Maltodextrin the Multifarious
October 22, 2013 Admin 0
Maltodextrin is an oligosaccharide obtained by the hydrolysis of various starches using acids or enzymes. In the production of maltodextrin, the amount of hydrolisation obtained is often referred to as a ‘DE’ value. Many of you will know that a DE value refers to dextrose equivalence and in simple terms, this is the amount of reducing sugars (sugars that feature an aldehyde group or are capable of forming one in solution via isomerism) present in relation to dextrose content and given as a percentage value.
Dextrose equivalence is also inversely related to molecule size. This means in practice that starch can be converted to molecules with DE-values from 1 to 100. Relative to to our topic, those with DE values of 6-19 are referred to as maltodextrins. Incidentally, powdered pure glucose (dextrose) has a DE value of 100.
Although Maltodextrin is a prominent feature of both food manufacture and sports supplements, is is often thought of as particular product with a particular makeup but nothing could be further from the truth. When I worked within the food industry buying ingredients many years ago, I could obtain maltodextrin which was made from debranched retrograded tapioca and was often referred to as a ‘resistant’ starch. It was certainly also a maltodextrin too, but not a desirable ingredient to be adding to a sports drink or post workout supplement .
Processing techniques are as significant as the source of the starch, and often, even more significant. Techniques also need to differ for the source material. Amylose to amylopectin ratios differ and these ratios will account for this ‘complex’ carbohydrate posessing a high glycaemic index.
In most instances, corn starch is the most cost effective way of obtaining maltodextrin. But other plants used to make maltodextrin, exhibit differing starch molecules, and often considerably. Corn, potatoes, yams and tapioca all produce a varying DE, composition and functionality. Often a product will have to be mixed with dextrose to achieve maltodextrin classification. These product will differ greatly to one that has simple been produced by hydrolisation which carries on until the preferred DE value is obtained, without the addition of dextrose.
Regarding sports supplements, the types of maltodextrin which are preferable are those which possess a sweeter taste, but a less waxy composition. The exact opposite would be the case when using maltodexrins for savoury products like sauces. Higher DE value products also offer greater solubility.
In the sports supplement industry, maltodextrin is usually referred to in an isolated manner, as if the product is not open to great variation. A stark contrast to the way in which protein powders are marketed, placing great emphasis on sometimes unimportant variations and attributes of a product to make it seem superior.
Physiologically, some have stated that maltodextrin acts much like dextrose in its digestion and absorption activities. The actual behaviour of maltodextrins can vary depending on their source, method of manufacture, DE value and what they are consumed with. For example, a corn starch maltodextrin with a DE approaching 20 may induce a marked insulin response from ingestion as part of a sports drink also containing glucose. If that particular maltodextrin was replaced by enzyme synthesized highly branched maltodextrins, even with a high glucose content present, the exact opposite would occur.
This example of a highly branched glucan structure, modified by branching enzymes and β-amylase has a comparably very slow digesting property to corn sourced maltodextrin. These highly branched α-glucans are marketed as food ingredients to control postprandial glucose levels and promote stable blood sugar levels to reduce hunger and increase post prandial satiety. Paradoxically the opposite of what is likely to occur when consuming some other forms of maltodextrin.
When considering a sports supplement or using maltodextrin as a carbohydrate supplement, you should consider the source of the product and the actual properties of it. Although mainly used in food manufacture, some sports supplements have used waxy maltodextrins sourced from plants like maize, rice and barley. These contain very little or no amylose and conversely nearly 100% amylopectin.
Maltodextrin sourced from starches that are high in amylopectin are absorbed quicker than high amylose starches, just to add to the confusion.Phophated di-starch phosphate is a modified resistant starch made from high amylose maize starch, a popular additive in the food industry. But because this is an extremely low GI maltodextrin it is used in modifed forms in the same role as enzyme synthesized branched chain maltdextrins.
So our sports drink or maltodextrin powder (sometimes with an ingredient declaration that states ‘100% maltodextrin’ and not much else) may or may not be a good product to consume post workout when we want to take advantage of high GI foodstuffs and insulin response. We probably have little evidence to suggest that this particular product will induce a good insulin response or not.
High amylopectin starches have been documented to induce nonreversible insulin resistance in much the same way fructose can. The long term use of high amylopectin products is therefore undesirable on a whole new level. The extended and short term consumption of maltodextrins should be researched for maximum efficacy in use.
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