Are Bananas Good or Bad For Bodybuilding? A Dietitian Answers

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Whether bulking or cutting, bananas can be a key player in your diet. As a dietitian, I’ll guide you through their benefits for muscle recovery and energy and how to manage their consumption around workouts.

Key Takeaways

  • Bananas are excellent for bodybuilding because they are rich in the carbs you need (31 grams per large one) to perform well at the gym, replenish lost glycogen, and recover more quickly.
  • Bananas are rich in micronutrients, including potassium and magnesium, which help reduce the risk of muscle cramps and are involved in muscle contractions.
  • Enjoy a ripe banana 30-60 minutes before training for a quick energy boost, or eat it alongside protein (e.g., yogurt or a protein shake) and fats (e.g., nuts) for a simple and nutritious snack.

Bananas Overview

calories, macronutrients, micronutrients of banana


The calories in a banana vary depending on its size. 

A small banana (81 g) has approximately 72 kcal, while a large one (152 g) has 135 kcal.

As such, you’ll want to select the size according to your daily caloric budget. 

In a cutting phase? Go for a small banana.  In a bulking phase, go for a large banana.  

To be precise, track your intake using a food scale and a calorie-tracking app (like MacroFactor). 


Bananas are a great carb source and can boost energy during the day. The amount of fat (less than a gram) and protein (around one gram) is nothing noteworthy for a bodybuilder.

I get asked if green bananas are the same as ripe bananas. While the calories are the same, the carb content varies. 

Green bananas are mainly composed of starch, similar to the carbs found in oats and potatoes. They provide longer and steadier energy release.

Ripe bananas have more sugar, leading to a quicker energy release. The higher the ripeness of a fruit, the higher its sugar concentration.

Both options will be good enough in most cases. Ripe bananas may be more beneficial pre-workout, whereas greener ones are a great carb source to energize you throughout the day.


Bananas are a great source of several micronutrients. 

One medium-sized banana provides more than ten percent of your daily needs for riboflavin, folate, magnesium, and potassium and 30 percent of your vitamin C, B6, and manganese needs.

Here are some reasons you should pay extra attention to these nutrients:

  • Vitamin C. It is a potent antioxidant that could help limit inflammation and contribute to muscle recovery.
  • Riboflavin (B2). Allows the body to use oxygen, improving workout performance and recovery between sets.
  • Magnesium. Along with potassium, magnesium helps prevent muscle cramps. It also involves 300+ enzymatic reactions necessary for overall health and vitality.

Check out my complete guide on the Best Fruits For Bulking.

Pros Of Eating Bananas

pros of eating bananas for bodybuilding

1. Bananas Help Manage Sweet Cravings

Bananas are a great way of managing your sweet cravings because of their natural sugar content.  

However, unlike treats like ice cream and chocolate, bananas are high in nutrients. 

They are also high in fiber, making them a perfect fruit to add in case you want something sweet and satiating simultaneously (most sweet treats won’t keep you full for very long). 

Pro Tip: If you are looking for something sweet but are in a cutting phase, try the following recipe: 

  • Mix one teaspoon of cocoa powder, one egg, one teaspoon of vanilla, and one small banana (mashed) in a coffee mug. 
  • Place it in a microwave for one minute or until it’s cooked. 
  • Now you have a mug brownie that is less than 150 kcal! 

2. Bananas Can Contribute To Muscle Recovery

Since bananas are a carb source, they help replenish muscle glycogen (the fuel found in muscles) following a workout.  This can help support muscle protein absorption.  

According to research, lower glycogen levels may impair muscle protein synthesis. Also, consuming carbs post-workout triggers an insulin release, which can help with amino acid absorption:

“Insulin increases muscle amino acid uptake and protein synthesis and reduces protein degradation.”

3.  Bananas Can Reduce The Risk of Muscle Cramps

The potassium and magnesium found in bananas may reduce the risk of muscle cramps and limit fatigue because they maintain electrolyte balance and muscle contractions. 

Here’s what Health Coach Jill Corleone suggests:

“If you’re waking up in the middle of the night with muscle cramps, you may blame your intense set of calf raises. But it could also be due to an imbalance in electrolytes. Adding a daily banana to your diet may help prevent the excruciating pain.”

Updated editorial note: Recent studies suggest that the direct impact of these minerals on preventing exercise-induced muscle cramps may not be as significant as previously thought, highlighting the complexity of muscle physiology in high-intensity workouts like lifting weights.

4. Bananas Could Play a Role in Mood Regulation

Bananas are high in vitamin B6, which (interestingly) helps regulate mood.

Vitamin B6 is necessary for creating messengers that regulate hormone emotions (serotonin, dopamine, and GABA).  

Some studies have shown that low levels of vitamin B6 are associated with more symptoms of depression and anxiety.

In cutting phases, when calories are restricted, the process could alter your mood, making you feel cranky or in a bad mood. 

Thus, having food high in B6, like bananas, could help improve your mental health.

Cons of Eating Bananas

cons of eating bananas for bodybuilding

1. Bananas Could Be Triggers For Migraines

Some foods are more likely to cause a migraine, and bananas unfortunately fall into that list. 

Bananas are high in tyramine, and people sensitive to this trace element could be at risk of getting a migraine.

While this doesn’t affect all bodybuilders, if you experience migraines, you may want to limit your banana consumption or risk missing workouts.

2.  Bananas Might Cause Gas & Bloating

A common issue with bananas is their potential to cause gas and bloating. 

This primarily arises from bananas’ soluble fiber. 

While soluble fiber, recommended at about 25 grams per day for women and 38 grams for men, is an essential part of a healthy diet for optimal digestion and nutrient absorption, an excessive amount can lead to digestive discomfort

If you regularly experience bloating or gas after consuming bananas, monitoring and reducing your intake might be wise. 

This will allow you to remain focused and uninterrupted during your workouts.

3. Bananas Have a Limited Shelflife For Meal Prepping

Bananas quickly ripen and spoil, posing a problem for bodybuilders who bulk buy and meal prep. 

Strategies to mitigate this include purchasing slightly green bananas, separating them to slow ripening, and using overripe ones in smoothies or baking. 

This requires extra planning to avoid waste while maintaining their dietary benefits, which might not be ideal for busy individuals or those striving for a simple meal prep schedule.

Can You Eat Bananas Before Workouts?

Bananas are one of the top choices as a pre-workout snack. They are easy to digest and high in sugars, making them a perfect energy booster. 

If you are looking for a punch of energy, have it 15-30 minutes before a workout. 

Here’s some insight from Registered Dietitian Rachael Ajmera:

“In addition to supplying a good number of carbs in each serving, some of the carbs in bananas are fiber. Fiber can help slow the absorption of sugar in the bloodstream, providing your cells with a steady stream of glucose to help you power through your workout.”

Add healthy fat (nut butter) or protein (protein shake) for a more complete snack an hour or more before training.

Pro Tip: I usually recommend my clients eat a ripe banana if they get hungry during training. 

Can You Eat Bananas After Workouts?

Yes, bananas are a great choice after your workout, too. 

One study compared a sports drink and a banana as a post-recovery for athletes. It concludes that bananas matched the recovery provided by the sports drinks.

Since bananas are high in sugar, they raise insulin levels, allowing for a better amino acid intake in the muscle cells after a workout.

Plus, a banana will give you several vitamins and minerals essential for reducing inflammation, which supports recovery.

Nevertheless, an optimal muscle-building recovery is achieved when there is a carb and protein source. 

Add a protein source like a protein shake or Greek yogurt to make it the ultimate post-workout snack.

Do Bananas Help Muscle Growth?

bananas for bodybuilding

Bananas have the ideal carbs for muscle growth. Carbs allow protein to be used for muscle building instead of energy. 

Bananas also have manganese and vitamin B6, nutrients vital for producing energy for your workouts

However, bananas on their own aren’t enough. 

You must maintain a calorie surplus to gain weight and muscle steadily. 

Bananas are an easy way to increase your daily calories, but a well-rounded bulking diet focused on all three macronutrients is more important than any one food.

Other Fruits For Bodybuilding


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About The Author

Brenda Peralta

Brenda Peralta is a Registered Dietitian and certified sports nutritionist.  In addition to being an author for, she fact checks the hundreds of articles published across the website to ensure accuracy and consistency of information.

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