The Mystery Ingredient Maltodextrin

September 8, 2013

Look at the ingredients list of many candies, supplements, and drinks and you will find the ingredient maltodextrin. In fact look at anything with a label and there is a good chance it is on there. It’s also found in many weight loss dietary products (think bars and shakes). So good luck trying to stay away from it. Well what is it? What does it do and is it safe?

The good news is that it is not made in a chemical laboratory using unpronounceable processes and reagents to make. It is typically made from the starch of rice, corn, wheat or potatoes. In the United States the most common starches used to produce this are those of rice and corn. So it comes from a natural source…to start….The starch is first hydrolyzed then filtered and then purified using enzymes and acids to give us a white powder (why is it that everything seems to give us a white powder?) called maltodextrin. Using very similar methods you could easily end up with corn syrup instead of maltodextrin.

Maltodextrin is used as filler in many food products as it provides fat like attributes to the product (e.g. increased satiety levels)while providing mild sweetness. It is not considered to be a sugar, but rather a complex carbohydrate, aka starch. However it still provides calories and has a quick effect on blood sugar levels. It as a high glycemic index, even higher than normal table sugar, so it digests very quickly. This quick digestion and absorption make it great for mid-workout supplementation to maintain energy levels and post-workout nutrition for recovery.

So the bad news is that the body treats almost identically to sugar, in that it will use it as an immediate source of energy, and if there is no use for that energy then it gets stored as fat. It is hard to get away from as it is in many everyday products and supplements. At least per serving, maltodextrin has fewer calories than sugar, such that some companies won’t include the calories it provides in the nutritional label. Also as it is derived from rice, corn, wheat and potatoes if you have a sensitivity to any of those or gluten then you may want to be careful.

Maltodextrin is cheap. It can be purchased in bulk just like many supplement ingredients if you know where to look. If you are looking at creating your own sports drink similar to Gatorade or Powerade, pre-workout or post-workout recovery drink and do not like the sweetness of sugar maltodextrin may be a good option. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – we do not endorse any particular supplement manufacturer retailer or distributer, but we will try our best to answer any questions regarding them. In fact if you would like a specific recipe to create your own supplement (protein shake, pre-workout, sports drink, etc.) then comment or message us through our Facebook page, no texts or calls.

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