What Are the Benefits of Eating Honey After Exercise?

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.

A jar of honey on a wooden table. (Image: Jag_cz/iStock/Getty Images)

Honey After Exercise

In a 2007 review in the "Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition" by Dr. Richard Kreider, chair of the Department of Health, Human Performance & Recreation at Baylor University, the effectiveness of honey after a workout is examined. Kreider and colleagues explain that honey is an effective means of post-workout recovery. In addition, honey does not result in a state of hypoglycemia. Instead, it can maintain blood glucose more effectively than sucrose or maltodextrin.

Mechanism

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.

Importance

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.

Other Benefits

Honey may also be useful before and during your workout. If you eat honey before exercise, you allow for a slow and steady release of glucose into the blood. 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.

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