Hot, sweaty Spartan races can be grueling. Whether you’ve just crushed a Sprint or battled it out with a Beast, chances are you crossed the finish line drenched with sweat and ready to drop. That’s when you need to rehydrate, as even mild dehydration can power down both your body and brain’s performance. But interestingly, water might not always be the best go-to beverage to get you back on your feet.
Sure, a quick drink of water can help replenish some of the fluid lost through sweat. But recent research says that you’re better off consuming a drink containing carbohydrates in the form of sugars and electrolytes (like sodium) if you want quick but longer-lasting hydration results.
The surprising, science-backed suggestion? Honey-based beverages such as Honey Stinger’s three-part complete hydration system.
Drinking and Eating Honey for Workout Recovery: Why It Works
How Honey Replenishes Fluid Loss
One of the primary reasons behind the honey-based beverage recommendation has to do with how quickly your post-workout beverage is absorbed from your stomach into the bloodstream. Once it's in the bloodstream, it replenishes lost fluids and hydrates you.
When pure water hits the stomach, it's then absorbed into the bloodstream often as quickly as five minutes after ingestion. This causes you to feel fresher sooner, but not always longer.
Honey-based drinks — on the other hand — contain glucose, which releases more slowly into the bloodstream. According to a recently published study in Sports Medicine and Health Science, this works to hinder energy depletion after exhaustive activity, like a 5-12 mile Spartan race.
Natural honey also contains fructose, which is also absorbed into the bloodstream at a slower pace, working in sweet harmony with glucose to not only maintain hydration over a longer period, but to keep the body’s blood sugar steady.
“The gut can only absorb 1 gram of glucose per minute, or 60 grams per hour," the experts at Honey Stinger point out about the benefits of these two natural sugars in their wide range of certified-organic, sports honey products. "The added fructose allows for the absorption of an additional 30 grams of carbohydrates per hour.
"This extra absorption helps maintain blood sugar levels and prevent hypoglycemia during training and competition.”
But there are other significant reasons that honey has been ear-marked as the go-to ingredient in after-race drinks.
Other Surprising Benefits of Honey
Drinks such as juices and sodas have higher concentrations of sugars. Like honey-based beverages, they don’t empty into the bloodstream as fast as plain water.
However, once they get into the small intestine, those sugary beverages tend to soak up additional water from the body to help dilute the excess sugars they contain. The upshot is that they end up being much less hydrating in the long run.
Also, sodas and the likes can wreak havoc on your heart. Research has found that not only do super-sugary beverages increase your cholesterol levels, but — unlike honey-based beverages, which help to increase the levels of HDL (good) cholesterol in your body — sugar-laced drinks reduce HDL cholesterol levels. This escalates your risk of cardiovascular disease.
Considering that your body has to work harder when racing in the summer to keep its core temperature to a normal level, you need to be consuming foods and fluids that maintain your health — not harm it.
In addition, when it comes to racing under a scorching sun, another recent study, published in the Asia Journal of Sports Medicine, shows that rehydration with a honey-based drink is an all-around better alternative to plain water (and sodas) in enhancing blood glucose, insulin, and osmolality (i.e. a process that aids the kidneys in reabsorbing water), as well improving overall running performance.
The Importance of Replenishing Electrolytes
Eating honey for workout recovery has further rehydrating properties, as well. Every serious athlete knows that when you’re sweating buckets through and after physical activity, you don’t just lose fluids — you also lose electrolytes.
Electrolytes are electrically charged minerals such as sodium, potassium, and calcium that help move water throughout your body.
Replenishing electrolytes is essential to maintaining critical bodily functions. Honey, which contains sufficient amounts of electrolytes, is a no-brainer for those who want to optimize hydration and keep their body performing at its highest capacity.
Find out more about Honey Stinger’s three-part rapid hydration system to help you power through (and recover from) your next Spartan race.