You probably heard all about how great intermittent fasting is for your health. One big downside of intermittent fasting is that there’s no real recommendation of what you should and shouldn’t eat. And even more important, there’s no approved list of foods to break your fast with. Bananas are a common breakfast ingredient. But should you be breaking fasts with a banana? And is it healthy?
Sadly, there isn’t a black and white answer. It depends on each person. Generally speaking, bananas are healthy and a great way to break your fast. They are a great source of fiber, have a lot of nutrients and antioxidants and they contain plenty of simple carbs, ideal if you’re feeling sluggish at the end of your fast. However, if you have blood sugar issues, they may not be great. This also applies if you know you are insulin resistant, type 2 diabetic, or if you had blood sugar issues in the past. They’re also high in potassium and magnesium, which may not be the best for everyone, especially when taken on an empty stomach.
So, let’s explore the topic of breaking fast with bananas in-depth: when is it ok, what are their benefits, and when you should avoid them.
Breaking your fast with a banana
Many people associate fruit with breakfast. Whether you’re eating them on their own, in smoothies or cereal bowls, or even as toppings for pancakes, fruit can feel like a good idea in the morning. From here, many people feel like breaking their fast with a banana could be a good idea, regardless of what time of the day it is.
Pros of breaking your fast with a banana
- It is a source of simple carbs, quickly metabolized by the body. It is perfect for those who tend to get a little hypoglycemic towards the end of their fast.
- It is also a great option for those who work out before breaking the fast, especially if you do cardio. In case you are trying to build muscle through strength training, you may want to pair it with a source of protein. You can even add it to a protein shake, or eat it along with it.
- Bananas contain several vitamins and minerals such as potassium, magnesium, vitamins C and B6.
- Bananas are a source of fiber, promoting digestive health, and aiding the absorption of nutrients. For this reason, they’re also the perfect breakfast for people easily prone to indigestion and/or constipation, such as those suffering from IBS-C.
Cons of breaking your fast bananas
- The glycemic index of an unripe banana is 30, while that of a very ripe banana is 60. That means this fruit may not the best for everyone as it may spike your blood sugar levels quickly, only to allow them to drop just as fast.
- Because they fill you up quickly, you might find yourself sleepy and fatigued. If you observe that bananas have this effect on you when eaten on an empty stomach, try to avoid them when breaking your fast.
- The high fiber content is not ideal for people with digestive issues, such as IBS-D. This doesn’t mean that if you have IBS-D you should completely exclude bananas from your diet. How much fiber one can safely have in your diet is something that differs from person to person. Most people with IBS-D will however need to avoid breaking their fast with bananas.
Should you include bananas into your eating window?
Again, the answer depends on your overall diet, your health, and your goals. For most people, bananas are incredibly healthy and beneficial. But for those suffering from type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, or IBS-D, caution is recommended.
Since the main debate when it comes to bananas is around blood sugar, you should know that the pectin bananas contain can help moderate blood sugar levels. Together with the resistant starch found in unripe bananas, pectin contributes to a reduction of your appetite. In other words, if you find you’re prone to overeating after fasting, bananas may be the perfect food to start with or at least to include in your eating window.
There are a few other surprising studies that show unripe bananas may improve insulin sensitivity. It is believed the resistant starch they contain contributes to better blood sugar management. However, not all studies agree with these findings, so if you are insulin resistant, you may want to be cautious about eating bananas.
We already know bananas are rich in potassium. But did you know this mineral is essential for heart health? Even more surprising is that most people don’t get enough potassium through their diet! The good news is that one medium-sized banana will give you 9% of the RDI. Along with the magnesium also found in bananas, potassium contributes to a healthy heart, lowering your risk of developing a heart condition.
Bananas also contain antioxidants such as dopamine that protect against heart conditions and degenerative illnesses.
Some studies link bananas to better kidney health. For instance, a 13-year study showed that women who ate 2-3 bananas a week had 33% fewer chances of developing kidney disease.
The bottom line
Can you break your fast with bananas? Yes, as long as you don’t have a condition that could be worsened by doing so, such as IBS-D or type 2 diabetes.
They are rich in nutrients, vitamins, and minerals such as potassium, magnesium, vitamin B6, and vitamin C. They are also filled with antioxidants that protect you against heart disease and degenerative conditions. Their fiber helps keep you full for longer and they provide a quick boost of energy, ideal for those who work out in their fasting window.
On the other hand, for some people, the simple carbs in bananas could provide a quick rise and fall of their blood sugar, resulting in sluggishness, fatigue, or headaches. The fact that they make you feel full quickly and for a longer time might also bother some people who will find themselves sleepy immediately after eating a banana.
In other words, watch your symptoms carefully. If you find you cannot tolerate bananas on an empty stomach, you may still be able to include them in your eating window at a later time. Because unless your health requires you to stay away from bananas, it is a fruit with many health benefits, so including it in your diet a few times a week will be helpful.
There are other foods you can break your fast with. Check out this post: 13 Best Foods to Eat after Fasting (science-backed)