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Interesting study/article on pure Honey vs. "Power Gels", etc. as an energy source

In my quest for making my own Gu/Power Gel I've been doing a lot of research on maltodextrin (one of the main ingredients in power gels) and honey.

I found this article, and if you have 10 minutes, it's really worth reading. It was a study that basically says honey, in its natural form, is as good or better than those expensive Gu gel packets we've been buying.

Link to article

"Got Honey?
Page 1 of 1

In the past few years, honey has made its entrance into sport with claims of improving endurance performance and recovery from strength training. Honey has many practical uses including use as a medicine, anti-microbial agent, wound healer, antioxidant in food preparation. This article will focus on the use of honey in sport, although its other uses are interesting to note.

Honey Statistics

According to an Associated Marketing survey conducted for the National Honey Board in 1997, almost 77 percent of U.S. households use honey along with other sweeteners and syrups and 45 percent of them consider honey a good value because it is a ''natural, good for you and better for you than sugar."1

History of Honey

Honey dates back to 6000 BC or possibly earlier when stone-age paintings in several locations depicted honey hunting, which documents human use of honey for at least 8000 years. References to honey as a medicine are found in ancient scrolls some 5000 or more years ago2. Although honey has been prescribed for uses other than improving athletic performance, it has only been in the last few years that researchers have begun to study the properties of honey relative to athletes.

Honey in Sport

Composition of Honey

Honey is a supersaturated sugar solution that is made up primarily of the simple sugars fructose and glucose and water, 38, 31, and 17 percent, respectively. Disaccharides and oligosaccharides are present also but in much smaller quantities. Honey also contains a small amount of protein/amino acids (proline, lysine, phenylalanine, tyrosine, glutamic and aspartic acids), vitamins (riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6, folate, vitamin C) and minerals (calcium, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, iron, zinc, magnesium, selenium, copper, manganese)3. In addition, honey is known to be rich in both enzymatic and non-enzymatic antioxidants, including catalase, ascorbic acid, flavonoids and alkaloids.4, 5

Honey and Athletic Performance

It is well known that carbohydrate ingestion prior to, during and after exercise affects an athlete's performance and recovery. Research on the effects of fructose and glucose feedings demonstrated that neither was ideal when used alone. Fructose is poorly absorbed and can cause GI distress but has a low insulin response and spares muscle glycogen. Glucose, however, is well absorbed and quickly metabolized but has a high insulin response that stimulates glycogen storage instead of mobilization, which is important for endurance athletes who need a more constant supply of glucose. Studies have shown that a mixture of carbohydrates is better tolerated and better suited for fatigue prevention and enhanced performance.6

There has been a multi-phase research study conducted at the University of Memphis under the supervision of Dr. Richard Kreider, prior to his departure to Baylor University, that documents some of the benefits of honey in sport.

In the first phase7 of the study, honey was evaluated regarding its efficacy as a pre-workout energy source. Blood glucose, insulin concentration, glycemic index and the insulin response index were determined in seventy-one subjects. After an eight-hour fast, the subjects were given one of seven gel packets. The packets contained either dextrose, sucrose, fructose, maltodextrin, honey, PowerGel (a commercially available gel product), or similarly flavored placebo. At the conclusion of the study, the investigators found that dextrose, sucrose, maltodextrin, honey and PowerGel significantly increased blood glucose levels following ingestion although honey had the lowest glycemic index response. When ranked in order from lowest to highest, the glycemic index of each gel was:

Fructose 5
Honey 35
PowerGel 43
Sucrose 71
Dextrose 100
Maltodextrin 121

Another finding from this first phase was that the insulin response (insulin response index or IRI) of honey was relatively low. Comparisons between the gel groups showed that maltodextrin has the highest, or fastest, IRI. When ranked from lowest to highest, the IRI for the gels were:

Fructose 41
Honey 59
Dextrose 100
PowerGel 113
Sucrose 147
Maltodextrin 158

Overall, the results from this first phase demonstrated that honey provides a low glycemic response or slow release of sugar into the blood accompanied by a low insulin response. The investigators concluded that because high glycemic food ingested immediately prior to exercise may actually hasten the use of muscle glycogen, therefore, honey is a beneficial sugar prior to exercise.

In the second phase8, nine competitive cyclists received one of three supplements in gel form per week, over a three-week period: honey, glucose, or a flavored, calorie-free placebo. The endurance test conducted each week was a 40-mile time trial on each subject's racing bicycle. The cyclists received 15 grams of carbohydrate in gel form along with 250 milliliters of water prior to and every 10 miles during the time trials.

Both the glucose and the honey produced a statistically significant reduction in the time to finish (over 3 minutes), and a significant increase in the athlete's average power (6% increase), when compared to the placebo. The results from this second phase indicated that honey was an effective alternative carbohydrate source for endurance athletes and that honey was well tolerated by all of the subjects.

The third phase9 studied the post-exercise recovery from strength training with the addition of honey as the predominant sugar in a whey protein powder drink. Thirty-nine weight-trained male and female athletes underwent an intensive weight workout and then immediately consumed a protein supplement blended with either sucrose, maltodextrin, or honey powder.

The results from the third phase demonstrated that the honey group maintained optimal blood sugar levels throughout the two hours following the workout and that the subjects taking the honey supplement showed favorable changes in a hormone ratio that indicates a positive muscle recuperative state. The investigators concluded that the combination of honey powder and whey protein performed well by increasing blood glucose concentrations. Maltodextrin also performed well but did not yield as great an increase in blood glucose concentrations as the honey powder. The honey powder/whey protein supplement performed better than sucrose and was well tolerated as determined by self-reported symptoms of hypoglycemia, dizziness, headache, stomach upset and fatigue.

Overall, this three phase preliminary study investigating the efficacy of honey use pre-, during and post-exercise is beneficial for future research studies to replicate but more importantly, it suggests that honey could be another option for endurance athletes, and possibly strength athletes, for improving athletic performance."
 

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ballbuster
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Dirt Rag...

.... did an article on homebrew energy gel that was interesting. Basically, you start with a base of honey, a bit of blackstrap molasses and a pinch of salt, then add stuff for flavor or even protein powder of caffine for kick. Add a bit of water to get the right amount of goupy flow.

I've been doing my own homebrew gel for a while, but found it was kind of a PITA to do, cleanup, etc. I still whip up a batch on occasion. It sure is way cheaper than a buck a pop for packaged stuff.

I use the base, plus a bit of flavored protein powder and sometimes a bit of hershey's syrup and it turns out pretty good. Drop it in a Gu flask.
 

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dipstik said:
It was a study that basically says honey, in its natural form, is as good or better than those expensive Gu gel packets we've been buying.
Well, that statement holds true only for the first phase of the study (pre-workout). Sadly, they didn't test honey against any Gu-like gel during the second phase (endurance test) -- only tested against glucose and a flavored, calorie-free placebo.

Why wouldn't they include any maltodextrin-derivative gel in this so important phase of the test? Maybe Corporate-America-like pressure? All of these manufacturers explicitly suggest to use their gel products mostly DURING excercise, as opposed to before excercising.

Anyways, it's good to know honey is a good (and cheap) alternative. Only problem remaining is how do you conveniently store, carry and use honey while in the trail without the typical honey problems (crystalization, mess, viscosity)?
 

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ballbuster
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what I do....

blackjack843 said:
Well, that statement holds true only for the first phase of the study (pre-workout). Sadly, they didn't test honey against any Gu-like gel during the second phase (endurance test) -- only tested against glucose and a flavored, calorie-free placebo.

Why wouldn't they include any maltodextrin-derivative gel in this so important phase of the test? Maybe Corporate-America-like pressure? All of these manufacturers explicitly suggest to use their gel products mostly DURING excercise, as opposed to before excercising.

Anyways, it's good to know honey is a good (and cheap) alternative. Only problem remaining is how do you conveniently store, carry and use honey while in the trail without the typical honey problems (crystalization, mess, viscosity)?
Gu flask ($5-10 at many bike shops) and water. You can water down the honey to make it runnier. Just add a small amount at a time and stir a lot until you get the thickness you like.
 

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it's....
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blackjack843 said:
Only problem remaining is how do you conveniently store, carry and use honey while in the trail without the typical honey problems (crystalization, mess, viscosity)?
I've been grabbing a handful of the honey packets whenever I go to KFC or Popeye's and keep a few in my hydration pack pocket.
Perfect single serving size packet and no mess nor preparation.
Yea, I'm lazy. :p
 

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ballbuster
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let me add....

pimpbot said:
.... did an article on homebrew energy gel that was interesting. Basically, you start with a base of honey, a bit of blackstrap molasses and a pinch of salt, then add stuff for flavor or even protein powder of caffine for kick. Add a bit of water to get the right amount of goupy flow.

I've been doing my own homebrew gel for a while, but found it was kind of a PITA to do, cleanup, etc. I still whip up a batch on occasion. It sure is way cheaper than a buck a pop for packaged stuff.

I use the base, plus a bit of flavored protein powder and sometimes a bit of hershey's syrup and it turns out pretty good. Drop it in a Gu flask.
/rant on>

I'm all about homebrew stuff. I think on the whole, we have become too dependent on 'buying' all of our solutions or paying somebody else to fix things for us. If we spent more time cooking for ourselves (for real, not 'reheating'), fixing our own stuff instead of relying on others, we would be a healthier society.... and that's my little rant.
/rant off>
 

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ballbuster
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wow

Strafer said:
I've been grabbing a handful of the honey packets whenever I go to KFC or Popeye's and keep a few in my hydration pack pocket.
Perfect single serving size packet and no mess nor preparation.
Yea, I'm lazy. :p
that is a good idea. Of course, that only works if you frequent those places.

Dang, now I'm jonsing some spicy fried chicken, eventhough it makes me feel crappy for a day afterwards.
 

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I get mine from....

Starbucks. I hardly ever get into one anymore as there are alot of independents around that are just as good but they usually have Honey packets around the coffee condiment area. And even if you dont drink coffee you can stick it to this evil corporate giant by just walking in and grabbing a handful of honey packets.
rs.
p.s. I get all my plastic silverware from Wendy"s :)
 

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bi-winning
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hehehe

tumblindice said:
Strafer, you're my hero!
Being cheap is great. :D You can stock up on a lot of stuff at fast food places. napkins, cutlery, moist towlettes, condiments, sugar, salt.....
 

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Just passing through....
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The problem that I've had with honey is that my stomach doesn't tolerate it very well during heavy exercise, and theres a few others that have had the same trouble. There was a thread a month or so back on "Homemade Gels" on the riding techniques forum.

Anyway, after experimenting I now buy a 7 pound tub of bulk Maltodextrin ($19). I use 1 cup of the Maltodextrin, 1 teaspoon Tang, and just enough boiling water to reach a Gel like consistency. Works and tastes great, and no problems with the stomach. Just an alternative for those who don't tolerate honey as well.

Flasks can be purchased at Target, Albertsons and many other stores (in the travel size section) for less than $1 each and appear to be the same as the Gu flasks.
 

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Tonight we ride.
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DaFireMedic said:
The problem that I've had with honey is that my stomach doesn't tolerate it very well during heavy exercise, and theres a few others that have had the same trouble.
No kidding. Anyone who can down the honey and blackstrap molasses recipe during intense exercise must have an ironclad stomach. It had me puking till I saw stars after a few servings spaced throughout my ride, and I rarely do that even when I eat a large meal before riding.

I've tried watered down honey, and it's just too sweet for me. The only energy gels I use are made with brown rice syrup. I generally stick with energy drinks and carb load before a long ride.
 

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Just passing through....
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skiahh said:
Anyone eat Peanut Butter and Honey sandwiches? Mmmmmm........ Protien and carbs.
Yup, but not since high school and never while riding. Usually just peanut butter and jelly, usually after 1 1/2 - 2 hrs or so of riding when I need to start getting some protein on board. But I might try it, sounds like an alternative.
 

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That Waters Guy
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Wendy's Rocks!

roadscuzz said:
p.s. I get all my plastic silverware from Wendy"s :)
Both dipstick and roadscuzz gots the goods here. Wendy's has by far the plastic silverware in the business -- you can't buy better than what they give out for free. Plus, if you mix epoxy / polyster resins at all, you want the cups they give away for ketchup -- just the ticket for small batches.

Props to Dipstick for the goods on honey. I'm thinking about working up a honey / beef jerky / dried apricot / (almond | cashew | peanut | english walnut) pemmican mix for endurance riding.

I mean, I like several of the gels on the market -- but the taste / quality / price / protein combination just isn't there yet and homemade done right is still the way to go.

[Rolland
 
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