Published in July, the Niemen et al. study, ‘Bananas and Exercise Metabolism’, found that 14 trained cyclists completed a 75km (consuming both Gatorade and the fruit separately in a crossover) time trial with no difference in performance and physiological measures.
But Katie Montiel from Gatorade Communications contacted us on Wednesday to ensure we had the “most current information” in regard to the import of the Niemen et al. study that we covered back in July.
Gatorade agreed that bananas could be a good energy source, Montiel said, but it was important to note that the composition of bananas changed based upon levels of ripeness.
Thus they may not be an effective energy source at all levels.
Time must be ripe for Bananaman…
“While the ripeness of bananas was appropriate in the study, the athlete would need to pay special attention to the ripeness levels during at home use,” Montiel said.
She added: “Athletes must also consider more than just energy: fluids, electrolytes and GI [gastro-intestinal] distress are other important factors.”
Moving on to “potential limitations and issues” with the study – some of which she said were identified by the authors – Montiel noted that a home bicycle trainer was used for testing.
“As the trainer has a high degree of variability during extended duration use and higher intensity cycling, you may be less likely to find a difference between treatments,” she said, referencing a 2005 Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research article by Earnest et al.
Montiel added: “Additionally, the subjects mentioned feeling full and bloated after consuming bananas. High fiber intake, such as can be found when consuming multiple bananas, may result in GI distress.”
Direct comparison ‘does not fit’
Furthermore, it was important for active individuals to consume fluids with electrolytes – specifically sodium lost most in sweat – during exercise to maintain hydration, Montiel said.
“A direct comparison between Gatorade and bananas does not fit in all situations as bananas do not provide fluid and sodium in a comparable amount to Gatorade,” she added.
“The practical application of carrying multiple bananas as well as a fluid source should also be considered.”
Summarizing Gatorade’s position, Montiel said that bananas were a potential energy source, and could perhaps be used in tandem with sports drinks to provide athletes with the correct nutrients during exercise.
BeverageDaily.com contacted the study’s lead author Professor David Nieman asking for a response to Gatorade’s points, but none was forthcoming prior to publication.
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