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Honey and salt is going viral as a pre-workout snack. A dietitian reveals if it's worth trying

Honey contains sugar and salt has electrolytes. Can these two ingredients give you a boost before exercising?
Bowls of honey and salt.
Anchalee Phanmaha / Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

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If need you a simple pre-workout energy boost, look no further than the ingredients already in your cupboard.

TikTokers swear that sucking down a pre-workout shot of honey and salt is a simple, affordable and natural way to feel energized during exercise. But is licking honey and salt off your hand really an effective way to feel great during a workout? Let’s break it down. 

Is honey and salt good pre-workout?

Surprisingly, yes, honey and salt can benefit your workout routine.

During aerobic exercise, like running, cycling, boxing, HIIT or anything that gets your heart pumping, the body uses carbohydrates as the primary fuel source to power you through.

There are two types of carbohydrates, simple and complex carbs. Simple carbs are quickly digested and provide a quick burst of energy. Complex carbs, on the other hand, have more molecules and take longer to digest.

Honey is a simple carb that is quickly digested and absorbed into the bloodstream. Eating simple carbs before an endurance workout offers a quick energy boost. So the people on social media that swear honey gives them an immediate jolt aren’t lying. However, the amount of honey also plays a role in energy levels. 

Consuming 15-30 grams of carbs 30 to 60 minutes before a workout is recommended. One tablespoon of honey has 17 grams of carbs, so 1 to 2 tablespoons falls within this range. 

So where does the salt come into play? Not only does it enhance the flavor of honey, but salt also serves a physiological purpose. Sodium one of the main electrolytes lost through sweat, and replacing it is crucial to proper hydration. Salt also increases water absorption, which is why many sports drinks contain sodium. 

That said, replacing the sodium lost in sweat is only necessary for longer workouts (over 60 minutes) or exercise in hot and humid environments. The everyday gym-goer probably doesn’t need more salt than what’s in their normal diet. 

How to try honey and salt pre-workout

To avoid eating too much sugar from the honey and too much sodium from the salt, stick with 1-2 tablespoons of honey and a few shakes of salt between 30 and 60 minutes before your workout.

Potential side effects

Although honey is a natural food, it is high in sugar. One tablespoon has 17 grams of sugar. As previously mentioned, simple sugars are the primary energy source for exercise, but consuming more than you need can result in excessive caloric intake and weight gain.

The same can be said for salt. Daily sodium recommendations are 2,300 milligrams per day. The amount of sodium lost in sweat varies greatly among athletes, and some people sweat more than others. Other factors that determine sodium loss include duration of exercise, size of the person and environment. Like honey, it’s possible to overdo it with pre-workout salt. 

One teaspoon of table salt has 2,300 milligrams of sodium, which is probably more than you need before a workout. To put that into perspective, one 20-ounce bottle of sports drink has 270 milligrams of sodium. Going overboard on pre-workout salt one time won’t negatively affect your health. But over time, consuming more sodium than you need can cause high blood pressure.

Should you try it? 

If you regularly engage in endurance workouts, fueling with honey and salt may be worth a try. However, honey and salt aren’t the only natural foods to give your workout a boost. Below are some simple carbs and sodium options to eat before a workout. 

Instead of honey, try:

  • Maple syrup
  • Dried fruit, like raisins, dried pineapple or dried mango
  • Dates
  • White bread
  • Banana
  • Granola bar

To up your sodium intake, try: