Maple Water: Effective Hydration?

The local equivalent to coconut water, maple water–not to be mistaken with maple sap, which is raw and untreated–is claiming a spot on store shelves. Touted as a hydrating drink for athletes, is maple sap really a good choice? Can it benefit active people? Let’s take a closer look...

A naturally sweet sap

Maple water is nothing more than the sap that flows from sugar maples in the spring. It is then processed to remove microorganisms before it is bottled. As long as the packaging is intact, it can be kept on the shelf for 18 months. NAPSI certification, established by the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers, guarantees that it is pure sap with no additives and that it has not been refined.

Maple sap is obviously not as sweet as maple syrup. In fact, this drink only contains approximately 6 grams of carbohydrates per cup (250 ml). Compare this with maple syrup — one and a half teaspoons contains almost the same amount of carbs!

Staying hydrated

During physical activity, we need to replace the water that we lose when we sweat. For activities lasting less than an hour, water is more than sufficient for this. The body can get the energy it needs from its own energy reserves.

However, when physical activity lasts for more than an hour, the body needs a helping hand to produce enough energy. You should drink a beverage containing 4–8 grams of carbohydrates per 100 ml. Maple water contains just 2 grams. It is not, therefore, the most appropriate drink to supply what the body needs in this situation... unless you add maple syrup!

We also need to replace the electrolytes (most importantly, sodium) that we lose when we sweat. Maple water is not salty enough for this. You can add a pinch of salt to make it adequate.

An antioxidant drink?

Like most plant products, maple water contains a full array of antioxidant molecules. However, this does not necessarily make it a better choice than water. We still know little about the benefits of antioxidants for the body and therefore we cannot say that maple water is good for the health.

When should we drink it?

Maple water is a local product that comes straight from the tree, without too much processing. It contains little sugar, making it a little more interesting than other sugary drinks.

Although maple water is not an ideal drink for hydration during physical activity, this does not mean that it should be avoided. Due to its short production period, it is, however, a fairly costly niche product. If you like the taste, savour it!