A research study presented today at the annual National Strength and Conditioning Association meeting suggests that combining honey with a protein supplement may boost post-workout recuperation and favor better blood sugar maintenance after exercise. Protein supplements are widely used to increase one’s intake of dietary protein, which increases among individuals engaged in intense activities such as weight training, running, step aerobics and many competitive sports. Previous studies have shown that a combination of carbohydrates with a protein supplement can boost muscle energy recuperation and may favor better response to training.

“We were pleased to find that powdered honey promoted favorable changes in post-exercise markers of metabolism equal to that of the current standard, maltodextrin,” says Dr. Richard Kreider, lead investigator of the study and Director of the Exercise and Sport Nutrition Laboratory at the University of Memphis. “We also found that the group receiving honey as the carbohydrate source did not display the typical drop in blood sugar 60 minutes after taking the other forms of carbohydrates. These findings support our previous study on honey.”

The current study involved a group of 39 weight trained athletes both male and female. Subjects underwent an intensive weight lifting workout and then immediately consumed a protein supplement blended with either sugar, maltodextrin or honey as the carbohydrate source. Only the honey group maintained optimal blood sugar levels throughout the two hours following the workout. Additionally, subjects taking honey showed favorable changes in a hormone ratio that indicates a positive muscle recuperative state. “Our data suggest that honey functions well in all of the aspects associated with post-workout recuperation and energy repletion. In addition, honey appears to stand out as perhaps a better source of carbohydrate to ingest with post-workout protein supplements. These findings support our previous study presented at the annual Experimental Biology meeting in April,” added Dr. Kreider. “In addition to promoting muscle recuperation and glycogen [carbohydrates stored in muscle] restoration, honey-protein combinations also seem well suited to sustain favorable blood sugar concentrations after training.”

This study is the second of a series of studies funded by the National Honey Board at the University of Memphis Exercise and Sport Nutrition Laboratory. Located in Longmont, CO, the National Honey Board is a non-profit organization that develops research and consumer information programs to increase the demand for honey. The study was done in collaboration with IMAGINutrition, a nutritional research and technology think tank located in Aptos, CA.