Forget swigging on a sports drink before a workout, eating a banana will give you the same energy boost - and is better for you - claim a team of researchers.

Scientists from North Carolina Research Campus (NCRC) wanted to see whether consuming a carbohydrate sports drink was more beneficial during intense exercise than a simple fruit snack.

However, study author Dr David Nieman told News Medical: “We found that not only was performance the same whether bananas or sports drinks were consumed, there were several advantages to consuming bananas.”

banana sports performance

The study, published in the PLoS ONE journal, tested the theory on a group of trained cyclists. Each was asked to consume either a cup of carbohydrate drink or half a banana every 15 minutes during a 75km race lasting between 2.5 to 3 hours.

Researchers discovered that bananas provided athletes with compounds – such as antioxidants – that are not found in sports drinks, as well as nutrition from fibre, potassium and vitamin B6.

Why Coffee And Toast Could Improve Your Sports Performance

They concluded that bananas contain a healthier mix of sugars needed to boost energy levels and performance, than conventional sports drinks.

“I think there are a lot of athletes who don't like the thought of drinking carbohydrate sports drinks, which are essentially flavored sugar water," explains Dr Neiman.

"This type of research shows that you can have healthier carbohydrate sources before and after exercise that will support athletic performance just as well as a sports drink.”

Take a look at these 'healthy' snacks that might do more harm than good...

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  • Hidden Fat Traps Lurking In Your Food

  • Dried Fruits

    Dried fruits are a great tasting snack, but beware they are often sprayed with a sugar solution before being packaged.

  • Sushi

    Sushi can come packed with mayonnaise (or mayo based sauces) as well as other sauces full of hidden calories.

  • Fruit Smoothies

    Not all smoothies have potential fat traps - ones made entirely from wholefood ingredients and fresh fruit, are packed with nutrients and vitamins. However, don't be fooled into thinking that all smoothies make a healthy drink. Many processed smoothies are so full of added sugars, syrup, additives and full-fat milk (and sometimes ice cream), that you'd be better off having a large milkshake from your local takeaway.

  • Vegetable Crisps

    It may seem like the healthier alternative to a packet of salt and vinegar crisps, but veggie crisps have the same fat content as ordinary crisps.

  • Frozen Yoghurt

    Frozen yoghurt is usually low in calories - but the sugar content can be sky high.

  • Chicken Wraps

    A tortilla wrap may contain carbohydrate than a slice of bread, but most pre-packed wraps are packed full of hidden fat traps, such as processed meat, mayonnaise and butter.

  • Processed Cereal

    Many cereals contain a host of different sweeteners to make them more tasty, so make sure you check the sugar content before piling it into your breakfast bowl.

  • Low Fat Muffins

    Choosing a low-fat muffin over a full fut version may seem like a clever move, but in reality, the snack can contain more sugar. This means that not only could your 'healthier' muffin contain more calories, it may be less filling too.

  • Gluten-Free

    Gluten-free aren't necessarily more healthy. Many gluten-free foods are processed and packaged, meaning they still have the fat traps other foods have.

  • Rice Cakes

    Rice cakes can be a low calorie snack - as long as you stick to plain and don't pile on the toppings.