Do Bananas Cause Weight Gain or Help With Weight Loss?

Banana bunch

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

You may have heard some reports that say bananas make you gain weight, while others say that bananas are beneficial for weight loss. Who is right and what do you need to know if you're counting calories?

Those who warn against eating bananas for fear of weight gain are looking at carbohydrate content, particularly sugar. Bananas are fairly high in sugar which can turn to body fat more quickly than other nutrients. Another reason bananas get a bad rap is that their calorie count is higher than many other fruits. A cup of apple slices has about 60 calories, while a cup of banana slices has around 135 calories.

Those in the pro-banana camp say the neatly packaged fruit has the perfect amount of carbohydrates and calories for a satisfying and healthy snack choice. The amount of sugar isn't high compared to most sugary snacks—like cookies and candy—and bananas have the added benefit of fiber.

Some people even say you can eat an unlimited amount of bananas (or any fruit) and not gain weight, since the fruit itself is so good for you. Fruits are rich in vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.

The Truth About Bananas

There’s no conclusive evidence that bananas make you gain or lose weight. No one food is responsible for weight loss or weight gain. Instead, consider your overall daily nutrient intake. Weight loss occurs when you create a calorie deficit, either through consuming less calories, burning more calories, or a combination of both. Bananas have calories, and calories are calories no matter the source.

For the most part, bananas can be a great snack. They are more filling than many other snack foods, though maybe not as much as some other fruit choices. For example, half a medium banana has about 60 calories and 1.5 grams of fiber, while one cup of raspberries has 60 calories and 8 grams of fiber. Due to the volume and fiber content of the raspberries, they will be more filling than the banana.

Eating a single banana can be a healthy snack, but if you add three large bananas to your regular daily food intake, you’ll be eating more than 350 extra calories. Whether or not you incorporate bananas into your meal plan will depend on your goals and if you like bananas.

If you are simply trying to eat a healthier diet, eating a banana (or 1/2 of a medium banana which is considered one whole serving of fruit) can be a good way to boost nutrition. Replacing high calorie, high fat items such as cookies or cake with fresh fruit like bananas can increase satiety while decreasing calories.

If you are looking to gain weight, you might consider eating an extra snack daily. A banana with peanut butter can increase nutrient-dense calories to achieve healthy weight gain.

Think replacement, not addition, when you consider where bananas fit into your eating plan. As a replacement for many less nutrient-dense snacks, they can be a healthful option. Simply adding them to your diet adds calories, as with any food.

Benefits of Bananas

One medium banana (7 to 8 inches long) has about 105 calories, half a gram of fat, 27g carbs, 3g fiber, 14.5g sugars, and 1g protein.

Bananas are chock full of nutrients. They're good sources of potassium (for heart health) and vitamin C (a powerful antioxidant). As a beauty bonus, the potassium in bananas makes them a great food for healthy hair. But don't overdo it. Too much potassium can actually lead to hair loss.

While not usually considered a "superfood" like blueberries or broccoli, bananas may have benefits beyond being a natural fruit snack. In one study, daily consumption of bananas marginally improved blood sugar and lipid profiles in people with type 2 diabetes.

Banana Snack Ideas

Go beyond peel-and-eat with these meal and snack options for bananas.

  • Oatmeal: Add sliced bananas to your morning oatmeal. You can also mash the fruit and add it your oatmeal while it cooks. 
  • Cinnamon-sprinkled: Bananas are great with cinnamon. Just slice one up, dust it with cinnamon, and enjoy.
  • Yogurt: Mix chopped banana into fat-free plain Greek yogurt along with some cinnamon. You can also layer bananas and yogurt with high-fiber bran cereal and sliced almonds.
  • Frozen coins: Many people love the texture of frozen banana. It also takes a bit longer to eat, which means you're more likely to feel full by the time you're finished. Top banana slices with no-sugar-added strawberry yogurt and chopped peanuts before freezing them—it’s like a nutritious, deconstructed banana split.

What About Banana Chips?

While bananas can be a healthy choice in a weight loss diet, banana chips are not. They’re bananas that have been deep-fried and doused in sugar or salt. A half-cup serving of banana chips has about 210 calories and 12.5g fat. Dehydrated banana slices are not fried and thus have much less fat and fewer calories.

Banana chips
Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

A Word From Verywell

There isn't any evidence that bananas contribute to weight gain or weight loss. Like any other food, bananas have calories, and calories add up. As a healthy snack, bananas may be more nutritious than options with the same number of calories and can be a healthy replacement for sugary treats. If you like bananas, enjoy them as part of a balanced diet.

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  1. Nieman DC, Gillitt ND, Henson DA, et al. Bananas as an energy source during exercise: A metabolomics approach. PLoS ONE. 2012;7(5):e37479. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0037479

  2. Cressey R, Kumsaiyai W, Mangklabruks A. Daily consumption of banana marginally improves blood glucose and lipid profile in hypercholesterolemic subjects and increases serum adiponectin in type 2 diabetic patients. Indian J Exp Biol. 2014;52(12):1173-81.