With the recent news that Lance Armstrong has become partof the ownership team at Honey Stinger Inc., a Steamboat Springs, Colorado, manufacturer of honey-based nutritional foods, readers might wonder what all the fuss is about. I took the occasion to test a few of the company's offerings, including itschews and honey-based gels.
As the name suggests, honey is the basis of the company's products. Founded in 2002, Honey Stinger (honeystinger.com) uses no refined sugars, syrups, or sugar alcohols. Honey is the only sweetener in its products, with one small exception: Evaporated cane juice is used in the chews and the chocolate of its protein bars.
The result of all this honey is that many of the products smell and taste like--you got it!--honey. The pomegranate chews, for example, smell like honey (but have a vague fruity taste). The gel packets taste essentially like straight honey, with a few noticeable constitutes added in. Those extras in the honey gel include the likes of potassium citrate, salt, maltodextrin, ginseng, kola nut extract, and several B vitamins. The result is a carb- and electrolyte-fortified honey snack that is squeezable and eatable on the go.
The gels come in multiple flavors and cost $1.25 apiece. Nutritionally, they have 120 calories, 50mg of sodium, 29g of carbs, zero protein, and some potassium--similar specs as found on competing energy gels. But the sugar content is high.
For comparison, GU Energy Gel's Vanilla Bean flavor has 5 grams of sugar; Honey Stinger gels have 29 grams of sugar. The reason, the company cites, is that honey comprises multiple simple sugars including "glucose, fructose, maltose, trisaccharides, and sucrose."
Swallow the sweet mix before a run and you do feel a quick bolt of energy. With so much sugar, you might anticipate a crash, too. But that wasn't noticeable to me.
Overall, I like the Honey Stinger gels for use before or during activity. They are more liquid than GU or Clif Shot gel, making them easier to take. When slightly heated in your pocket on a run, the honey becomes almost runny. It goes down easy, and the mix is so sweet that you get a slight throat burn.
The chews come in three flavors and have similar nutritional specs as the gels. There are 40 more calories in a pack of chews. Sodium is increased slightly, and you get a single gram of protein per pack.
At $1.99, the Honey chews cost about the same as the competing Clif Shot Bloks. They are easy to eat outdoors while hiking, running, or biking. Just don't let the bees catch a whiff. They might chase you down the trail.
--Stephen Regenold is founder and editor ofwww.gearjunkie.com.