Right after you've put yourself through the exhilarating exertion of a workout, you need to refuel your body. You should put something into it that will start repairing muscle damage and help you recover in general. Bypass the fast food and opt for something much more healthy. Taking a look at the benefits honey has to offer, you'd think it was tailor-made by nature to be your go-to post-workout food.
Maintains Blood Sugar Levels
Depending on how intense your workout was and whether you properly fueled up beforehand, your blood sugar can drop dangerously low. Having a tablespoon or two of honey after a workout is an effective way to keep your blood sugar up. Even if you don't enter the danger zone, honey will refuel your body, giving you energy for whatever you need to do next.
Helps With Recovery
Muscle growth and recovery go hand in hand, and they're both enhanced by getting some post-workout nutrition. The 30 to 45 minutes after you work out is called the anabolic phase, the time when your body goes to work to build muscle and recover. It's an ideal time to reload your system's energy supplies. Carbohydrates and protein are both useful for this purpose and even more effective when used together. Added to a protein shake and acting as the carb component, honey can help your body to make the most of the anabolic window of muscle building and repair that starts when your workout ends.
Offers Antioxidant Benefits
As you challenge your body during a workout, you're doing more than burning up fuel. You're also leaving your body vulnerable to the effects of oxidation, which can affect all your body tissues as well as your immune system. Honey is useful as a post-workout supplement because it contains antioxidants. Dark honey in particular may contain almost as many antioxidants as spinach and garlic. So indulging in a dose of honey after a workout can help keep your immune system working to maintain the health of your muscles and the rest of your body.
Fits Into a Raw-Food Diet
Honey is recommended by sports dietitians and personal trainers like Matt Siaperas for a healthy, quick shot of energy. It's true that honey is chock-full of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, antioxidants and enzymes, all good for you and vital for optimal health, but only when it's in its unprocessed form. The method for processing honey leaches the nutrition out, reducing or, in some cases, eliminating the favorable effects you're relying on honey to provide. When you use honey after a workout for the benefits listed here, make sure you're eating raw honey.
- The Complete Idiot's Guide to Eating Paleo; Neely Quinn and Jason Glaspey
- Power Eating; Susan M. Kleiner, Ph.D. and Maggie Greenwood-Robinson, Ph.D.
- Matt Siaperas; Personal Trainer, Hardbodies Gym; Blackfoot, Idaho
- Stack: Why Athletes Should Consume Antioxidants for Sports Performance and Muscle Recovery
- Beautiful on Raw: Uncooked Creations; Tonya Zavasta
- Men's Fitness: Foods That Hit the 'Reset' Button
- IDEA Health and Fitness Association: The Buzz About Nutrient Timing
- Runner's World: Alternatives to Gels and Sports Drinks During Marathons
Elle Di Jensen has been a writer and editor since 1990. She began working in the fitness industry in 1987, and her experience includes editing and publishing a workout manual. She has an extended family of pets, including special needs animals. Jensen attended Idaho and Boise State Universities. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications.