Protein gets plenty of attention for being a key part of sports nutrition… but carbohydrates deserve just as much (if not more) focus! Especially for endurance exercise.
Pure maple syrup is a natural source of carbohydrates. It can help give athletes and active people the energy they need during exercise.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Pure Maple from Canada. As always, I love to feature foods I recommend and enjoy myself and all opinions are 100% my own.
How Do Carbs Support Exercise?
Before exercise, it’s helpful to have a balanced meal or snack that contains carbohydrates, protein and fat to provide you with energy.
If you’re active for more than an hour (such as going for a long hike or going cycling) or if you’re exercising at a high intensity, getting some carbohydrates from a food or beverage can boost performance.
After exercise, having a nutritious meal that includes some protein along with carbohydrates maximizes recovery. The protein supports muscle growth and repair, while the carbohydrates restock the glycogen stores (stored carbohydrate) in your liver and muscles.
Fun fact: Carbohydrates are the body’s main fuel source and the brain’s preferred fuel source.
The Post-Workout Meal
When you think of sports nutrition, do you picture energy bars and sports drinks?
These foods and drinks are top of mind for being convenient, on-the-go fueling options to have before or during a workout. (And they’re helpful for those purposes! I’ve included some recipes for these at the end of this post).
Shortly after a workout, having one of these snacks can help boost your energy temporarily. But within an hour or so of exercise, having a balanced post workout meal is essential for refueling. You need to focus on getting enough carbohydrates to replenish your glycogen stores and to spare the protein in your meal so it can be used to repair your muscles.
The importance of the post workout meal is often overlooked, which is why I’m bringing you a recipe that includes carbohydrates, protein and vegetables – my Maple Ginger Shrimp with Carrots and Snow Peas!
You’re getting carbohydrates from the pure maple syrup in the marinade and sauce, as well as in the rice or noodles this dish pairs with.
Maple Syrup and Exercise
Pure maple syrup provides your body with energy to help maintain your stamina during exercise.
Research on the role of maple syrup in physical activity is underway. A recent study published in the journal Nutrients looked at how consuming a drink made with water and maple compared to drinks with other carbohydrate sources on brain oxygenation and decision-making during bouts of high intensity exercise.
A group of 85 active men did 3 minutes of intense effort on a stationary bike followed by 3 minutes of rest 6 times. They were randomized to drink either a drink made from maple syrup or sap, a store-bought sports drink, a mix of water and glucose or just plain water (the placebo). Throughout the experiment, they did cognitive tests to measure their reaction time and accuracy.
Just like the sports drink and the glucose drink, the maple drinks supported cognitive performance. The maple drink and sports drink didn’t raise blood sugar levels as high as the glucose drink. That makes sense, because maple is lower on the glycemic index (raises blood sugar less overall) than glucose.
While the research on maple and exercise is new, it’s ongoing. We’re going to keep learning more about how maple might support physical activity.
Maple Syrup Nutrition
In addition to carbohydrates, pure maple syrup contains vitamins, minerals and polyphenols.
Maple Syrup Nutrition At-A-Glance
- 110 calories
- Excellent source of:
- Good source of:
- Source of:
Maple Ginger Shrimp with Carrots and Snow Peas
My Maple Ginger Shrimp with Carrots and Snow Peas is a nutritious meal to enjoy after a workout or anytime you need a balanced and delicious lunch or dinner!
The savory and spicy Asian flavors work perfectly with the natural sweetness of the maple and the veggies. It’s absolutely mouthwatering!
This quick and easy stir fry is savory, spicy and naturally sweet. The sauce is a delicious blend of soy, garlic, ginger and maple syrup instead of the typical honey or sugar… plus some red chili flakes for heat. Serve over rice, noodles or cauliflower rice for an energizing and satisfying meal.
- 1 lb jumbo or large raw shrimp (, frozen, peeled and deveined, tails removed)
- 3 large carrots (, peeled and sliced into 1/4″ thick coins (about 2 cups))
- 2 cups snow peas (, strings removed)
- 1 tbsp Avocado oil
- 1/4 cup 100% Pure Maple Syrup from Canada
- 1/4 cup Tamari
- 2 tbsp minced garlic
- 2 tsp fresh minced ginger
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes ((optional))
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 scallion (, thinly sliced)
- 2 tbsp sesame seeds
- To defrost shrimp, place in a colander in the sink and run under cold water until thawed, about 3 minutes.
- Meanwhile, add the ingredients for the marinade to a medium bowl. Stir to combine.
- Add the defrosted shrimp and half of the marinade to another medium bowl or resealable plastic bag. Cover or seal and put in the fridge to marinate for 10 minutes.
- In a large pan or wok, heat half of the avocado oil over medium-high heat. Sear the shrimp for about 1 minute per side. Move the shrimp to a plate and cover with another plate to keep warm.
- Turn the heat down to medium. Add the other half of the avocado oil to the pan. Add the snow peas and carrots and sauté for 1 minute.
- Add the rest of the marinade and sauté until vegetables are tender-crisp and sauce starts to thicken, about 2 minutes.
- Add the shrimp back to the pan and stir to warm. Add the sesame oil and stir. Sprinkle with green onion and sesame seeds.
Serving suggestion: this recipe is delicious over rice, noodles or cauliflower rice. Enjoy!
Maple Recipes for Pre-Workout and During a Workout
Looking for some quick fueling options?
Try these sports nutrition recipes featuring 100% pure maple syrup from Canada!