Cyclic Dextrin: Does It Work?

It was January of this year when, upon preparing to unintentionally strain my Tensor Fascia Latae (TFL) with a measly 300lb Deadlift, I was feeling as physically uncomfortable as I could be for someone who really needed to hurry up and head home before the start of work. I’d been experiencing more gastric distress than I ever had in all my years of lifting weights (and it escalated from there!). I doubt that it was at all because I ate a hard boiled egg and a small cup of rice before training. So there could’ve been just one possible culprit: Dextrose Powder.

I’d written an article in 2019, praising Dextrose Powder to the Nth Power. I’d recommended it for intra and post training supplementation, regardless of the fact that one serving of the brand I alone used contains 46g of sugar. What I didn’t think about was the fact that Dextrose, a simple sugar, is made from corn starch, which has a molecular structure that’s almost identical to Glucose. Corn alone is not an easily digestible food, and anything that’s not easily digestible depending on the person can lead to gastric distress.

Looking back as I write this, I imagine that Dextrose Powder played a big part in my gaining twenty pounds in the months following the release of the aforementioned article. I was 173lbs when the article was written and within a few months I was up to 190lbs. Some of that was muscle for sure; but the gut I suddenly had could only be from my insulin spiking more than it ever had as a result from the sugar content in the dextrose powder. I imagine personal stress didn’t help either.

So I purchased Cyclic Dextrin upon doing some research. Here are some benefits of Cyclic Dextrin:

  • Due to its low osmolarity, it’s far easier to digest, thus providing a faster gastric emptying time.
  • It’s not just gluten free, it’s also sugar free. That alone diminishes any chance of insulin spikes, which lead to fat gain.
  • When taken during and after your training, Cyclic Dextrin enters your muscles at a faster rate than any other Carbohydrate powder. This is thanks not just to its low osmolarity, but also to its increased molecular weight. It provides a steadier stream of carbs into the muscles allowing for prolonged training sessions.

Some government studies may validate these claims. An abstract of one crossover, double blind study compared the effects of low doses (15g) of both Cyclic Dextrin and Maltodextrin during an endurance exercise using Rate Of Perceived Exertion (RPE). The abstract stated in the end that “The RPE increased during exercise and its increase was significantly less at 30 and 60 min after ingesting HBCD than maltodextrin.”

For those unfamiliar with RPE, it’s a rating system where the trainee subjectively rates his/her performance using a number system with 1 indicating no effort was needed and 10 indicating that max effort has been applied. So if the study shown here states that, while RPE did increase as could’ve been expected, the increase itself wasn’t necessarily significant, it can then be implied that the Cyclic Dextrin used made training easier to continue.

As for my own, personal experience; I can say that it does work for me, in both the sense that I don’t feel overly fatigued after intense training anymore, and that not once have I felt bloated or experienced any stomach problems upon using Cyclic Dextrin. If you’re bloated and are preparing for a relatively heavy set of squats or deadlifts, engaging your core will be more than difficult. Therefore, Cyclic Dextrin allows me to move through my training in a far more efficient and comfortable manner.

How And When Should I Use Cyclic Dextrin?

Do not concern yourself with using Cyclic Dextrin if you’re just starting out. All you’d need is water, although you can add a pinch of sea salt in the water for maximum hydration as well as avoiding cramps. Concern yourself with eating right, perfecting your exercise technique and advancing as much as you can without any supplementation at all. In terms of use, Cyclic Dextrin can be very beneficial if you’re training on an empty stomach, as I’ve been doing lately. It’s obviously also beneficial if you’ve reached a point in your training where you need a boost to sustain your training session for the sake if instant absorption of carbs directly into the muscles.

The Muscle Sport brand, the brand I use, recommends using 1 scoop for every 16-20oz of water. You can and should take it during and after your training sessions. Admittedly, Cyclic Dextrin is pricier than we’d all like it to be. But I find it a worthy investment, far more superior to any other Carb Powder on the market.

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