Maltodextrin - popular with athletes

What is Maltodextrin? Maltodextrin is a carbohydrate mixture mainly derived from cornstarch. The carbohydrate mixture contains monomers (simple sugars) and dimers (double sugars), but also oligomers (short-chain multiple sugars) and polimers (long-chain multiple sugars). Depending on the proportion of different sugars, there are different forms of maltodextrin, namely maltodextrin 6, 12 or 19. Depending on the type, 100 grams of maltodextrin contain about 400 calories.

Use of maltodextrin

Maltodextrin is mainly used in food production. Here it is used in many ways:

  • For example, it is used as a thickening agent for infant nutrition and confectionery, meat and sausages, and instant soups.
  • In addition, maltodextrin is also used as a fat substitute - especially in light products. Fat substitutes significantly reduce the calorie and fat content of foods.
  • Maltodextrin is also used as an energy carrier in artificial nutrition. In the artificial diet, the food is either supplied via a probe directly through the gastrointestinal tract (enteral nutrition) or via infusions into the bloodstream (parenteral nutrition).
  • Finally, maltodextrin is also used in the coffee industry as an extender. Stretchy coffee is not 100 percent coffee powder, but is stretched with cheaper fillers. Such fillers include, for example, caramel, but also maltodextrin. Stretched coffee contains up to ten percent maltodextrin.

Maltodextrin in sports

In addition to all these uses, maltodextrin is also extremely popular with endurance athletes. Due to its positive properties, it is often part of isotonic drinks or energy gels.

Maltodextrin is popular among endurance athletes because it is nutritionally valuable compared to other carbohydrate mixtures. For example, maltodextrin is absorbed more slowly than other carbohydrates. Due to the slower intake of blood sugar increases less quickly than pure dextrose. As the blood sugar level rises more slowly, only as much insulin is released as is needed.

Ingestion of glucose, on the other hand, releases large amounts of insulin, which may subsequently lead to low blood sugar. How much maltodextrin raises blood sugar levels depends on which form of maltodextrin is used.

While short-chain carbohydrates have a sweet taste, maltodextrin is more tasteless and is therefore not considered too sweet in high exercise. In addition, maltodextrin binds less water than other carbohydrate mixtures. As a result, maltodextrin prevents an excessive influx of water into the small intestine and is thus better tolerated. In addition, drinks containing maltodextrin - unlike other carbohydrate mixtures that bind more water - are especially perceived as pleasant by dehydrated athletes.

Increase with maltodextrin

Among athletes - especially in weight training - maltodextrin is also known as a means of increasing, known as a "weight gainer". Bodybuilders often drink a shake after training, which contains both maltodextrin and protein. Maltodextrin secretes insulin, also called the transport hormone, in the body. The insulin can then be used to rapidly transport muscle building substances such as creatine or amino acids into the muscle cells.

In addition to bodybuilders, but also some people who have a very low weight, take maltodextrin to increase. In such cases, however, normal calorie-based foods should be better used. In no case should maltodextrin be used as a sole measure to increase.

Maltodextrin: side effects and contraindications

The most common side effects with maltodextrin include regurgitation and heartburn. Serious side effects are not known yet. However, when taking maltodextrin, always remember that it is a dietary supplement. Therefore, maltodextrin - whether you want to gain weight or pursue sporting ambitions - should only be taken in limited quantities. Depending on the origin of the products, it is also possible that the corn starch used was obtained from GM maize.

If you are sensitive to maltodextrin, for example nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, stop taking it immediately.

Persons with diabetes should refrain from taking maltodextrin. Because maltodextrin is broken down in the body to glucose and thus raises the blood sugar level.

What is Maltodextrin?

The term maltodextrin is derived from the two words maltose (malt sugar) and dextrose. A maltose molecule consists of two glucose molecules and is thus a double sugar. Dextrose, on the other hand, is a special form of glucose - namely D-glucose - which makes it a simple sugar. Dextrose is better known as grape sugar.

Maltodextrin is water-soluble, almost tasteless and only slightly sweet. The sweetness level is indicated by the so-called dextrose equivalent. It varies between three and 20 units, depending on the composition of the maltodextrin. For comparison, starch has a sweetness of one unit, pure glucose of 100 units. Incidentally, the higher the sweetness, the better the solubility of maltodextrin.

Maltodextrin 6, maltodextrin 12 and maltodextrin 19 are sold commercially. The individual products differ in the chain length of their sugar molecules. For example, maltodextrin 6 has longer carbohydrates than maltodextrin 12 and 19. Chain length also affects the sweetness of maltodextrin: maltodextrin 6 is less sweet than maltodextrin 12 and 19.

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