Last updated: June 10. 2014 4:50PM - 105 Views
By Linda Harper, The Honeybee Conservancy

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Honey could very well be the mantra for athletes engaging in endurance sports. The boost of instant energy it provides aids all athletes, especially runners. It’s pre-digested and the body manufactures and stores glycogen primarily in the liver and also in muscles at lower concentrations. During strenuous exercise, the liver depletes the short-term energy of stored glycogen in about two hours. There’s no glycogen in any food we eat, so honey, a rich source of carbohydrates, provides a quick surge of energy. It’s simple to carry packets and easy to consume; no chewing, pre-digested, and quickly absorbed. Plus it tastes good, it’s inexpensive, and can be found locally.

If you are a marathon or distance runner, honey can’t be beat. UC Davis recommends that one should drink an eight-ounce sport drink at mile 6; consume two tablespoons of honey at mile 12; consume apple slices and an eight-ounce sport drink at mile 17; and an eight-ounce sport drink at mile 21, for a total of 115 grams of carbohydrates. Basically, the endurance athlete should drink 1/2 to 3/4 cup every 15 to 20 minutes; consume 30 to 60 grams of carbohydrates every hour or 100 calories every half hour, with plenty of water.

However, there are few if any, commercial honey-based sports drink on the market. But you can simply mix your own. A few companies sweeten their energy bars with honey for quick energy. Some athletes eat rice and honey as both are easily digested.

Unlike other sweeteners, honey contains a wide array of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and antioxidants collected from the flowers that bees visit. The list includes niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium and zinc.

Honey is considered an effective antimicrobial agent too. It’s used to treat minor burns, scrapes and any skin eruption. It soothes sore throats and the perfect beauty mask. More than 300 different kinds of honey are found worldwide. The color, flavor and fragrance are tied to the bees’ foraging choices. Always inquire from the beekeeper his or her methods in managing their bees. Remember, chemicals used to treat bee diseases and pests do trace to the honey. Sick bees produce sick honey.

It’s swarm season. If you see a swarm, please call the Honeybee Conservancy at 419.947.9436 or 419.253.3987. Thanks!

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