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31/08/22 3

Maltodextrins and Endurance: dextrose equivalence

Maltodextrin and Endurance: dextrose equivalence

Maltodextrin and Endurance are now an indispensable combination. Several studies in fact, have shown how the intake of maltodextrin can improve performance by reducing the onset of fatigue and consequently increasing the resistance to prolonged effort.

At the same time, if taken after the performance, they are an excellent ally to promote recovery.

In another article we have already talked about what are maltodextrins and how and when to take them, in this article we will discuss another important factor to know: the  DEXTROSE- EQUIVALENCE.

The dextrose equivalence

Very often on the packaging of products containing maltodextrin we are faced with a number preceded by an acronym D.E. What is it about?

The acronym D.E stands for DEXTROSE-EQUIVALENCE and basically represents a parameter that indicates the hydrolysis status of carbohydrates. In simpler words, it measures the length of how much the starch chain has been hydrolyzed (broken down). This parameter is on a scale from 0 to 100.

  • The more the E.D. tends to 0, the more the molecule will be attributable to the behavior of starch.
  • The closer the E.D. gets to 100, the closer the molecule will be to the behavior of glucose.

Dextrose-Equivalence and Glycemic Index

Obviously we should not confuse this index with another well-known index that is the‘glycemic index (IG). In fact, it has often been mistakenly believed that the two indices go hand in hand. On the other hand, a low O.D. does not necessarily correspond to a low glycemic index and vice versa! While the D.E indicates the extent to which starch has been broken down during the hydrolysis process, the glycemic index measures the insulin response to carbohydrate intake.

Maltodextrin with different degrees of polymerization

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How to choose maltodextrins according to E.D.?

In the case of maltodextrins we have a range of D.E that can vary from a minimum of 3 to a maximum of 20. Of course, there is no general rule of thumb for preferring higher or lower levels of D.E in maltodextrins, but it can vary depending on your needs. For example, a higher D.E corresponds to a greater sweetness on the palate and a greater solubility, but at the same time there is a lower resistance to heat. A lower D.E leads to a higher concentration of water in the tissues, consequently it can be functional for those who need to replenish fluids.

At the same time, a higher E.D. corresponds to a more immediate energy availability, while the lower the E.D. and the more gradual the energy release.

In general, a different degree of polymerization will be used to create starch chains (maltodextrins, cyclodextrins, etc.) that are more or less long, therefore “large” within the solution (liquid solution or gel).

What does it mean that a starch is a polymer?

Starches are polymers, i.e. chains that repeat the same molecule, glucose, a certain number of times. A different degree of curing can affect the Osmotic Pressure, that is, in simple terms, on the molecular “density” of the solution we are taking. Small molecules tend to generate more pressure than a few large molecules. A higher osmotic pressure could annoy the athlete, for example the cyclist, during the performance. This is one of the reasons why in the relationship between maltodextrin and endurance we think in terms of dextrose equivalence, i.e. to express the size of the polymer.

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