What is maltodextrin?
Maltodextrin is a type of carbohydrate that is an analogue of sugar. It is obtained by enzymatic cleavage of corn, potato, rice or wheat starch and is used in sports nutrition (primarily in gainers and isotonics ), as well as in the manufacture of medicines, creams and gels. In addition, maltodextrin is widely used in the food industry.
Despite the fact that maltodextrin is formally considered a complex carbohydrate (it is a compound of a large number of glucose molecules), during digestion it almost instantly turns into a simple carbohydrate (a single glucose molecule). The glycemic index of maltodextrin is about 105-135, depending on the degree of grinding of the powder.
The main disadvantage and danger of maltodextrin is that it may contain gluten (if it is made from wheat starch). In addition, because of its extremely high glycemic index, maltodextrin quickly increases blood sugar, which can cause damage to the body of a diabetic, and can also cause excess weight gain.
// What is harmful maltodextrin:
- its effect on the body is similar to sugar
- high glycemic index
- quickly increases insulin levels in the blood
Maltodextrin in food
In food products, maltodextrin is used primarily as a thickener in the composition of yogurts, ice cream, ketchups and other sauces. It is also used as a substitute for ordinary starch, since it extends the shelf life of products, while at the same time making their texture more loose and airy (which plays an important role in the manufacture of baked goods).
In addition, maltodextrin is widely used for the production of low-fat products and even meat products (including sausage) - in this case, it also allows you to save the texture. Maltodextrin is also found in baby food - primarily in cereals and milk formulas. It is important to note that on the product packaging maltodextrin may be referred to as “molasses” or “dextrinmaltose”.
Despite the fact that the glycemic index of maltodextrin is almost two times higher than the GI of sugar, it is often used in diet food, and products containing it can be labeled “sugar free”. Although from an actual point of view they do not contain simple carbohydrates, they contain a polysaccharide that is superior to sugar in its ability to increase blood glucose.
A striking example of such harm to the figure are low-fat yogurt. After removing fat from the composition, it is required to create a thick and at the same time airy structure, for which dextrinmaltose is used. Since the calorific value of 1 g of maltodextrin is 4 kcal, and 1 g of fat is 9 kcal, in some cases a deceptive reduction in the calorie content of the product can be achieved.
Effect on the body
We make a reservation that scientific studies showing the direct harm of maltodextrin to the body most often involve the use of sufficiently large doses of the substance. In dosages used in food (or in the manufacture of medicines), maltodextrin is considered safe. An exception is maltodextrin from wheat, because it contains gluten .
There are studies showing that maltodextrin is able to affect the intestinal microflora, inhibiting the growth of beneficial probiotics¹. Ultimately, this can affect a decrease in immunity and impaired digestion. In addition, the substance contributes to the survival of salmonella, which can lead to a wide range of chronic inflammatory diseases².
How to replace?
In most cases, when cooking at home, you can replace maltodextrin with other sources of carbohydrates - from natural honey and agave syrup to sugar syrup. All of them have the same calorie content and are actually fast carbohydrates. If you want to reduce calories, you can use sweeteners instead of dextrinmaltose.
As for the use of maltodextrin in the food industry, it is not so easy to select an analogue. Given the ability of this polysaccharide to mix easily with other ingredients, form a bond with fats, retain moisture in the product - without a sugary sweet taste - it is not so easy to replace it. In addition, the use of analogues will significantly increase the price of the product.
Maltodextrin in sports nutrition
The sports nutrition industry offers maltodextin both as a standalone product and as part of weight gainers and other supplements for quick weight gain. Maltodextrin, taken after sports training, is a good source of glucose and helps to quickly restore the glycogen reserves spent during exercise.
In the case of using maltodextin in the gainers, the main advantages are low cost, high calorie content, soft and pleasant taste, as well as ease of mixing with water. Note that when using a comparable amount of regular sugar in calories and carbohydrate content, the taste of a protein shake for weight gain will be excessively sweet.
Maltodextrin with Creatine
Some scientific studies show that taking creatine with the so-called “transport system”, which maltodextrin can act, can have several advantages. A cocktail made from a mixture of creatine and fast carbohydrates taken before strength training increases the overall performance by 20-30% compared with taking pure creatine monohydrate ³.
On the other hand, these studies were carried out with the support of sports nutrition manufacturers, and did not take into account, for example, the impact on training performance of exclusively carbohydrate shakes. Most experts agree that creatine does not require the use of special additives (including maltodextrin) for complete absorption.
Maltodextrin is a polysaccharide that is converted to glucose by digestion. The substance is widely used both in the food industry, and in the pharmaceutical and sports industry. It acts as a means to improve the texture and taste of the product, as well as a source of calories. The main disadvantage of maltodextrin is its high glycemic index. It may also contain gluten.
- Crohn's Disease-Associated Adherent-Invasive Escherichia coli Adhesion Is Enhanced by Exposure to the Ubiquitous Dietary Polysaccharide Maltodextrin, source
- The dietary polysaccharide maltodextrin promotes Salmonella survival and mucosal colonization in mice, source
- Creatine with a transport system, link