Maltodextrin – Fuel your performance with the quick energy

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Last updated on May 6th, 2023 at 11:57 am

In today’s fast-paced world, convenience is king, and nowhere is that more evident than in our food choices. Packaged foods and beverages have become a ubiquitous part of our diets, and when we read the ingredient labels, we often see a long list of additives used for flavor, texture, and as fillers.
Additives not only enhance the taste and feel of our food, but they also make it easier for producers to create and distribute their products. One such additive that is commonly found in food products is maltodextrin, which ranks among the top 10 food additives used to enhance the flavor and texture of food. While maltodextrin does offer some health benefits, there are also some potential health concerns associated with its use as a food additive.
In this blog, we will delve into the uses, benefits, and possible issues of maltodextrin as a food additive. Our goal is to empower you with knowledge so that you can make informed choices when purchasing food items that contain maltodextrin

What is Maltodextrin?

Maltodextrin is a type of polysaccharide carbohydrate, which is typically made from the starch of vegetables or grains like potatoes, wheat, tapioca, or corn. The starch is derived by making a fine powder of these vegetables or grains and then through enzymes like amylase, this powder is broken down into smaller molecules by mixing it with hot water in a process called hydrolysis. This mixture of water and break down starch molecules are then dried by spraying the mixture in a container where it gets its final form which is a water-soluble white powder that can be made to taste sweet or flavorless depending on the heating process.

Historically, Maltodextrin was first produced in the 1950s as a by-product of the beer industry and sometimes used as a sweetener for beers. Over time, the demand increased for maltodextrin as other industries started to use maltodextrin in their products as a food additive. This demand was filled by using starch from other vegetables. Today, maltodextrin is a more than USD 3 billion industry and is used worldwide in 100s of products.

Maltodextrin is used as a thickener, sweetener, bulking agent, and preservative in products like pudding mixes, cake mixes, desserts, canned fruits, mayonnaise, salad dressings, barbeque sauces, and other similar products.

The wide use of maltodextrin as a food additive is due to its versatility, cost efficiency, and general acceptance. It is absorbed a bit slower than simple table sugar however it takes much less time to be absorbed when compared to complex fibers. In the body, maltodextrin is converted into glucose from carbohydrates and used as an energy source. For this reason, maltodextrin is also used in energy drinks to give a quick energy boost to athletes or someone who is trying to gain weight quickly. Maltodextrin is claimed to have many health benefits compared to simple sugar however there are some concerns about the overuse of maltodextrin as well.

Benefits of Maltodextrin

Maltodextrin for Energy

Maltodextrin is a carbohydrate that is digested at a slower rate than glucose and sugar solutions, an energy drink that contains maltodextrin would supply energy to the body at a sustained rate without the risk of a sudden drop in blood sugar.

A small study conducted on the effects of maltodextrin in combination with glutamine, on anaerobic(short-term high intensity) power output found that supplementing with glutathione and maltodextrin 2 hours prior to exercise, resulted in better performance and recovery time.

Is maltodextrin gluten-free?

As maltodextrin is usually gluten-free* athletes who can not consume gluten can also use it to increase their energy levels during workout sessions.
As maltodextrin is a carbohydrate it may be used to put on weight by individuals who don’t gain weight easily, as it will increase the number of total calories consumed in a day if taken along with regular food.

Check with the manufacturer to be sure, as a small percentage of maltodextrin products do have gluten in them.

Maltodextrin for Nutrition Absorption

Maltodextrin, a carbohydrate, can stimulate the production of insulin in the body. Insulin is necessary for the proper transportation of nutrients in the body, such as glucose and amino acids, by facilitating their movement in the bloodstream.

When maltodextrin is consumed along with vitamins and minerals, it increases the absorption and bioavailability of these nutrients, which is beneficial for individuals recovering from a disease or health issue where weight loss has occurred.

Maltodextrin for Digestive Health

A highly refined form of maltodextrin that has undergone a process to make it indigestible in the small intestine called digestion-resistant maltodextrin or resistant maltodextrin (RMD) can be used to treat moderate constipation. RMD may act as prebiotic fiber and by resisting digestion would increase stool volume.

RMD has been shown to have many gut-related benefits which include better digestion, reduced inflammation, and improved gut health. One study with more than 50 participants found that RMD improved colonic transit time, and stool volume among other health benefits.

Maltodextrin for Colon Cancer

Maltodextrin as starch can be made resistant to digestion and can help those individuals who have a high fat and low fiber diet. This is linked to higher chances of rectal inflammation which may cause rectal cancer.

Digestion-resistant Maltodextrin acts as a fiber and helps lower the inflammation in the colon. This anti-inflammatory activity of RMD was further studied for its effect against colon cancer. In the study conducted in vivo and in vitro RMD showed apoptosis-inducing properties and in animal models, it reduced the tumor sizes upon being injected into the tumor.

Even though there is limited research on the effects of maltodextrin and its variants, it is safe to say that it has some benefits which can have anti-inflammatory effects on the gut.

Is Maltodextrin bad for you?

Maltodextrin is categorized as Generally Recognized as Safe by FDA and is used widely. As a food additive, it does not have a negative impact on one’s health. However, in certain conditions, you should avoid overconsuming foods which have maltodextrin as an additive.

Negative Effects of Maltodextrin on Diabetes

Maltodextrin has a high glycemic index ranging from 85-137 which means that upon consumption, it can be absorbed faster and release glucose in the bloodstream at a high rate that can increase blood sugar which negatively affects individuals who have diabetes or prediabetic and want to control their blood sugar.

If you are diabetic and your diet consists of eating packaged food you must check the amount of maltodextrin each of those food packages has. This will not only help you in eating better but bring your sugar levels down.

Can increase the production of harmful bacteria

The moderate use of maltodextrin has been shown to be beneficial for gut bacteria. However excessive use of maltodextrin in the food may affect healthy bacteria and can increase the growth of ‘harmful bacteria’ such as Bacteroides spp. and Enterobacteriaceae which may cause inflammation and may affect digestion and inhibit the activities of ‘good bacteria’.

Maltodextrin and bone health

As maltodextrin is present in processed food and such foods are usually low in nutrients like vitamin D, calcium, and magnesium. This imbalance along with the consumption of maltodextrin may result in higher than normal insulin production which can lead to loss of calcium in the urine and might cause bone issues like osteoporosis.

Maltodextrin and Allergies

Maltodextrin is derived from different plants and may cause an allergic reaction if consumed by someone who is allergic to corn, potatoes, or tapioca. This might cause rashes, itching, or cracking of the skin. Maltodextrin is usually gluten-free however, it’s a good practice for people with a gluten allergy to check the origin of their maltodextrin product to ensure that it is gluten-free.

Maltodextrin and Weight

Just like any other simple carbohydrate maltodextrin would also increase weight gain if consumed in high amounts. Usually, high amounts of maltodextrin are found in processed foods that are not very high in other nutrients such as vitamins, and minerals and good fats such as short-chain fatty acids. This might lead to empty calories which may cause insulin resistance. Insulin resistance has been linked to inflammation and obesity.
Maltodextrin must not be consumed in high quantities if you want to lose weight.


Maltodextrin is a type of carbohydrate that is made from vegetables. It is classified as a ‘Generally recognized as safe ‘ or GRAS product that can be consumed in moderate amounts.

  • Daily limit: 15% of total food weight consumed in a day. For example, if you consume 2000 calories then 300 calories may come from maltodextrin. Which is around 75 grams of maltodextrin in one day.
  • For Athletes: 30-60 grams of maltodextrin may be taken safely to maintain energy during an hour-long high-intensity exercise session.

However, it is important to mention that maltodextrin should be consumed along with other dietary nutrients to limit its side effects.

Maltodextrin Side effects

Maltodextrin is classified as a GRAS substance by the FDA and it has been used for several decades as a food additive. It is not known to have major side effects however, some people may be sensitive to maltodextrin as a source of carbohydrates and may experience:

Gastrointestinal problems

  • Bloating
  • Cramps
  • Diarrhea

Allergic reactions

  • Itching
  • Rashes
  • Swelling

Dental Problems

  • Tooth decay
  • Loosened gums


Individuals on diabetes medication should avoid taking maltodextrin as it has a high glycemic index and might spike blood sugar levels quickly.


Maltodextrin is a commonly used food additive used for various functions including sweetening, thickening, bulking, and preserving food products. It is a carbohydrate that is extracted from the starch of vegetables or grains like potatoes, wheat, tapioca, and corn. Maltodextrin offers a range of health benefits, including being a good source of energy, aiding nutrient absorption, and alleviating constipation. Additionally, it has been found to enhance athletic performance and reduce recovery time. This is because it can increase insulin production, which assists in the proper distribution of nutrients in the body. Furthermore, maltodextrin has been linked to improving gut health, reducing inflammation, and enhancing colon transit time. However, consuming excessive amounts of maltodextrin can lead to various health issues such as weight gain, dental cavities, and high blood sugar levels. even though maltodextrin is usually gluten-free you should always confirm it by checking the labels or enquiring with the manufacturer. Maltodextrin has no known side effects if taken in moderate amounts, it is recognized as a GRAS substance by the FDA.