Weight Loss With Bananas

Overview

Bananas are surprising. Who would have thought they could help you lose weight? These funny, versatile fruits (technically herbs) can play an important role in helping you decrease calories while enjoying nutritious meals and snacks. Slipping on a banana peel is comical, but slipping into smaller clothes can be life-saving, so go bananas for weight loss.

The Humble Banana: Excellent Nutrition

Bananas provide plenty of potassium, which promotes heart health and supports high-density (“good”) blood cholesterol. Bananas also provide small amounts of iron, niacin, protein and natural chemicals called protease inhibitors that kill harmful bacteria in the digestive tract. Of particular interest if you’re trying to lose weight: Bananas contain pectin, a soluble, sponge-like fiber that absorbs fluids in the stomach and creates a feeling of fullness.

Characteristics and Benefits

Keep bananas in your diet, even if you’re cutting calories. Bananas are naturally low-calorie, at 100 per medium fruit, and their benefits extend beyond those described above. Bananas have compounds that optimize digestion, counteract heartburn and control stomach upset by protecting the lining of the stomach and intestines. These compounds therefore enable nutrient absorption, even during the weight-loss process. And for active people, bananas represent the original sports food, complete with their own packaging and easily absorbed carbohydrates. Marathoners often depend on bananas to replenish muscle glycogen levels, minerals (especially potassium) and even fluids.

Bananas in Recipes: A Substitute for Fat

Substituting bananas for fat works to create the effect of fat without all of fat’s calories. Fat has 9 calories per gram, and a gram of carbohydrate has only 4, less than half. When baking, use equal amounts of substitution. For example, mash a banana so you can measure it by the tablespoon and replace all or some of the fat in a recipe with the mash to retain a rich texture and mouth feel. Bananas’ natural sugars also mean you can decrease or omit a recipe’s refined sugar–reducing calories further.

Day of Banana Meals

For breakfast, one banana and cottage cheese contain only 200 calories, far fewer than granola with milk, at 450, yet contain more protein and phyto-nutrients. A snack of a banana smoothie made with yogurt or 2 percent milk has approximately half the calories of a milkshake. At lunch, a peanut butter and banana sandwich, though only 350 to 400 calories, combines heart-healthy peanut fats and proteins with the banana’s pectin fiber to control afternoon hunger. At dinner, sauteed bananas can replace calorie-rich pasta or potato salads. A dessert of frozen bananas dipped in chocolate is a delicious, yet surprisingly low-calorie indulgence.

Sauteed Bananas and Low-Fat Banana Bread

Sauteed Bananas are light and delightful. Slice 4 bananas lengthwise. Gently heat 1 tsp. butter with 1 tsp. canola oil in a shallow pan, place bananas cut-side down into the warmed oil and cook 5 minutes. Flip the bananas and cook 1 to 2 more minutes. Serve the bananas with sprinkled cinnamon or allspice. For another low-calorie treat, try the “Banana Bread: Low Calorie Recipe” link in the References section.

About this Author

Based in New York City, Fiona Bayly writes about running with a focus on health, nutrition and training strategies for athletes from beginner to professional. She is an avid triathlete, former New England Scholastic Cross Country champion and current member of TeamUSA’s age-group championship team in the sport of Aquathlon.