Maltodextrin is an oligosaccharide composed by a maximum of seventeen chains of dextrose molecules, linked with alpha-glycosidic bonds. Maltodextrin can be chemically extracted by wheat or corn, obtaining starch. In particular, food supplements proceeds from corn starch can be consumed also by gluten intolerant subjects. Maltodextrin is classified by Dextrose Equivalent Values: this number represents the measure of the hydrolysis degree used to extract it from starches, and depends on the length of chains which compose a single molecule of maltodextrin. D.E. can vary from four to thirty-nine. The maximum value represents a very short molecule, so it is more easily digestible and sweet. Maltodextrin normally used by food industries or by athletes has a D.E. from three to twenty, because a higher value is called glucose syrup.
Maltodextrin is used as food additive in many commercial aliments and beverages. In fact it is a valid thickening, and it is water-soluble, easily digestible, colorless and almost tasteless. It is used especially in dressings and toppings, sauces and oatmeal. Maltodextrin is also a valid filler for foods and beverages, so it consents to increase the amount of product, without altering its characteristic and properties. An example consists in its use by many brewers, in order to make beer heavier to the taste. Moreover many pharmaceutical companies use maltodextrin as an additive to make pills.
For these aspects maltodextrin is largely used by athletes, because it can be easily converted in energy for the body during intense exercise. This carbohydrate is moreover more digestible than the common sugar, sucrose, so it is perfect especially for endurance exercises or bodybuilding. Athletes use maltodextrin with a D.E. value from twenty to twenty-four, to obtain energy in right time, not too early and nor too slowly.
Maltodextrin is largely used by athletes, because it provides quickly the right amount of energy during the exercise. Differently from other carbohydrates, maltodextrin can be more easily digested, so it doesn’t slow down the body. The high glycemic index helps to provide a constant level of energy in time, without creating spikes of drops of glycemia. It has also the characteristic to be not too sweet, as other additives used to make sports supplements, so it doesn’t leave an unpleasant taste in the mouth.
Maltodextrin and foods
Maltodextrin is used by many food industries as an additive, to thicken and fill different kinds of foods or beverages, as sauces, dressings, ice cream, sweet drinks or beer. It is obtained enzymatically from the hydrolysis of starch-based foods, as potatoes, corn, rice, wheat or tapioca.
Maltodextrin in sports supplements
Following your workout, your body need high glycemic index carbs to quicly restore blood glucose levels that may be dropping from a hard exercise session, and promote an anabolic (growth) state within muscle proteins.
If you just take in a simple carb like dextrose though, you actually reduce the body’s ability to transport these carbs swiftly into the body due to a chemical state known as osmolarity. Osmolarity refers the amount of particles in a solution, and monosaccharides will induce a high osmolarity state, while polysaccharides induce a lower one.
If a beverage has a high osmolarity (fe: dextrose) , it will slow the emptying from the stomach into the intestine and thus, limit absorption. Drinks that only contain dextrose have high osmolarity, while maltodextrin has a lower osmolarity.
Maltodextrin is also gluten-free, in particular the form obtained by corn or potatoes, but even the one extracted from wheat is now processed in a specific way, so that gluten can be entirely removed. For this reason it can be also used by people who suffer from Celiac disease.
Maltodextrin is considered almost devoid of a nutritional value, because it has only four calories per gram, and it has a minimum quantity of proteins or vitamins.
Maltodextrin has a high or low glycemic index, but it can be more quickly digested and absorbed by the body. It dipends from the degreee of polymerization. In fact maltodextrin, as other kinds of sugar, stimulates the storage of fats into the body, so people who consume it regularly without performing adequate exercise, will tend to gain weight. If it is consumed in excess, it can cause gastrointestinal problems, as bloating, constipation, diarrhea, headache, nausea, weakness.