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March 21, 2023 4 min read

If you are an athlete, the importance of carbohydrates cannot be understated and without carbohydrates, your performance suffers. With so many workout and sports supplements available in the market, one of the relatively new entrants in the sports nutrition universe is cluster dextrin or highly branched cyclic dextrin (HBCD), which is a new form of carbohydrate that is extremely beneficial for fitness and sports enthusiasts.  

Cluster dextrin or HBCD is a new advanced type of maltodextrin that is synthesized when sugar molecule clusters are formed when starch (amylopectin) is broken down by using a specialist enzyme. Cluster dextrin is more soluble and is absorbed more easily by the body than any other carb source. HBCD is considered a far superior source of carbs compared to other types of GI carbs like maltodextrin and dextrose as it provides a sustained increase in energy levels without causing spikes in the blood glucose and/or insulin levels.

HBCD has a high molecular weight and low osmolarity, which helps to increase gastric emptying. This essentially means that the HCBD will remain for a much lesser time in your stomach as compared to regular carbohydrates and is absorbed by your intestines and sent to the muscles more quickly.

WHERE DOES CYCLIC DEXTRIN COME FROM?

In nature, cyclic dextrins are produced by the bacteria which break down carbohydrates. However, it can also be synthesized from starches by making use of certain enzymes and the by-products can be refined further for several uses.

HBCD is a specialized type of cyclic dextrin which is formed when enzymes are used to break down amylopectin. The enzymes convert the starches into clusters that are then converted into longer chains by using additional branching enzymes.

HOW DOES HBCD WORK?

Simple carbs such as waxy maize, dextrose, etc. are typically used as workout supplements, they are not really ideal choices when it comes to being a carb source for intra workouts. These carbs usually have a high osmolarity that triggers the osmoreceptors (receptors present in the small intestine which assess the contents in the stomach or the nutrition density and control the rate of gastric emptying) in the small intestine in order to delay gastric emptying.

Carbohydrates such as simple sugars are usually absorbed in the small intestine and anything which causes a delay of their entry into the small intestine causes a delay in the insulin spike and carrying of the nutrients to the muscles. As in the case of pre and intra-workout nutrition, apart from the carbohydrates getting delayed in getting to the muscles, the various other compounds like creatine, beta-alanine, betaine, etc. and the amino acids are also delayed.

HBCD is essentially a supplement that is designed for gradual and sustained release of energy that will let you work out for longer time periods before you experience fatigue. While other forms of carbs provide energy, because of its unique molecular structure, HCBD is different and lets it release energy gradually into your bloodstream that aids in keeping the levels of blood sugar and insulin in control. Maintaining a stable glucose level is not only important for athletes but is extremely important for health too. Having a stable and constant energy supply not only enables your body to perform efficiently but also to be healthier and enable you to be more active and productive.

WHAT DOES HBCD DO?

HBCD has several unique properties that help to enhance your training and workout. Firstly, cyclic dextrin is an excellent source of energy which is essential during the workout. More energy lets you workout for a longer period of time and more intensively, which promotes lean muscle growth. HBCD provides energy while exercising without making you feel nauseous or bloated. The low osmolarity of cyclic dextrin enables it to pass through the stomach quickly, thus preventing the bloated feeling. Also, being highly soluble and requiring lesser time for gastric emptying, cyclic dextrin enables the body to maintain the blood sugar levels. HBCD is designed to enhance your athletic performance.

How Is HBCD Different from Other Forms of Carbohydrates?

Typically, when you have carb supplements, they usually attract and retain plenty of water and if you consume plenty of carbs in a short time, it may be passed into the large intestine from the small intestine quickly without absorbing the glucose. When it goes into the large intestine, the sugars retain the water in the colon which is flushed out of the body quickly. This is known as osmotic diarrhea, a condition you do not want, especially when you are in the midst of a workout session.

Even though it is digested quickly and absorbed rapidly, because of its distinct structure, HBCD is highly soluble and so can manage with a smaller amount of water and does not cause the problems as fast-digesting carbs and also prevents various digestive problems.

BENEFITS OF HBCD

Helps to Increase Energy Levels

There are many days when you feel tired constantly and despite how much you try, you don’t really feel motivated to do anything at all. When you hit the gym in this state, it can be quite difficult. 

Helps to Stabilize Your Blood Sugar

Consuming plenty of simple carbs can cause the blood sugar and insulin levels to fluctuate and over time, this can increase the risk for incidence of type-2 diabetes or it could cause the insulin sensitivity of your body to be reduced. HBCD provides a slow and steady supply of carbs to your body, which helps to keep both the blood sugar, as well as insulin levels stable and under control.

Prevents Discomfort While Exercising

A study published in the Food Science and Technology Research revealed that during a bicycle exercise, when the participants drank a HBCD-based sports drink, they did not experience gastrointestinal disorders like belching or flatulence and they were able to exercise without any discomfort or fatigue.

Some of the other benefits of HBCD include:

— It is an excellent energy source and helps to boost athletic performance.
— Helps in faster recovery after a workout.
— It can help to increase strength and improve muscle while helping you to lose fat.
— It is highly soluble and provides increased absorption and improved transportation of nutrients.
— Helps to increase stamina and endurance and reduced delayed onset of muscle soreness.
— Aids in the sustained increase of blood sugar levels during workouts.

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