Maple Syrup … Not Just for Pancakes and Waffles!
You may have noticed that we recently got something new in the shop: Untapped maple syrup energy gels and waffles.
Untapped is a sports nutrition company founded by a handful of professional athletes (cyclists and skiers) who live in Vermont, in the northeastern United States, which is maple syrup country. Living in Vermont, the Untapped founders had plenty of access to maple syrup, and as athletes, they started to wonder about its benefits in supporting athletic performance.
So they investigated, and guess what? It turns out that maple syrup has many naturally occurring micro- and macro-nutrients that your body requires to perform at its highest level.
The Benefits of Maple Syrup
- Maple syrup is low glycemic. Containing only natural carbohydrates, maple syrup provides prolonged, sustained energy, rather than offering a quick burst and subsequent crash. It offers a quick pick-me-up in the short term, but is there for you in the long run as well.
- Maple syrup contains calcium, riboflavin, manganese, zinc, potassium, and other electrolytes. These inherent components of maple syrup promote energy production, muscle recovery, and help prevent cramping. Electrolytes are critical in athletic performance or just energizing your day to day.
- Maple syrup contains more than fifty antioxidants. When your body is working hard, or even just undergoing daily stress, you produce free radicals that have an inflammatory or damaging effect. This array of polyphenols found in maple syrup have powerful free radical-fighting properties. Foods with similar qualities include berries, green tea, red wine, and flaxseeds.
- Maple syrup contains amino acids. When you’re training and racing hard, your muscles get beat up. Amino acids help repair that damage and prevent muscle deterioration, ultimately making you stronger.
- Maple syrup is water-soluble, making it easy to digest and quick to absorb. Perhaps best yet, say goodbye to gut-rot which is a common complaint of athletes after consuming typical energy gels, as they are loaded with synthetic flavors and supplements. Plus, maple syrup is a cinch to clean up; just rinse with water. Alternative sports gels are like tar to clean up.
Where Does Maple Syrup Come From?
Maple syrup is made from the sap of maple trees. In cold climates, maple trees store starch in their trunks and roots before winter; the starch is then converted to sugar that rises in the sap in late winter and early spring. Maple trees are tapped by drilling holes into their trunks and collecting the sap, which is processed by heating to evaporate much of the water – until there’s at least 66% sugar content – leaving the concentrated syrup. This lack of heavy processing yields a multitude of nutritional benefits that don’t need supplementation, an all-too-common practice in sports nutrition. Plus, maple syrup contains manganese, zinc, potassium, and antioxidants, so while you’re refueling your body with needed sugar, you are also helping to replenish vitamins and minerals.
How Can Maple Syrup be Used to Support Training and Racing?
The Untapped energy gels are pure maple syrup, packaged for convenient consumption while running, cycling, or any other endurance activity. Each sachet contains 100 calories of pure maple goodness, and nothing else. The Untapped waffles contain either 140 or 150 calories, and contain maple syrup and maple sugar, both easily digestible. The coffee waffles contain real coffee, the salted raspberry waffles real raspberries, and the chai waffle an authentic masala spice blend.
As with all sports nutrition, how you use Untapped energy gels and waffles will depend on how far/long you’re going, and how hard. You’ll obviously find it easier to consume waffles on the bike versus while running, and if you’re going far/long on a hot day, you may want to think about using the “salted” energy gels (Salted Citrus, Salted Cocoa and Salted Raspberry); all of those contain 100mg of sodium.
For most endurance athletes, an important key to success lies in finding the nutrition product(s) that are easily digestible. Most of the time – unless you’ve really got an iron gut – that means consuming foods that are less processed and more natural. Maple syrup is as natural as food gets, a nutrient-rich, low-glycemic carbohydrate, straight from the tree, that won’t spike and subsequently crash your energy reserves.