Highly branched cyclic dextrin

I have been using this carb source for many years during hockey games and in the gym. I started using it with electrolytes during my races and trainings a month a good and got great results out of it. I feel this carb source is way better than any glucose/fructose products. I was wondering if anyone here have tried it and got similar results.

The science behind this carb source seems to support a high effectivness for endurance sports. Maybe this could be a topic that @chad could dig in for a future podcast episode.

Id be very wary of any product that uses lactose as a primary component as it is processed relatively slowly and many lack sufficient enzymes to do so. The list of potential side effects is pretty alarming for on bike use

Q&A says it’s lactose-free.

Colette on 01/07/2018|Question: Hi there, is HBCD free of lactose, dairy and gluten free?|
Answer: Hi Colette, our Highly Branched Cyclic Dextrin (Cluster Dextrin) is dairly and gluten free.

Perhaps the manufacturing starts with lactose, but the final product is something else. Really, it sounds like ucann superstarch and similar items. They compare themselves favorably vs waxy maize, similar to how ucann woud position itself. I’m guessing they just found a different way to manufacture it. I think ucann’s method is patented and uses heat, moisture and possibly pressure? And this products talks about an enzymatic process. It looks a lot cheaper, which is interesting.

Highly Branched Cyclic Dextrin VS Waxy Maize

Waxy maize starch is another form of carbohydrate that is often compared to HBCD, despite the fact that they are very different. Waxy maize is free from lactose and sugar and is actually absorbed much quicker than HBCD. This is not necessarily a good or bad thing, as it depends on what you are looking to get out of your training. For sustained energy levels, HBCD is better, whereas for a faster absorption rate, waxy maize is better.

Potential side effects

Always consult your doctor before using any new supplements, and discontinue usage if you experience any adverse side effects. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should not use this supplement. Although very safe, some users have experienced the following side effects when using highly branched cyclic dextrin, especially if they exceeded the recommended daily dosage.

  • Stomach cramps
  • Frequent urination
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Mild nausea

that seems like an odd thing to point out if it doesn’t contain lactose

I saw that too, and it is odd. But “dextrin” isn’t lactose. And this is the manufacturers website, so if they explicitly say it doesn’t have lactose then that’s pretty much from the horses mouth. I didn’t immediately see a nutrition label.

The “side effects” are the same things you’d see on pretty much any product… eg, placebo’s in drug trials usually have the same side effects. I’m sure plenty have reactions like this to certain gels, which is why there’s so much variation in what people prefer and tolerate.

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I’ve started using cyclic dextrin and have had excellent results. I stomach it very easily compared with normal glucose or glucose fructose carb drinks. I’d be interested to hear of other people’s experiences too.

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That’s interesting.
I was hoping this would be a cheaper alternative to the UCAN Superexpensive Superstarch, which I’m occasionally using. (I would probably use it more if it was cheaper). The main advantage of Superstarch is the more steady energy (blood glucose) levels. But it doesn’t seem that the highly branch cyclic dextrin has the same effect. Here’s a data on HBCD effects on blood glucose levels vs. maltodextrin and it seems to be essentially the same.

Looks like the advantage of the HBCD is the lower osmotic pressure which allows faster gastric emptying and presumably less stomach issues if you need to take in a lot of carbs.


Have you looked at waxy maize starch or vitargo as an alternative? Not sure where you’re based but find a supplier like myprotein where you can just buy a big unbranded bag and it should be cheaper than buying a run/bike specific brand

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Thanks for the tip!

Vitargo seems to raise blood glucose fast and high, so not a good option for my purpose.

I wasn’t aware of Waxy Maize either and it is confusing. It is marketed as a fast carbohydrate but according to scientific studies it actually is a slow one. https://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/waxy_maize_starch_myth.htm I definitely want to try this one. It costs about 1/10th of what superstarch costs so if it works, it would be great! I wonder if you can make a gel out of it.

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Not sure how well it would gel, could try getting some pectin to add in like is used in maurten to create a gel

For those who live in Canada, this is where I source my HBCD:


You can also get other carb sources: https://www.canadianprotein.com/carbohydrate-supplements

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I suspect the starch will separate out from the water and it will need to be agitated before you consume it. Cooking it will cause it to gel up, but I believe that breaks down the starch which defeats the point of using/buying a complex starch in the first place.