Is Maltodextrin Keto-Friendly?

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maltodextrin on a wooden spoon

Guess what? Maltodextrin is everywhere in supermarkets. It is widely used as an ingredient in almost 60 percent of the processed foods that you see on the shelves of your favorite grocery store. It serves as either a sweetener or a filler. If you check the nutrition labels regularly, maltodextrin will not sound like a total stranger to you.

Popular Supermarket Foods that Contain Maltodextrin

Here are some processed foods that are known to contain this ingredient:

  • Pasta
  • Cereals
  • Soup in Cans
  • Salad dressings
  • Low-fat food like yogurt 
  • Splenda
  • Protein powders and some supplements

Oh wait, did we say Splenda? Yes, we did. Splenda is a sweetener most keto-dieters swear by. So, it is important to familiarize yourself, newbie, or old keto-dieter, on the effects maltodextrin has on your diet.

Upon shifting to a low-carb diet, most people opt to simply throw their old food choices out the window and just grab food that is popularly hailed as healthy, not even bothering to double-check the nutritional labels attached to it.

And while there are many hidden ingredients on popular healthier food alternatives, today’s spotlight is only reserved for maltodextrin.

What Do We Know about Maltodextrin?

In terms of appearance, maltodextrin is white in color. It is made from vegetables like wheat, potatoes, or corn. The starches from these vegetables are then processed to create the fine powder.

So, it is all good right? Maltodextrin comes from vegetables. There should not be a problem with that at all, correct?

Well, not really. As you know, maltodextrin is a highly processed final product, which means there is a pretty good chance it has lost all of the raw product’s nutritional value.

So based on that, do you consider maltodextrin keto-friendly? Let us take a look at its glycemic index to find out.

The Lowdown on Maltodextrin Glycemic Index (GI)

A polysaccharide, maltodextrin is considered as a high GI product. With its surprising 105 GI. this sweetener is low in nutritional value and easily absorbable. In other words, maltodextrin is very much capable of raising blood sugar levels quickly. 

From that information, do you regard maltodextrin keto-friendly? 

If you say no, then you must find out more about maltodextrin to avoid it as much as possible. If you think, maltodextrin is unhealthy, why do you think it is used quite often?

The Uses of Maltodextrin in Food

You already know where you can find this ingredient in your grocery list, but why do these foods contain it in the first place? Below are some uses of maltodextrin in different food products.

  1. It is a bulking agent. Compared to other sweeteners, it isn’t as strong as intense.
  2. It controls how viscous a liquid food product can be. Salad dressings and dips need maltodextrin to stabilize and maintain their viscosity.
  3. It can be found in post-workout products. The main reason why bodybuilders and athletes appreciate maltodextrin, or even dextrose after their training or workout is because of the connotation that the rise in insulin can propel nutrients directly to the muscle cells.
  4. It promotes insulin production. Insulin regulates hormones that direct sugars and amino acids into the cells. However, insulin can be found not solely in maltodextrin, but in other simple carbohydrates as well.
  5. It is a well-known pharmaceutical filler. However, pills and tablets contain minimal amounts and should not be an area of concern.

The Case of Splenda and Maltodextrin

So, Splenda has maltodextrin. What does it mean? We already established how maltodextrin can spike blood sugar making it less ideal to be used as a sweetener. So, why on earth do people recommend Splenda?

Yes, Splenda does contain maltodextrin as an ingredient. However, only as an excipient, as a bulking agent. Its main ingredient is sucralose. So, like with pills and tablets, the quantity of maltodextrin in Splenda has no actual consequence in your new diet.

Now, that that is out of the way, we take on a more important concern. 

Is Maltodextrin Unsafe?

Yes, maltodextrin is edible and fairly safe for consumption, but it comes with a few concerns. 

Maltodextrin has a low nutritional value. People who consume high levels of maltodextrin should be concerned about the way they live their lives. Most people who consume a lot of food that are rich in maltodextrin means they are consuming tons of processed foods

The Effects of Maltodextrin on Human Body

  1. Maltodextrin inhibits the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut. In line with that, gut health affects mood, brain functions, and others. This particular microbiome can be seen all over the digestive system. Appetite and metabolism determine body weight. All these three are affected by the microbiome. Fermented foods are beneficial for biomes. Unfortunately, maltodextrin does the opposite.
  2. Maltodextrin affects insulin and glucose levels in the blood. As we found out earlier, maltodextrin scores high in the glycemic index department. It is even higher than the common table sugar, which has a GI of 65. If blood glucose and insulin level continuously surge up, it can lead to one’s development of type 2 diabetes.
  3. Maltodextrin is not good for people with Crohn’s Disease. Some studies showed that E. coli is cultivated in the presence of maltodextrin. People with Crohn’s disease have to be very particular in their diet. Professional medical advice is highly recommended. Otherwise, their conditions will suffer a great blow.

So, going back to the topic at hand — Is Maltodextrin keto-friendly?

We provided information on how maltodextrin can cause an increase in insulin level and has a high GI. This means that it is completely contrary to the needs of someone who is undertaking a keto diet. Because of the effects of maltodextrin, it should be avoided. 

For the usage of Splenda, there is no problem with it so long as you do not overuse it. Some people monitor their consumption through the help of a ketone meter.

But, to be on the safe side, just steer clear of maltodextrin as you would with refined sugars.

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