Written by  BodyActive Technical Panel
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Maltodextrin : a glucose polymer that exerts lesser osmotic effects compared with glucose; used in a variety of sports drinks as the source of carbohydrate


Maltodextrin is a form of sugar. It is a actually a hydrolysate of starch, generally from potato starch, and is used in many energy boosting products, meal replacements, weight gainers and often as a type of filler in liquid sports drinks. Being an man made, altered form of sugar, it is actually quite a complex molecule, unlike simple sugars such as dextrose. Rated against the glycemic index maltodextrin shows a much slower release than typical sugar into the blood stream as glucose and so makes it a perfect choice for sustained liquid energy. In simple terms, all ingested carbohydrate enters our blood stream as glucose, where it is either used for energy, stored as glycogen in muscle cells or converted into triglycerides and stored as body fat. Only so much energy can be used up in a certain unit of time and only so much glucose can be stored within muscle cells until they are full. And so if a carbohydrate enters our system very fast and in a large quantity, our bodies release insulin to deposit the excess energy as stored fat to be used at a later time. If we can slow the release of the carbohydrate down this makes it much easier for the body to deal with, having small regular releases of copable amounts of glucose entering the system over a period of time. This stabilizes our energy levels, blood sugar levels and lowers the risk of gaining body fat. Typically a slow releasing carbohydrate such as maltodextrin can sustain energy release for a number of hours, fueling good workouts and feelings of fullness and good positive energy. This is why maltodextrin, being liquid, is clearly a better choice for the majority of good sports supplements rather than fast releasing high glycemic carbohydrates often found in cheap weight gainers or poorly processed proteins. The exception to this is often in good creatine transport systems where the main ingredient is dextose a fast release carbohydrate, however the reason for this is to force creatine into the muscle cell as fast as possible. Of course these type of drinks should generally be avoided if the goal is to reduce bodyfat levels.

Maltodextrin is used in varying amounts depending upon the goal wishing to be achieved. Often from as little as 10g in some meal replacements, which is less than a small apple, to 100g in some weight gainers. Regarding the release speed of carbohydrates, many companies now add fibre and a little essential fatty acids to the formula, both adding to the slowing of stomach digestion of the carbohydrate.

Maltodextrin tends to be the main constituent of most energy drinks and rehydration sports drinks. Usually finding a dose of between 50 - 100g a serving cited to be used before, during and after training. Of course this dosing schedule is individualised depending upon the result required. These formulas often contain small amounts of dextrose for a fast release of energy, a little fructose to resupply liver glycogen fast and often mineral salts such as sodium and potassium to aid the body to rehydrate - very important factor in most sports especially those cardiovascular based.

There are 4 calories in 1g of maltodextrin.

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