In the first of a two-part series about fueling strategies, Hive athlete and RDN Cara Marrs takes the time to break down what is important and how the components of honey play a specific role.
Hometown: Resident of Steamboat Springs, Colorado, for 20 years where she lives with her husband and 6 year old son.
Main sports: Trail and ultra running, skiing in every form, and lots of yoga!
Profession: Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) and Certified LEAP therapist for food sensitivities (CLT). Cara trained at Colorado State University and the Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences, and she has worked with everyone from recreational athletes to current Olympians.
I want to take this time to talk about sports fueling strategies and the background of the sugars we consume as we fuel our bodies. A piece of advice to remember: the more consistent we are with eating nutrient dense food on a daily basis, the more flexibility we have to indulge in a post-training craving, whether that be ice cream, beer, pizza, or all three!
Fueling will make or break you in your sport. We all have the one friend who seems to eat junk food all day and then still manages to perform well, but I can tell you that your friend is either very young or very rare. The food we consume has a direct correlation with how we perform, not only on race day but every day. We get out what we put in (to our bodies). With that being said, food is life: it’s delicious and it should be fun!
Balance is what we should strive for, and to have a diet filled with complex carbohydrates for energy and fiber, healthy fats, and quality sources of protein. What that looks like can vary from person to person. One can get as many carbs from a sweet potato as another can from bread – it’s what works best for you. By incorporating a healthy portion of plants into your diet, as well as nuts, seeds, other veggies, fruits, certain whole grains like brown rice and quinoa, and beans, you are setting yourself up to hit goals for the big three – complex carbs, healthy fats, and quality protein.
Fueling on a daily basis through the meals you eat is equally as important as fueling during training and competition. Knowing what sugars work best for your body is one of the keys to success, especially for those with sensitive stomachs. Be aware of what ingredients your products contain!
Honey Stinger products are always going to be heavy on honey, which I think is one of nature’s best fuel sources. While regular sugar is comprised of 50% fructose and 50% glucose, honey is about 38% fructose, 32% glucose and 30% a mixture of other sugars. Fructose, one of the main components of honey, is the same sugar found in many fruits including apples, grapes, pears, and watermelon. Along with fructose and glucose, the other sugars include some that are complex, like the starchy fiber dextrin. What does this mean? Fructose breaks down quickly and is easily converted into energy by the body. So it means that honey contains enough fructose for the body to use immediately and also has additional components, like dextrin, that offer sustained energy over the course of a longer period of time.
A number of the clients I work with experience stomach sensitivities while training, some of which are due to issues with sugars like fructose, cane sugar, and even maple syrup. A common theme I have found is that added fructose may cause problems for those with sensitive stomachs; however, honey in its natural form is typically fine. Again, mother-nature works her magic!
Stay tuned as I talk about the specifics of fueling for your next race or long tour in Part II. I will explore how to incorporate the products mentioned above into what is needed during various distances, as well as some helpful ideas for breakfasts and lunches post training or racing.
Keep up with Cara…