Maltodextrin is a very common ingredient in many processed supermarket products as a filler and sweetener.
For those not used to reading ingredient and nutrition labels, you might be surprised what foods contain maltodextrin.
One report showed that maltodextrin is an ingredient in up to 60% of all processed foods on supermarket shelves, either as a filler or sweetener.
Maltodextrin can be found in processed foods such as (but not limited to):
- Salad Dressings
- Canned Soup
- Low-fat products
- Powder formulas
- Splenda (Sweetener, Keto Dieters should pay particular attention)
- Protein powders and supplements. ( we use clean keto friendly products like the collagen protein & MCT powders found here)
Maltodextrin is also found in some low-carb carb diet products that you wouldn’t expect, such as yogurt and the powdered sweetener Splenda.
When people begin a new diet particularly low-carb diets like Keto, Atkins, and Paleo they’ll be replacing old foods for new healthy sugar-free versions.
To do this (in particular for people beginning a new healthy way of eating) we need to identify things that act just like sugar but are labeled differently such as maltodextrin.
In this article, we’re going to focus on what maltodextrin is and whether it is good for you. The information below is handy whether you’re on a keto or any other low-carb diet.
Read our comprehensive post on natural and artificial sweeteners for more information.
What Is Maltodextrin?
Maltodextrin is a fine white powder that is made by processing the starches in vegetables such as corn, wheat, and potatoes.
Don’t let the fact that maltodextrin is made from vegetables fool you as it is highly processed to come up with the final product.
Maltodextrin is what is known as a polysaccharide. Both starch and glycogen are polysaccharides.
Maltodextrin Glycemic Index (GI)
For a glycemic index measurement maltodextrin measures up to a whopping 105 GI.
Being such a high GI product makes maltodextrin void of nutritional value and highly absorbable.
Maltodextrin will raise blood glucose levels rapidly and spike insulin levels. To check the impact of food on blood levels use a glucose and ketone meter.
What Is Maltodextrin Used For?
In food, maltodextrin is used as a bulking agent as it isn’t very sweet compared to other sweeteners.
Maltodextrin is also used to control the viscosity in many liquid foodstuffs such as dips and salad dressings.
Many bodybuilders and athletes believe that consuming maltodextrin or dextrose post-workout will result in an increase in insulin helping shuttle nutrients into the muscle cells.
Insulin is a glucose-regulating hormone that helps push amino acids and sugars into muscle cells.
However, this mode of action is not unique to maltodextrin and can be accomplished by many simple carbohydrates.
It should also be noted that those on a typical keto diet should not do this and that ketosis has proven to not deliver the spikes, crashes and mood swings that high carbs bring.
Maltodextrin is also a component of Splenda but mainly as a bulking agent as sucralose is what delivers the sweetness. We don’t use Splenda in our cooking. You can read more about Splenda here.
It is also used as a filler in the pharmaceutical industry, though the amount found in a pill or tablet should be of no concern. Your Doctor will be the best judge of that particularly for people with metabolic disorders.
Is Maltodextrin Safe?
Maltodextrin is approved for human consumption but so are donuts. Maltodextrin is not only nutritionally sparse it comes with quite a few negative impacts on health.
The biggest impact on health is usually the diet and lifestyle of those who eat high levels of maltodextrin in the first place.
If you’re eating a high sugar, simple carbohydrate loaded diet full of processed food it is likely your eating a lot of maltodextrin.
Maltodextrin Affects Gut Bacteria
Research has shown that the consumption of maltodextrin inhibits the growth of probiotic bacteria in the gut (1).
It has been shown that gut health has a direct correlation between brain activity, mood and likely other neurological disorders (2).
Microbiome (microorganisms, bacteria, and fungi in the gut) is found throughout our digestive system.
Microbiome influences everything from metabolism, hunger and body weight.
The microbiome feeds on certain healthy foods such a fermented cabbage ( sauerkraut), kimchi, high fiber vegetables and foods loaded with polyphenols such as nuts, coffee, and green tea.
Maltodextrin deregulates the natural anti-microbial defense system that our body uses to help healthy microbiome flourish (3).
Maltodextrin Spikes Blood Glucose and Insulin
Maltodextrin being very high on the glycemic index raises blood glucose quickly which results in an insulin spike.
To put it in perspective table sugar has a GI of 65 while maltodextrin has a GI of 90-105.
Constant high blood glucose and spiking of insulin can develop into insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes (4).
Maltodextrin May Worsen Crohns Disease
It has been shown that maltodextrin promotes the growth of E. coli which worsens the symptoms of Crohn’s disease (5).
The explanation is quite lengthy but can be read more in depth by following the linked resources on maltodextrin below.
People with these conditions are usually well informed on the foods that they can and can’t eat. Regardless, always seek your medical professional’s advice if you suffer Crohn’s disease or any other medical issues.
Is Maltodextrin Keto Friendly?
As we’ve said earlier maltodextrin is very high GI and raises blood glucose causing insulin spikes which is contrary to what the keto diet aims to achieve.
Due to the effect that maltodextrin has on blood sugar it is not at all keto friendly and should be avoided.
Sure we’ve seen some debate on whether some people can get away with eating Splenda on Keto without going out of ketosis.
If you insist on pushing the envelope with things such as Splenda or any other products containing maltodextrin use a ketone meter to test your state of ketosis and blood glucose after consuming and see the results.
But that is not the point as we could also eat micro amounts of refined sugar, flour or starch and still stay in ketosis.
If you’re on a keto diet just stay right away from maltodextrin just like you would sugar, bread and grains.
These days there are so many more options to sweeten your recipes or coffee that there’s just no need to push the envelope with those containing maltodextrin.