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June 29, 2023
April 23, 2024
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Maltodextrin is a carbohydrate derived from starch, usually from corn, wheat, rice, or potato. It is produced through the hydrolysis of starch, which breaks it down into shorter chains of glucose molecules. This process results in a flavorless white powder that is flavorless and dissolvable in water.

Even though maltodextrin originates from plants, it is a highly processed food. It is closely related to corn syrup; however, the two foods' sugar content differs greatly. After hydrolysis, corn syrup is at least 20% sugar, while maltodextrin is less than 20%.¹ 

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved maltodextrin as a safe food additive, and it can be found as a thickening agent in many foods, including sauces, dressing, powdered drink mixtures, and desserts.²

This article will explore how maltodextrin may impact blood sugar levels and the health benefits that could be gained from including this natural sweetener in meals. 

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Glycemic Index Table

Maltodextrin has a higher glycemic index than table sugar and can cause high spikes in blood sugar levels. It is safe to consume in small amounts, but those living with diabetes, insulin resistance, or other chronic diseases, such as obesity, should be mindful of the amount of maltodextrin they include in their diet. 

The below glycemic index and glycemic load data are for 100g of maltodextrin:³

Glycemic Index

95

Serving Size

100g

Carbohydrate* per Serving (g)

99 g

GL per Serving

94.00

Nutritional Facts

From a nutritional perspective, maltodextrin does not contain any vitamins or minerals but is often enriched with certain micronutrients, depending on its source. 

The below nutritional information is for 100g of maltodextrin.⁴

Calories

380

Carbs

99 g

Protein

0 g

Fiber

Cholesterol

Vitamins

Sodium

Total Fat

0 g

Is Maltodextrin Good for Weight Loss?

If your wellness goals center around weight loss, maltodextrin may not be an ideal choice. As a sweetener with no nutritional value, it can cause an increase in blood sugar levels as well as lead to weight gain. 

However, if you are choosing to include this in your food choices, limit your consumption of maltodextrin and balance it with fiber and protein, which will slow down digestion and reduce the severity of possible blood sugar spikes. 

Is Maltodextrin Safe for People Living with Diabetes?

Since maltodextrin has a high glycemic index rating and can cause rapid increases in blood sugar levels, those living with diabetes should avoid maltodextrin. Be mindful of ingredients in sauces, dressings, desserts, and other food items, as maltodextrin is a cheap thickener that is often added to these foods and could increase their overall glycemic index. 

Maltodextrin can be safe in small doses, but checking glucose levels more frequently when consuming this food product is recommended. Signs that maltodextrin may be causing a rapid blood sugar spike include:

  • a sudden headache
  • increased thirst
  • trouble concentrating
  • blurred vision
  • fatigue

If you experience these symptoms, check your glucose levels immediately and contact your doctor. 

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Allergies

Maltodextrin allergies are extremely rare. Individuals with celiac disease or those following a gluten-free diet may be wary of maltodextrin, but it is considered gluten-free due to its processing method.⁷

Some individuals may find they experience food intolerances or sensitivities to maltodextrin. Symptoms could include digestive discomfort, bloating, gas, or diarrhea. 

If you suspect an allergy, sensitivity, or intolerance to maltodextrin, please consult a healthcare professional.

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FAQs

What is Glycemic Index?

The glycemic index (GI) is a measure of how quickly a carbohydrate-containing food raises blood sugar levels compared to a reference food, usually glucose. It ranks foods on a scale from 0 to 100, with higher values indicating a faster rise in blood sugar. The glycemic index (GI) scale is typically categorized as follows: Low GI [55 or less], Medium GI [56-69], High GI [70 or higher]. Foods with a high glycemic index digest rapidly and can cause dramatic fluctuations in blood glucose or glucose spikes.

What is Glycemic Load?

Glycemic load (GL) takes into account both the quality (glycemic index) and quantity (carbohydrate content) of carbohydrates in a specific serving of food. It is a measure of how much a particular food will raise blood sugar levels. GL is calculated by multiplying the glycemic index of a food by its carbohydrate content and dividing it by 100. It provides a more accurate representation of the overall impact of a food on blood sugar compared to the glycemic index alone.

Does Maltodextrin Spike Insulin?

Yes, maltodextrin can spike insulin levels. Maltodextrin is a carbohydrate that is quickly broken down into glucose in the body, leading to a rapid increase in blood sugar levels. This increase in blood sugar triggers the release of insulin from the pancreas to help transport the glucose into cells for energy. Therefore, consuming foods or supplements containing maltodextrin can cause a spike in insulin levels.

Is Maltodextrin Low Glycemic?

Maltodextrin has a high glycemic index, meaning it can cause a rapid increase in blood sugar levels. However, the glycemic response can vary depending on the source and processing of the maltodextrin. Some forms of maltodextrin may have a lower glycemic index than others.

Can People Living with Diabetes Eat Maltodextrin?

Yes, people living with diabetes can eat maltodextrin in moderation as it has a low glycemic index and does not cause a rapid increase in blood sugar levels. However, it is important to monitor blood sugar levels and consult with a healthcare professional before consuming any new food or ingredient.

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References

  1. Rahman, M.S. (Ed.). (2007). Handbook of Food Preservation (2nd ed.). CRC Press. https://doi.org/10.1201/9781420017373
  2. CFR - Code of Federal Regulations Title 21. (2023, June 7). https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/cfrsearch.cfm?fr=184.1444
  3. University of Sydney. (2023, May 1). Glycemic Index – Glycemic Index Research and GI Newshttps://glycemicindex.com/
  4. USDA FoodData Central. (2022, Dec. 22). Food Details - Maltodextrin powder, unflavored. Retrieved from https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/2423905/nutrients
  5. Khorshidi-Hosseini M, Nakhostin-Roohi B. Effect of glutamine and maltodextrin acute supplementation on anaerobic power. Asian Journal of Sports Medicine. 2013 Jun;4(2):131-6. doi: 10.5812/asjsm.34495. Epub 2013 Feb 13. PMID: 23802055; PMCID: PMC3690733.
  6. Eui Young So, Mutsuko Ouchi, Sara Cuesta-Sancho, Susan Losee Olson, Dirk Reif, Kazuhiro Shimomura & Toru Ouchi (2015) Tumor suppression by resistant maltodextrin, Fibersol-2. Cancer Biology & Therapy, 16:3, 460-465, DOI: 10.1080/15384047.2015.1009269
  7. Maltodextrin and Allergen Labeling Requirements (2021, June 29). Beyond Celiac. https://www.beyondceliac.org/q-and-a/maltodextrin-and-allergen-labeling-requirements/

About the author

It is a long established fact that a reader will be distracted by the readable content of a page when looking at its layout.

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About the author

Brittany Barry is a national board-certified health coach and NASM-certified personal trainer based in South Carolina.

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Please note: The Signos team is committed to sharing insightful and actionable health articles that are backed by scientific research, supported by expert reviews, and vetted by experienced health editors. The Signos blog is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider. Read more about our editorial process and content philosophy here.

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