"Honey is a miraculous form of sunshine energy" - From The Honey Revolution by Dr. Ron Fessenden and Mike McKinnes.
My father loved to play squash. For those of you not familiar with the game, it's similar to racquetball, except that the racquet has a much longer handle, and the ball is smaller with almost no bounce. So you have to hit the ball really hard to get it moving, and then run like crazy when the other player hits a drop shot. Squash is a high intensity game that demands a lot of energy from your body. One day, when he was trying to get me interested in the game, dad took me to the courts to watch. Before he took his gym bag out of the trunk of the car, he grabbed a jar of honey from a box, took off the top, and scooped out a teaspoon of honey. "It gives me quick energy," he said. I have no idea if my dad won his squash game that day, but his tip about honey stayed with me.
It was not until many years later than I started to wonder why honey was a good choice for pre-exercise fueling. The reason is that the two primary sugars in raw honey are fructose and glucose, and these sugars are essential for proper fueling of aerobic activity. While the medical science on this subject can get rather technical, Dr. Fessenden and Mike McKinnes have a great summary of the key points in their book The Honey Revolution - Restoring the Health of Future Generations:
- The primary fuel for exercise in humans is glucose, a simple carbohydrate.
- The greater the intensity of exercise, the greater percentage of glucose burned relative to fat.
- The most significant energy storehouse for exercise and recovery is the liver glycogen store.
- Fueling for muscles and liver should be undertaken before, during and after exercise.
- Fructose is used by the liver to regulate glucose uptake.
- A fructose-based fuel during exercise will increase oxidation and power output.
- Optimal fueling of both muscles and liver will reduce stress hormones and protect muscles from degradation.
- Optimal fueling is important for both training and competition.
In addition to boosting physical energy, honey may also give you mental sharpness. In 1972, two researchers conducted an experiment where one group of bees was given a fructose/glucose mixture (similar to honey) and the other group of bees was given glucose only. They found that the bees in the first group accomplished tasks twice as fast as the bees that were given glucose only. So that makes honey a two for one superfood. It fuels the muscles and the brain.
Like my Dad, you can eat honey straight from the jar for pre-exercise fueling. Another great idea is to mix some raw honey and Greek yogurt. Misty May Treanor, a 3 time Olympic Gold Medalist in beach volleyball, has called honey and yogurt her favorite power food. Here are some more great ideas for energy boosting snacks with honey:
- Cranberry Pistachio Energy Bites from Gimme Some Oven are packed with great flavor and nutrition. No baking required; just a food processor and a few minutes of prep time.
- Peanut Butter Oatmeal Energy Bites from Creative Juice are another energy-packed snack with no baking needed.
- Peanut Butter and Banana Energy Bars resemble a dense banana bread. A great idea for breakfast on the go!
- Honey Cocoa Energy Bites are for chocoholics who crave a bit of chocolate with your energy boost. Lentils and sesame seeds are a creative addition.
- Roasted Honey Cashew Trail Mix has just five ingredients. Talk about simple. Keep a bag handy for work or the gym.
For quality raw honey, shop Smiley Honey today.