How Many Carbs Are in a Banana
Bananas get a bad reputation for containing too much sugar, but the reality is that bananas don’t always contain much higher concentrations than other fruits. “What we always want to look at first is carbohydrates breaking down into glucose (a fancy word for sugar) in the body,” says Alix Turoff, dietitian, nutritionist, and personal trainer. According to Turoff, you can find about 27 grams of carbohydrates in a medium-sized banana (up from about 118 grams).
While carbs are often the first thing to eliminate from your diet when trying to lose weight, carbs, while valuable, are the most readily available source of energy. “Bananas contain unlimited benefits in the form of essential vitamins and minerals such as potassium, calcium, manganese, magnesium, iron, folic acid, niacin, riboflavin, and B6,” says Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, author of Read It Before You Eat It: We take you from label to table.
Most of us don’t get enough potassium, a nutrient that affects how our muscles, including our heart, work. “A medium-sized banana provides only 105 calories and is fat-free (for those who are still fat-phobic),” says Taub-Dix.
Bananas provide about three grams of fiber. While fruit may cause constipation in some people, its fiber may benefit others. “It is of great interest to people with diabetes that the carbohydrates in unripe green bananas contain so-called resistant starch, which can help stabilize blood sugar levels,” says Taub-Dix. “If you’re counting calories, banana snacks are a great option because they offer a satisfying, rich flavor and creamy texture without breaking the calorie bank,” she adds. But if you’re watching your blood sugar, be sure to eat a ripe banana along with some protein, such as a tablespoon of almond butter or cottage cheese, to slow the absorption of carbohydrates.
Let’s look at a medium sized banana. “It has 27 grams of carbohydrates and three grams of fiber,” says Turoff. “If we take those 27 grams and subtract three from the fiber, we get a net carb count of 24 grams. That means 24 grams of carbohydrates in bananas are converted into sugar in the body.” Net carbs, calculated from total carbs and Reduced fiber are said to be a more accurate way of determining how carbs affect your blood sugar levels and your weight gain or loss.
However, the same banana contains 14 grams of sugar. That means there are 14 grams of natural fructose, or fruit sugar. Add to that 24 net carbs and you have a “sweet” fruit.
So, are bananas good or bad?
It depends on your personal goals and needs. “If you’re on a ketogenic diet, bananas are not a good choice. If you’re eating 200 grams of carbohydrates a day, then you definitely have a place for bananas in your diet,” says Turoff. “They’re a great source of potassium and a quick source of carbohydrates for the body, so they’re a great pre-workout snack.”