Do you know why bananas are so good for building muscle? If not, then you may want to read this post. Because today, I’m sharing 10 powerful ways bananas help build muscle!
Bananas are great for building muscle. At around 105 calories per average-sized banana, they are a calorie-dense food choice that supplies energy for muscle growth. A banana is also rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that may help with post-workout recovery.
I have been eating a banana a day myself since I started my muscle-gain journey 2 years ago. So I’m convinced by their benefits.
But don’t just take my word for it. Bodybuilders love them too, and today you’ll find out why.
Let’s jump right in.
- 1) Bananas Are Nutrient-Dense & Help Build Muscle.
- 2) Bananas Are An Easy Way To Eat Carbs.
- 3) They Are A Cheap Ingredient For Bulking.
- 4) They Make Delicious Mass Gainers For Bulking.
- 5) Bananas Are As Good As Sports-Drinks For Pre-Workout.
- 6) A Banana Can Reduce Post-Workout Soreness.
- 7) Vitamins And Minerals Facilitate Lean Muscle Gains.
- 8) Sleep Your Way To More Muscle Gains.
- 9) Bromelain Is Good For Your Testosterone.
- 10) Bananas Can Increase Creatine Retention.
- How I Eat Bananas To Build Muscle On A Bulk
- FAQ: Bananas And Muscle-Building
1) Bananas Are Nutrient-Dense & Help Build Muscle.
Bananas are an excellent food to help build muscle because they are nutrient-dense. They contain 0.23g of carbohydrates and 0.89 calories, per gram of banana. Bananas are also concentrated with micronutrients such as potassium, manganese, vitamin B6, and C. These nutrients fuel the muscle-building process.
The muscle-building (or “bulking“) process requires a combination of resistance training, surplus calories, and sufficient macronutrient intake.
Calorie requirements for bulking will depend on your daily energy expenditure, but a 10-15% daily surplus is recommended.
This equates to around 2800 calories for a 5ft 7, 140lb skinny male who performs 3 intense workouts per week.
On the other hand, macronutrient requirements are:
- Protein- 1.5g per pound of lean body mass.
- Carbohydrates- 1.5 to 2.5g per pound of body weight.
- Fats- 0.4g per pound of bodyweight.
And here are the calories and nutrients for a single banana:
|Nutrient||How Much A Banana Contains||How It Helps You Build Muscle|
|Protein||1.3g||Raw material for muscle growth.|
|Carbohydrates||27g||Provides energy for workouts.|
|Fibre||3g||Facilitates nutrient absorption.|
|Calories||105||Contributes to caloric surplus.|
As you can see, a banana is a nutritional powerhouse for bulking.
The calories and simple sugars provide most of their bulking benefits by fuelling the muscle-building process.
But a banana also contains around 12g of undigestible starch, which is prebiotic.
Prebiotics are food compounds that improve gut flora health. And this facilitates digestion, energy utilization, and improved muscle function.
Furthermore, this 2014 study has linked the prebiotic effect with increased muscle performance, allowing you to train harder.
Check out my other article to find out your ideal bulking duration!
2) Bananas Are An Easy Way To Eat Carbs.
Bananas are an effective way to increase daily carbohydrate intake. Furthermore, many people often find it difficult to consume large quantities of carbohydrates. However, bananas are a highly palatable food and easy to consume, making them an efficient way to eat carbohydrates.
Research recommends a daily carb intake of 5-6g carbs per kg body weight (or 2.3-2.7g per lb of body weight) for optimal muscle-building.
These carbs are digested into glucose which is essential for replenishing muscular glycogen (an energy-storing molecule in your muscle).
This means as a 130-150 pound skinny guy, you require 200-432 of carbs every day to keep your muscles 100% fueled for weight training.
If you’ve tried eating this many carbs and calories, you’ll know it can be difficult!
Carbs are often unpalatable by themselves and often lead to a bloated feeling. But bananas are an appetizing way to increase your daily carb intake.
Below, is a palatability comparison for different carb sources:
|Carb Source||Grams Of Carbs Per 100g Source||Calories Per 100g Source||Palatability|
|Cooked Pasta||25g||160 cal||Low|
|Cooked Rice||25g||121 cal||Low|
|Brown Bread||40g||231 cal||Low|
As you can see, a 100g bowl of pasta provides you with 160 calories and 25 grams of carbs. And a similar amount can be obtained by eating one or two bananas (depending on size).
I know which I’d rather eat!
Therefore bananas are a great source of calories and carbs for skinny guys trying to bulk.
Read my other article for ideas to eat 300g of carbs as a skinny guy!
3) They Are A Cheap Ingredient For Bulking.
Bananas are one of the best fruits to bulk. Not only are they nutrient-dense, but they are also extremely cheap. A small banana weighing 100 grams will provide 89 calories at $0.0018 per calorie, and 22 grams of carbohydrates at $0.0072 per gram of carbohydrate.
Building muscle requires you to go on some form of bulk. And if you’ve ever tried bulking, then you’ll know it can be expensive!
On a bulk, you’ll be consuming around 2 extra meals every day in order to hit your nutrition targets.
Assuming an average of $5 dollars per meal, that’s $35 per week or $1820 per year extra food cost!
Basically, every cent counts when you go on a bulk.
Although protein is often the most expensive bulking ingredient, the carb costs can also mount.
But bananas are a cheap source of both carbs and calories:
|Food||Cost (USD)||Calories||Cost Per Calorie||Carbs||Cost Per Gram Carb|
|100g Banana||$0.16||89 cal||$0.0018||22g||$0.0072|
|100g Uncooked Potato||$0.26||77 cal||$0.0033||17g||$0.0150|
|100g Uncooked Rice||$0.40||365 cal||$0.0010||80g||$0.0050|
|100g Bread||$0.55||231 cal||$0.0023||40g||$0.0140|
At first glance, a small 100g banana may only provide 89 calories and 22 grams of carbs (not much compared to 100g of bread for example).
But if you look closely at the cost per calorie and cost per gram of carb, you’ll see that bananas are a relatively cheap source of carb.
Therefore you should include bananas to reduce the cost of bulking!
Protein is also important for bulking! Check out my other article for cheap protein sources.
4) They Make Delicious Mass Gainers For Bulking.
Bananas are a popular ingredient for bodybuilders to make mass gainer shakes. Not only are they cheap, but they also contain lots of calories, carbohydrates, and vitamins to facilitate the bulking process. Additionally, bananas are a delicious ingredient and are enjoyed by most people.
There’s a reason why bodybuilders love bananas.
Bulking can be both costly and monotonous. As such, two of the most important requirements for good bulking foods are that they are cheap and tasty.
And bananas hit both criteria.
Check out some of these ideas for cheap and delicious banana mass gainer recipes:
|Honey Banana Shake||100g oats|
3 tbs peanut butter
1 tbs honey
500ml soy milk
|Tropical Banana Shake||100g oats|
30g whey protein powder
400 ml coconut milk
|Choco Banana Shake||100g oats|
2 tbs peanut butter
10g frozen berries
2 tbs cocoa powder
400ml rice milk
|Banana Protein Pancakes||1 banana|
2 whole eggs
2 tbs cake mix
choice of vanilla or cinnamon flavoring
30g whey protein
Protein pancakes seem to be a particular favorite with bodybuilders.
Professional bodybuilder, Chris Bumstead, says he loves adding bananas to his protein pancake batter because they make them taste fluffy and delicious.
Bananas are one of the most important ingredients to this recipe because A) they add flavour, and B) they add texture.Chris Bumstead, Professional Bodybuilder.
Banana-flavored protein pancakes are also a much more appetizing alternative to a bulking staple….the dreaded oatmeal!
Check out my other article for more homemade mass gainer recipes!
5) Bananas Are As Good As Sports-Drinks For Pre-Workout.
Bananas are a great pre-workout snack. They contain high levels of simple carbohydrates which provide accessible energy during intense weight training. A banana can also be just as effective as a sports drink to sustain athletic performance during intense workouts.
A pre-workout meal or snack is one that you consume an hour or two before your workout. The goal of the pre-workout is to provide you with the energy to fuel an intense workout.
And an intense workout = more muscle built!
Here are the properties for a great pre-workout meal:
- Packed with complex carbs- to sustain energy levels for a hard pump.
- Contain simple carbs- simple sugars provide accessible energy to power heavy lifts.
- Loaded with protein- prevents muscle breakdown during intense weight workouts.
I recommend eating a pre-workout meal an hour before your workout, and snack on a banana immediately before performing your first set.
When you eat a good pre-workout, you’ll have more energy to complete a higher training volume (more sets, more reps, and heavier weights).
And increasing training volume is one of the best ways to build muscle (you can check out my skinny to muscular home routine if you don’t know how to plan an effective workout).
The effectiveness of bananas as a pre-workout has been shown in this 2012 study.
Here, the scientists found that eating a banana helped sustain athletic performance just as effectively as a sports drink! Additionally, the scientists recommended a banana due to it being a healthier source of carbs than a sports drink.
So how many bananas should you be eating?
It’s generally recommended to limit your consumption to 1 or 2 max. In other words, use bananas as an accessory to your diet and not the focus!
Check out my other article for skinny guy diet and training tips to build muscle!
6) A Banana Can Reduce Post-Workout Soreness.
Bananas make a great post-workout snack to improve muscle recovery. They are full of simple sugars which help to replenish glycogen and this reduces muscle fatigue. Bananas are also digested into anti-inflammatory compounds which help to relieve post-workout muscle soreness.
A banana after a workout is a great way to assist post-workout muscle recovery. In fact, bananas are one of the BEST fruits for muscle recovery.
Two signs of an intense workout include fatigued muscles and muscle soreness.
Muscle fatigue is caused by depleted muscular glycogen. And without glycogen, your muscles simply don’t have the energy to contract efficiently. Since bananas contain high levels of sugars, they’ll help you replenish glycogen.
You have to eat carbohydrates after a workout to let your body restore glycogen.Jay Cutler (4x Mr Olympia bodybuilder)
In contrast, muscle soreness is caused by inflammation.
This phenomenon is called delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and it occurs when high levels of physical tension are exerted on your muscle fibers (such as during heavy weight training).
As a result, inflammation occurs.
So how do bananas help sore muscles?
This 2018 study showed that banana is digested into compounds that have anti-inflammatory effects.
One such effect is through decreasing COX-2 levels.
COX-2 is an inflammatory enzyme that is activated in muscle cells during intense exercise. And banana was shown to inhibit the effects of COX-2.
To put it simply- imagine a banana as being a fireman putting out the inflammatory fire!
You can check out my other article to learn exactly how to gain your first 10lbs (5kg) of muscle!
7) Vitamins And Minerals Facilitate Lean Muscle Gains.
As a whole, bananas are good for you. They are rich in vitamins and minerals that help your body utilize energy efficiently, digest protein, repair muscle, and maintain nerve function. Bananas also contain magnesium which increases insulin sensitivity and can help you make lean muscle gains.
In addition to being packed with calories and carbs, bananas are also rich in vitamins and minerals.
This makes bananas extremely good for you in general, and not just for building muscle.
Here are some of the main vitamins and minerals found in a banana that help build muscle:
|Vitamin Or Mineral||Typical Amount||% RDA|
(Recommended Daily Allowance)
|Vitamin B6||0.43mg||20%||Nerve function and energy utilization|
|Vitamin C||10mg||14%||Muscle repair|
|Magnesium||36mg||6%||Protein digestion and energy utilization|
|Potassium||422mg||9%||Nerve and muscle function|
Of these micronutrients, vitamins B6 and C are also what’s known as water-soluble. This means they can’t be stored in your body, and are instead excreted in your pee.
As a result, your body uses these vitamins as you consume them. And this makes it important to regularly eat vitamin sources such as bananas.
Bananas may also help you to make lean muscle gains on a bulk.
For example, this 2013 study linked dietary magnesium with improved insulin sensitivity.
When you are more sensitive to insulin, your body uses glucose more efficiently. And this helps prevents sugar from being stored as fat.
So what does this mean?
Simple- bananas can help you put on muscle with minimal fat!
Read my other article to find out how to bulk with minimal fat gains!
8) Sleep Your Way To More Muscle Gains.
Sleep is important for muscle gain since most muscle growth occurs during sleep. Bananas contain a molecule called tryptophan which has been shown to facilitate better quality sleep. Therefore adding foods such as bananas to your diet can improve sleep and help you build more muscle.
The US recommended daily allowance for tryptophan is 250-425 milligrams, and a single banana contributes 11mg of tryptophan.
So what’s the big deal about tryptophan? How does it help you build muscle?
Firstly, tryptophan is an amino acid, and it serves as the raw material for making protein and building muscle (much like the bricks of a house).
Secondly, numerous studies have shown tryptophan can facilitate sleep.
For example, this 2009 study showed that tryptophan-enriched cereals led to faster and higher quality sleep in infants.
Improved sleep has also been shown to help you build muscle. For example, this 2011 study found that sleep-deprived people have on average 60% less muscle mass compared to people who get 8 hours of sleep every night.
Not only does sleep increase muscle mass, but it also increases functional strength. This is seen in a 2017 study that found people who slept more are also stronger than those who don’t get enough sleep.
So top up your tryptophan with a banana and sleep your way to bigger muscle gains!
9) Bromelain Is Good For Your Testosterone.
The bromelain enzyme has been shown to help maintain testosterone levels in the body. This can make bromelain supplementation beneficial for those who are trying to increase testosterone levels. Bananas and pineapple contain significant amounts of bromelain and can help maintain testosterone levels.
Bromelain is a molecule that facilitates the testosterone response to weight lifting.
This was seen in a 2016 study, where bromelain supplementation was associated with helping to maintain testosterone levels in the body.
So what does testosterone do?
Numerous studies have shown that Testosterone is an anabolic hormone. In other words, it helps you to build muscle.
The thing with testosterone is that it’s released in response to intense exercise such as weight training.
But this 1999 study showed that testosterone levels begin to decline shortly after exercise.
That’s not what you want if you want to build muscle as a skinny guy!
So supplement yourself with a natural source of banana bromelain and keep the testosterone running!
Of course, you’ll need to be doing the right exercises for maximum muscle gains. You can go to my other article to learn how to build a V-shaped body at home (with and without equipment).
10) Bananas Can Increase Creatine Retention.
Creatine powder is often mixed with water. But studies have shown that combining creatine with carbohydrates can help increase creatine retention in the body. A delicious way to consume creatine with carbohydrates is to blend it together with a banana to create a shake.
So what is creatine?
Creatine is a popular supplement often used by bodybuilders.
The molecule itself is found naturally in your muscles, where it helps the muscle to produce energy and therefore helps you train harder.
Athletes supplement with creatine to maximize their levels of muscular creatine.
However, creatine retention is highly inefficient, and not all of it is taken up by the muscle.
But this 2017 study showed that combining creatine with a carbohydrate and protein can help your muscles retain more creatine.
So if you’re currently supplementing with creatine, why not blend it together with a carb-rich banana?
How I Eat Bananas To Build Muscle On A Bulk
My main method for consuming bananas is the obvious way- right before or after a workout.
But on a bulk, bananas are also one of my favorite ingredients to make a mass-gainer shake.
I blend oats, protein powder, bananas, and other fruits to make a tasty calorie/protein-packed shake to fuel my workouts.
I currently use MyProtein Impact Whey to help me reach my daily protein and calorie targets. Each serving contains 21g of pure whey protein and 100 calories, making it perfect for lean gains.
Plant-eaters may want to use this MyVegan Pea Protein instead.
If you’re completely new to bulking, you may want to use something like the Optimum Nutrition Serious Mass Weight Gainer.
Each serving has 50g of protein and 1250 calories, making it ideal for skinny guys to quickly gain mass and strength.
You won’t need to blend this shake with any other ingredient (it already has a thick consistency and is packed with nutrients). Just have a shake, eat the banana on the side, and you’re good to go!
FAQ: Bananas And Muscle-Building
How many bananas a day for muscle gain?
Eating one to two bananas per day can be beneficial for muscle gain. It is not recommended to eat more than this due to their high sugar content. Bananas should be consumed as part of a balanced diet that also includes protein, fiber, fats, and carbohydrates.
Does banana help you gain muscle?
Bananas can help build muscle. Although they are not directly responsible for muscle growth, they are rich in calories which supply the energy for the muscle-building process. The high-calorie content of a banana also makes them ideal as a pre-workout snack.
What fruit is good for building muscle?
Good fruits for building muscle are high in sugar, minerals, and vitamins. Examples include bananas, berries, mangos, apples, pears, raisins, and apricots. Sugar provides energy for muscle growth, whilst minerals and vitamins facilitate normal muscle function.
Today I’ve given you 10 ways bananas help build muscle.
Bananas are one of the best fruits to consume in your efforts to pack on serious mass.
I myself eat one a day, and they’ve helped me reach my calorie targets as well as helped to fuel my workouts.
In my opinion, every skinny guy should include bananas in their bulking program. There’s a reason why bodybuilders love them so much!
As with all things in life, just make sure you eat them in moderation!
Do you include bananas in your diet?
Let me know in the comments!
You may also be interested in the downloadable Kalibre Blueprint PDF which details exactly how I gained 40lbs of lean muscle (it’s 100% free!). It details the exact exercises and nutrition I used to go from skinny to ripped!
Thanks for reading guys!
(Biochemistry BSc, Biomedical Sciences MSc, Ex-Skinny Guy)