Counting the Calories in a Banana: A Guide for Weight Loss

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A bunch of bananas
Author Name: Beth Rush
Date: Wednesday March 6, 2024

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Bananas are a popular nutritious fruit with several varieties and versatile uses. You can turn it into a smoothie or a shake and make it into a cake — you’ll never run out of ideas to create something delicious out of these popular tropical fruits. If you’re trying to lose weight, you might wonder whether you should include or skip them in your diet. Learn more about their nutritional profile, the number of calories in a banana and the benefits to health, including weight loss. 

How Many Varieties of Bananas Are There?

calories in a banana - varieties of banana

Bananas grow around the world, having over 1,000 varieties and are further subdivided into 50 groups. These fruits also vary in size, shape, color and uses. Some can be eaten raw, while others — like plantain — are usually cooked and enjoyed in savory dishes. Bananas pack potassium and dietary fiber, but some varieties may include minerals and vitamins that differ from others. Therefore, there may be benefits from choosing the best kind of banana to include in your diet. These healthful gems are also cheap and widely available compared to other fruits, which makes them a cost-effective alternative for a wholesome snack or dessert. 

What Are the Nutrients in Bananas?

These yellow, green, red or purple fruits are loaded with combined nutritional goodness you may not find in other plant sources. Potassium is almost synonymous with bananas, making them a go-to for increasing this nutrient level in the body. They’re also fiber-rich, which helps the body in many ways. But the most commonly asked nutritional question is, “How many calories does one banana have?” 

If you’ve been trying to lose some pounds, you might have excluded them from your options because they get a bad reputation among people with weight loss goals. But don’t let the calories in a banana stop you from eating as this fruit makes up several times for its nutrient-dense quality. 

A small banana about 6 inches to 8 inches long, weighing around 101 grams, contains the following:

  • Calories: 89
  • Water: 75%
  • Carbohydrates: 23 grams
  • Protein: 1.1 grams
  • Sugar: 12.3 grams
  • Fiber: 2.6 grams
  • Fat: 0.3 grams
  • Potassium: 362 milligrams

The carbs, calories and other nutritional content vary mainly on the size. Larger or longer fruits have higher calories and more protein and sugar. 

Are Bananas OK for Weight Loss?

calories in a banana - four pieces of banana

Unlike other fruits, the calories in a banana are high — the exact reasons why people dub them not ideal for weight loss. However, no concrete studies connect banana consumption with weight gain. Rather, many reliable published documents confirm they’re safe to incorporate into your healthy diet. Eating moderately won’t make you fat or gain weight. Experts recommend eating three to five servings of fruit daily, and bananas are accessible enough to deserve a space in your daily wholesome plate. 

They’re also filling and rich in fiber, helping satisfy hunger and prevent overindulgence. Eating can help improve digestive system issues and potentially aid in weight loss, thanks to their power to curb appetite. Unless you have a health condition preventing you from eating these fruits, adding them to your diet is safe. 

More importantly, they also have a low glycemic index (GI), with ripe bananas having a GI of 51 while under-ripe bananas have a GI of 42. A GI score describes how quickly foods affect your blood sugar levels after consumption. A rating of 55 or less is considered low, meaning eating them won’t raise your blood sugar significantly. They’re a safe and healthy go-to snack for people with sugar sensitivities. 

Typically, you can eat up to two bananas daily, but adjust the quantity if you’re trying to lose weight. You may also alternate them with other low-calorie options to balance your intake. 

What Are the Benefits of Bananas?

calories in a banana - a bowl of banana dessert

These fruits are nutrient-dense, containing essential compounds for proper body functioning. 

1. Calories

They’re the source of energy for doing tasks and to function correctly. Grab a banana when you feel out of energy to lift the trash or prepare your meals.

2. Water

Bananas have a high water content, making them an excellent food for rehydration. Pack some during summer. 

3. Carbohydrates

Interestingly, the carbs in bananas are classified as resistant starch that works similarly to dietary fiber. They do not break down in the small intestine, releasing low glucose into the bloodstream. Instead, they ferment in the large intestine, creating more good bacteria and improving gut health. 

4. Protein

This building block of bones has several functions in the body, helping you repair damaged tissue, aiding in healthy digestion and boosting your metabolism. It’s crucial you get protein from foods to support your overall health. – 

5. Fiber

Although a form of carbohydrate, fiber can’t be broken down and converted into sugar during digestion. Instead, it passes through the body relatively intact. These qualities make it an essential nutrient to help moderate the use of the body’s sugar and keep it at a healthy limit. 

6. Potassium

A potassium-rich diet is linked to several positive health outcomes, including better heart health, cognition, bone density and muscle health. The FDA recommends getting an average of 4,700 milligrams of potassium daily. A medium banana contains about 422 milligrams of this nutrient, about 5% of the daily requirement. Eat bananas and also diversify your fruit plate if you need more potassium in your body.

These fruits are good for weight loss and pack essential nutrients for better overall health. While they’re entirely safe to eat, people with health conditions must check with their health care provider before including them in their diet. For instance, those with kidney problems may be prohibited from eating bananas daily. 

A Balanced Diet Is Key

Eating these fruits should be done in moderation to avoid adverse health consequences. Limit your intake to two pieces since the calories in a banana are high. Switch up your fruit plate to get various options in your meals — your buds might get bored of eating bananas alone. 

Bananas are highly nutritious, but they can be harmful to the wrong person. Be sure to check with your doctor or get nutritional advice on whether including them in your diet is OK. After all, what you eat should nurture your body — not trigger a health condition. 

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