Move over Agave, Maple Syrup is the natural sweetener of choice!
When Agave hit the markets a few years ago everybody thought it was the answer to sweetening foods. People thought it was better than honey because it has a lower glycemic index but in reality honey is less processed and contains slightly less calories with more minerals the Agave.
Both honey and agave are about 60-90% fructose making them as bad for you as high fructose corn syrup . They are noted by the American Diabetic Society to be consumed in moderation and although agave is said to be lower on the glycemic table then honey studies have shown that agave effects your blood sugar the same way as honey. And when it comes to antioxidants dark honey and pure maple syrup come in much higher than agave(1)
This means you can toss your agave and if you want to keep using a natural sweetener turn to good old natural maple syrup!
Let’s compare natural honey to pure maple syrup
1 tbsp of pure maple syrup = 52 calories -13 grams of carbohydrates, 12 grams are from sugars. These sugars are primarily from sucrose, which is a complex sugar that your body breaks down to the simple sugars fructose and glucose at a one-to-one ratio.
1 tbsp of honey= 64 calories -17 grams of carbohydrates, 17 are sugars. These sugars are mostly from fructose with small amount from glucose & sucrose.
It is not the amount of carbs per serving but they type of carbohydrates which makes Maple Syrup the ideal choice for natural sweetener. Athletes should be even more aware of this because our objective is to replenish nutrients including glycogen as quickly as possible. Unlike sucrose, fructose will not generate insulin secretion which is needed to transport glucose to your cells & skeletal muscle. That process is what is what helps our muscles grow and replaces energy after a hard workout.
When looking for an ideal way to get in carbohydrates from a natural food source or sweetener Maple Syrup should be your preferred choice over agave or honey ! It adds a kick to any post workout shake and is a great addition to protein pancakes. Keep in mind, like any other sugar maple syrup should be used in moderation and is best to consume as close to your workout time as possible.