When it comes to weight loss, some foods can be wonderful choices while other ones sabotage your efforts to lose weight.
Because of this, figuring out what you should and should not be eating is one of the key aspects of losing weight.
But, it isn’t as easy as it sounds.
Common sense would suggest that bananas are a pretty good option for weight loss. After all, they are fruit.
Is that accurate though?
Certainly, there are some people out there that ask, are bananas bad for weight loss? I’ve even seen some sites that say you should avoid bananas if you want to lose weight.
In fact, some diet plans will allow just about every other fruit, but not bananas.
So, why all the debate about the humble banana?
Well, it mostly comes down to the nutrients.
In general, a banana contains roughly 105 calories. This data is specifically from a medium banana, which is from 7 inches to 7/8 inches long (1).
It also has 14 g of sugars, 1g of protein and 3 g of dietary fiber, as well as around 17% of your daily vitamin C intake, 23% of your daily potassium intake and 22% of your vitamin B6 intake (2).
One of the problems with this is that bananas are relatively heavy in calories compared to other fruit. For example, the image shows the calories in a cup of banana versus a cup of other common fruit (data from 3,4,5,6,7).
Additionally, a medium banana contains 27 g of carbohydrates.
That makes it a significant source of carbohydrates.
With so many people trying to avoid calories and carbohydrates nowadays, it isn’t too surprising that people are rapidly turning away from the humble banana.
But, that doesn’t really answer the question of, are bananas bad for weight loss?
Fiber is an important part of the diet, but it is something that many people simply do not get enough of (8). The 3 g of fiber that you can get from a medium banana is one very good reason for consuming them.
A specific type of fiber that you find in bananas is pectin.
At the same time, the presence of potassium, vitamin C and vitamin B6 in bananas is significant.
For example, higher intakes of potassium in the diet is linked to decreased stroke rates and there is some suggestion that increasing potassium intake might help to decrease heart disease risk (14,15). Potassium also plays a role in promoting healthy blood pressure (16).
All of these nutrients do show that bananas are good for health, but how does that tie into weight loss?
Bananas and Weight Loss
First of all, there haven’t been any direct studies on how bananas play a role in weight loss.
That isn’t too surprising.
After all, research tends to focus on dietary approaches or on specific supplements, rather than individual foods.
The only study that even remotely looked at the topic found that supplementation with banana starch contributed to weight loss and improvements in insulin sensitivity for obese people with diabetes (20).
But, that result is pretty meaningless for this discussion, because we’re talking about eating bananas, not supplementing with banana starch.
A lot of the claims about bananas focus on how they are full of sugar and have far too many calories for most calorie restricted diets.
And yes, those statements are true, but only to a degree.
The first thing is that whole fruit tends to be relatively dense for its calorie content, and contains a decent amount of fiber, which helps balance out some of the impacts of the sugar. So, eating a banana certainly isn’t the same as eating a candy bar with the same amount of calories and sugar.
When it comes to weight loss, calories are only ever part of the equation.
Yes, you do want to avoid taking in too many calories. But, the specific food you eat is even more important than the precise number of calories that you consume.
That outcome makes sense because fruit is full of fiber.
This does suggest that bananas will play a role in weight loss.
Certainly, there is very little to suggest that bananas are bad for weight loss.
Bananas are Versatile
The question, are bananas bad for weight loss, does seem to focus on the nutrients of bananas and whether the good outweighs the bad.
But, there is another side to the discussion too.
Bananas are very useful as a healthy snack for weight loss.
One reason for this is that they are already prepacked in a suitable serving size. This means that you aren’t likely to eat too much unless you do so intentionally.
That’s different than fruit like grapes or cherries, where you have to create your own serving size.
The skin of a banana also means that the fruit is easily portable and its texture means that it can be eaten without a mess. Those advantages aren’t true for most other fruits.
Because bananas feel like they have more substance, they can also be more satisfying than other fruit.
That’s an important trait in a snack.
After all, if a snack satisfies you, you are much less likely to look for something else.
The strong taste of bananas also means that they work very well in smoothies.
Many people do rely on smoothies as part of a weight loss approach, particularly smoothies that use protein powder. In fact, bananas are very good at masking the taste of less appealing components of a smoothie, such as kale or spinach, which are healthy but often not especially tasty.
One final cool thing about bananas is the way that they freeze.
Bananas take on a bit of an unusual texture once they have been frozen.
Because of this, they are often used to create one-ingredient banana ice cream by simply blending them to a suitable texture. Likewise, you can add in other fruit to create your own flavor combination.
While the end result doesn’t taste exactly like ice cream, the texture is surprisingly similar.
Many people use this type of homemade ice cream as an alternative to the real thing. After all, it is much lower in calories than actual ice cream.
In general, bananas are a healthy and safe addition to the diet.
However, like anything, there are exceptions.
The main group that should be worried about bananas is people who are diabetic. Diabetics have to be very aware of their sugar intake and that includes sugar that comes from fruit.
However, people with diabetes can still consume bananas, it’s simply a matter of being aware of their sugar content and planning accordingly.
Because bananas are higher in sugar than most other fruits, diabetics probably do need to avoid them and choose fruits that are lower in sugar instead.
Additionally, people who are strongly focused on low-carb diets for weight loss may choose to avoid bananas. After all, they are relatively high in carbs.
Bananas and Fad Diets
As we’re talking about weight loss, I do want to mention a couple of specific diets doing the rounds.
The Morning Banana Diet
This diet called the Morning Banana Diet, or sometimes the Asa-Banana Diet.
The diet emphasizes eating only fresh bananas for breakfast (although you can eat other food if you are still hungry half an hour later).
There are other parts to the diet too, including an emphasis on only one snack per day and suggesting that people largely eat Japanese food for lunch. Unusually, the diet also focuses on getting decent sleep every night, which is something that most diets don’t consider (25).
It’s interesting to see bananas incorporated into a diet like this, and it’s clear that the creators of it think they know the answer to the question, are bananas bad for weight loss?
The diet isn’t one that I would personally follow, but it does seem like it would work to some degree.
After all, the diet effectively cuts down on the calories you consume. So, if you could stick to it, you would theoretically lose weight. There is little evidence about whether or not this is the case though.
There are also people who follow diets that are strongly focused on fruit and often little else.
Diets liked that are controversial and highly concerning.
For one thing, you simply aren’t getting all of the nutrients you need from diets that contain little more than fruit. Plus, with no focus on portion control, there is still a good chance that you would end up gaining weight instead of losing it.
There is an even more extreme version of this approach known as the Mono Meal Plan.
This approach means that you eat a single type of food (like bananas) for each mean. It might be a different food for each meal or the same one consistently.
The argument is that doing this makes eating easier and can help to clear out your body.
Honestly though, that doesn’t even make sense.
Once again, you would be missing a lot of key nutrients. You might end up losing weight simply because you weren’t eating a lot of food, but that approach isn’t sustainable in the long term. That’s probably a good thing too because you would probably make yourself very sick if you tried to follow a Mono Meal Plan diet for a long time.
But, it’s important to note that this approach isn’t representative of including bananas in a balanced diet.
Are Bananas Bad For Weight Loss?
The simple answer to the question is no.
Bananas aren’t likely to make you gain weight and cutting them out won’t help you lose it.
In most cases, bananas are only going to be an issue for weight loss if you are eating a lot of them every day, or if your calorie intake is already high.
As I mentioned earlier, bananas are higher in calories than most other fruit.
So, you do need to take this into account. But, that’s true of anything you include in your diet.
Personally, I think that bananas are a great weight loss food because they make good snacks and they are so versatile – the fiber helps a little too.
However, at the end of the day, there is little about bananas that inherently makes them good or bad for weight loss. It’s all about how much you consume and the rest of your diet.