Maple syrup is fantastically delicious on panackes but is also a natural, locally-produced, nutrient-rich energy source for endurance cycling. Here we round up all of the options on the market and share what makes maple syrup such a great energy source for athletes.
What is Maple Syrup Energy?
Maple syrup contains way more than meets the eye. In springtime when the temperature is above freezing during the day and below freezing during the night, sap starts to run and a single maple tree can produce 10-20 gallons of sap. When you boil the sap down 40 to 1, you get maple syrup. It's golden in color, is incredibly sweet, and turns pancakes into magical circles of delight.
In just the last decade or so, maple syrup companies have started to realize the incredible benefits of maple syrup for endurance sports energy. With a lot of artificial energy gels on the market, maple syrup is completely natural and contains many of the nutrients (and more) that you'll see in conventional gels.
What are the benefits of maple syrup for athletes and adventurers?
Maple Syrup is incredible. I mean, sure, holy crap it's delicious to just drink it straight from the pack with no pancakes. But it's also naturally full of many of the exact nutrients that support endurance sports like cycling while being easier to swallow and digest than conventional energy gels.
Without any additives, just 1oz of maple syrup has:
Source: Pure Fuel maple syrup
If you compare these maple syrup packets to a mainstream option like Vanilla Bean GU, maple syrup has more of every single one of these mentioned nutrients than the conventional energy gel. This is pretty cool because it's 100% natural, can come right from our local maple trees, and has the nutrients you need to produce energy and feel great while pushing yourself physically.
Maple syrup is also low-glycemic. The carbs are natural derived and produce long sustained energy production rather than energy that rises and crashes quickly. It provides quick energy that lasts long and prevents you from hitting a wall during a long ride.
A note on salt: yes or no?
I would break maple syrup energy sources into 2 main categories: salted and unsalted. Coincidentally, we have 3 salted and 3 unsalted maple syrup packets in this list. Personally, I prefer salted. Salt plays a key role in physical activities as it helps with hydration and restores what's lost from sweat. I also find salted syrup to be absurdly delicious but then again, so is maple syrup by itself. Those who prefer something simpler or don't want the taste of sweet and salty may prefer the unsalted options here.
Embark Maple - Viroqua, Wisconsin
What I love about Embark Maple is that they're local, their products are organic, and they're really active in the endurance cycling scene in The Nxrth's coverage area. Whether it's the Arrowhead 135 deep in heart of winter or riding gravel at Dairy Roubaix, you'll see them all over the place spreading good energy and supporting hard working cyclists.
They make three flavors of packets, Salted, Coffee, and Elderberry and they're all made with simple, nutritious ingredients. Of all the maple syrup options I tried, they're the only ones with a close-able cap. They're also the largest packs at 3oz each which means one pack can give you a ton of fuel and can be opened and closed without getting sticky in your bike bags or jersey pockets
My favorite is Salted. Candidly, I tried salting my own maple syrup and it tasted funky and got sticky all over the kitchen. These are delicious, convenient, and made by organic maple farmers who support the races you're probably signing up for.
Size: 3 ounces Ingredients: Salted: Organic Maple Syrup, Sea Salt. Coffee: Organic maple syrup, organic Wonderstate coffee, sea salt, organic green tea extract (caffeine). Elderberry: Organic maple syrup, organic elderberry concentrate, sea salt Varieties: Salted, Elderberry, or Coffee Best Option For: Long distance rides with no mess. Try their Salted variety, it's amazing.
Pure Fuel by Anderson's - Cumberland, Wisconsin
Anderson's Pure Maple Syrup has been been making organic syrup for over 90 years. After realizing that maple syrup has the same nutrients that endurance athletes need they created Pure Fuel. They're avid supporters of Northwoods cycling and sponsor Fat Bike Worlds, Fat Bike Birkie, and Apex Cycling team.
They just updated their packaging to now include a little loop that connects the main syrup pouch to the tear-off lid. You've probably seen plastic tear-off tops tossed on the ground at races, and this little improvement helps to stop that.This is the only maple syrup packet with a connected top piece which I instantly appreciated after losing track of other tear offs.
Pure Fuel has nothing added whatsoever. It's 100% pure organic maple syrup without additives that you'll find in the majority of conventional energy gels. Pure Fuel was the first maple energy that I discovered and I love the family history behind these products and their commitment to fueling athletes with nature's simplest form of energy.
Size: 1 ounce Ingredients: 100% pure organic maple syrup Varieties: Maple syrup Best Option For: High quality maple syrup with nothing added and a litter free tear-off. Sure, maple syrup is always good, but this stuff is unbelievably delicious when you need some energy.
The Maple Dude - Granton, Wisconsin
The Maple Dude maple syrup has literally almost been around since the bicycle itself. Okay, not quite, but it's been in the family since 1858 (8 years before Brooks saddles was founded in England). They make a wide variety of maple syrup products including maple sugar, popcorn, suckers, candles, and of course, maple syrup for pancakes.
Their 'Maple Shot' packets are their 1 ounce packets of maple syrup. They include the 1 ingredient they've been perfecting their entire history, pure Wisconsin maple syrup. As a natural, simple, energy source, these are really simple to add to your bike bag and use when you need a boost.
Size: 1 ounce Ingredients: 100% pure maple syrup Varieties: Maple syrup Best Option For: Simple, perfected maple syrup with deep history in the Wisconsin Northwoods.
Untapped - Richmond, Vermont
Untapped is by far the most built out maple syrup energy company out there. They're from Vermont and have an extensive lineup of maple syrup, mini waffles, and hydration options. If you're taking a lot of maple energy packets, it's really nice to have flavor variety. Even if you have a favorite flavor, it's still nice to change it up sometimes, and Untapped has you totally covered.
Like many others on this list, they have the simple maple syrup option, but I personally like salt in mine. Their raspberry and cocoa both have salt and their coffee syrup has 27g of caffeine.
Even their waffles are vegan organic and are made with their same pure maple syrup. Those and their syrup packets fit perfectly in a jersey pocket or stem bag and make awesome energy snacks when you're cranking.
Lastly, their hydration products are called Mapleaid which has only 4 ingredients or less, including maple syrup. I didn't care for the Ginger Mapleaid; the ginger was too strong and it didn't sit well in my stomach but Lemon Tea Mapleaid was great.
Size: 1 ounce Ingredients: Organic Vermont Maple Syrup (Varieties also contain Coffee: coffee. Salted Raspberry: Organic Raspberry Juice, Sea Salt. Salted Cocoa: Organic cocoa, sea salt) Varieties: Pure, Salted Raspberry, Salted Cocoa, and Coffee Best Option For: There's no better option for delicious flavors and variety. Get their variety packs and try them all.
Endurance Tap - Coldwater, Ontario
Endurance Tap is from our Canadian neighbors up in Ontario. They're designed around the idea that the best solution is often the simplest and that with nutritious, performance-built fuel, athletes can achieve their best performance.
They only sell a few products and they're all super practical including a 28-serving bulk syrup bottle to fill your own energy flasks and reduce waste.
Their flagship maple syrup packets are Classic and Caffeinated. They're salted and both include ginger, which interestingly enough, I couldn't taste. Which is fine because the purpose of the ginger is a digestive aid. They add it to help digestion on the hottest days with the most intense physical activity. When I'm working out, my stomach can get some gut rot with traditional energy gels and I found Endurance Tap was really easy to stomach on long rides. The Caffeinated variety is the same recipe plus 35mg of caffeine from green coffee bean extract.
Lastly, they make stroopwafels from their maple syrup in both regular and gluten-free 10packs. I just recently had to go gluten free and really appreciate having this option. I only tried their regular stroopwafels (prior to going off gluten) but I hope to try their gluten free 10-packs soon.
Size: 1.3 ounce Ingredients: Canadian maple syrup, Canadian sea salt, ginger, natural caffeine from green coffee bean extract (caffeine is only in the caffeinated variety) Varieties: Classic and Caffeinated Best Option For: Salted maple syrup that goes down easy and tastes heavenly. They're extremely practical and taste heavenly.
Maple Rise - Vermont
Much like several other of the options on this list, Maple Rise only has one ingredient, pure maple syrup. But the thing that makes them unique is that their maple syrup is heated and whipped. The end result is that it tastes like normal maple syrup but has a creamy thicker texture. Because of the thicker consistency, this one most closely resembles the thickness of a traditional energy gel.
Originally founded to provide a boost to people who suffer from low blood sugar episodes, Maple Rise started making these for athletes who work hard and prefer natural energy. They also have larger containers of maple cream as well as maple crystallized sugar.
Size: 1 ounce Ingredients: 100% pure maple syrup, heated and whipped Varieties: Maple cream Best Option For: Maple syrup flavor with rich, creamy texture and super convenient energy.
Maple syrup energy gel for bike adventures all year
Being somebody who has always stashed a bag of gummy bears in my stem bag on long bike rides, I've enjoyed replacing them with maple syrup packets on a lot of rides. Personally, it's great to have an excuse to drink straight maple syrup and I got the energy I needed without having my energy crash on any rides.
Better yet? Maple syrup doesn't freeze so you can enjoy it for the entire fatbiking season without having to engineer a way to keep them warm on the course.
These maple syrup packets have the convenience of traditional energy gels without all the additives and artificial ingredients. Many of these maple syrup packets are from trees tapped right in our home states by people who support the races we ride. Give em' a try and enjoy nature's delicious energy.