One of the most common weight loss tips we hear is to eat more fruits and vegetables.
Fruits and vegetables are typically relatively low in calories but are packed with vitamins and fiber. The high water content can make them more filling, helping you feel fuller on fewer calories. This, in turn, may help promote weight loss by allowing you to eat less food.
However, some people who are trying to lose weight have concerns about the high sugar content of certain fruits, especially bananas.
So, are bananas good for weight loss? Or, do bananas cause weight gain? How many calories are there in a banana?
Because bananas are one of the most popular and readily accessible fruits in the grocery store, it can be good to know if eating bananas is good for weight loss.
In this article, we will discuss banana nutrition, banana calories and sugar, and whether eating bananas helps you lose weight or if bananas lead to weight gain.
We will cover:
- Banana Nutrition Facts
- Are Bananas Good For Weight Loss?
- Do Bananas Cause Weight Gain?
Let’s get started!
Banana Nutrition Facts
Bananas are generally considered a healthy food. There are 105 calories in an average medium-sized banana, 90% of which come from carbohydrates. A banana is about 75% water by weight.
The exact nutrition of a banana will depend on the ripeness and size of the fruit, but here are the nutrition facts for an average, medium-sized (118-gram) banana:
- Calories: 105
- Carbohydrates: 27 grams (14 grams of sugar and 3.2 grams of fiber)
- Potassium: (422 mg) 9% of the DV
- Vitamin B6: 33% of the DV
- Vitamin C: 11% of the DV
- Copper: 10% of the DV
- Manganese: 14% of the DV
- Magnesium: 8% of the DV
Are Bananas Good For Weight Loss?
There are several ways in which eating bananas may support weight loss. Here are several potential weight loss benefits of bananas:
#1: Bananas Contain Fiber
The fiber intake in a banana is about 7% of your daily value, which for 105 calories in a banana is a decent amount of fiber calorie for calorie.
Fiber can also increase satiety and help you stay fuller for longer, potentially helping you consume fewer calories.
Furthermore, there’s a large body of evidence to suggest that diets high in fiber are associated with a decreased risk of numerous diseases, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, certain inflammatory bowel diseases, and some cancers.
Additionally, eating enough fiber has been shown to be associated with a lower risk of obesity and may help support lower body weight.
For example, one study tracked the food intake patterns of 252 women over the course of 20 months.
Although just a correlation and not necessarily proof of causation, the results indicated that the body weight of the women was about 0.55 pounds (0.25 kg) lower, and body fat percentage was also about 0.25% lower for every additional gram of fiber eaten per day.
Researchers found that the reduction in weight gain and fat gain caused by eating more fiber was independent of any other potential confounders, such as physical activity and dietary fat intake, meaning that the weight loss benefits were indeed attributable to eating more fiber alone.
The researchers concluded that the fat loss benefits of fiber were mainly due to the fact that fiber increased fullness and thus reduced total caloric intake over the day.
Given the health benefits of fiber, any high-fiber foods you can add to your diet can potentially improve digestive health and may help you lose weight.
Although bananas don’t contain as much fiber as most vegetables and certain other fruits, the fiber content in bananas will certainly get you on your way toward the daily value of fiber, and this is one way in which bananas can help with weight loss.
#2: Bananas Contain Resistant Starch
If you’ve ever eaten a green banana rather than a yellow or even brown banana, you are well aware of the fact that the ripeness of a banana affects its flavor profile.
A green banana (when the peel looks green) has a more tart or sour flavor compared to a banana with a yellow peel, and once the peel becomes speckled with a lot of brown, the banana will be especially ripe and sweet, if not also mushy.
Not only does the taste of bananas with differing levels of ripeness vary, but the actual texture and structure of the carbohydrates within the banana vary as well.
As a banana ripens, the starch and cellulose begin to break down into simple sugars, which is why yellow bananas are sweeter than unripe green bananas.
A higher percentage of the carbohydrates in a yellow banana is from simple sugars, whereas in an unripe green banana, much of the carbohydrate is still bound up in more complex starch molecules.
Some of this starch, termed “resistant starch,“ consists of long chains of glucose molecules bonded together that are resistant to digestion.
With simple sugars, many of these chemical bonds have already been broken down naturally within the fruit, essentially jumpstarting the digestion process for your body.
In this way, when you eat a yellow banana or other food high in simple sugars, your digestive system does not need to work as hard to break down the food, and the glucose (sugar) contained in the fruit enters your bloodstream faster.
Unripe green bananas, which have a higher percentage of this resistant starch and less simple sugar, take longer to digest.
Resistant starches act like soluble fiber in the body, helping to slow down the absorption of the sugar in the banana. This can prevent spikes and subsequent dips in blood sugar and may promote fullness.
Studies suggest that resistant starches may potentially offer other health benefits as well, including weight loss and accelerated fat burning.
Therefore, one of the important factors to consider when trying to decide if bananas are good for weight loss is the ripeness of the banana.
Your body will enjoy greater weight loss benefits from bananas that are unripe or in their green stage versus yellow bananas and certainly over ripe brown bananas.
#3: Bananas Are Low Glycemic
The ripeness of a banana also factors into the glycemic index of the fruit, which, in turn, impacts whether bananas are good for weight loss or if bananas cause weight gain.
The glycemic index (GI) is a scale that measures the relative extent to which a food increases blood sugar after consumption.
The higher the percentage of simple sugars in a food, the higher the glycemic index will be because the sugars in the food will be rapidly digested and circulated into the bloodstream.
Low-glycemic foods are considered to be those with a glycemic index of 55 or less. A glycemic index score of 56–69 is medium glycemic food, and high-glycemic foods have a GI of 70 or above.
Although most people think bananas are fattening because they are high in carbohydrates and sugar, the glycemic index of a banana is actually only about 42–62 (out of 100), depending on ripeness.
Thus, bananas can be a low-glycemic food (or medium).
The riper the banana, the higher the glycemic index will be, but choosing unripe green bananas will provide you with a stable stream of blood sugar release and can help increase satiety.
Studies indicate that consuming more low-glycemic foods may contribute to weight loss over time.
There is also research to suggest that eating bananas can actually improve blood sugar regulation in people with type 2 diabetes and hypercholesterolemia.
Researchers found that a dietary intervention involving adding 9 ounces (250 grams) of bananas to the breakfast consumed by the participants caused a significant reduction in fasting blood sugar and cholesterol levels after just four weeks.
Do Bananas Cause Weight Gain?
As with any food, bananas can cause weight gain if consumed in excess. Because a banana has 105 calories or so, if you are consuming a lot of bananas such that you are in a caloric surplus (eating more calories per day than you are burning), you will gain weight.
If you are concerned about weight gain and are looking to end each week in a caloric deficit, check out our article, What Is A Calorie Deficit, And Is It The Best Way To Lose Weight, for more information.