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You’ve heard it a thousand times; being fit is a balance between healthy eating and effective exercise habits. But the truth is, your diet and exercise don’t need to just balance each other out, they should work together. Knowing how your body reacts to what you eat can help you maximize your fitness journey. Today’s Topic? Maple Syrup.

Tapping maple tree

Pure Maple Syrup: Before we get too far, let me clarify. I am not talking about the processed syrup that some people dump all over their pancakes. I’m talking about pure, unprocessed maple syrup. It has a lot of vitamins and minerals, most notably riboflavin, manganese, zinc, and potassium, as well as antioxidant compounds, which can protect your cells from damage that could otherwise occur during intense physical exercise.

Natural Energy: Maple Syrup is chock-full of simple carbohydrates, which your body breaks down into glucose and uses for exercise fuel. It is also an endurance booster, helping you to maintain stamina. The electrolytes in the natural potassium help you to stay hydrated and keep your muscles functioning.

Practical Applications: All those nutrition facts are interesting, but how does it affect your workout? Well, by incorporating maple syrup into your warm-up, workout, and cool-down routine, you can maximize the efficiency of  your exercise regimen. Here are some ways you can do just that:

Pre-exercise: Load up on carbs with some maple and date muffins, rice pudding with some berries, or some low-fat pancakes. Click here to see a recipe for Healthy Maple Roasted Strawberry Muffins.

Maple Roasted Strawberry Muffins

Mid-workout: Instead of store bought sports drinks, make your own where you can control the ingredients. Use maple syrup as the sweetener. Do the same with some high-protein energy bars. Click here for 11 great DIY energy drink recipes.

Post-exercise: Finally, it’s time to refuel. You can replace sugar in your usual smoothie with maple, or throw it on a refreshing maple chicken salad pita. These can help you replenish your glycogen stores and speed up muscle recovery.

About Author, Olivia Aldridge: Olivia Aldridge is a food and health writer who strives to find and share natural alternatives to today’s preservative –laden food offerings.