Why You Should Care About Maltodextrin?
Q: What Are Dextrose And Maltodextrin And Why Are They In Prograde Workout?
Dextrose is a simple carbohydrate compound derived from starch (usually corn), but is also found naturally in foods such as honey and some fruits.
It’s often called glucose since dextrose and glucose have the same molecular form (C6H12O6), but glucose has several different isomeric forms, while dextrose is the biologically active form.
Dextrose looks like a fine white crystalline powder when it’s produced and has a sweet taste. When it’s mixed in water, dextrose dissolves instantly, leaving no lumps or clumps.
Dextrose is also absorbed very rapidly by the body when consumed, resulting in a high glycemic response (produces a high glucose response in the body when ingested). This high glycemic response makes it an ideal carbohydrate for exercising athletes following a workout in order to restore muscle glycogen concentrations, stimulate protein synthesis and halt protein breakdown.
Maltodextrin is also a carbohydrate manufactured by breaking down starches found naturally in corn, wheat, rice or starchy vegetables (like potatoes). When these foods are cooked, the starch breaks down, aided by the release of natural acids and enzymes, in a process called hydrolysis. Maltodextrin is then isolated into its purest form, which looks like a simple white powder.
Compared to dextrose, which is a monosaccharide (simple) carbohydrate, maltodextrin is a polysaccharide (complex) carbohydrate, which is defined as a repeating unit of a simple carb (like glucose or dextrose) joined together by special bonds.
Because maltodextrin is a polysaccharide, also known as a glucose polymer, it’s technically a complex carbohydrate. However, don’t be fooled by this “complex” exterior: the bonds between the glucose units of maltodextrin are actually weak, and the chain is very short. This results in a much faster digestion and absorption rate than would be expected, and in fact, it’s absorbed just slightly slower than dextrose (aka, glucose).
Therefore, physiologically, maltodextrin acts much like dextrose in its digestion and absorption capabilities.
Depending on its processing, when maltodextrin is tasted by the tongue, it can be either moderately sweet or have barely any flavor at all, unlike dextrose which is quite sweet.
Maltodextrin is added to a wide array of foods, from canned fruits to snacks, and is used as a filler in packets of common artificial sweeteners. Manufacturers claim that foods with maltodextrin are rich in fiber (because maltodextrin is a complex carbohydrate, like fiber), but this is far from truthful.
The benefit of adding maltodextrin to foods, such as sports drinks, is that it can prevent gastrointestinal distress that can sometimes occur when a person takes in a lot of simple sugar at one time. This polymer form delivers many glucoses in one long unit to increase blood glucose and insulin levels, and subsequently help promote fast muscle glycogen and protein synthesis rates, but does not cause cramps or diarrhea.
The Reason Why These Carbohydrates are In Prograde Workout
Most people know that high sugar diets are not good for us; they promote diabetes, obesity and other chronic diseases.
However, there are times when fast-acting carbohydrates like dextrose and maltodextrin are beneficial, and that time is around your workout.
Following your workout, you want high glycemic index carbs to restore blood glucose levels that may be dropping from a hard exercise session, increase blood insulin levels to begin the process of muscle glycogen resynthesis, 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, 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.
Thus, combining these two carbohydrates gives you fast stomach emptying and absorption without nasty side effects: drinks with a high osmolarity can cause diarrhea, gut cramping and potentially dehydration, and we want to definitely avoid that.
Despite some drawbacks to dextrose, we still want it in our post-workout beverage, because researchers have shown that having two different types of carbohydrate (simple and complex) promotes better absorption and uptake into the bloodstream than either carbohydrate alone (Shi X et al, 1995).
What Happens in the Real World?
Although all this science sounds great on paper, people really want to know if it really works for endurance and strength training enthusiasts in the real world, and, in fact it does.
Several sports nutrition research investigations have used a combination of dextrose (glucose) and maltodextrin, along with protein and amino acids, to promote faster recovery, restored glycogen levels and attain muscle protein balance following an intense exercise protocol (Ivy JL et al, 2002; Berardi JM et al, 2006; Renata TM et al, 2006, Harger-Domitrovich SG et al, 2007)
During a workout, consuming this combination of carbs plus whey protein can also help an exerciser work harder and stay out of the muscle protein breakdown zone so that their efforts are not wasted.
Overall, if you’re looking to improve your performance during an exercise session, and enhance your recovery afterwards in the real world, your best bet is a mix of fast digesting carbohydrates, like dextrose and maltodextrin, plus protein, taken during and/or after.
Early postexercise muscle glycogen recovery is enhanced with a carbohydrate-protein supplement. Ivy JL et al. J Appl Physiol October 1, 2002 93:1337-1344
Postexercise muscle glycogen recovery enhanced with a carbohydrate-protein supplement. Berardi JM et a,. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2006 Jun;38(6):1106-13.
Biochemical Effects of Carbohydrate Supplementation in a Simulated Competition of Short Terrestrial Duathlon. Renata TM et al, Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 2006, 3:6-11
Exogenous carbohydrate spares muscle glycogen in men and women during 10 h of exercise. Harger-Domitrovich SG et al. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2007 Dec;39(12):2171-9.
Effects of carbohydrate type and concentration and solution osmolality on water absorption. Shi, X., et al.: Med.Sci. Sports Exerc., 27:1607.1995.
Gastric emptying of ingested solutions in man: effect of beverage glucose concentration. Vist, G.E., and Maughan, R.J.: Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., 26:1269, 1994.
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