The problem with many post-workout carbohydrates is the hypoglycemia cycle. Ingest a simple carbohydrate for refueling and it is quickly digested and absorbed.
This results in a spike in blood sugar followed by a quick and potentially dangerous drop. Honey may be one of the best carbohydrates to refuel with to avoid this hypoglycemia effect.
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Your post-workout recovery snack can include honey because it's a carbohydrate that's quickly digested, absorbed and will maintain your blood glucose more effectively than other sugary treats.
Post-Workout Recovery Foods
For a long time it was bandied about that a cup of chocolate milk was a great post-workout recovery drink. The American Council on Exercise recommends a three-to-one ratio of carbs to protein in a post-workout recovery meal. The carbs to protein ratio in chocolate milk is almost exactly three to one. But so are the sugars — an empty carbohydrate if there ever was one. Not so honey.
In a 2015 study in the Asian Journal of Sports Medicine the effectiveness of a honey and Acacia drink after a long run in the heat was examined. It was concluded that honey is an effective means of post-workout recovery; especially when working out in the heat.
In addition, honey does not result in a state of hypoglycemia. Instead, it can maintain blood glucose more effectively than sucrose or maltodextrin.
Superior Carbohydrate Recovery
Honey has a lower glycemic index than other sugars, which may make it superior for carbohydrate recovery. The glycemic index is a method of rating foods based on their effect on your blood glucose.
The scale extends from zero to 100, with the higher numbers leading to a greater spike in glucose levels. Honey scores around a 43, making it a medium-glycemic food. It attenuates the response of your blood glucose, leading to a longer and more sustainable rise in blood sugar over time.
Read more: The 9 Best Post-Workout Foods
Replenish Your Blood Glucose
Post-workout carbohydrate ingestion is an important part of recovery. During exercise, your blood glucose levels can drop because your muscles use available glucose for energy. You must ingest carbohydrates after your workout to replenish your blood glucose.
In addition, during recovery, your muscles take in extra blood glucose to replenish their internal stores of glucose, or muscle glycogen. During recovery, your muscles also compensate by increasing their stores for your next workout. If blood glucose is unavailable to your muscles at this time, your body cannot recover adequately.
Honey Before Workout
Honey may also be useful before and during your workout. If you eat honey before body building or any exercise, you allow for a slow and steady release of glucose into the blood. Honey can be absorbed into the bloodstream without the process of digestion according to Biology and Medicine.
This can keep your body from using its stored muscle glycogen as fuel. Sparing muscle glycogen can keep fatigue at bay. During your workout, honey may also be effective at increasing the power output of your muscles, improving your performance.