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|Emma McGowan NatureCity author & contributor|
Many athletes turn to sports drinks like Gatorade to replenish much needed nutrients during exercise. However, these drinks can be full of sweeteners and artificial ingredients, making them not necessarily the best choice for your health.
Bananas may be a natural alternative to sports drinks. A recent study suggests that bananas are just as effective as Gatorade in providing nutritional support to trained cyclists.
14 trained male cyclists completed two 75 kilometer cycling time trials for the study. Half of them consumed 0.2 g/kg of carbohydrates in the form of bananas every 15 minutes, while 7 others consumed an equivalent amount of carbohydrates in the form of Gatorade. All were able to complete the time trials with no difference in performance.
Blood samples were taken pre-, post- and one hour post-exercise. The two groups showed equal changes in serum metabolite, indicating that the two interventions were providing the same nutrient levels to the cyclists. In addition, changes in blood glucose, inflammation, oxidative stress and immune measures were comparable between the two groups.
Researchers from North Carolina Research Campus conducted the study and it was published online ahead of print on May 17, 2012, in the journal PLoS ONE.
Bananas are also a great source of potassium, which previous studies have shown may lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of certain types of stroke and balance cholesterol levels.
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