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The Power of Honey

Author:The Team at Honey Stinger
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HoneyThe Power of Honey

At Feed The Machine, we like to keep up to date on what athletes are using to fuel their workouts. Lately, sugar has been a hot topic, with the biggest focus placed on how bad it is, and how much we need to limit intake in our diets. Bottom line, no matter how you look at it, any carbohydrate breaks down into glucose once it’s in our body – the simplest form of sugar. Our bodies store glucose as glycogen, which is then broken down and turned back into glucose and used as the body’s main energy source. In endurance sports, glucose is the difference from making it to the finish line and bonking halfway into a race. We do know that not all sugars are created equal, and we prefer using natural sugars (versus high fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners). We always suggest trying out a few different forms of energy to see what works best for you. Read below on one of our favorite forms of sugar, honey. Not only does it provide the energy needed during high activity and endurance sports, but it provides several health benefits and is packed full of vitamins and minerals.

Fuel the Muscles, Liver and Brain
 By:The Team at Honey Stinger

Honey contains several vitamins, such as vitamin B6, vitamin C, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, and pantothenic acid. Essential minerals including calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and zinc as well as several different amino acids have been identified in honey. The carbohydrate composition of honey is roughly 38% fructose and 30% glucose.

Benefits of Honey
Aside from a great carbohydrate source, honey has many uses and benefits. It can help with sleeplessness, help fight viruses (such as herpes), promotes heart health by reducing homocysteine levels, and promotes the growth of friendly bacteria in your intestinal tract. Honey works as a demulcent, which relieves irritation in your mouth and throat, and can be used to treat a sore throat and cough. Honey can be used to treat wounds due to its antibacterial, antifungal and antioxidant properties (with Manuka honey being widely used for this purpose). It can be used to reduce allergy symptoms by activating your immune system to build immunity against the many pollen spores it contains (found in locally produced honey). Honey also acts as a humectant, as it attracts and retains moisture, making it a great addition to skin and hair care products.

Glucose and Fructose
If fructose is ingested during exercise in a 50/50 combination with glucose, a 100 gram dose produces up to 38% more energy than either a 100 gram dose of fructose or a 100 gram dose of glucose. This is a quite astonishing increase in energy efficiency from this combination of carbohydrates.

Although there appears to be no obvious explanation for this increase in carbohydrate oxidation from a 50/50 drink during exercise the nuclear benefit may provide a clue. If fructose alone is ingested there can be no glucose benefit because there is no additional glucose in the circulation from the drink ingested. If glucose alone is ingested there is no additional fructose to mobilize glucokinase as described above and the glucose will be exclusively taken up by muscles as a result of the substantially increased sensitivity of muscle cells to glucose during exercise.

1:1 Glucose to fructose ratio

  • Honey has 1:1 glucose to fructose ratio just like fruit. Where ever you find fructose in nature you find it in a 1:1 ratio with glucose.
  • You’d have to eat 6 oranges to get the same amount of carbohydrates in a 1:1 ratio as 1 Honey Stinger gel.
  • The glucose is absorbed into your blood and utilized by the muscles. Fructose is absorbed by the liver converted into glycogen which fuels the brain and regulates blood sugar. You can have the strongest muscles in the world and without the brain to tell them what to do they are useless.

 Low Glycemic Index Carbohydrate

  • Glycemic index is a ranking system for carbohydrates based on their effect on blood glucose levels.
  • Honey has a GI of 55, similar to that of brown rice, oatmeal, and potato chips. 
  • Honey’s multiple carbohydrates take longer for your body to burn resulting in longer term energy without the big blood insulin spike and crash.

 Napoleon was correct to point out that "An army marches on its stomach", but he would have more accurately stated that "An army marches on its liver".

Loss of mental acuity and concentration during hypoglycemia may be responsible for a variety of problems including lack of focus and decreased motor control.Clearly exercise-induced hypoglycemia is a particular problem for athletes, because during exercise, contracting muscles extract glucose from the circulation, and this may result in a fall in blood glucose concentration.  During exercise (an accelerated form of starvation) the brain activates the adrenal glands to release adrenaline and cortisol and these hormones act to degrade muscle proteins, which are carried to the liver and transformed into glucose to maintain blood glucose concentration.

However if a fructose/glucose combination is ingested the fructose will all be taken up by the liver and the consequent increase in glucokinase (the glucose enzyme) activity (from the cell nucleus) will ensure that additional glucose is taken into the liver.

The fructose would be converted into glucose and this glucose together with the glucose from glucokinase metabolism would rapidly replenish liver glycogen. This replenishment of liver glycogen during exercise would result in less protein being required during exercise to replenish liver glycogen (gluconeogenesis) and therefore stabilize blood glucose. In other words, the channeling of fructose and extra glucose into liver cells in exercise would directly protect muscle proteins from being degraded to replenish and stabilize blood glucose.


Honey provides a great source of both fructose and glucose, and can be used in a variety of ways to support the athlete. Honey is a natural source of energy that can be consumed alone, or can be found in a variety of gels, bars, and sports drinks. This unique combination of glucose and fructose provides ample support for both the muscles and the liver, and delivers roughly 38% more energy than using glucose or fructose alone. Lastly, consuming these two sugars together helps prevent muscle break down to replenish and stabilize blood glucose.

Ref: Adopo E, Perronet F, Massiocote D, Brisson GR, Hillaire-Marcel C. Respective oxidation of exogenous glucose and fructose given in the same drink during exercise. J. Appl. Physiol. 1994; 76: 1014-9.

Ref: ‘EXERCISE HYPOGLYCAEMIA IN NONDIABETIC SUBJECTS.’ The review authors were J. F. Brun, M Dumortier, C Fedou and J. Mercier Published in Diabetes Metab (Paris) 2001, 27, 92-106.




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