What is maltodextrin and why is it used in sports products?
Maltodextrin is a complex carbohydrate made up of multiple glucose units linked together.
Unlike simple sugars (for example, glucose and fructose), maltodextrin's complex structure allows for a more gradual release of energy, making it a popular ingredient in sports drinks and energy gels for sustained energy during exercise.
Maltodextrin is typically derived from starchy foods like corn, rice, or potatoes. The process involves breaking down the starch through hydrolysis, using enzymes and water to create a chain of glucose molecules. The length of this chain can be controlled to achieve different levels of sweetness and digestibility.
Since maltodextrin is less sweet than regular sugar, it's often used in food products to add bulk and texture without significantly increasing sweetness. For athletes, maltodextrin's ability to provide a steady energy source without causing spikes and crashes in blood sugar levels.
It can be found in various sports nutrition products, including energy bars, drinks, and gels, helping to fuel workouts and replenish muscle glycogen in recovery.