What are the energy-enhancing effects of honey?

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Michael T. Murray, ND
Naturopathic Medicine
Honey is an excellent source of readily available carbohydrate, a chief source of quick energy. In the time of the ancient Olympics, athletes were reported to eat special foods, such as honey and dried figs, to enhance their sports performance. Recently, one group of researchers investigated the use of honey as a performance aid in athletes. The study involved a group of thirty-nine weight-trained athletes, both male and female. Subjects underwent an intensive weight-lifting workout and then immediately consumed a protein supplement blended with sugar, malt dextrin, or honey as the carbohydrate source. The honey group maintained optimal blood sugar levels throughout the two hours following the workout. In addition, muscle recuperation and glycogen restoration (carbohydrates stored in muscle) was favorable in those individuals consuming the honey-protein combination.

Sustaining favorable blood sugar concentrations after endurance training by ingesting carbohydrates before, during, and after training is important for maintaining muscle glycogen stores (glycogen is the form in which sugar is stored in muscle as ready-to-use fuel), so that muscle recuperation is more efficient and the athlete is ready to perform again at his or her highest level the next day. So for now, honey appears to be suitable sources of carbohydrate that can help athletes perform at their best, but it does not appear to be a superior choice compared to other carbohydrates.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.