On September 24, the US National Honey Board reported the results from three clinical trials on the use of honey by various athletes, reports IMAGINutrition.
The studies were undertaken to evaluate honey compared to other popular forms of carbohydrates used by athletes. All three double blind, placebo-controlled studies were conducted at the University of Memphis Exercise and Sport Nutrition Laboratory, led by Dr. Richard Kreider.
Data were presented at the annual meetings of Experimental Biology, the American College of Sports Medicine, and the National Strength and Conditioning Association, and research papers have been submitted to appropriate peer-reviewed journals. "We wanted to see if honey would be a good source of carbohydrate for athletes in comparison to other forms of carbohydrate. Honey did as well or better in several areas," stated Dr. Kreider.
The first trial involved 71 subjects who were given one of seven carbohydrate gels, including honey and placebo. Honey produced only mild increases in blood sugar and insulin, prevailing over dextrose (glucose) and maltodextrin, and was similar to a popular commercial carbohydrate gel. This indicates that honey could be an effective pre-workout energy source that does not induce hypoglycaemia.
The second trial studied 39 weight-trained women and men. Following an intensive workout, each subject immediately consumed a protein shake blended with sucrose, maltodextrin, powdered honey or placebo as a carbohydrate. The honey sweetened "muscle shake" was the only one to sustain blood sugar over the two hours following the exercise.
The final trial focused on nine competitive cyclists who were given a honey, glucose or placebo gel prior to and at 10-mile intervals of a simulated 40-mile race. Honey significantly increased power and speed over placebo, equalling the performance of dextrose. This study shows that honey is an effective carbohydrate for endurance athletes.
"Our first study suggested honey could operate as a 'time released' muscle fuel for exercising muscles. Our second experiment suggested that honey would be a good carbohydrate source to replenish muscles. However, our last study convinced us that honey can improve endurance exercise capacity," concluded Dr. Kreider.
This research demonstrates that honey is a carbohydrate option for athletes based on its low glycemic index, positive metabolic response, and effective energy production. These results are great news for athletes or anyone looking for a natural, convenient energy boost.The research was sponsored by the National Honey Board , a non-profit organisation promoting honey; and done in collaboration with IMAGINutrition, a nutritional technology think tank.