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Brad Hefta-Gaub

Reintroducing Maple Syrup for the non-sweet tooth

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Ok, full disclosure. I've never had a sweet tooth. And the last several years I've been gluten free and dairy free, and so that makes eating sweets so complicated I rarely did it before Whole 30. I am also an endurance athlete, who for the 9 months before Whole 30 had adjusted my diet to be very-low carbohydrate/metabolically efficient.

But my family (me, my wife, and our two daughters) does have a family "ritual"/"tradition" of Pancakes on Sunday mornings. We've been eating gluten free pancakes for years, but we do make them with DF Chocolate Chips and we cover them in real maple syrup.

Today is day 30. We have missed our tradition for the last 30 days. And since its a big part of our family, I am eager to get back into the swing of this ritual. This upcoming Sunday is the big day.

My plan is to make paleo pancakes for myself (and a few extra to encourage the rest of the family to try them). I will probably avoid the chocolate chips. But I'd like to reintroduce Maple Syrup.

Here are my questions:

  • I don't think I have a big "sugar dragon" -- I didn't see any withdrawal during whole 30... is it likely I'm gonna create one or wake something up from deep down?
  • What is the main reason for avoiding maple syrup or honey during Whole 30? Aside from the insuline reaction (which I'm already well tuned into thanks to my endurance training) Are there other inflammatory or anti-nutrient effects of these?

Thanks.

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You eliminate it during the Whole30 because it's sugar, and you don't want to be in a cycle of relying on simple sugars as an energy source.

I don't really have any suggestions for reintroducing, except maybe don't go totally overboard with it.

I had a really weird experience with maple syrup last week I haven't fully been doing a Whole30 this month but I haven't been eating hardly any sugar either except a smidge in dark chocolate here or there. One night I dipped into the land of almond flour pancakes for dinner after a long exhausting day. I had probably been "clean" for a few days prior. I had maple syrup on the pancakes. A couple of hours later, my feet and calves were seized by ridiculous charleyhorse style cramps that left me sore a couple of days later. The only "new" thing that I'd reintroduced was the bolus of simple sugar. What I'm saying is, report back and let us know if you have any weird reactions. I'm actually going to go totally clean for a week here and then try the sugar reintro experiment again to see whether that was just some weird coincidence.

Tom Denham likes this

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You eliminate it during the Whole30 because it's sugar, and you don't want to be in a cycle of relying on simple sugars as an energy source.

Ok, that's what I assumed. I've already adapted away from depending on simple sugars as an energy source before starting Whole 30. My pre-whole30 diet was 50% Fat, ~25% protein, ~25% Carbohydrates. And 80% of my carbohydrates come from green leafy vegetables. Even on a "hard" workout day with 4+ hours of effort, I would eat very little simple sugars.

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Anecdata: This guy reports leg cramps upon sudden sugar reintroduction too. Hmm. Interesting.

It sounds like you're not in much danger of developing a sudden sugar addiction, Brad.

I find that the cleaner I eat the less appealing sugar is. Even 73% dark chocolate tastes overly sweet to me these days.

melbournegirl likes this

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Yeah... well, I've only had sweet potatoes 3 times on whole 30... and they taste like raw sugar to me. Way too sweet for my taste. Even spaghetti squash tastes like I'm eating candy.

I might find that maple syrup is just unappealing anyway. I'll report back if I get any leg cramps.

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Very interesting that he complains that he previously had lots of leg cramps, even before stopping and then reintroducing sugar. Did you have a history of leg cramps?

I rarely get leg cramps, and as an avid endurance cyclist and ultrarunner, I put my legs through a lot. The few times I've gotten leg cramps have been in cases of long runs where I did a poor job of watching my electrolytes. They always pass after taking on electrolytes and waiting a few minutes.

I wonder if there's a connection to sugar and low electrolytes... or if these are completely unrelated.

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Yes I actually had a problem with them before starting Whole30 last year, I thought they improved because I was taking lots of magnesium but now I wonder if it was sugar!

Brad Hefta-Gaub likes this

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If sweet potatoes were too sweet, I'm gonna bet that maple syrup will be too. My dad used to always make pancakes on Saturday mornings and waffles on Sundays. Good memories. :)

Anyway, I had the thought that you could blend up a bunch of blueberries or other berries/fruit of your choice and that would make a syrup like concoction to put on your pancakes that wouldn't be quite as sweet as maple syrup. Or even mix some maple syrup in. Being post whole 30, it's all legal based on how it makes you feel, but we found wine that was never sweet before to taste sweet the last few days, so I'd recommend you proceed carefully so you don't ruin those yummy sounding pancakes. :) Good luck!

Brad Hefta-Gaub likes this

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I just gave a friend Make it Paleo for his birthday and there is a recipe for fig apple butter in there that might be good. Not sure it would be much less sweet than the pure maple syrup but another option I thought looked yummy.

Brad Hefta-Gaub likes this

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Well - so far the report is, Maple Syrup on Paleo Pancakes (bananas, eggs, almond butter, almond flour) was tasty and seems to have been compatible with my stomach. I realize now that I also always add a fried egg and salt and pepper on top of my pancakes... so basically, even though there's the sweet of the syrup (and blueberries or dark chocolate chips) that I balance that with umami of eggs and saltiness of salt and spiciness of pepper. So really, it's a pretty balanced (although on the sweeter side) taste experience.

I plan to go for a 25+ mile run this afternoon.... so I'll be burning off any of the extra calories. ;)

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