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Randomized Controlled Trial
. 2012;7(5):e37479.
doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0037479. Epub 2012 May 17.

Bananas as an Energy Source During Exercise: A Metabolomics Approach

Free PMC article
Randomized Controlled Trial

Bananas as an Energy Source During Exercise: A Metabolomics Approach

David C Nieman et al. PLoS One. .
Free PMC article


This study compared the acute effect of ingesting bananas (BAN) versus a 6% carbohydrate drink (CHO) on 75-km cycling performance and post-exercise inflammation, oxidative stress, and innate immune function using traditional and metabolomics-based profiling. Trained cyclists (N = 14) completed two 75-km cycling time trials (randomized, crossover) while ingesting BAN or CHO (0.2 g/kg carbohydrate every 15 min). Pre-, post-, and 1-h-post-exercise blood samples were analyzed for glucose, granulocyte (GR) and monocyte (MO) phagocytosis (PHAG) and oxidative burst activity, nine cytokines, F₂-isoprostanes, ferric reducing ability of plasma (FRAP), and metabolic profiles using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Blood glucose levels and performance did not differ between BAN and CHO (2.41±0.22, 2.36±0.19 h, P = 0.258). F₂-isoprostanes, FRAP, IL-10, IL-2, IL-6, IL-8, TNFα, GR-PHAG, and MO-PHAG increased with exercise, with no trial differences except for higher levels during BAN for IL-10, IL-8, and FRAP (interaction effects, P = 0.003, 0.004, and 0.012). Of 103 metabolites detected, 56 had exercise time effects, and only one (dopamine) had a pattern of change that differed between BAN and CHO. Plots from the PLS-DA model visualized a distinct separation in global metabolic scores between time points [R²Y(cum) = 0.869, Q²(cum) = 0.766]. Of the top 15 metabolites, five were related to liver glutathione production, eight to carbohydrate, lipid, and amino acid metabolism, and two were tricarboxylic acid cycle intermediates. BAN and CHO ingestion during 75-km cycling resulted in similar performance, blood glucose, inflammation, oxidative stress, and innate immune levels. Aside from higher dopamine in BAN, shifts in metabolites following BAN and CHO 75-km cycling time trials indicated a similar pattern of heightened production of glutathione and utilization of fuel substrates in several pathways.

Conflict of interest statement

Competing Interests: DCN, DAH, WS, RAS, AMK, and LCK have no conflicts of interest to report other than funding to the university from Dole Foods. NDG and FJ are scientists in the Dole Nutrition Research Laboratory, and were a part of the research team conducting this study. This does not alter the authors' adherence to all the PLoS ONE policies on sharing data and materials.


Figure 1
Figure 1. Serum dopamine peak area (normalized to internal standard) was higher in BAN compared to CHO following 75-km cycling (interaction effect, P<0.001).
* P<0.025, difference in change from pre-exercise when comparing BAN and CHO. Data shown as mean±SD.
Figure 2
Figure 2. Score plots from the PLS-DA model visualize the global metabolic differences between pre-exercise (□), immediately post-exercise (+), and 1-h post-exercise (◯) for the combined data from the BAN and CHO beverage trials (75-km cycling).
A satisfactory separation was obtained between time points groups (Q2Y = 0.766).

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    1. Nieman DC. Immune function responses to ultramarathon race competition. Med Sportiva. 2009;13:189–196.
    1. Nieman DC. Immunonutrition support for athletes. Nutr Rev. 2008;66:310–320. - PubMed
    1. Nieman DC, Davis JM, Henson DA, Gross SJ, Dumke CL, et al. Skeletal muscle cytokine mRNA and plasma cytokine changes after 2.5-h cycling: influence of carbohydrate. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2005;37:1283–1290. - PubMed
    1. Nieman DC, Davis JM, Henson DA, Walberg-Rankin J, Shute M, et al. Carbohydrate ingestion influences skeletal muscle cytokine mRNA and plasma cytokine levels after a 3-h run. J Appl Physiol. 2003;94:1917–1925. - PubMed
    1. Nieman DC, Henson DA, Gojanovich G, Davis JM, Murphy EA, et al. Influence of carbohydrate on immune function following 2 h cycling. Res Sports Med. 2006;14:225–237. - PubMed

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