Honey. Winnie the Pooh loves it, real life bears love it and it has been a staple in the diet of humans for longer than recorded history. A tablespoon of raw honey contains 64 calories, 17.3g of carbohydrates, is made up of fructose, glucose, water and minerals such as iron, calcium, potassium and magnesium. It has a moderate range GI (levels differ among different honey) which doesn’t cause a spike in your blood sugar, like a refined sugar would. According to National Honey Board, when honey is eaten before a workout or athletic activity, it is released into the system at a steady rate. I will add that this goes for honey that has not been refined and processed to death. Local, organic, raw honey is best. Also look for True Source verified honey.
Honey is a natural, food-source fuel.
I am a huge advocate of doing things the way nature intended. If you look at one of the last hunter-gatherer tribes on the planet, people who are closest to what humans evolved to live like – the Hadza in Tanzania, you will see that they get a lot of calories from honey. Keep in mind that these people can’t just go to a convenience store – they literally break into hives of stinging bees several times a week, just to consume this food. To put in into perspective, how valuable would something have to be for you to brave it against a bee’s nest, wearing nothing but a loin cloth?
According to a 12-year-long study by Berbesque et al recently published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior. “In terms of overall caloric contribution, honey was by far the most frequently eaten food on the walkabouts, being eaten on 58% of the walkabouts and providing 85% of the total calories consumed.” This is what people who are out in the African heat, chasing wild game all day, fuel with and have fueled with for centuries. I think honey has been feild tested enough to get my approval.
Photo: National Geogrephic
As a distance runner, I have to fuel often during long runs and races. Bringing quickly digestible calories along is a necessity, as many of you who run know. The market is filled with endless options of gels, chews and mix-ins. The ingredients can be any range of sugar (sucrose, fructose, etc.) and other added carbs, flavors, chemicals, and more. I opt for honey based products, such as Honey Stinger, a brand that offers gels that are 95% honey, as well as gels that are a mixture of honey and tapioca syrup. They also offer several other honey-based foods including energy bars, protein bars, waffles, and chews. I came on as an athlete with them because all of their products are organic honey based.
I find that I personally perform better with honey-based gels. I also love adding a spoon of raw honey to tea or just as a snack to get in some extra, delicious calories. Honey is also a whole food, which is very important to me. Keep in mind that different things work for different people and you should always experiment to find what works best for you!
Here are some links for sources and further details: