Honey (or Royal Jelly) is one of those staples that I feel every triathlete needs to have on hand in their cupboards. Besides using the cute plastic teddy bear bottle as a bong in the old days, honey can serve as a simple burning carb to fuel intense workouts as well as replenishing them post workout, as well as stave off allergy reactions by building immunity during the spring and summer seasons of training. To this effect, I will add it to my water bottles, put it on toast, stir it into some Greek yogurt, or just take that shit by the spoonful straight up; whatever.
But now that it’s nearly winter and the pollen count isn’t really the issue it used to be, I still want it for my water bottles. However, honey isn’t in as great supply anymore being the off season – particularly the good local kind – so, therefore, it’s a bit more expensive. But…I may have just found a happy and cheap (i.e. free) solution.
Who doesn’t love Starbucks, right? It gave us a hip and new coffee language, it popularized specialty coffees, and it’s expensive; so you know it’s good shit. Maybe you already start or end your workout there for a nice refreshing cuppa after a workout with friends. You know what else is great about Starbucks? Free honey packets. Yes, that’s right…free honey. Oh, it “bee” true bitches. Starbucks gives away these little packets of honey to add to their fancy teas and other fru-fru beverages like they do with milk and sugar. How perfect is that? Usually, they are stored in an unguarded box on the counter just ripe for the picking. And pick I do, like, 5-6 of them…at a time. I have no shame. But, hey, I assure you – after the third time the guilt goes away. Besides, it may just be the closest thing I ever experience to an actual sponsorship.
Each time I go to Starbucks (which – as necessity would warrant it – is about twice a month), I order me up a tea and load up on a pocketful of these complimentary Bee Maid honey packets to squirrel away at home for future use in my water bottles, yogurt, cheese, et al. I like to have about a dozen or so laying around for just such an emergency (i.e. impromptu workouts). Usually, nobody even pays you any notice as you help yourself. Hey, the barista doesn’t care if you want a side order of diabetes to take away with your Grande Vanilla Rooibos; they just want you to go away. And if that happens to be with a generous helping of bonus honey packets, then so be it.
They’re perfect! Each individual 7g packet contains 21 calories, 6g of carbohydrates, and 5.6g of sugar. Likewise, as honey comes from natural plant nectars it contains vitamin B6, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid and certain amino acids. It also is a source of essential minerals including calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and zinc. It’s a total pharmacy of health benefits – FOR FREE! Keep in mind though, that the amounts are in trace levels and will vary depending on the floral source but, still, at the cost of absolutely $0, what’s the harm? Even if there is only a minute amount of anything in it, I’m still ahead of the game!
Furthermore (and as I’ve explained in previous posts), experts in sports nutrition have labeled honey as one of the most effective forms of carbohydrate to ingest just prior to exercise since it is easily digested and released into the body at a steady rate for use during exercise. And the benefits of honey go beyond energy during activity. Research has also shown that consuming honey after a workout helps muscles to recuperate.
The best part is that because they come in their own convenient little packages, I can keep them on hand in my gym bag, the car, at work, or wherever else I might have need for loading up on energy either prior to or after a workout. Imagine carrying around an actual jar of honey with you for the same purpose? That’s not going to end up well, is it?
Oh and, hey, did I mention that Bee Maid is a Canadian company? Awesome, right? Because if you’re going to be lifting stuff, you may as well support local industry by lifting Canadian.