I think every Canadian would agree that maple syrup is the best tasting sweetener on the planet! I have been fuelling with it during my runs and my bike trips since Brix, Endurance Tap and Rekarb, and Fruit2 Maple exist. These four companies introduced sports gels and bars with natural maple syrup as their main ingredient. Isn’t it fantastic!
Well, here is why you could also include maple syrup in your sports nutrition.
Maple syrup is a natural sweetener that is superior to other sweeteners such as white sugar, brown sugar, agave syrup, and corn syrup. As with all sugars, it must be consumed in moderation but studies have proven that the nutritional value is impressive. Maple syrup has a very high antioxidant activity, meaning the darker it is, the higher the antioxidant content. Some may already know, but antioxidants help our bodies fight illnesses, infections, intense workouts and tissue damage. Its antioxidant activity is comparable to that of vitamin C, which means it can fight over thousands of free radicals (molecules that will damage cells). I bet your parents did not tell you that when you smothered your pancakes with maple syrup as a kid!
During a workout your muscles require quick energy, and what better way to get this energy then with maple syrup! Maple syrup contains a sufficient amount of carbohydrates, all coming from sucrose. To give you an idea, about 67 g of a 100g portion of maple syrup is carbohydrates (about 2-3 gels)! This form of sugar rapidly enters your blood stream reaching your muscles within seconds during a workout, allowing them work better and more efficiently. Sucrose is made up of a combination of fructose and glucose, beneficial for athletes as fuelling on two types of sugar makes the body absorbs energy more rapidly.
Maple syrup has many more benefits. Not only is maple syrup a good source of quick energy, it also provides the body with manganese which plays an important role in energy production and brain and nerve function. ¼ cup of maple syrup covers 100% of your daily needs in manganese.
Moreover, 100 g maple syrup contains the same amount of potassium as half of a banana, as much zinc as one cup of dried fruits (prunes, apricots, raisins) and traces of magnesium, calcium and riboflavin.
Amazingly enough, maple syrup does not cause the same rise in blood sugar as other sugars. Why you may ask? Well, maple syrup has a lower glycemic index compared to other sugars, usually ranging at 54 compared to 65 for white sugar. This means that you will have a steady release of energy and you will be less likely feel symptoms of fatigue during exercise.
One new discovery of maple syrup that is under investigation this year is that of the anti-mutagenic property. It seems that certain compounds in maple syrup actually increase the metabolism of certain muscles in our bodies. This research is still in its beginning stages, but stay tuned for more information on our blog!
It is important to remember that pure maple syrup lacks electrolytes. If you choose to fuel on maple syrup during your training session, try finding products that contain added electrolytes such as Rekarb or Endurance Tap. If you prefer the taste of pure maple syrup with no added electrolytes you can have Brix, but remember to drink a liquid containing electrolytes to remain hydrated!
For more info on when to consume the gels and how many you should take, please visit the nutrition lab.
Photo Credit: Freepik
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