Maltodextrins are water-soluble carbohydrates, used by athletes to meet energy demands during intense effort and as food additives.
Maltodextrins are sugars obtained from starches, used mainly by athletes to help meet the energy required by intense physical exercise. Let’s find out better.
What are maltodextrins
Maltodextrins are starch-derived carbohydrates, particularly corn starch, which appear as a fine, water-soluble white powder.
Starch is a polysaccharide made up of long glucose chains that can be divided into simpler sugars, a process that normally occurs during digestion. Maltodextrins are therefore, in practice, partially digested starch.
For this reason, these molecules are easily digestible, thus representing a source of carbohydrates particularly useful for athletes. For example, it is common to use maltodextrin in bodybuilding, to provide immediate energy during physical exertion.
Maltodextrins, in addition to being easily assimilated, are easy to take as they are soluble in water and have a pleasant, delicate and sweet taste.
They are also used in the food industry as thickening or sweetening additives and from fermented maltodextrins, enzymes used in supplements can be obtained to improve digestive processes.
Main functions of maltodextrins
Maltodextrins are used as an energy supplement for athletes when they perform rather intense physical exertion.
For example, the use of maltodextrin supplements in cycling and in endurance sports in general is very widespread, where energy supplements can be useful.
Sportsmen and athletes often resort to maltodextrin supplements or other supplements such as cyclodextrins; the choice between cyclodextrin or maltodextrin depends on the type of effort and its duration.
In addition to sports supplements, maltodextrins are also used in the clinical setting for patients with strong appetite or high energy consumption.
Since these substances are also used in the food industry as thickeners, it is therefore possible to find maltodextrins in packaged foods, for example in sauces, salad dressings, ready-made soups or in some products sweetened with synthetic sweeteners.
Maltodextrins are found in food supplement form and as additives in some foods. Either way, they can be made from corn or other grains, including wheat.
If maltodextrins are made from wheat, do they contain gluten? In theory not, because during the production process of maltodextrins the protein fraction of the wheat is removed. People intolerant to gluten can still check for traces of gluten by reading the instructions on the product packaging.
Since maltodextrins from corn or other grains are also used in the food industry, they can also be found in some packaged foods.
Examples of foods with maltodextrins include dairy products, breakfast cereals, margarines, milk powders, energy bars, mayonnaise and other sauces, and some beverages such as beer.
When to take maltodextrins
Maltodrestins can be taken before and during training, in case of intense physical exercises that require a lot of energy. In some cases they are given after sport, to replenish energy supplies.
Generally they are taken dissolved in water and the dosage depends on the duration of the physical effort and the intensity.
Do maltodextrins make you fat?
Maltodextrins belong to the carbohydrate category, therefore they provide 4 calories per gram.
Since, according to the guidelines, the daily dosage of maltodextrins varies from 50 to 80 grams, their caloric intake can be between 200 and 320 calories per day which affect the amount of daily calories introduced with food.
An excess of calories with respect to one’s needs always leads to weight gain, therefore also maltodextrins can make you fat.
Contraindications of maltodextrins
The use of maltodextrins is considered safe in people who are in good health. However, the use of maltodextrin could be contraindicated in people suffering from diabetes, since these substances have a high glycemic index.
Among the contraindications of maltodextrins we also find inflammations of the intestine such as irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease and, in general, problems related to digestive processes.
Attention also to people who follow a low-calorie diet to lose weight, since maltodextrins also make you fat like any other food and their energy intake should be counted in the calories consumed daily.
Furthermore, the consumption of foods that contain maltodextrin should be limited, not so much due to the presence of maltodextrin but because very often they are packaged foods, which undergo a lot of processing and are characterized by high additive content.
Side effects of maltodextrins
In sensitive people, high consumption of maltodextrin can cause digestive problems such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain.