The vast majority of people now concern themselves with losing weight. While the obesity epidemic continues to be with us, a shift in public perception is clearly happening. Finally, people are starting to not just realize that they should eat healthy and move more, they seem to be actually doing it as well. However, we have become lazy with our vast amounts of processed foods and ready meals to the point that we simply do not know anymore what is and isn’t healthy, and what will and will not help us lose weight. In comes the greatest food paradox of all time: the humble banana. Some say that the banana is an absolute no-no for people who want to lose weight, while others say it is an essential diet element for people who want to shed the pounds. So which one is right?
The Argument Against the Banana
There are many reasons as to why some experts say that the banana should not be included in the diet of anyone who is actively trying to lose weight. The first reason for this is calorie content.
Whether you lose or gain weight boils down to calorie balance. One cup of sliced banana contains 134 calories, which is around 7 percent of a 19- to 50-year-old moderately active woman’s recommended daily calorie intake of 2,000 calories, and around 5 percent of a 19- to 50-year-old moderately active man’s recommended daily calorie intake of 2,600. Compare this to strawberries, which only have 49 calories per cup, or watermelon, which has 46 calories per cup, and bananas rank highly in terms of calorie content.
It is undeniable that bananas are relatively high in calories and losing weight is all down to controlling calories. As such, the argument against bananas seems quite strong. Added to this is the fact that bananas are full of carbohydrates. Again, most people who try to lose weight drop their calorie intake and also aim to eat a low calorie diet. The banana, as such, doesn’t fit in with that at all.
The Argument for Bananas
On the other hand, there are lots of good things to be said about bananas. The most important one, obviously, is that it is a natural fruit and is hence filled with natural goodness. Some experts suggest that it is the very vitamins and minerals in bananas that help people to lose weight.
Bananas are high in both fiber and potassium, which can help aid in weight loss. Bananas also are the only fruit that is a high source of vitamin B6; a single serving has more than 30 percent of the recommended daily amount! Vitamin B6 helps to boost your immunity and may lower your risk of heart disease.
The problem with this is that the two sides of the argument are obviously conflicting. On the one hand, you have a high calorie, high carb item, both of which are big no-nos. On the other hand, you have a natural fruit that is full of essential goodness, some of which is said to support weight loss. So what do you do?
How to Eat Bananas to Lose Weight
The first thing to remember is that the carbs found in bananas can be used to your advantage. This is precisely why you should eat them for breakfast. Not all carbs are bad. In fact, they are essential to the proper functioning of our bodies. The comparison was made earlier with a cup of strawberries or watermelon. While, when eating the latter, you undoubtedly consume fewer calories, they will also fill you much less. As a result, you will be far more likely to eat more overall, as you will feel hungry more quickly. A banana in the morning, with a bit of yogurt or oatmeal, is a great way to start the day.
The second issue to remember is that both the pro and con banana camps are right in what they say. Bananas are indeed full of carbs and sugars, but they do not contain fat or cholesterol, and they have various essential vitamins and minerals. Hence, what matters is that you eat the right amount of bananas.
USDA’s MyPlate.gov recommends that women ages 19 to 30 and men ages 19 and over get 2 cups of fruit per day, and women ages 31 and over 1.5 cups per day. One banana provides about 1 cup of fruit, according to MyPlate.gov. Therefore, the USDA’s fruit intake recommendation allows room for no more than two bananas per day for men and one and a half bananas per day for women.
Moderation is the absolute key. Everybody has to eat fruits and vegetables to obtain the necessary vitamins and minerals. There is no one single fruit, however, that provides people with all the vitamins and minerals, and bananas certainly do not contain them all. In fact, they have pretty low levels of many other essential nutrients. Hence, a banana a day is good, but you have to make sure that you eat plenty of other fruits and vegetables as well.
The disagreement about whether or not bananas should be part of a health weight loss diet is unlikely to ever be resolved. This is because there are so many different schools of thought, all of which have elements that are correct. Overall, however, people should learn to change their lifestyle rather than follow a set diet for the rest of their lives. And the banana most certainly has a place in a healthy diet.
Bananas, as with most fruits, are incredibly nutritious and can contribute to a healthy, balanced diet, whether you are trying to lose weight or not.
They are high in potassium, high in fiber, full of nutrients, contain no fat and have a low GI index. Add them to a fruit salad, filled with many other fruits with all the other necessary vitamins and minerals, and you may just have found yourself the perfect daily breakfast. Moderation, as always, is key.