KSDK - Bananas can provide better energy than a carbohydrate sports drink when exercising, according to a recent study.

Researchers at Appalachian State University studied the benefits of bananas compared to sports drinks, like Gatorade or Powerade.

"We wanted to see which was more beneficial when consumed during intense cycling, bananas or a carbohydrate sports drink," said David Nieman, director of the Appalachian State University human performance lab.

To study the effects of the two snacks, trained cyclists consumed either a cup of carbohydrate drink or half a banana every 15 minutes during a simulated road race. The race lasted from two and a half to three hours.

Researchers took blood samples from the cyclists before and after the race and tested them for molecules used for metabolism. These molecules indicated how the body was using the drink or banana for energy.

"We found that not only was performance the same whether bananas or sports drinks were consumed, there were several advantages to consuming bananas," Nieman said.

The bananas offered the same energy as the sports drinks, but had a few extra benefits. The study showed bananas provide fiber, potassium and Vitamin B6.

"I think there are a lot of athletes who don't like the thought of drinking carbohydrate sports drinks, which are essentially flavored sugar water," Nieman said. "You can have healthier carbohydrate sources before and after exercise that will support athletic performance just as well as a sports drink."

The study was funded by Dole Foods and was published in the Public Library of Science peer-reviewed online journal.

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