When I first started running, I did what everyone else told me to do. If people said to drink gatorade, I drank gatorade. If GU was the recommended energy gel, chocolate GU it was. I never asked asked why and I never considered other options. It was just what everyone told me to do. Luckily, over the years I have experimented with my body and become a little more knowledgeable about my sports nutrition. In my humble opinion, I have grown wiser and now no longer accept what everyone else says.
Recently in a Google+ hangout, we were discussing different types of energy gels and one of the runners recommended Honey Stingers. A few weeks later, during our next hangout, another runner said she had started using them and they had worked quite well for her. Mmmm… Honey Stingers. This was a new thing for me so I immediately became curious. This brings me to today’s question…
What are these Honey Stingers and what is so great about them?
Honey Stingers is a brand of sports nutrition that has been around since 2002. They make several different products, including protein bars, energy chews, gels, a waffle (yum!) , and energy bars. For the purpose of this post, I’m going to focus on the the waffle, the chews, and the gel.
Honey Stinger waffles are a very tasty snack that was inspired by Mr. Lance Armstrong himself. They are 100 % organic and are basically made of honey in between two thin waffles. During a visit to my local REI store, I saw the waffles and had to try them. Delicious! The company makes three different flavors: original, strawberry, and just recently, chocolate. Each waffle is 160 calories and 21 grams of sugar, with the main ingredient being organic wheat flour. The waffle comes individually wrapped and is easy to pack in your gym back. I haven’t tried running with the waffle, but I’m imagining it would be broken to pieces after a few miles. I think for me it’s a better pre-run snack.
The Honey Stinger chews come in four different flavors: fruit smoothie pomegranate passion, cherry blossom, and orange blossom. They are 95% organic and even contain 100% RDA of Vitamin C (which is great for the immune system). The main ingredient in all of the chews is 100% organic tapioca syrup. Honey Stinger chews are gluten free, dairy free, and use no genetically modified ingredients. From my experience, I know a lot of athletes can be sensitive to wheat and gluten products, and based on what my Google+ friends had to say, this product can really help with those issues. There is something to be said about natural and simple.
Although I have not tried all of the gels, I do think this is easily my favorite product, mainly for its simplicity. In all five of the flavors (banana, gold, Ginsting, strawberry, and chocolate), honey is the main ingredient, followed by potassium citrate, water, and vitamins and minerals. All of the gels contain a vitamin B complex, which can be extremely important during intense exercise (I’ll explain why in a minute). The gels are 120 calories with 29 grams of sugar.
So why is honey a good choice for fueling during exercise?
Honey is a naturally occurring substance. It contains unrefined sugars that are easily and evenly absorbed by the body. Studies have shown that honey is a great carbohydrate option based on its low glycemic index, positive metabolic response, and effective energy production. Because of the low glycemic index, your body will not experience a sudden burst of energy followed by a crash. If you are going to be running for a significant amount of time, this is probably a good thing. Perhaps one of the greatest things about Honey Stinger gels is the amount of B vitamins. I didn’t realize this until today, but B vitamins are essential for athletes. A study out of the University of Oregon has shown that athletes with low amounts of vitamin B perform worse than those who have higher amounts of the vitamin. In addition, vitamin B helps with recovery by repairing damaged muscles and reducing swelling. And perhaps the most interesting thing I read about B vitamins is that they are known as the “happy vitamin.” Who knew? I know when I’m 20 miles into a race and have 6 more to go, I could certainly use a “happy vitamin.” I’m thinking Honey Stinger gels might be the way to go.
Before I started researching Honey Stingers, I had been using 2nd Surge during my long runs. It had worked well for me and with 100 mg of caffeine, I always felt that sudden burst of energy. However, I’m interested in trying a more natural approach. Something about happy vitamins and natural honey just seem a little more appealing. Although I have not tried all of the Honey Stinger products, I can say that the waffles and the gel are quite delicious and had no negative effects on my stomach. Perhaps I will try the chews next.
Wow, I’ve finally hit a milestone… five out of 365 posts! And I already feel much more knowledgeable than I did a week ago. I should be a running genius next year around this time.
Happy Trails and Happy Running,