Honey Buzz: All Natural Sports Fuel

It's that time of year again. Another spring, another saga. Same old saga, actually. The one that entails  a lot of back-and-forth wrangling between mind and body over sports nutrition. How much processed product am I willing to consume for training this year? I used to give a broad range a free pass, putting up the blinders just because I liked how much they tasted like candy. Too bad my favorites were often really just that, with a few buzz words and electrolytes thrown in for three times the price. But lately, we've been flirting more and more with the idea of trying out some ultra running, reading blogs and listening to podcasts; particularly with British runners, fueling seems to rely on real food (imagine that!), similar to long days on the bike, or big hikes. Of course, I'm not an anti-product girl by any means, especially when it comes to racing, but the idea of a few small strides toward more natural and thereby less processed is highly appealing. That's why, after coming across a new all-natural-as-it-possibly-gets product, I felt optimistic and eager to risk potential distress on this weekend's long run.

Go Honey! is produced by The Honey Company, run by husband and wife team Stan and Alicia Moulton in Provo, Utah.  Their honey is raw and unfiltered, and Go Honey! is their answer for all those seeking the perfect all-natural energy gel.  The cheerfully attractive packaging is durable, re-closable, ultra portable, and capable of withstanding over 150 pounds of external pressure. Of course, we all know looks are nothing compared to contents. Honey, which contains a mix of complex sugars allowing for a less sharp insulin response and more sustained energy for athletes, has potential to shine as an energy source for numerous reasons, including as many anti-oxidants as spinach, apples, oranges, and strawberries,according to a study by Gheldof and Engeseth (2003).  Researcher Gross and his team (2004) found that consuming honey increased the level of antioxidants in the blood. (For more info, check out The Honey Company's informative website).

While I'm a big fan of honey, especially the raw, unfiltered kind, I was slightly hesitant that re-fueling on it in pure form would leave me feeling sicker than satisfied. But, it's still early weeks in Boston prep, and I couldn't help but be lured in by the sing-song sound of Go Honey/Go for it in my head, so Dave and I determined to give it a try. Our target long run paces just overlap on the edges, but ideally he needs to run faster; our plan was to run a 10-mile loop sticking together with a couple of friends, then re-fuel on our honey at the car quickly before heading out on our 2nd shorter loops independently focusing on our own paces. We shared one pouch, which is fairly large, convenient for a jersey pocket, but not so streamlined to fit the slim carriers on our running water bottles. The texture was a little thicker than anticipated, but that could have been the weather at the time, which was breezy and also cooler than expected. I highly recommend drinking the full cup of water recommended per 1/3 of a pouch, if not more, as the sweetness of the honey can be powerful. That said, the taste was delicious, and I felt surprisingly strong on energy the remainder of my run, with just my mix of remaining Heed topped up with water in my bottle. I did experience slight discomfort in the stomach, but it seemed more due to the amount of rolling pavement, more than I'd been used to recently, having been running long primarily on trail and dirt road.

Now, your inner skeptic will naturally ask, why purchase pure honey in a pouch when you could simply buy raw honey to pour into your own re-usable flasks? At least, that's what I couldn't help but wonder, so I asked co-owner Alicia about it. Here's her response:

People COULD just buy raw honey and refill their reusable gel flask. However, most people don't like to bottle honey themselves because it is messy. Trust me. I have had my fair share of honey spills . . . Also, it may be hard to suck honey through the opening on the reusable gel flasks. Raw honey is pretty viscous, especially in the cold. (But maybe people could buy raw honey and add water to get it through the spout. Watered-down honey could ferment, so consume it the same day!)  Anyway, our package is for convenience.

On backpacking trips, we have tried (and friends have tried) many different ways to take honey along. It often ends up in a leaky, sticky mess in the pack. These gel packs are the right size and durable enough to not leak if the lid is properly attached.

Considering the amount of honey in each unit, Go Honey! pouches are actually priced fairly comparably to energy gels.  Bottom line, too many factors enter play when it comes to evaluating training experiences, from sleep to mood and weather, as well as fuel, but both Dave and I consider this first trial a success, and well worth pursuing further. Plus, the idea of clean fueling is just so darn appealing, for your body most of all.  Besides, my Go Honey! pouch was some of the best honey I've ever tasted, and that's got to be a good thing for putting in the miles. : )

Wendy McMillan1 Comment