Bananas are one of the most popular fruits in the world. They’re an excellent source of key nutrients like potassium, vitamin B6, and vitamin C (1).
However, some people worry that bananas may be fattening and cause weight gain due to their higher carbohydrate and natural sugar content.
This article reviews whether bananas will make you gain weight if you eat them regularly.
Are bananas fattening?
Bananas do have more carbs and calories than some other fruits. A medium-sized banana contains (2):
- Calories: 105
- Carbs: 27 grams
- Fiber: 3 grams
- Sugar: 14 grams
The majority of the carbs in a banana come from starch and sugars.
Bananas are low in fat but high in natural sugars like sucrose, fructose, and glucose. The total sugar content is one reason they’re sweeter than other fruits (3).
However, bananas have a low glycemic index (GI), averaging 51. This means they shouldn’t cause major spikes in your blood sugar (4).
Moreover, bananas contain fiber and resistant starch, which moderate the rise in blood sugar after eating them (5).
Overall, while bananas are more carb and calorie-dense than some fruits, they don’t contain any fat and are nutritious in moderation.
Do bananas make you gain weight?
Eating bananas in moderation is unlikely to make you gain a significant amount of weight.
To gain one pound, you would need to eat about 3,500 extra calories beyond what your body burns (6).
So, you would have to eat around 33 bananas to gain one pound. Clearly, it’s very challenging to gain weight from bananas alone.
However, keep in mind that bananas can contribute extra calories as part of an overall unhealthy diet and lack of exercise. If your calorie intake exceeds your needs consistently, bananas may contribute.
According to a study in over 200,000 adults, those who ate bananas weighed less on average than those who didn’t eat them (7).
Summary: Eating bananas in moderation is unlikely to cause weight gain by themselves, but they can contribute extra calories. Banana eaters tend to weigh less than non-banana eaters.
Do bananas make you gain belly fat?
Many people specifically wonder if bananas lead to increased belly fat.
However, current research doesn’t support this claim.
In fact, multiple studies link banana consumption to beneficial effects on obesity and metabolism:
- In one study, women who included bananas in their regular diet for 4 weeks had significantly lower belly fat than those who didn’t eat bananas (8).
- In another, women eating bananas for 12 weeks lost more weight and belly fat than those eating a snack with the same calories and nutrients (9).
- Feeding rats a diet supplemented with banana for 4 weeks reduced abdominal fat gain by over 40% compared to a control diet (10).
The high fiber content of bananas may be partially responsible for these effects on belly fat. Fiber slows digestion and nutrient absorption, promoting fullness (11).
Overall, banana intake does not seem to increase belly fat. In fact, it may help reduce abdominal fat accumulation when part of a balanced, calorie-controlled diet.
Summary: Research indicates that bananas may help reduce belly fat. Their high fiber content helps promote fullness.
Tips on eating bananas for weight management
While moderate banana intake is unlikely to lead to major weight gain, there are some best practices regarding intake:
- Watch portions. Stick to a medium banana of around 7 inches (18 cm) long. This contains 105 calories. Larger bananas provide more calories, carbs, and sugar.
- Pair with protein or fat. Add a protein source like nuts or seeds to help control hunger and blood sugar. Top with almond butter or pair bananas with Greek yogurt.
- Avoid fried bananas. Frying adds unnecessary fat and calories, so avoid cooking methods like banana fritters.
- Skip added sugars. Don’t add bananas to baked goods or smoothies with added sugars, which boosts calorie intake.
- Choose greener bananas. Unripe, green bananas are higher in resistant starch, which may enhance fullness and reduce calorie absorption (12).
- Eat mindfully. Pay attention to hunger cues and portion size instead of overeating. Split one banana between two people to control calories.
- Stay active. Balance banana intake with regular exercise. This helps burn extra calories and prevent weight gain.
Ultimately, bananas can be part of a healthy, balanced diet that supports a healthy weight – especially when portioned and paired properly.
Summary: Tips for managing weight while eating bananas include controlling portions, adding protein, avoiding frying and added sugars, choosing green bananas, eating mindfully, and staying active.
The bottom line
Eating bananas in moderation is unlikely to make you gain weight or excess body fat on its own, according to scientific research.
Bananas provide key nutrients and make a tastier alternative to processed sugar-laden snacks.
Focus on eating bananas alongside a balanced diet and active lifestyle for the best chances of maintaining a healthy weight.