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Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2009 Dec;19(6):659-72.

Effect of ingesting a honey-sweetened beverage on soccer performance and exercise-induced cytokine response.

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  • 1Dept. of Human Nutrition, Foods and Exercise, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA 24061-0430, USA.



This study compared the effect of a honey-sweetened beverage with those of a commercial sports drink and a placebo on performance and inflammatory response to a 90-min soccer simulation.


Ten experienced male soccer players randomly performed 3 trials (honey [H], sports drink [S], and placebo [P]), consuming the beverage before and during halftime for a total of 1.0 g/kg carbohydrate for H and S. Performance measures included 5 sets (T1-T5) of a high-intensity run and agility and ball-shooting tests followed by a final progressive shuttle-run (PSR) test to exhaustion. Blood samples were drawn pretest, posttest (B2), and 1 hr posttest (B3) for markers of inflammation, oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC), and hormone response.


T2-T5 were significantly slower than T1 (p < .05), and a decrease in PSR time was observed from baseline (-22.9%) for all treatments. No significant effect of the interventions was observed for any performance measures. Plasma IL-1ra levels increased posttest for all treatments (65.5% S, 63.9% P, and 25.8% H), but H was significantly less than S at posttest and P at B3. Other cytokines and ORAC increased at B2 (548% IL-6, 514% IL-10, 15% ORAC) with no difference by treatment.


Acute ingestion of honey and a carbohydrate sports drink before and during a soccer-simulation test did not improve performance, although honey attenuated a rise in IL-1ra. Ingestion of carbohydrate and/ or antioxidant-containing beverages at frequencies typical of a regulation match may not be beneficial for trained soccer players.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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