Ah, wonderful carbohydrates. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, they’re vital during post-workout recovery; quick-digesting carbs after an intense workout creates a more efficient muscle building experience.
In short: Your workouts go that much further with strategic carb loading.
Here’s where it gets tricky, though: What specific carbs do you consume?
What are these two things? What are the differences? Which one is the best for building solid muscle fast?
In this article, we’ll tackle all of these questions, along with the benefits, dosages, side effects, and top products of each compound. At the end, we’ll settle once and for all: Which is better, maltodextrin or dextrose?
Let’s get started!
What Is Maltodextrin?
Maltodextrin is what’s known as a polysaccharide, which is a carbohydrate made out of a number of sugar molecules bonded together. I know that’s a mouthful, but the gist is this: It’s a starch made out of multiple sugars.
Normally used as a food additive, maltodextrin is easily digestible, almost like glucose. It’s either somewhat sweet or entirely flavorless.
A white powder that’s soluble in water, maltodextrin usually improves the mouthfeel of food and drinks, but can also be used as a supplement.
With its quick absorption and replenishing of glycogen in your system, it may be a solid post-workout routine for any intense workout.
What Is Dextrose?
Dextrose is actually a certain form of glucose, as well as the predominant, naturally occurring form. It’s a simple sugar and is the most abundant monosaccharide (meaning it only has one sugar molecule).
Dextrose–or, glucose in general–is mainly made by plants during photosynthesis…you know, the stuff you learned about back in high school science class.
Known as one of the primal types of energy sources, dextrose is blood sugar when in the blood and glycogen when stored in the muscles or organs.
It’s sugar, plain and simple–the quickest and most absorbable kind of carb you can get your hands on.
Are Dextrose and Maltodextrin the Same Thing?
As you can see from the above descriptions…they are absolutely not the same thing.
For one, maltodextrin is a polysaccharide while dextrose is a monosaccharide. Chemically speaking, the former is more complicated than the latter.
Dextrose is a simple sugar that your body doesn’t have to break down; this way, it raises insulin instantaneously.
Maltodextrin, on the other hand, is essentially a string of glucose molecules, meaning your body has to break it down to use it.
However, seeing as they’re all glucose molecules, they break down just as quickly as dextrose.
So while the chemistry of the two is unique from each other, the process through which your body uses it for energy and recovery is similar.
This is why this article is even a thing: They’re the same but not, so we question which one is best for your recovery.
What Are Maltodextrin and Dextrose Used For?
Let’s start with maltodextrin. It’s used regularly used as an inexpensive additive for food, in order to thicken items like infant formula.
But, funny enough, it’s also utilized by bodybuilders and other athletes as a dietary supplement, either in the form of powder, gel packets, or energy drinks.
With dextrose, it’s used for a handful of things. Often used in baking products as a sweetener, it’s also found in processed food and corn syrup.
But don’t let this deter you: Medically speaking, it’s used to increase a person’s blood sugar for any reason (hypoglycemia, etc.).
So, essentially, dextrose’s main claim to fame is to raise your blood sugar, which is helpful after a workout.
With these as the main reasons why maltodextrin and dextrose are used, it could be easily determined that they provide similar things for a bodybuilder or athlete…
Maltodextrin and Dextrose Benefits
Let’s begin with maltodextrin:
- A good source of quick calories: Of course, something that’s normally included in sports drinks and snacks for athletes should be good at getting calories into your system. While this is good if you have diabetes or hypoglycemia, there are more advantages for bodybuilders…
- Get in carbs without dehydrating: Maltodextrin doesn’t use as much water to digest as other carbohydrates do. Because of this, you can take a maltodextrin supplement and not immediately become dehydrated. Instead of other carbs sucking all of the water out of your system, keep yourself hydrated while simultaneously adding carbs and calories.
- Helps maintain anaerobic power during workouts: Studies have shown that maltodextrin supplements may have an effect on power during your training. In short, it can maintain your anaerobic power during workouts. This extra boost is nice to have.
- Replaces muscle glycogen: The top benefit of maltodextrin is that it pushes carbs and sugars into your bloodstream After a workout, your body is depleted of sugar, specifically muscle and liver glycogen. Well, maltodextrin replenishes those stores, aiding in recovery and keeping your muscles full.
And here are the benefits of dextrose:
- Inexpensive source of quick calories: This kind of supplement is very cheap for what you’d want to use it for. It provides similar results to maltodextrin, but for a fraction of the cost. If this is something important to you, you might want to consider the price of both simple sugars.
- Sweeter taste: Again, comparing it to maltodextrin, dextrose is a sweeter sugar (which is kind of odd to say). In any case, if the taste is a big thing in your decision-making process–we’ll go over it more in a later section–keep this in mind.
- Increases insulin as effectively as maltodextrin: Another supplement that doesn’t require much water and gets into your bloodstream lickety-split. Therefore, it increases insulin secretion and helps out those with diabetes and hypoglycemia. But the kicker is…
- Replaces muscle glycogen: Yep, it refuels your body with glycogen. Your liver and muscle get immediately hit with the stuff it just depleted. This will improve your recovery, help your muscles grow bigger from the beginning, and potentially remove some of the DOMS you feel after a brutal workout.
As you can see, maltodextrin and dextrose are close brothers when it comes to the advantages. Both expedite gains and can get you in the gym that much faster. At this point, you have to look at the differentiators–it really becomes a matter of preference.
Maltodextrin and Dextrose Dosage
These two aren’t the most popular of post-workout supplements, so the best way to take it–as far as dosage is concerned–is to take the prescribed dose on the packaging.
For dextrose, this should roughly be 20 grams.
For maltodextrin, it ranges from 15 to 30 grams. (Twenty grams would be a great middle ground.)
When Should You Take It?
After your workout. This is when your body’s depleted of glycogen, which is the main benefit of these two supplements. By taking this within the hour after your training session, you’ll get the most out of your supplement and workout.
How Long Does It Take To Work?
Right now. That’s how fast maltodextrin and dextrose are. These are quick carb sources, meant to get into your bloodstream automatically and start replenishing your glycogen.
Maltodextrin and Dextrose Side Effects
There are some adverse effects you’ll want to be wary of when you start taking these supplements.
First: They suppress probiotic growth in your gut. Sugar can alter your gut microbiome, including introducing bacteria-associated intestinal disorders.
Now, this is more because of the increase of polysaccharides, which means this is actually a maltodextrin issue, not a dextrose one.
Dextrose can also come from a bad source. The easiest way to avoid this is to read the nutrition label carefully and steer clear from GMO sources and anything you may be allergic to.
Third: Obviously, it spikes insulin and blood sugar. Because they’re so high on the glycemic index, you have to use these supplements with the utmost care. Plus, they have no nutritional value whatsoever; they simply boost glycogen into your system after a workout. That’s it. Taking this supplement for any other reason would result in bad problems for your body overall.
So long as you fully understand the benefits and disadvantages of these products, you can use maltodextrin or dextrose efficiently. Be careless, though, and you’ll wish you never used them.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do these supplements taste? It depends. Dextrose usually tastes sweeter than maltodextrin; however, both of them should be on the sugary side of your taste buds. Most maltodextrin supplements are flavorless, as well as some dextrose supplements. Even so, brands use the natural sweetness of dextrose to create a multitude of flavors. So either it will taste like absolutely nothing or something fruity.
What about mixability? Like most supplements, dextrose and maltodextrin are hit or miss on the mixability, depending on how you do it. The trick is to put in the supplement first, then fill it with water or your favorite post-workout beverage. After that, mix hard. Of course, some of it will silt down to the bottom…but what supplement doesn’t do that?
However, there is one caveat: Dextrose is more water-soluble than maltodextrin, making it easier to mix. But both of them mix fairly well overall.
Top Maltodextrin and Dextrose Reviews
The best maltodextrin supplement comes from our favorite bros over at Bulk Supplements.
Their maltodextrin powder is 100 percent pure maltodextrin, derived from non-GMO corn. With a serving size of 30 grams, you get 28 grams of fast-acting carbohydrates.
Zero fillers, lab-tested, verified for purity, this supplement goes easy on your digestion. It’s nothing but maltodextrin, plain and simple.
If you want to try out maltodextrin as a post-workout supplement, go with the Bulk Supplements powder.
Nutricost Dextrose Powder
As for the top dextrose powder out there, Nutricost has got you.
Each scoop serving size of there dextrose powder comes with 20 grams of pure, non-GMO, gluten-free dextrose. Of those 20 grams, 18 grams are from rapid-fire carbs.
A quick energy supplement that’s been third-party tested, you don’t have to guess whether or not this supplement is legit or not. (This supplement is flavorless.)
If you think dextrose is your best bet, go with the Nutricost dextrose powder.
Which Is Better: Maltodextrin or Dextrose?
This brings us all back to the million dollar question: Which one is top dog? Maltodextrin? Dextrose?
Which one is it?
Be prepared for the worst answer ever: Neither is inherently better. That’s right: You can take either one and get just as much out of it if you were to take the other.
There are some factors that should play into your decision, though. For one, the taste will be different; dextrose is sweeter than maltodextrin.
If you want your supplements to taste good–or at least palatable–dextrose might be better for you.
Another factor would be price. Dextrose is usually cheaper than maltodextrin; if this matters to you when you’re testing out supplements, go with dextrose first and see if it works for you.
Lastly, everybody has their own biological tendencies. Some people will find that maltodextrin works better for them; others will see better results with dextrose.
There’s also the health fact that monosaccharides are better for all bodies–making dextrose the safer bet.
Another thing some bodybuilders do is mix the two with either a 50:50 split or something like a 70:30 in favor of dextrose.
This is so that you get the ultra-fast effects of dextrose with the less fast (but still speedy) lengthy effects of maltodextrin.
By now, you should know a ton about two things you may have never thought you’d know anything about. A quasi-expert in both maltodextrin and dextrose, you can wow your friends with your knowledge. (Or…not.)
Maltodextrin and dextrose are chemically simple, but they could provide quite a punch to your training routine and body composition.
Consider them for your bodybuilding routine. Find out which one works best for you, then stick with it.
Whether it’s dextrose or maltodextrin, you should find your lifts going up and your muscles growing with superhuman speed.
This supplement is–quite literally–the sugar on top!