What is Maltodextrin and Should You Use Gels That Contain It?
What is Maltodextrin?
Maltodextrin is a synthetically manufactured long-chain carbohydrate. Also known as a polysaccharide (“many sugars”), maltodextrin is artificially created when acids or other enzymes are applied to cornstarch, which breaks the starch into medium length chains of dextrose (also known as glucose) molecules.
Maltodextrin is approved by the US FDA as a safe food additive. Its nutritional values are included as carbohydrates on a product’s nutrition label. Maltodextrin is an inexpensive ingredient that is widely used in processed foods as a preservative, thickener or filler. In sports nutrition products, maltodextrin is used as a carbohydrate energy source, often paired with fructose.
Why We Don’t Use Maltodextrin
We prefer to keep our formulas simple, yet incredibly effective. We stick to glucose as our sole carbohydrate energy source because unlike other carbohydrates, glucose starts giving you energy immediately without the need for your stomach to digest it to be usable for your body. While maltodextrin is high on the glycemic index chart and will raise your blood sugar level quickly (ie: give you energy,) there is a host of side effects that can come from consuming it, including being stored as fat in your liver if you over consume. Side effects to consuming glucose on the other hand are extremely rare and excess glucose is first stored as glycogen for future use, before converting into fat in your adipose tissue.
Why You Should Think Twice About Using Maltodextrin
When you use maltodextrin, you risk suffering any number of common side effects including allergic reactions, gas, flatulence and bloating. Maltodextrin can also cause skin rashes, asthma cramping and difficulty breathing. Additionally, there is evidence to suggest that maltodextrin may affect the balance of your gut bacteria which is incredibly important to your overall health. Finally, while most maltodextrin is made from corn, rice or potatoes, some manufacturers may use wheat, which could cause even more issues for people with celiac disease and anyone with a gluten intolerance. (source)
The good news is you have a choice about which carbohydrates you choose to use for fuel. When considering that you’re consuming your fuel at a time when your body is working so hard to perform, it makes sense to use the most simple, most safe ingredients to get the job done.