If an expanding waistline is your problem, research says that eating more fruits and veggies is one of the best solutions. But does that include high-carb fruits like bananas? The short answer is yes! One medium banana has 105 calories, 27 grams of carbs, 3 grams of satiating fiber, and 14 grams of naturally occurring sugar—not to mention a host of healthy flat belly nutrients.
But beware: Compared to other fruits, bananas are slightly higher in calories and carbs, so no monkey business: stick to one five-inch portion a day. This ensures you’ll reap all the fruit’s benefits—without expanding your waistline.
Read on to discover why bananas should be a part of your weight loss diet plan (plus the best ways to consume the sweet yellow fruit for optimal results), and for more on healthy eating, don’t miss Simple Ways to Start Losing Weight Immediately, According to Science.
They’re the Perfect Fitness Fuel
A smart weight-loss plan includes regular exercise, and many fitness experts agree that bananas are an ideal source of pre- and post-workout fuel. The reason: They’re rich in glucose. The easily digestible sugar not only provides optimal energy for your exercise class, but it also quickly replenishes energy stores that are depleted during a tough sweat session. Another reason bananas make for a great recovery snack? They’re rich in potassium, an electrolyte that wards off post-pump muscle cramps and dizziness, that’s often lost through sweat. Pair the fruit with a source of muscle-building protein like a tablespoon of almond butter or a hard-boiled egg to ensure your tired body receives the recovery nutrients it needs.
RELATED: Sign up for our newsletter to get daily recipes and food news in your inbox!
They Diminish Appetite
…So long as you nosh on green nanners, at least! Prior to ripening, bananas are rich in something called resistant starch, which, as the name suggests, literally resists the digestion process. This feeds healthy bacteria that live in your gut, producing compounds that have been found to suppress the appetite and lead to more efficient fat oxidation.
They Boost Metabolism
A study in the journal Nutrition & Metabolism found that replacing just 5 percent of the day’s carbohydrates with a source of resistant starch can boost post-meal fat burn by 23 percent! Since underripe bananas are a bit bitter, we suggest adding them into a smoothie with other fruits and veggies to mask the taste. Green bananas also taste great in a yogurt parfait with cinnamon, raspberries, chopped nuts, and a touch of honey.
They’re Natural Bloat Banishers
Constantly feeling bloated? Reach for a banana. Researchers say the fruit is a good source of prebiotic fiber, which helps to feed good gut bacteria and improve digestion. Bananas are also a good source of potassium, which helps diminish water retention. In fact, one study in Anaerobe found that women who ate a small banana twice a day as a pre-meal snack for two months reduced their belly-bloat by 50 percent! If you decide to follow suit, just be sure to cut back on sugar and carbs elsewhere in your diet. Once you’ve kicked the bloat to the curb, your hard-earned abs are sure to shine through.
They’re Low in Pesticides
Thanks to their thick peel, bananas typically carry very few pesticide residues compared to other fruits and veggies, which is good news for your health and your waistline. Experts say that consuming pesticides can cause weight gain, which is why they’re often referred to as “obesogens.” It’s likely because the toxins—which are stored in fat cells after consumption—interfere with the energy-burning process.
Swap your daily apple, peach, or nectarine (three fruits that almost always test positive for pesticide residue) for a banana to lower your exposure and start losing weight.