Maltodextrin or Glucose for fueling?

I often heard people say that the perfect combination for fueling is a ratio of 2:1 of glucose and fructose. In the last podcast episode they mentioned that Maurten drink mix and ‘SIS Beta Fuel’ both have this ideal ratio.

However, I looked at the nutritional facts of both products and both state that Maltodextrin is the main ingredient - not Glucose. Glucose ist not even on the list.
Perhaps I am mistaking or overseeing something, but as far as I know, Maltodextrin and glucose are quite different. So what’s correct then?

Maltodextrin is a polymer of glucose molecules.

It is absorbed in digestion using the same transport mechanism as glucose, so I would guess (but don’t know) that the first step of maltodextrin digestion is to break it down into the constituent glucose.

In terms of absorption rate, glucose and maltodextrin compete with each other, since they use the same transport mechanism. If 60g is the hourly limit of glucose for someone, they can’t increase this by consuming additional maltodextrin.

4 Likes

Just to add: Maurten includes some Fructose to help carbohydrate intake. Also consider that Maltodextrin is available in different chain-lengths (at least here in Germany), so Malto 19 or 12 for example. The longer the chain the more beneficial for longterm energy support (on the contrary not helpful for short energy supply :slight_smile: ).

Edit: Mixed the number stuff up, so higher number = faster energy delivery and low number = slower energy delivery

Acutally, I think it’s the other way around with maltodextrin: the higher the number, the faster it will be absorped.

1 Like

True, I mixed it up. Have edited above

1 Like

Sound logical but it isn’t true. In the section maltodextrins in the human diet it explicitly says

Due to the difference in digestion and absorption, when compared to glucose, it has often been suggested that low-DE MDs, as complex CHOs, will require more time for digestion and absorption, resulting in a lower glycemic response (Zhang and Hamaker, 2009).

This suggestion, however, is a misconception and is not supported by any research data. In contrast, the enzymic digestion of MDs appears to take place at a high rate leading to an absorption rate not being different from absorption after ingestion of pure glucose, as reflected also by comparable post-ingestive insulin responses at rest and during exercise, as well as oxidation rates during exercise (Hawley et al., 1992; Wagenmakers et al., 1993; Jeukendrup, 2004).

3 Likes

Maurten gels contain glucose and fructose. .

The drink mix contains maltodextein and fructose

I bought some maurten gels recently. Have not yet tried them, but looking forward to see if they go down better then other gels. I also bought SIS gels because they are isotonic, and honey stinger because the have both glucose and fructose. Trying to find a better alternative vs concentrated maltodextein like most gels.

I use a Maltodextrin powder to fortify my normal glucose/fructose electrolyte energy drink. The benefits of Maltodextrin is that it has low osmolality (number of molecules per molecules of solvent) and is thus rapidly cleared from the gut. Pure glucose may need to be diluted in the gut before it can move on to the small intestines and is the reason most people will get some sort of gastric distress in physical activity.

https://www.infinitnutrition.us/osmolality-101

1 Like

Why do you use glucose as well (just asking!)? I have maltodextrin (MD) powder (DE 6) and fructose. For shorter but intense workouts I will use one scoop of MD (around 25 grams) and a pinch of salt into my water bottle and will mix it with a filtered coffee for a better taste. Second bottle will be just water but I won’t usually drink it whole. For 1.5-2 hours workouts I will put two scoops of MD into my first bottle and one into the second. Some salt and of course the filtered coffee into the first one. A leave the fructose for even more demanding and longer rides outdoors. I must say I prefer the non-sweet taste of MD and hate the fructose taste. When I ran out of the MD I used cane sugar but it tasted awfully sweet and I had some GI problems for a day afterwards.

For a reference I use Jeukendrup’s recommendations for carb intake

A bit OT- For those that use Maple Syrup instead of gels, have you ever used maltodextrin powder as a thickening agent?

RATE OF SPECIFIC CARBOHYDRATE ABSORPTION

Intestinal absorption rate is most rapid with from glucose polymer ->Maltodextrins) than from simple sugar solutions, permitting a higher total calorie absorption rate due to compatible osmolality levels.[10] Body fluids are absorbed immediately across intestinal linings at an osmolality of 280-303 mOsm with no delay. In a fluid-ounce solution, calorie volume must be mixed at body-fluid osmolality levels in order for immediate absorption. When carbohydrates are mixed with water they are limited to the following body solution osmolality levels, otherwise absorption will be delayed until the stomach dilutes the hypertonic solution by withdrawing serum fluids:

CARBOHYDRATE CALORIES/ml @ AVAILABLE BODY FLUID OSMOLALITY 280-303 mOsm
Glucose 0.2 6%
Fructose 0.2 6%
Sucrose 0.4 7-8%
Maltodextrins 0.9-1.2 15-18%

Intestinal solution absorption may be predicted immediately at 280-303 mOsm body fluid levels for optimal muscle-energy benefits, especially postponing exercise-induced fatigue. Many substances are added to carbohydrate solutions to improve the efficiency of the energy repletion cycle. However, such substances ->protein calories, fatty acids, and electrolytes) surprisingly raise osmolality.

1.) During exercise, consume 60-70 grams complex carbohydrates to postpone glycogen depletion during exercise. The recommended ceiling for total carbohydrate intake depends on individual size and activity level; however, most endurance athletes require 600-900 grams per day training. Individual tolerated carbohydrate solutions should be determined in training. What works for one athlete may be performance-inhibiting for another.

2.) The performance-enhancing glycogen-structured carbohydrate-of-choice is the long-chain glucose polymer, Maltodextrin.

If you want to read all the details:

https://www.hammernutrition.com/knowledge/advanced-knowledge/carbohydrates-101/

4 Likes

Because I’m just adding the malto to a gatorade scoop. Gatorade used to use sucrose/HFCS but everyone is freaking out of HFCS even though it is almost identical to sucrose, just a little bit more fructose (55 in HFCS vs 50% in sucrose). Since it works, as in I can consume 100g/hr in a 20oz bottle, I haven’t had the urge to try a totally custom mix. Been using this since 2012 (2-3 scoops malto + 1 serving gatorade), I like the flavor, although 3 scoops + 1 scoop gatorade is a bit on the sweet side, but will provide enough calories to carry me through olympic distance bike + run, just taking in a little bit of water on the run.

1 Like

I would suggest using MD 6 for the long rides as its energy is available around 2 hours after intake. For the short rides use MD 19 (energy available after 15 min). The way you describe it doesn’t make sense to me.

Any reference for that? Otherwise you might want to see my earlier post in this thread.

1 Like

You should treat maltodextrin as glucose when making your own energy gels/drink mixes.

For my gels I combine MD with agave nectar, which is fructose, and for drink mixes I also use a combination of MD and Gatorade.

Careful with the use of Agave “Nector”, it’s not as good/healthy as it’s promoted and there are better alternatives to use in gels.

Agave ranks relatively low on the glycemic index however, it is because it has a high content of fructose. Fructose does not readily raise blood sugar (glucose) levels because the body doesn’t metabolize it well. As it turns out, agave has a higher fructose content than any other common sweetener, more even than high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Because of its reputation as a “natural” sweetener, it is now widely used in products claiming to be good for health – from teas to nutrition bars and energy drinks.


Agave nectar doesn’t really exist; it just sounds healthier than agave syrup.

Agave started being produced commerciallyin the 90s, when manufacturers worked out a highly complicated refining plan to make it a global hit. Manufacturers age agave plants for 7-14 years. When the plants reach maturity, the leaves are cut off so the starchy part of the plant, which is the core and roots, is easily harvested. The juice is squeezed from the pulp of the agave, filtered, and heated to separate into simple sugars.

Once they get to this stage, manufacturers further concentrate the liquid into a syrup that’s just a little thinner than commercially processed honey. You’ll find varieties in the store that range from light amber color like honey, to dark brown hues like molasses. Consumers thought the different colors of agave were like the variety of colors you find when you buy honey, which typically represents the type of blossoms the honeybees found their nectar from.

However, mistakes aside, this whole process of converting carbs to syrup isn’t easy. In fact, manufacturers have to use a ton of caustic acids, chemicals, and clarifiers to make it presentable for sale. This process is very similar to how commercially produced high fructose corn syrup is made.

So what happens when you refine agave this much? Well, you’re left with a syrup that’s so sweet it rivals high fructose corn syrup.

Here are some numbers to consider:

  • Honey is about 40% fructose
  • Regular table sugar is 50% fructose, 50% glucose
  • High fructose corn syrup is about 55% fructose, 45% glucose
  • Agave “nectar” can be 70-90% fructose

Agave is higher in fructose than some other sources, but its overall sugar content is about the same. It’s not much different from high fructose corn syrup.

Hey @MI-XC, you are 100% right Agave nectar has a high percentage of fructose which is exactly why I use it in my homemade gels. Your body actually has two different mechanisms for processing glucose and fructose so with the goal of being able to replace the maximum number of carbs possible during intense exercise you need to consume both types of sugar.

You can use honey if you’d prefer but since it has a higher percentage of glucose you’d need to use more honey and less maltodextrin to get the ratio correct.

1 Like

If you use Gatorade for the fructose you might find this article interesting which suggests alternatives with higher Fructose to Glucose ratios. (I sometimes add some coke or energy drink to my MD mix but it’s also because of the caffeine).

Interestingly I did not find some scientific studies relating DE numbers of maltodextrin to digestion or backing the common assumption of high DE = faster digestion. It’s just those usual info/commercial sites about MD.

Still wrapping my head around what you cited from the article. Thanks for pointing that out and giving something to think about! Would love to hear on the podcast if @chad or @Jonathan or @Nate_Pearson have experience with individual maltodextrin mixes and if they distinguish DE.

1 Like

Huh, that is interesting. I did a lot of research and trial and error when putting together my gel recipe to help maximize the calorie uptake. I didn’t go to the same lengths optimizing the drink mix for that specifically because it can’t be just about calorie replacement, I was also concerned about hydration. So I use the Gatorade to address electrolytes and flavoring and supplement with MD to increase the calorie density (I also add caffeine). Through trial and error I’ve found 160cal of Gatorade, 190cal of MD, and 200mg of caffeine mixed into 24oz water is the sweet spot for me.

1 Like