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Is Honey a Good Pre-workout? You’ll Be Surprised to Find Out

Isaac Robertson
Published by Isaac Robertson
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: August 18, 2022

As a dedicated gym goer, I love to add a little sweetness to all my protein shakes before hitting the gym.

Over the past few gym years, I've solely used honey as a protein shake natural sugar sweetener, not knowing that honey by itself is a good pre-workout alternative.

Having researched this topic for months now, I'll share my findings on the nutritional value and benefits of honey as a pre-workout and give you tips on how to consume honey for the best gym results.

Quick Summary

  • Honey is a good pre and post-workout ingredient for energy and muscle recovery.
  • Natural honey has 80% low GI index carbohydrates.
  • Carbohydrates in honey are primarily made of fructose.

Nutritional Value of Honey

Pouring honey in a container

Eighty percent of honey's composition is made up of carbohydrates.

Carbohydrate intake is essential to fuel the body during exercise. Honey also has small amounts of vitamins, organic acids, minerals, and enzymes. [1].

Honey has natural sugars that may have beneficial effects when ingested before, during, or after a workout routine because of its carbohydrate makeup.

Because most of the carbohydrates in honey are made up of straight glucose and fructose, it has a low glycemic index [2].

Benefits of Honey as a Preworkout

Honey, a natural alternative to unhealthy table sugar, comes with these benefits:

1. Boost Long and Short Exercise Performance

Consuming honey right before and during exercise can support fitness performance for long-duration intense workout events and intermittent exertion typical of team sports.

Eating carbohydrates from honey may increase exercise capacity by preserving endogenous fuel/energy reserves like liver and muscle glycogen and blood glucose levels [3].

Honey has carbohydrates that can help to skyrocket short-term (i.e., workouts lasting under 60 minutes) exercise endurance when ingested pre-workout [4].

2. Honey Balances Blood Glucose Concentration

Dripping honey dipper on wood

Weight lifters and cardio enthusiasts need pre-workouts that help maintain blood glucose concentration.

The brain is one of the few human organs that heavily depend on blood glucose to ensure proper functioning.

Notably, research on exercise has shown that the rate of cerebral glucose uptake starts to slow down when blood glucose levels drop below 3.6 mmol/L, which is common in athletes who do intense activities 15 to 30 minutes into a workout [5].]

Additionally, the enhanced activities with elevated glycemia after intense exercise underline the relationship between blood glucose levels and cognitive ability [6].

“Make sure that honey is always raw and not pasteurized because pasteurization means they cook it and destroy everything, so you’re just getting pure sugar.”

- Dr. Eric Berg DC, YouTube Channel

Athletes may benefit from nutritional regimens that maintain or raise blood glucose concentrations during the final stages of a HIIT exercise.

And this is where honey comes in. Research recommends honey as a beneficial intervention in this situation, given its standard carbohydrate content (containing mostly low GI fructose) [7].

3. Good for Rehydrating Mid-Workout

A drink made from honey

Consuming honey and water can help keep dehydration and fatigue at bay.

I recommend you add a spoonful of honey to your portable water bottle along with some water and drink at certain intervals depending on your workout schedule.

4. Muscle Recovery

Honey aids in the absorption of glucose by your muscles during your post-workout recovery phase.

This allows the muscles to replenish their glycogen reserves.

Once your body gets used to exercising, your muscles use the recuperation period to increase their glucose reserves to prepare for the next endurance exercise session and enhance muscle building [8].

Naturally, your body cannot heal if it does not contain enough glucose/blood sugar.

This may cause the muscles to become weak or painful and can cause hypoglycemia [9].

4 Ways to Take Honey as a Pre-workout

A honey toast and honey drink

As opposed to licking this sweet stuff, here are other exciting ways to take honey as a pre-workout.

  1. Homemade Energy Drink: Add water, a teaspoon of raw honey, and a pinch of salt to your water bottle. Shake well and drink to tap into an instant carbohydrate recovery and stay energized throughout your workout routines.
  2. Honey Toast: Toast gives you more carbohydrates before you hit the gym. To spice up the meal, put some honey on bread and top it with nuts or seeds. You can add some avocado and strawberry slices too.
  3. Honey-Lemon Shots: Mix one lemon juice, one tablespoon apple cider vinegar, one teaspoon honey, half a teaspoon of ginger, and a dash of cayenne pepper. Take these shots to refuel your body.
  4. Honey Bars: You can prepare a nutrition bar for yourself using honey and nuts and eat pre or post-workout. Toast your nuts and roughly chop them. Put in a freezer-safe container and drizzle a generous amount of honey. Freeze it and enjoy.

FAQs

How Long Before a Workout Should I Eat Honey?

You should eat honey 10-20 minutes before a workout.

When Should I Drink Honey Before or After a Workout?

You can drink honey either before or after a workout. Honey is a good carbohydrate source to energize you for your exercise, and it's also good to heal your torn muscle tissues after training.

Why Do Bodybuilders Eat Honey?

Bodybuilders eat honey because it has good carbohydrates that give them the energy to lift heavy weights for maximum muscle growth.

Is Honey Good For Weightlifters?

Yes, honey is good for weightlifters because of its energy and muscle healing properties.

Honey as a Natural Pre-workout

Natural honey is a good pre-workout and has excellent health benefits. You can take honey as a pre or post-workout snack.

But eating honey as a standalone cannot give you the all-around sports nutrition that these nutrient-packed supplements can:

Adding a little honey as an extra ingredient to these pre-workout meals would be best for a maximum energy boost.


References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6218329/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6683082/
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26855422
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24791914/
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23702257
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4594138/
  7. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/339580536
  8. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/cin/2022/6953568/
  9. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hypoglycemia/symptoms-causes/syc-20373685&ved=

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