comprise 40 mg of the nutrient. Even accounting for the scale distinction, bananas are a lot richer in potassium than power gels.
  • There may be just one mg of sodium in a medium measurement 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 comprise 50 instances that quantity. Should you do go along with the banana solely technique then bear in mind to additionally soak up some salts in one other format.
An apart from 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 value sharing from the banana-lover at Chiquita Banana. They level out the next tidbit which is value 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 vital. And don’t neglect {that a} banana will assist to keep up the identical glucose ranges as a sports activities drink!


Some power gels, like Honey Stinger additionally comprise vitamin B6, so plainly sports activities nutritionist at these effectively established corporations agree.

Conclusions and suggestions

Bananas are superior, and they’re considered one of nature’s finest sources of power, virtually seemingly engineered for us endurance athletes. They will 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 advocate you follow power gels for optimum outcomes.


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