ArticlePDF Available
50 Strength and Conditioning Journal February 2002
© National Strength & Conditioning Association
Volume 24, Number 1, pages 5051
Honey: An Alternative Sports Gel
Richard B. Kreider, PhD, FACSM, EPC;
Christopher J. Rasmussen, CSCS; Stacy L. Lancaster, CSCS;
Chad Kerksick, CSCS; and Michael Greenwood, CSCS*D
Exercise and Sport Nutrition Laboratory
Department of Human Movement Sciences and Education
The University of Memphis
Ann C. Grandjean
Column Editor
ing carbohydrates prior to and
during endurance exercise can im-
prove performance capacity. The
primary means of enhancing car-
bohydrate availability prior to ex-
ercise has been by ingesting car-
bohydrate-rich snacks, whereas
the ingestion of sports drinks (glu-
cose/electrolyte solutions) has
been shown to enhance carbohy-
drate availability during exercise.
Ingesting carbohydrates and pro-
tein within 2 hours following exer-
cise (e.g., 1.5 g/kg carbohydrate
and 0.5 g/kg protein) has been re-
ported to increase glycogen resyn-
thesis and protein synthesis, pro-
mote a more optimal anabolic
hormonal environment, and im-
prove immune function. Theoreti-
cally, optimizing availability of car-
bohydrates prior to and during
exercise as well as following exer-
cise can help optimize exercise per-
formance and recovery, which lead
to greater training adaptations (5).
Although these may seem
rather simple recommendations,
different types and forms of car-
bohydrates have varying affects on
the delivery of carbohydrates to
the muscle and anabolic hor-
mones. In this regard, the type
and form of carbohydrate ingested
may affect the digestion rate, glu-
cose release in the blood, and in-
sulin response.
Over the last few years, re-
searchers in the Exercise and
Sport Nutrition Lab at the Univer-
sity of Memphis have been evalu-
ating the effects of ingesting vari-
ous types of carbohydrate gels
prior to and during exercise on ex-
ercise capacity, as well as the ef-
fects of different types of carbohy-
drate/protein powders following
exercise on recovery (2–6). The ra-
tionale has been to try to deter-
mine the optimal type of carbohy-
drate to ingest prior to, during,
and/or following resistance and
endurance exercise. An additional
goal was to determine whether
honey (in gel and powder form)
can serve as a natural and less ex-
pensive source of carbohydrates.
Our most recent study evalu-
ated the effects of ingesting honey
on blood glucose, insulin, and cy-
cling performance prior to and
during endurance cycling. Our ra-
tionale was based on results of our
initial study in this series (3, 6),
which found that the carbohydrate
profile and glycemic index re-
sponse of honey was nearly identi-
cal to that of a popular sports gel.
Moreover, contrary to anecdotal
myth, we found honey did not pro-
mote physical or psychological
signs of hypoglycemia in fasted
subjects (3, 5), during resistance
training (1), or following resistance
training (1, 2). In this study, 9 well-
trained male cyclists performed
three 40-mile time trials on their
own racing bicycle attached to a
computerized race simulator. Each
race was separated by 1 week.
Subjects were asked to prepare for
each time trial as they would for a
competitive race and to follow sim-
ilar dietary intake the day before
each time trial. In a double-blind,
randomized, and counterbalanced
manner, subjects ingested 15 g of
a noncaloric flavored gel placebo, a
dextrose gel, or honey with 250 mL
of water prior to and every 10 miles
during each time trial. The placebo
and carbohydrate gels were pack-
aged in generic foil packets for
double-blind administration.
Blood samples were taken prior to
and every 10 miles during the race.
In addition, power output, split
times, heart rate, and ratings of
February 2002 Strength and Conditioning Journal 51
perceived exertion were deter-
mined throughout the time trials.
Subjects were paid based on their
performance during each time trial
in order to encourage their best ef-
Results revealed that the sub-
jects tolerated the gels well with no
complaints of symptoms of hypo-
glycemia or gastrointestinal upset.
Total time to perform the time tri-
als (placebo 131.3 ± 3.6 minutes,
dextrose 128.3 ± 3.8 minutes, and
honey 128.8 ± 3.5 minutes; P =
0.02) was significantly faster when
subjects ingested the dextrose and
honey gels compared with the
placebo. Average power (placebo
164 ± 11 W, dextrose 175 ± 13 W,
and honey 174 ± 12 W; P = 0.002)
was also significantly higher when
subjects ingested the carbohy-
drate gels during exercise. Addi-
tionally, mean heart rate (placebo
171 ± 6 b/min, dextrose 178 ± 7
b/min, and honey 177 ± 5 b/min;
P = 0.08) and glucose (placebo 5.4
± 0.2 mmol/L, dextrose 5.8 ± 0.3
mmol/L, and honey 6.0 ± 0.4
mmol/L; P = 0.10) values tended
to be higher in the groups ingest-
ing carbohydrates during the time
trials. No significant differences
were observed in insulin (placebo
5.3 ± 0.3 mIU/mL, dextrose 5.1 ±
0.2 mIU/mL, and honey 6.0 ± 0.8
mIU/mL; P = 0.29). These findings
indicate that ingesting dextrose
and honey gels during endurance
cycling can improve performance
presumably by enhancing carbo-
hydrate availability and work out-
put. Moreover, honey can serve as
an effective and less expensive
source of carbohydrate gel.
1. Earnest, C., R. Kreider, J.
Lundberg, C. Rasmussen, P.
Cowan, M. Greenwood, and A.
Almada. Effects of pre-exercise
carbohydrate feedings on glu-
cose and insulin responses
during and following resis-
tance exercise. J. Strength
Cond. Res. 14:361. 2000.
2. Kreider, R., J. Lundberg, C.
Rasmussen, P. Cowan, M.
Greenwood, C. Earnest, and
A. Almada. Effects of ingesting
protein with various forms of
carbohydrate following resis-
tance-exercise on substrate
availability and markers of ca-
tabolism. J. Strength Cond.
Res. 14:366. 2000.
3. Kreider, R., C. Rasmussen, J.
Lundberg, P. Cowan, M.
Greenwood, C. Earnest, and
A. Almada. Effects of ingesting
carbohydrate gels on glucose,
insulin and perception of hy-
poglycemia. FASEB J. 14:
A490. 2000.
4. Lancaster, S, R.B. Kreider, C.
Rasmussen, C. Kerksick, M.
Greenwood, P. Milnor, A.L. Al-
mada, and C.P. Earnest. Ef-
fects of honey supplementa-
tion on glucose, insulin and
endurance cycling perfor-
mance. FASEB J. 15:LB315.
5. Leutholtz, B., and R.B. Krei-
der. Optimizing nutrition for
exercise and sport. In: Nutri-
tion Health. T. Wilson and N.J.
Temple, eds. Totowa, NJ: Hu-
mana Press, 2001. pp. 207–
6. Rasmussen, C., R. Kreider, J.
Lundberg, P. Cowan, M.
Greenwood, C. Earnest, and
A. Almada. Analysis of the
glycemic index and insulin re-
sponse index of various carbo-
hydrate gels. FASEB J. 14:
A489. 2000.
to all employers
who participated
SSTC 2002
San Antonio, TX
Employers –
Post Your Job Vacancies
Today FREE Of Charge!
• Each position posted will appear on the
NSCA website and in the Career Hotline.
• Complete and submit the on-line form located
Convenient, Professional,
User Friendly and
Cost Effective!
Members Get
The Latest
Check out NSCA Career Services at
for current, top-notch job listings.
For more information:
Call 800-815-6826
or Visit
Register On-line for upcoming
Conferences and Events…
Register On-line for upcoming
Conferences and Events…
... Ingredients of natural nutritional supplements based on apiculture products and herbs and the importance of their ingestion for the recovery after effort Honey was used by the sportsmen as an energetic source starting in the most ancient times, at the Olympic Games in Ancient Greece. The physiological actions of honey, as a source of carbohydrates, for the sportsmen performance have been highlighted in several studies [5], [6]. Honey significantly increases heart rate, blood glucose and muscle exercise capacity during the training [6], [7]. ...
... Honey significantly increases heart rate, blood glucose and muscle exercise capacity during the training [6], [7]. There have been studies evaluating the effect of carbohydrates with low glycemic index and high glycemic index of honey on sportsmen during the training and it was found that the fructose is absorbed more slowly than glucose and this is highly recommended for sportsmen [5], [6]. The most common dose of carbohydrates for any sportsmen is that of about 30-60 grams per hour [8], [9]. ...
... Honey based supplements can significantly improve immune function and can promote optimal hormonal anabolic environment. Carbohydrate ingestion before, during and after physical effort helps optimize physical performance and body recovery [5]. During the last decade the scientist have evaluated the effects of ingesting different types of gels and honey before the effort and during the training [5], [8]. ...
Full-text available
Introduction : We started from the idea that the association of dietary supplements recommended by specialists and approved by the World Anti-Doping Agency with natural honey-based products, is beneficial for improving body composition and effort capacity in elite rugby players. The main purpose of this study was to determine the type of carbohydrates with the most beneficial effects for recovery and performance. Materials and methods : The study lasted 30 days and included 30 rugby players from SCM Timisoara Saracens Rugby team. They were randomly divided into 2 groups: the study group who consumed dietary supplements based on apiculture and herbal products, along with classical nutritional supplements and the control group that only used classical supplements. With the help of the InBody 720 Body Composition Analyzer, we evaluated the body composition parameters, and the player’s ability to repeatedly perform high-intensity aerobic work was established with the intermittent Recovery Level 2 YO-YO test. Results : The results show a significant increase in the average running distance in the fitness test for the study group (p = 0.021) and also for the control group (p = 0.008), with a considerable difference between the groups in terms of running distance (increase by 300 meters versus 208 meters in the control group) but without a significant difference between groups at the end of the study (p = 0.789). Improvements in body composition parameters were found in both groups, but significant differences between groups occurred only in terms of extracellular fluids/total body fluids ratio (p = 0.047) and extracellular water/total water ratio (p = 0.042). The study group showed a significant decrease in total body fat (p = 0.054) and visceral fat area (p = 0.002) and an increase in extracellular water (p = 0.013). The control group experienced a significant decrease in body fat and body fat percentage (p = 0.013 and p = 0.017 respectively), and increase in terms of skeletal muscle mass (p = 0.03), intracellular water (p = 0.03) and total water = 0.032). Conclusion : The results of this study highlight the importance of the type and quality of nutritional supplements in professional athletes training.
... Chronic supplementation of honey enhanced exercise performance by improving power output, heart rate and blood glucose level during endurance trials (1,6). However, the effect of acute supplementation of honey on endurance performance has not yet been explored. ...
... Consumption of carbohydrate before and during endurance exercise improves exercise performance (1,2). Honey is a natural yellowish or brown viscous fluid produced by honey bees, Apis mellifera, from the nectar of flowers. ...
... This is also associated with dietary supplementation with NH, which provides up to 17 g of carbohydrates for every tablespoon consumed and gives the much needed energy, thus serving as an inexpensive substitute to commercially available sporting activities enhancers (Ajibola et al., 2012). The data obtained from the Sports Nutrition and Exercise Laboratory of one University show that honey can be used effectively instead of glucose for energy replenishment during physical exercise (Kreider et al., 2002). A very recent review of the hypoglycaemic effect of honey by some workers also conclude that, the synergistic effect of fructose and glucose constituents of honey might contribute to the low glycaemic response after a honey meal (Erejuwa et al., 2012). ...
Full-text available
Bee products include honey, pollen, propolis, royal jelly and bee bread consists mainly of carbohydrates (CHO), minerals, and vitamins which are properties that are believed able to improve performance and general human health. Especially, bee pollen can be an effective nutrient source for human body to increase immune functions and antioxidant activity, which is essential for a wide variety of metabolic and physiologic processes. Thus, it is believed that bee pollen can be the best supplement for human nutrition and health, but there is limited information on the ergogenic effects of bee pollen on body performance. The main target of this study was to analyse some energy components together with physicochemical and antioxidant properties of bee pollen to determine its potential as a performance-enhancing energy source for humans. For this aim, some physicochemical and biological values together with antioxidant capacity of bee pollen collected from different regions of Central Asia were investigated. The findings have revealed that bee pollens have an abundance of fenolic substances and antioxidants, which are all important in achieving optimal health and performance. However, it has also been concluded that physicochemical and antioxidant properties of pollen samples were varied depending on the varied geographical locations having different floral sources.
... The consumption of energy giving substances before, during and after any form of physical exercise improves the individual's performance and increases the rejuvenation of muscles. This is also associated with dietary supplementation with bee's honey, which provides up to 17 g of carbohydrates for every tablespoon consumed and gives the much needed energy, thus serving as an inexpensive substitute to commercially available sporting activities enhancers [38]. ...
Full-text available
Honey is the name given to the sweet, yellowish liquid that is produced by honey bees and stored in honey combs. Bee's honey is one of the most valued and appreciated natural substances known to mankind since ancient times. According to modern scientific view, the best bee's honey is made by Apies mellifera (Family: Apidae). Nutritionally, it is composed of carbohydrate, water, minerals, protein, vitamins and enzymes like invertase, diastase and glucose oxidase, which are uses for nutritional values. The main nutritional and health relevant components are carbohydrates, mainly fructose and glucose that are used for athletic performance and infant nutrition increase digestion and absorption. The medicinal activities as antimicrobials, antifungal, anti parasitic and antiviral uses are due to its acidic and hydrogen peroxide. It is used as health inhancing by mixing with many natural products such as lemon, clover, milk, cinnamon and water for treatment of various ailments and other health disorders like: hearing loss, bad breath, obesity, influenza, bronchial asthma, artiritis, toothache, hair loss, bladder infections, skin infection and as well as use in beauty industry for cosmetic purpose. Honey as any other natural food can be contaminated from the environment, for instance pesticides, antibiotics; poison plants, which produce nectar containing toxic substances, can affect health status. The awareness of society on function of honey is not equally known with utilization of it. So, awareness creation in society about nutritional, medicinal and harmful effects of bee's honey well needed. [Negesa Tola, Geremew Haile Negesse Mekonnen and Walkite Furgassa.
... It helps improve elderly people's health (Alvarez-Suarez, Tulipani, Romandini, Vidal, & Battino, 2009), and sportspeople performance, increasing the rejuvenation of muscles with no further needs of other more expensive sporting activities enhancers. Thereby, honey has been described as a well-tolerated food and an effective carbohydrate source for athletes (Ajibola et al., 2012;Earnest et al., 2000;Kreider, Rasmussen, Lancaster, Kerksick, & Greenwood, 2002). ...
Full-text available
Honey is a natural sweetener with a complex composition. Honey features vary depending on the botanical source and geographical origin, as well as climatic, processing and storage conditions. Honey is mainly composed of carbohydrates and water, parameters that influence its shelf life and some of its properties, including color, flavor, density, viscosity, hygroscopicity, and crystallization. Honey also contains small amounts of other components, such as nitrogen compounds, organic acids, minerals, vitamins, Maillard reaction products, volatile compounds, and several bioactive substances that affect sensory and physical characteristics, as well as biological potential. This review summarizes the literature about the composition and main properties of honey. It also describes the use of honey as a biomonitor for collecting information about the environment, identifying environmental contamination and assessing the level of soil, water, plant and air pollution.
... They also consume this honey before or when they go for hard work since they believe it provides sustainable energy. Honey increased the heart frequency and the blood glucose level during the physical performance significantly 21 . Honey is more beneficial in this regard as it releases fructose slowly into the blood stream to produce a sustained energy boost and maintain homeostasis 1 . ...
Full-text available
In Nagaland, three species (Tetragonula irridipenis, Tetragonula laviceps and Lophotrigona canifrons) of stingless bees were observed; however, most of the beekeepers were rearing T. irridipenis. Stingless bees were found to prefer low light, high humidity, and stenothermal climatic conditions with diverse abundant flora. The traditional colony capture method of terrestrial and subterranean stingless bee was logical and practical and shows immense scope to introduce precise method with scientific interventions. Usually log hive and rectangular bee boxes were used by Naga beekeepers, although a few have tried to modify and standardize the bee box as per their own experience. In these boxes, there was no scope for colony inspection without colony disturbance and during harvesting of bee hive products, colonies were fully disturbed. Terrestrial stingless bee colonies were arranged in cluster nests; broods were observed in the central portion at basal part, pollen balls arranged around the brood area and honey pots arranged on the surrounding beehive walls. These architecture shows envisage for standardization of scientific stingless bee box. The underground stingless bee (L. canifrons) broods were observed in the central part with pollen pots and honey pots arranged around the brood area. Their traditional method of harvesting beehive products requires more scientific intervention for improvement to minimize the colony disturbance and other losses. Stingless bee honey is a home remedy to all Naga tribes and they use it for various diseases.
Full-text available
Natural honey (NH) is a highly nutritious substance and is considered as one of nature’s wonders which has been used by all cultures, traditions and civilizations as a food and medicine. Natural honey (NH) is a by-product made by honeybees by using nectar of flowers and sugary non-floral deposits obtained from plants that is then converted into honey by a process of regurgitation and evaporation. Later the honeybees store honey as a primary source of food in wax honeycombs inside the beehive. Honey is classified on the basis of processing, physical, chemical, and nutritional properties. Honey also plays a part in symbolism and religion. The appearance, quality, sensory perception, and composition of NH vary greatly depending on the nectar source, environmental and climatic conditions. Honey’s main constituents include carbohydrates, primarily fructose and glucose although it also contains various oligosaccharide sugars. Besides these NH, also contains minute quantities of amino acids, proteins, enzymes, trace elements, minerals, vitamins, aroma substances, and polyphenols. NH shows a vast range of health and nutritional properties. NH imparts antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, immune boosting property, antiviral, antiparasitory, antimutagenic, and antitumor effects. Honey has also been well known for treatment of gastrointestinal disorders like peptic ulcers, gastroenteritis, and gastritis. Thus NH has proved a valuable nutritional food and medicinal entity.
Full-text available
Agroscope Liebefeld-Posieux Zentrum für Bienenforschung Eidg. Forschungsanstalt für Nutztiere und Milchwirtschaft (ALP) Schwarzenburgstrasse 161 CH-3003 Bern Telephon +41 (0)31 323 84 18 Fax +41 (0)31 323 84 18
Full-text available
This study evaluated the quality and quantity of honeys produced from different tree species such as Pentaclethra macrophylla, Treculia africana, Irvingia gabonensis and Trifoliate citrus were collected from different locations. The samples were analyzed for their proximate and phytochemistry at the School of Agriculture and Agricultural Technology (SAAT) Laboratory of the Federal University of Technology, Owerri, Nigeria. The results revealed that honey samples from
Full-text available
Ingestion of carbohydrate (CHO) and protein (PRO) following intense exercise has been reported to increase insulin levels, optimize glycogen resynthesis, enhance PRO synthesis, and lessen the immuno-suppressive effects of intense exercise. Since different forms of CHO have varying glycemic effects, the purpose of this study was to determine whether the type of CHO ingested with PRO following resistance-exercise affects blood glucose availability and insulin levels, markers of anabolism and catabolism, and/or general immune markers. 40 resistance-trained subjects performed a standardized resistance training workout and then ingested in a double blind and randomized manner 40 g of whey PRO with 120 g of sucrose (S), honey powder (H), or maltodextrin (M). A non-supplemented control group (C) was also evaluated. Blood samples were collected prior to and following exercise as well as 30, 60, 90, and 120 min after ingestion of the supplements. Data were analyzed by repeated measures ANOVA or ANCOVA using baseline values as a covariate if necessary. Glucose concentration 30 min following ingestion showed the H group (7.12 +/- 0.2 mmol/L) to be greater than S (5.53 +/- 0.6 mmol/L; p < 0.03); M (6.02 +/- 0.8 mmol/L; p < 0.05), and C (5.44 +/- 0.18 mmol/L; p < 0.0002) groups. No significant differences were observed among groups in glucose area under the curve (AUC) values, although the H group showed a trend versus control (p = 0.06). Insulin response for each treatment was significant by time (p < 0.0001), treatment (p < 0.0001) and AUC (p < 0.0001). 30-min peak post-feeding insulin for S (136.2 +/- 15.6 uIU/mL), H (150.1 +/- 25.39 uIU/mL), and M (154.8 +/- 18.9 uIU/mL) were greater than C (8.7 +/- 2.9 uIU/mL) as was AUC with no significant differences observed among types of CHO. No significant group x time effects were observed among groups in testosterone, cortisol, the ratio of testosterone to cortisol, muscle and liver enzymes, or general markers of immunity. CHO and PRO ingestion following exercise significantly influences glucose and insulin concentrations. Although some trends were observed suggesting that H maintained blood glucose levels to a better degree, no significant differences were observed among types of CHO ingested on insulin levels. These findings suggest that each of these forms of CHO can serve as effective sources of CHO to ingest with PRO in and attempt to promote post-exercise anabolic responses.
The primary factors that affect exercise performance capacity include an individual’s genetic endowment, the quality of training, and the effectiveness of coaching (see Fig. 1). Beyond these factors, nutrition plays a critical role in optimizing performance capacity. In order for an athlete to perform well, their training and diet must be optimal. If an athlete does not train enough or has an inadequate diet, their performance may be decreased (1). On the other hand, if an athlete trains too much without a sufficient diet, they maybe susceptible to become overtrained (see Fig. 2).
Effects of honey supplementation on glucose, insulin and endurance cycling performance
  • S Lancaster
  • R B Kreider
  • C Rasmussen
  • C Kerksick
  • M Greenwood
  • P Milnor
  • A L Almada
  • C P Earnest
Lancaster, S, R.B. Kreider, C. Rasmussen, C. Kerksick, M. Greenwood, P. Milnor, A.L. Almada, and C.P. Earnest. Effects of honey supplementation on glucose, insulin and endurance cycling performance. FASEB J. 15:LB315. 2001.
Effects of pre-exercise carbohydrate feedings on glucose and insulin responses during and following resistance exercise
  • Almada
Almada. Effects of pre-exercise carbohydrate feedings on glucose and insulin responses during and following resistance exercise. J. Strength Cond. Res. 14:361. 2000.