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The benefits of a banana after a workout

According to Columbia University Health Services, eating food rich in carbohydrates, like a banana, 15 to 45 minutes after a workout is most advantageous to your muscles and glycogen recovery making it an ideal snack after exercising.

Eat a banana after working out
Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

The nutrition-rich fruit contains potassium, carbohydrates, protein and vitamin C. A banana alone may not be ideal for a post-workout recovery, but adding to a healthy snack, such as a protein shake will help you recover from a workout.

Healthy Source of Carbs

After an intense workout, the depleted glycogen in your muscles needs replacement. Glycogen converts into the glucose that provides energy during exercise. After exercising, the enzymes that create glycogen are highly active.

A medium banana contains about 26 grams of carbohydrates, which helps with glycogen replacement in the muscle stores. Bananas are easily digestible and fast acting and, in addition to glycogen replacement, the glucose and natural sugar in bananas help increase your energy.

Muscle Building Protein

Sports nutritionist Kristen Reisinger recommends combining carbohydrates with protein after a workout. Bananas have both carbohydrates and protein; however, a medium banana contains little more than 1 gram of protein.

In an article in"Fitness" magazine, Reisinger therefore suggests to eat half a banana as part of a whey protein shake mixed with water. Protein is vital because it helps repair and build your muscles after a workout, and it also helps replenish glycogen. As an alternative, Dana Angelo White of CNN Health suggests a drink made of banana, milk, and yogurt.

Replacing Nutrients

Vitamins and minerals such as potassium are lost during a workout through sweating and increased activity. Bananas are high in potassium and magnesium; these electrolytes are vital for muscle and nerve function. In addition to minerals, bananas contain multiple B vitamins, choline, and high levels of vitamin C.

A medium banana contains about 10 milligrams of vitamin C. Vitamins and minerals help reduce cramping of the muscles and support nerve functioning.

Things to Consider

The Health Services Q&A at Columbia University states that fluid replacement is vital after a workout. Options include sport drinks, water, and carbohydrate-rich fluids, such as a protein shake. If you exercise recreationally, you do not need to follow the post-exercise diet because you muscles will have enough time to recover between exercise sessions.

If you are lactose intolerant, you'l want to skip the milk in a shake, and if you suffer from banana allergies, you can replace a banana with either a peanut butter bagel, tuna on whole grain bread, or a turkey sandwich, because they are all high in protein and carbohydrates. Try to limit your fat intake after working out as it may slow down digestion.

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