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It’s what we do, and it’s at the heart of our athletic pursuits. We train and rest hard so we can perform and feel our best. All Honey Stinger Perform products are formulated with slow release and fast-burning carbs to keep our bodies balanced and keep us going farther. We asked Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Cara Marrs to break down our Perform product line-up and talk about the role each product plays in our workouts, competitions, and adventures.
Fueling during a workout powers your muscles and brain. It’s the gas in your tank that helps start your workout and powers you through until the end. Many athletes take a healthy approach to everyday eating but fall short on fueling for and during workouts and races. Other athletes take an all-in approach and nail their training plans knowing nutrition is just one component equally as important as all others.
The rule of thumb for fueling is that workouts under 60 minutes may often require just water. If your workout is between 60 and 90 minutes, Cara recommends adding in a hydration stick pack with electrolytes to maintain energy and sodium levels. Honey Stinger Perform Hydration Mixes (Black Cherry and Caffeinated Mango Melon) provide 50% more carb absorption than glucose alone. With a 3:1 sodium to potassium ratio, they speed absorption of key nutrients. Because every athlete is different, some people require fuel at 60 minutes while others may perform just fine up to 90 minutes.
During most workouts up to a few hours, Cara believes we should focus on quick, accessible carbohydrates in an easy-to-digest form. That includes Honey Stinger’s non-GMO, dairy free, and gluten free Chews, Gels, and Rapid Hydration Mixes. Factor in your body size, intensity, pace, sport, and weather when determining your specific quantity each day.
When planning to exercise up to two hours or longer, Cara recommends we fuel every 45 minutes with 40-80g of carbohydrates (exact amount depends on the person). If we go too long without fuel, we’ll use our readily available glycogen stores and see a shorter time to fatigue with the possibility for impaired decision making. If our electrolytes falter as well, we can experience cramping, early muscle soreness, and brain fog.
From a performance perspective, Chews and Gels serve the same purpose, so choosing one over the other is a tactical or personal preference. If your workout is a long one, alternating between the two can be beneficial and add variety. A Honey Stinger Gel at 24g is fewer grams of carbohydrates than Chews at 39g per packet. Because Chews don’t need to be consumed all at once, they may be preferred if nausea threatens to sneak in during a workout. In that case, eating Chews slowly over a 10-minute time frame has its perks. A Gel on the other hand is a one-and-done hit and so easily portable. It’s a reliable and ready go-to.
Athletes love rituals, and one of the most popular is the morning cup of coffee to get the day going. But what’s the role caffeine plays in athletics and performance? In various studies, caffeine has been shown to improve focus, reduce feelings of tiredness, improve muscle performance, and increase endorphins. A metanalysis of caffeine and performance shows that moderate training benefits were found with dosings of 1.4–2.7 mg per pound or 3–6 mg per kg of body weight. Caffeine can produce a performance benefit, but in terms of dosing, it can be highly individualized.
On longer workouts, Cara advises holding off on consuming additional caffeine until you start to fatigue. Don’t consume caffeine too early in exercise—wait until you’ll truly reap its benefits. For short bursts of energy in a gym workout, short run, or speedwork session, preloading with caffeine may work well if your tolerance is good. Caffeine tolerance also varies greatly amongst athletes. Check out all our caffeinated product offerings here.
For athletes participating in a multi-hour event or training day such as a trail ultra-run or four-to-five-hour bike ride, Cara suggests incorporating some fats and proteins to ward off early fatigue, provide satiety, and head off the potential breakdown of your muscles. You can add those nutrients with a turkey and avocado sandwich, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, or Honey Stinger’s NEW Nut + Seed Bars.
While there are always outliers in every sport, Cara has seen too often how athletes sell themselves short by being under-fueled. Because we want so badly to succeed, we can easily fall victim to nutrition trends, diet fads, or quick fixes. One of the best ways to ensure performance gains is to stay fueled.
Fueled athletes will perform to the best of their abilities. Starting your activity improperly or under-fueled or reaching that point while you’re performing are the best ways to decrease performance results and increase the likelihood of fatigue, bonking, and injury. Your body will thank you for being properly fueled for each stage of your workout or competition.
Give your body the nutrients it needs during each stage of activity. Check out the Prepare, Perform, Recover system, only from Honey Stinger.
Cara Marrs has been a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist since 2008 and has operated a thriving private practice for 15 years in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Cara earned her BS in Nutrition from Colorado State University before attending Central Michigan University for graduate school. In 2007, Cara completed her training and internship at the Mayo Clinic. In 2010, she became a certified LEAP therapist trained to work with food sensitivities, and she is currently finishing a Certificate of Training in Functional Medicine. Cara is a runner, skier, and yoga enthusiast who has been racing on the trails for over 25 years. She has been running ultras (50k to 100+ miles) for more than a decade.