Maltodextrin is a common ingredient in most packaged and processed foods. Check the labels of the foods in your home to see how many contain maltodextrin. In this article, we discuss how it can affect the body and its most common uses.
What is Maltodextrin?
Maltodextrin Is a non-sweet food additive made from rice, corn, potatoes, or wheat. In the U.S., it is derived primarily from corn starch, while the wheat variety is more prevalent in Europe. It is a polysaccharide, which is a carbohydrate where its sugar molecules are bonded together.
Maltodextrin can be used in various cooking methods. For example, it decreases the fat content in light peanut butter while simultaneously maintaining the food’s texture. In other instances, maltodextrin improves the “feel” of food and beverages when consumed. It is in various snacks such as potato chips and jerky. Some energy drinks, energy gels, protein powders, and other dietary supplements may contain maltodextrin to help boost athletic performance.
How Is Maltodextrin Made?
Maltodextrin forms via the process of partial hydrolysis then turned into a white powder or concentrated solution. Partial hydrolysis occurs when a molecule of water breaks one or more chemical bonds.
Foods That Contain Maltodextrin
Maltodextrin is in a variety of foods and dishes. Here is a brief list of popular items consumed daily:
- Salad Dressings
- Potato Chips
- Sports Drinks
- Frozen Meals
Why You Should Avoid Maltodextrin
On April 1, 2020, the FDA officially revised their maltodextrin listing, claiming it a” direct food substances affirmed as generally recognized as safe.” To see the article, click HERE. However, there are several reasons a person should avoid consuming maltodextrin:
Trying to Losing Weight
Maltodextrin is a carbohydrate that has four calories per gram, which is the same as table sugar. It has no nutritional value and can cause an increase in blood sugar when consumed. As a result, many feel it may not be ideal for weight loss.
Maltodextrin & Diabetes
The glycemic index measures how much specific foods can raise blood sugar levels, ranging on a scale of 0 to 100. The higher the glycemic index, the more significant impact it has on blood sugar levels. Maltodextrin has a glycemic index ranging between 106 and 136, compared to table sugar with a glycemic index of 65.
Maltodextrin’s high GI can spike blood sugar levels, which could be problematic for diabetics: studies indicate low GI diets are more effective at controlling blood sugar and glucose levels than higher-GI diets. 
Increased Gut Bacteria
Maltodextrin can inhibit the growth of good probiotics in the gut, harming gut bacteria and overall health. Studies indicate the consumption of processed foods containing maltodextrin “contributes to suppression of intestinal anti-microbial defense mechanisms and may be an environmental priming factor for the development of chronic inflammatory disease.” 
Genetically Modified Ingredients (GMOs)
Maltodextrin is typically from genetically modified corn. GMOs are organisms where the DNA (genetic material) is altered in a way that does not occur naturally. Even though the FDA approves GMO products, it is advised by many to avoid genetically modified products and consume organic foods free of pesticides, GMOs, and artificial ingredients.
Can Maltodextrin Be Good For You?
Maltodextrin can be beneficial under the right circumstances. Here we will discuss some of the benefits of this common food ingredient.
Maltodextrin may be beneficial for athletes and athletic performance. When taken two hours before exercise, combining glutamine and maltodextrin may be more effective than pure carbohydrates or glutamine to prevent anaerobic power reduction. 
Also known as low blood sugar, hypoglycemia is a condition where blood glucose levels fall below normal levels (4 mmol/L or 72mg/dL). Hypoglycemia symptoms can include confusion, trouble talking, clumsiness, loss of consciousness, seizures, or death. Maltodextrin can quickly increase blood sugar levels, making it an effective method of hypoglycemia.
Maltodextrin may have a positive impact on digestion. The supplement may improve colonic transit time, stool volume, consistency, and healthy intestinal functions. 
There are many substitutes for maltodextrin available on the market in terms of sweetness and consistency. Here are some of the most popular:
- Brown Sugar. Brown sugar is a type of sugar that contains molasses, which is a dark syrup.
- Agave. Agave syrup is a natural sweetener used to sweeten various foods and drinks instead of sugar.
- Honey. Made by honeybees from the nectar of flowering plants, honey is a natural sweetener that contains antioxidants, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, iron, and zinc.
- Stevia. Stevia is an herb native to Paraguay that is 300 times sweeter than sugar, is not metabolized by the body, and contains zero calories.
- Pectin. Pectin is an extract from apples that tastes like unsweetened apple juice. It is used in jams, jellies, and marmalades due to its jelly-like consistency when cooked at high temperatures.
Maltodextrin is a sweetener found in many processed and packaged foods. Studies indicate it can cause blood sugar levels to spike, potentially making it harmful to people with diabetes. It may also be detrimental to gut bacteria, inhibiting good bacteria’s growth, which may increase the risk of chronic diseases.
Maltodextrin is a carbohydrate that contains four calories per gram, which can pose a problem for those attempting to lose weight. However, if taken in moderation and balanced with other nutrients, it can provide carbohydrate energy for athletic performance and assist with digestion.
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 Babak Nakhostin-Roohi. Effect of Glutamine and Maltodextrin Acute Supplementation on Anaerobic Power. Asian J Sports Med. Online ahead of Print ; 4(2):34495. doi: 10.5812/asjsm.34495. https://sites.kowsarpub.com/asjsm/articles/73578.html
 María Salud Abellán Ruiz, María Dolores Barnuevo Espinosa, Carlos J Contreras Fernández, (et al). Digestion-Resistant Maltodextrin Effects On Colonic Transit Time And Stool Weight: A Randomized Controlled Clinical Study. Eur J Nutr. 2016 Dec;55(8):2389-2397. doi: 10.1007/s00394-015-1045-4. Epub 2015 Oct 6. [PMID: 26437831]. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26437831/