Most endurance athletes have tried more than one flavor of energy gel for long training runs and races…I know I have! For an alternative to these substances, try honey, which has been shown to have a milder effect on blood sugar than glucose gels. In one study, cyclists were randomly assigned to use honey, a glucose gel, or a flavored calorie-free placebo. The three “gels” were given prior to and every 16 kilometers during a 64-kilometer endurance test. Honey performed as well as glucose and both significantly outperformed the placebo. However, honey doesn’t contain the electrolytes found in some gels, so it’s important to couple it with a sports drink to help maintain electrolytes and sodium.
When I was a kid, I was a professional musician. I was always crunched for time -- but needed solid nutrition for hours of practice, rehearsal and just plain growing. My mom always was blending honey into vanilla yogurt or vanilla ice cream, along with bananas and juice to make a very rich milkshake that kept me going for hours. I definitely never could just suck down honey on its own -- too sweet. But it's good with sliced apples or pears as well, for a quick energy snack.