Maltodextrin will give you energy in the form of a quick and dramatic blood sugar spike. It’s generally safe, although you may want to avoid it if you’re watching your weight or have diabetes.
Maltodextrin is a carbohydrate powder made from rice, potatoes, corn or wheat. It's quickly digested and rapidly introduces sugar into the bloodstream. Athletes use it as a supplement post-workout. It also shows up as a filler and preservative in a wide variety of foods.
The amount of calories per gram in maltodextrin is similar to that of table sugar. Maltodextrin is much easier to digest, however, and eating it causes levels of sugar in the blood to spike much faster. This blood sugar spike can lead to a subsequent crash. It's also more sugar at once than your body can generally use; the excess blood sugar is converted into fat for storage. If you're watching your weight, you may want to avoid maltodextrin for this purpose.
Repeated blood sugar spikes can lead to insulin resistance or diabetes in some individuals. Be sparing with your maltodextrin consumption if you're predisposed to diabetes. If you have diabetes, you’re probably keeping a close watch on your blood sugar already. Consult with your doctor before consuming products containing maltodextrin.
One study published in the journal PLOS ONE found that consuming maltodextrin can mess up the bacteria found in the gut. Maltodextrin disrupted the growth of probiotic bacteria - those important to intestinal health - and increased the risk of health problems from bad bacteria like e. coli. Check in with your doctor if you consume maltodextrin and experience intestinal pain, gas, bloating, or constipation.
Although maltodextrin is sometimes derived from wheat, the manufacturing process separates maltodextrin from the gluten in wheat. You can safely consume maltodextrin if you have celiac disease or are on a gluten-free diet.
Maltodextrin is often used in products that have artificial sweeteners and other processed ingredients. Although the maltodextrin itself is generally safe, processed and artificially sweetened foods are generally unhealthy and can cause a range of long-term health problems. Be sure to read the ingredients on the back of any product that has maltodextrin and use best judgement and moderation in consumption. It’s also possible that the corn, rice, and potatoes used in maltodextrin production are genetically modified.
Possible short-term side effects
- blood sugar spike followed by a crash
Possible long-term side effects
- weight gain
- insulin resistance
- disruption of gut bacteria
Commonly found in
- pudding and gelatins
- salad dressings
- canned fruits
- various desserts
- powdered drinks lotion
- hair care products
- post-workout supplements
- increase of energy
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Written by Sean McNulty | 09-24-2016
Written by Sean McNulty
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