Maltodextrin

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Maltodextrin is composed of carbohydrates. What do carbohydrates do? They supply the muscles with energy. This energy is delivered more or less rapidly. And maltodextrin enables carbohydrates to be absorbed without a feeling of excess (pasta or sugar…) in your body. Explanations. 

Why use maltodextrin in dietetic sports products?

Maltodextrins don't taste sweet, they are easily digested and tolerated by the body, unlike fructose.

The reason for its inclusion in an energy drink is its low osmolarity (concentration of molecules in the solution) in relation to the number of glucose molecules supplied. For the same total quantity of glucose, the osmolarity of the drink is lower when using maltodextrin.

Before:

Increasing carbohydrates intake 3 days before an event increases the store of muscle glycogen. Some people are not able to increase their carbohydrate intake or they do not wish to alter the balance of their diet. In this case, maltodextrin has a great part to play. In fact maltodextrin-based drinks are very concentrated and remain isotonic or hypotonic, so are very well tolerated by the body. They do not taste sweet and so do not cause nausea.

During and after:

One of the purposes of sports and recovery drinks is to supply energy. Yet although these drinks only contain high Glycemic Index carbohydates (fast sugars), they are said to be hypertonic and so encourage dehydration and taste very sweet! This is where maltodextrin comes in as it supplies concentrated carbohydrates and its low osmolarity allows drinks to be isotonic or even hypotonic. Its lack of sweetness also avoids the nausea which some athletes experience during exercise from drinks that are too sweet.

Where do you find maltodextrin?

Maltodextrins are used as sources of carbohydrate, neutral carriers and for several technological functions such as textural, viscosifying, anticristallizing or colouring.

These technological functions are useful in several areas such as:

  • dietetics: paediatric, clinical, sports, weight reduction.
  • Powders: flavourings, sweetening agents, soups, powdered drinks
  • Fermented products: bakery, brewery and butcher shop
  • Technological: manufacture of biscuits, ice cream and sauces.

What is maltodextrin?

Maltodextrin a mixture of sugars produced by the hydrolysis of wheat or corn starch. The principle of hydrolysis consists in breaking down long glucose chains of starch to produce smaller carbohydrates. The intensity of the hydrolysis is measured in DE (Dextrose equivalent). The higher the DE, the higher the quantity of simple sugars in the maltodextrin. DE = 0 à Non-converted starch, DE = 100 à entirely hydrolysed glucose or starch. The DE of maltodextrin is around 20.

Maltodextrin can be non-sweet and is odourless. So it is often used in liquid preparations.

In conclusion, maltodextrin is a carbohydrate somewhere between starch and glucose.

Maltodextrin, slow sugar or fast sugar?

The concept of slow and fast sugars is no longer current although it is much used. Today, we mainly use the Glycemic index (GI) which classifies carbohydrate foods. In fact, the higher the GI of a food, the higher is its glygemic power and the lower its GI the lower is its glycemic power.

The common belief that maltodextrin is a slow sugar should be treated with caution. As we have previously seen, there is not only one maltodextrin but different ones depending on their DE, so there are as many GIs as there are maltodextrins. However the lower the DE is the lower its GI will be (slow sugars) and the slower its assimilation rate will be.

Marie Fauchille
Dietician | Nutritionist
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