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No monkeying around—the favorite fruit of endurance athletes is becoming a go-to flavor for sports nutrition.
It’s no wonder that bananas have served as a favorite source of energy for endurance athletes and hikers for decades—they’re portable, don’t need to be washed before eating, and they’re rich in nutrients, such as potassium, antioxidants, fiber and B vitamins in addition to (obviously) carbohydrates. In fact, a 2012 study published in PLoS ONE suggested that consuming bananas during cycling had the exact same performance effects as a carbohydrate-rich sports drink, plus they had the added health benefits of antioxidants and fiber.
So what’s the downside? In a word: mushiness. Bruised bananas are simply unappetizing, especially before or during a workout. But—thankfully—banana fans have some new sports nutrition options. Established sports fuel brands, such as CLIF Bar, Bonk Breaker and Sport Beans, are incorporating bananas into their newest flavors. “Bananas have long been a staple on race courses, in kitchens and packed in school lunches across the world,” says Chris Frank, CEO of Bonk Breaker Nutrition, which just launched a new banana cream flavor this summer. “Our new banana cream energy bar has been 100 percent driven by demand from our customers and athletes.” Now you can fuel with your favorite fruit on workouts, sans the mush.
Banana with peanut butter is a staple snack for CLIF’s staff of athletes, so, they thought, why not combine the flavors into a bar? We found the P.B., bananas and chocolate in a nut butter-filled bar to be a perfect flavor combo, and it serves as a filling afternoon snack or long ride fuel. Each USDA-certified organic bar contains 220 calories, 28 grams of carbs and 7 grams of protein.
Made with just 11 ingredients including (actual) bananas, white chocolate chips and cashew butter, the newest Bonk Breaker flavor (launched this summer) is a decadent, cookie-like treat. It has a chewy texture and a sweet flavor banana fans will love. Each gluten-free energy bar contains 200 calories, 32 grams of carbs and 4 grams of protein.
$30 for box of 12, Bonkbreaker.com
As a candy, the strawberry banana smoothie jelly bean is one of Jelly Belly’s most popular flavors. So when creating a new Sports Bean flavor, the company was looking for something not too tangy or sour—instead, this one has a creamy, sweet, strawberry-heavy flavor without being too rich. We like that these “chews” are smaller than regular energy chews and the hard coating makes them much less sticky. We also appreciate the resealable packaging. Each package contains 100 calories, 25 grams of carbs and no protein.
$7.99 for six-pack, Sportbeans.com