Maple syrup and honey are both considered as healthy alternatives to table sugar. However, when it comes to weight loss specifically, which one has the edge?
While neither one is exactly a weight loss solution, both honey and maple syrup can be enjoyed in small amounts as a part of a calorie-managed diet.
Honey is the better option if you’re looking for health benefits other than just weight loss. Depending on the variety of honey (it can vary substantially), it can have over 180 compounds of antioxidants and polyphenols that help fight inflammation and oxidative stress. Honey also helps to relax and de-stress.
However, strictly from the weight loss standpoint, maple syrup has the edge. It is more easily digested, has a healthier effect on blood sugar and insulin, and contains more minerals and nutrients like zinc, manganese, and vitamin B2 which have a role in weight loss.
Studies tend to lean more towards the side of maple syrup for weight loss. Honey, while beneficial in moderation, can put stress on the liver due to its high fructose content. If you have a fatty liver it’s best to opt for maple syrup because it has very little fructose.
If you choose to go with honey, always go with raw and unfiltered, which is the version that preserves its natural compounds and enzymes that are beneficial for weight management.
Honey (1 tbsp.)
|Maple syrup (1 tbsp.)|
Maple syrup is richer in minerals like manganese, vitamin B2, and zinc. Meanwhile, honey contains higher amounts of antioxidants and compounds with antibacterial properties. These micro-nutrient differences are important to have in mind if you are looking for benefits that go beyond weight loss, as honey offers more in that context.
It’s also important to note that nutrient contents of honey and maple syrup can vary a lot, depending on where they are sourced from and the type of honey that is used for comparison.
For example, lighter honey such as acacia honey may contain fewer nutrients and antioxidants than darker chestnut honey. While lighter honey is typically tastier and darker one is more bitter, from the digestive health standpoint, the darker the honey – the better.
One advantage of honey over maple syrup is its rich micronutrient content. Particularly, its antioxidants.
A 2020 study review published in Nutrients found evidence that polyphenols and other substances in honey are beneficial for hyperglycemica and hypertension, in addition to their antimicrobial qualities. 
However, in the context of weight loss and blood sugar, maple syrup might have the overall edge. A 2023 paper shared findings of maple syrup having a far lower impact on glucose and insulin response than honey and other natural sweeteners like agave syrup. 
In other words, maple syrup is less likely to cause weight gain compared to honey.
That is not to say that honey is bad for weight loss, or that it is sure to make you gain weight. There are other study reviews, like the one from Journal of Evidence-Based Integrative Medicine, published in 2022, which found evidence that honey helps lower blood glucose, insulin levels, and obesity. 
But when strictly comparing honey and maple syrup, the latter is the better one to include in a weight loss diet.
Effects on Insulin and Blood Sugar
If you have issues with high blood sugar or diabetes, maple syrup might be better as it has a lower glycemic index (GI – a term for how fast a certain food spikes your blood sugar levels).  It also is only 4% fructose compared to honey which is typically above 40% fructose. Fructose, in high quantities, is hard on the liver and slow to metabolise, which can negatively affect weight loss.
Speed of Metabolism
Fructose is harder to digest because our liver has to process it before everything else – much like alcohol. This is why some people who consume too much fructose can develop fatty liver with increased inflammation. 
Studies generally show that, while fructose from whole foods can be beneficial in small amounts, too much is detrimental to health parameters linked to weight loss and blood sugar regulation, especially in people who already have a fatty liver.
Maple syrup has a (s)lower GI and is easier on your liver due to being mostly sucrose.
Conclusion to Which is Better for Weight Loss: Maple Syrup or Honey
While we generally prefer honey due to its diverse and rich antioxidant, anti-bacterial, and anti-inflammatory nutritional profile, maple syrup has the edge when it comes to weight loss specifically.
Studies on this theme are mostly done on animals and in vitro. With that said, the evidence we do have shows that both honey and maple syrup can be beneficial for weight loss, but the latter seems to be even better and can be consumed in higher amounts without the risk of negative effects on blood sugar and liver health.
That said, neither one should be eaten in excess as both are virtually 100% carbs—and carbs are usually not the best macronutrient to load up on if your goal is weight loss.
- Valle M, St-Pierre P, Pilon G, Marette A. Differential Effects of Chronic Ingestion of Refined Sugars versus Natural Sweeteners on Insulin Resistance and Hepatic Steatosis in a Rat Model of Diet-Induced Obesity. Nutrients. 2020 Jul 30;12(8):2292. doi: 10.3390/nu12082292. PMID: 32751772; PMCID: PMC7469035.
- Mohammed F, Sibley P, Abdulwali N, Guillaume D. Nutritional, pharmacological, and sensory properties of maple syrup: A comprehensive review. Heliyon. 2023 Aug 21;9(9):e19216. doi: 10.1016/j.heliyon.2023.e19216. PMID: 37662821; PMCID: PMC10469071.
- Zulkifli MF, Radzi MNFM, Saludes JP, Dalisay DS, Ismail WIW. Potential of Natural Honey in Controlling Obesity and its Related Complications. J Evid Based Integr Med. 2022 Jan-Dec;27:2515690X221103304. doi: 10.1177/2515690X221103304. PMID: 36263596; PMCID: PMC9585569.
- Muriel P, López-Sánchez P, Ramos-Tovar E. Fructose and the Liver. Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Jun 28;22(13):6969. doi: 10.3390/ijms22136969. PMID: 34203484; PMCID: PMC8267750.