Do Bananas Cause Weight Gain?

Bowl of granola, banana slices and coconut flakes
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There are a number of conflicting reports out there that claim bananas make you gain weight or that bananas are beneficial for weight-loss. Let's dissect this:

  1. Those who warn against eating bananas for fear of weight gain are basing the advice on carb content, particularly sugar. Bananas are fairly high in sugar which can turn to body fat more quickly than other nutrients.
  2. Another reason bananas get a bad rap is that their calorie count is higher than other fruits. A cup of apple slices has about 60 calories while a cup of banana slices has around 135 calories.
  1. Experts in the pro-banana camp say the neatly packaged fruit has the perfect amount of carbs and calories for a satisfying and healthy snack choice. The amount of sugar isn't high compared to most sugary snacks - like cookies and candy - and bananas have the added benefit of fiber.
  2. Some people even say you can eat an unlimited amount of bananas (or any fruit) and not gain weight since the fruit itself is so good for you - it's rich in vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.

There’s no conclusive evidence that bananas make you gain or lose weight. As with all foods, the question of whether eating a banana is going to pack on the pounds or melt them off comes down to the number of calories they contain and how many calories you’re burning.

If I had to pick a side, I would probably come down on the bananas-for-weight-loss side of the fence. Eaten as a snack, a banana is a great choice. It's filling, it's nutritious, and it contains a reasonable number of calories.

But note that bananas are not a "free food" that you should go completely nuts with - if you add three large bananas to your regular daily food intake, you’ll be eating more than 350 extra calories. Think replacement, not addition.

Keep in mind that one medium banana (7-8 inches long) has about 105 calories, half a gram of fat, 27g carbs, 3g fiber, 14.5g sugars, and 1g protein.

Bananas are chock full of nutrients, too They're good sources of potassium (for heart health) and vitamin C (a powerful antioxidant). 

Also, avoid banana chips. A half-cup serving has about 210 calories and 12.5g fat. Banana chips are not bananas. They’re bananas that have been deep fried and doused in sugar, aka food fakers.

Beauty Bonus: Bananas are a great source of potassium which is great for hair health.

Try and enjoy these meal and snack ideas:

  • With oatmeal: I love slicing up some banana and adding it to my morning oatmeal. You can also mash the fruit and add it your oatmeal while it cooks. 
  • As a cinnamon-sprinkled snack: Bananas are great with cinnamon. Just slice one up, dust it with cinnamon, and go to town.
  • With yogurt: I like to mix chopped banana into fat-free plain Greek yogurt along with some cinnamon and no-calorie sweetener. You can also layer the fruit and yogurt with some high-fiber bran cereal and sliced almonds. 
  • As frozen coins: I love the texture of frozen banana. It also takes a bit longer to eat which means you're more likely to feel full by the time you're done eating. Top your banana coins with strawberry yogurt and chopped peanuts before freezing them - it's like a healthy deconstructed banana split!

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