Is Manuka the perfect sport fuel?
You may be surprised to hear this, but honey is the perfect fuel for endurance athletes. This is because the body absorbs its natural unrefined sugars easily – honey was even used by Olympic runners in ancient Greece!
The best of the best
In fact, athletic performance can be boosted by using honey instead of glucose. This has been tested on cyclists who were given a glucose-only gel, and other cyclists, fuelled on honey. Both the glucose and honey cyclists saw improved performance, but the honey produced even better results than glucose. This could be due to the fact honey releases sugar into the blood slower than pure glucose, or even pure sugar. It also takes longer for the body to digest, which means energy ‘trickles’ into the body. This could boost physical performance, specifically for endurance athletes.
Using in sport
You use honey as a source of energy the same way you would any other sports fuels for long-distance events – it takes the same amount of time to reach your muscles from ingesting as sports gel – roughly 15 minutes. Most runners will need 30-60g of carbs per hour to keep their glycogen levels topped up. A tablespoon of honey contains 17g of carbs, so 2-3 tablespoons every hour should be adequate fuel.
But there’s more…
When thinking about honey as a sports fuel, Manuka honey has higher levels of anti-oxidants than other honeys, so you’ll have added health benefits alongside achieving your fitness goals.
- A healthy gut has a huge effect on sporting performance, and many looking to improve athletic performance are unaware that gut bacteria health is integral to how well the body performs. Primarily it’s because those with altered gut function are more at risk of developing mineral and vitamin deficiencies – yet Manuka honey helps improve gut function.
- Manuka also contains 22 essential amino acids for muscle repair as they serve as important building blocks in the body. These are most needed after training or competition. You can benefit tremendously by incorporating raw Manuka honey into your diet daily.
- Having the right supply of vitamins and minerals crucial for athletic performance and competing at a high level. A study found that athletes lacking in B-vitamins performed worse during high-intensity exercise and had a decreased ability to repair and build muscle. Manuka honey is packed with essential B-vitamins, and is a great source of vitamin B-complex. It also has essential minerals calcium, magnesium, zinc, copper, and potassium. These strongly affect athletic performance and help speed up recovery.
So why not ditch the sports gel and give Manuka honey a go?
Honey: The sweet truth By Sean Bissell
Nutraceutical values of natural honey and its contribution to human health and wealth
Abdulwahid Ajibola, Joseph P Chamunorwa and Kennedy H Erlwanger