It's said that honey has been used by endurance athletes since the Ancient Greeks. We're not sure if this is 100% correct but since the Ancient Greeks kind of invented the marathon, maybe they did. (But then again, poor Pheidippides died after running his 26 miles, so perhaps if he’d stopped for some honey, he would have made it to Athens unharmed.)
What we do know for certain is honey is one of the most effective sports carbohydrates*, and performs as well as glucose (the simple sugar found in most energy gels). Additionally, honey has none of the sickly artificial preservatives, colourings or sweeteners that many mass-market energy gels are made with.
It's fast working too. Honey takes a similar amount of time to get from mouth to muscle as conventional energy gels - around 15 minutes. Which means, you get great taste, fast-working and effective energy, with no queasiness or stomach ache. Sounds pretty good right?
But don't just take our word for it. Here are some great articles on why honey is good for sports and is a great natural alternative to energy gels:
Live Strong: Cyclists who consume 15g of honey prior to a race, and every 10 miles, perform better in time trials than cyclists who consume regular sports gels.
Scientific American: If you've been buying sports gels, you might want to try honey instead... Honey delivers a significant performance boost to athletes during strenuous exercise.
Runner's World: Studies have discovered that as a sporting fuel, honey performs on a par with glucose (the sugar in most commercial energy gels).
Cycling Weekly: Honey contains a mixture of sugars (fructose and glucose), which increases carbohydrate oxidation; the two sugars use different absorption pathways. Honey has high levels of anti-inflammatory compounds.
The Times: Cyclists were able to cycle significantly faster after consuming honey.