Momentum in the Mountains 2024


The CARB More Deadly than Sugar (SURPRISING)

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 01/20/2024

The CARB More Deadly than Sugar (SURPRISING)

Last week, I stared at the ingredients list on a pack of 'healthy' snacks. Maltodextrin was everywhere.

It turns out this joint filler is not as innocent as it seems. We're about to dive deep into what maltodextrin brings—beyond calories and carbs.

You'll get why food labels aren't always your friend, how this additive messes with blood sugar levels more than you'd think, and what that means for your gut health. By the time we wrap up, you'll be equipped to make smarter choices in those grocery store aisles.

Unmasking Maltodextrin: The Hidden Carbohydrate

Maltodextrin sneaks into our diets more often than we might realize. It's a white powder in many processed foods, from salad dressings to protein shakes. But why should you care? For starters, maltodextrin can mess with your blood sugar levels big time.

The thing is, it has a higher glycemic index than table sugar. This means it can spike your blood sugar faster than you say "sweet tooth," potentially leading to crashes and cravings later.

And if that's not enough reason to watch out for this ingredient, consider the labeling loophole that allows food manufacturers to claim zero carbohydrates on their labels even when maltodextrin is present—as long as there are less than five grams per serving.

This little trick makes cutting carbs tricky because you could get more than you bargained for without knowing it. So next time you scan the ingredients list on your favorite snack pack or frozen meal, keep an eye out for maltodextrin—it might be hiding in plain sight.

The Glycemic Impact of Maltodextrin

When you think sugar is the peak of sweetness, maltodextrin enters the scene with a glycemic index that towers over table sugar. This sneaky carb can send your blood sugar on a roller coaster ride faster than you can say "insulin spike."

But it's not just about speed; this ingredient has nestled into so many products that avoiding it could seem like dodging rain in a thunderstorm.

Why does this matter? For folks watching their waistline or managing diabetes, understanding how different foods affect blood glucose levels is critical to staying healthy.

So when we find out maltodextrin packs more punch in the glycemic index department than regular ol' sucrose, alarms should go off.

Mindful eating starts with knowledge. By recognizing where maltodextrin lurks and learning its impact on our bodies, we're better equipped to make choices without unwanted health detours.


The Processing Story Behind Maltodextrin

Think of maltodextrin as the wolf in sheep's clothing of food additives. This highly processed powder starts its life as corn, often genetically modified, to withstand a barrage of herbicides like glyphosate.

The transformation from kernel to powder isn't magic; it's science — hydrolysis breaks down starches into simpler sugars, forming maltodextrin.

From Corn to Powder: How Maltodextrin Is Made

Making maltodextrin is less about harvesting and more about heavy-duty chemistry. First, big agribusiness firms harvest GMO corn already laden with chemicals that some argue could make an onion cry.

Next comes hydrolysis, where enzymes or acids play legos at a molecular level, breaking those complex carbs right down into white powdery simplicity.

This process doesn’t just spit out fluffy clouds of thickening agents but potentially brings chemical tag-along from processing, too.

So, while you might see 'natural flavor' on your snack pack, remember it may be holding hands with remnants of its chemically intensive upbringing.

Health Implications of Maltodextrin Consumption

Munching on a snack bar or sipping that sports drink might seem harmless, but often, they're laced with maltodextrin. This sneaky ingredient can cause more than an extra calorie count; it's like a Trojan horse for your blood sugar levels.

Blood Sugar Spikes and Their Consequences

You think you're doing fine until maltodextrin barges in, causing your blood sugar to skyrocket faster than table sugar would dare. It doesn't stop there—these spikes are not just fleeting energy moments.

They drag along health issues like increased risk for type 2 diabetes and weight gain because, let’s face it, what goes up must come down, including your crashing energy levels after the spike.

But this rollercoaster isn’t fun at all—it stresses out your body's insulin response, which, over time, could wear out its welcome mat.

Disrupting the Gut Microbiome

The plot thickens when we look inside our guts, where trillions of bacteria reside—the microbiome.

Think of maltodextrin as the bull in a china shop here; it messes with the balance by fueling harmful bacteria while sidelining the good guys who help us digest food and protect against infection.

This imbalance is no joke—it can lead to gut inflammation, uncomfortable bloating sessions, and unwelcome gas performances, and it can potentially contribute to leaky gut scenarios where toxins gatecrash into places they shouldn’t wander off to in your body.

Navigating Food Labels and Maltodextrin Content

Ever feel like you need a decoder ring to understand food labels? You're not alone. Let's crack the code on maltodextrin, that sneaky carb hiding in plain sight.

Deciphering Nutritional Information for Better Choices

Maltodextrin is the ninja of sweeteners – it’s everywhere but hard to spot. Reading labels closely is key since products containing maltodextrin are widespread.

Here's the kicker: less than five grams per serving can legally be labeled as zero carbs, thanks to serving size regulations.

To sidestep this trap, scan ingredient lists for "maltodextrin" itself or its aliases, such as "corn syrup solids." Don't let names fool you; these terms signal unnecessary carbs poised to crash your diet party uninvited.

Powerade and Gatorade on shelf

Making Informed Decisions at the Grocery Store

The grocery store should be your pantry playground, not a minefield of hidden sugars. The secret weapon against unwanted additives like maltodextrin? Whole foods. They’re free from fine print and full of benefits your body will thank you for.

So next time you hit those aisles, remember: if nature made it, go ahead and take it; if a factory baked it with extra stuff thrown in—especially our crafty friend maltodextrin—you might want to think again.

Regulatory Loopholes and Consumer Safety

Thanks to the GRAS loophole, Maltodextrin sneaks past FDA approval like a ninja in the night. What's that? It stands for "Generally Recognized As Safe," which sounds reassuring until you realize it lets industry insiders declare their products safe without rigorous FDA testing.

It’s like marking your homework and giving yourself an A+ every time.

But here’s where things get tricky: maltodextrin is not classified as sugar but as a carbohydrate, allowing companies to market it as 'sugar-free' even though it behaves much like sugar in our bodies.

This legal sleight of hand could have us chomping on foods we think are better for us when they’re not.

The bottom line? While maltodextrin might wear a safety badge given by its creators, we should all be more cautious about what's hidden behind labels before inviting these ingredients into our diets.


Now you know, maltodextrin's not your buddy. Now you see, those 'zero carbs' labels can be tricky. And now it's clear: this filler could mess with your blood sugar big time.

Remember the sneaky presence of maltodextrin in processed foods and how it hides behind food labeling rules. Remember, its high glycemic index means potential trouble for your glucose levels.

Acknowledge that while typical, maltodextrin is far from harmless due to its highly processed origins and impact on gut health. Acknowledge the dangers of maltodextrin as a part of informed grocery shopping.

Armed with these insights, navigate food labels like a pro. Make choices that support your well-being because what we eat matters more than we often realize.

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