HONEY AND SPORTS: The combination that rhymes with performance

Miele e Sport-Ambrosoli

Honey, considered by our ancestors “the food of the Gods“, is the only sweet substance that draws all its characteristics from nature without undergoing any manipulation by man before reaching our table.

Honey is made up almost exclusively of sugars, of which a high concentration of fructose that manages to provide the body with readily available and harmless calories.
Fructose, unlike glucose which is burned immediately by the body, gives it a particular sweetening power and a prolonged energetic effect because it has emollient properties and remains available for the body longer.

Honey therefore represents a natural supplement that is transformed into bioavailable energy, immediately usable in sport and able to really give an edge.

Numerous researches, coming from different parts of the world, have classified honey as one of the beneficial elements for the performance of the sportsman, in particular where energy demands are particularly high and protracted over time, such as in endurance sports such as swimming, cycling, marathon, cross country, skiing.

This has been demonstrated with studies conducted in the field on some cyclists engaged in a 100-kilometer race: athletes who adopted an integration strategy based on the dual presence of glucose and fructose were able to conclude their performance with 16 minutes of advantage over opponents who used only glucose.

This has demonstrated the effective competitive advantage given by the intake of honey-based supplements in sports practice.

In fact, a peculiarity of honey is precisely that linked to bioavailability: this term refers to the “metric” used in measuring the speed with which a food or supplement is absorbed by the body.

Not only that: another feature of honey is to promote post-effort recovery.
In fact, it strengthens the muscles, increases endurance and promotes rapid recovery, even after violent and prolonged efforts.

For example, climber Edmond Hillary, who first conquered Everest, consumed several kilograms of honey while climbing.

The nutritional characteristics of honey and its very high digestibility therefore guarantee it a prestigious position within the athlete’s diet: 100 grams of honey provide, on average, 350 kcal and 80 grams of carbohydrates consisting almost exclusively of fructose and glucose, two quick assimilable simple sugars.

The presence of both monosaccharides guarantees a double advantage: on the one hand, fructose counteracts the onset of the so-called “reactive hypoglycemia”, that is, that feeling of exhaustion and malaise due to the ingestion of simple carbohydrates, typical for example of common sugar.

At the same time, honey, containing two different sugars, is able to increase energy availability more efficiently than supplements containing a single source of sugars, since each sugar follows its own metabolic path to reach the muscles.

In addition to performing an energy function, the use of honey in sports is also able to bring a small amount of important micronutrients, essential in the diet of athletes: these are B vitamins, important to counteract fatigue and improve carbohydrate metabolism, minerals including sodium and potassium, easily dispersed through sweating during activity and which must therefore be reintegrated to avoid muscle cramps and loss of performance.

Just thinking about athletes, we have created the practical honey pack that can be easily taken while playing sports, which is an invitation to its consumption during activity.

Like common energy gels widely used in sports supplementation, honey is able to perform the same functions with the advantage of providing additional micronutrients, having better tolerability and a lower cost, while offering all the benefits of a completely natural product.

Certainly, beyond the natural methods of beekeeping, it is essential to respect first of all the bees, which must be considered as pollinating insects first and then as honey producers, because they play an essential role in maintaining biodiversity and in the conservation of nature.

They are pollinating insects, that is, they allow pollination and consequently the formation of fruits, transporting pollen from one flower to another.

Through this activity they guarantee the presence of different plant species, a very important element for the health of nature.

It is thanks to bees that we have a large part of the fruit and vegetables we eat. In fact, a third of our food depends on their pollination, and therefore represent excellent bio-indicators.

In short, the production of honey is not the reason why it is important to safeguard them: something much greater is at stake.