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Spoonful Of Sugar

Applications of Maltodextrins in Food and Beverages


Through advances in science and technology, the knowledge on the (functional) application possibilities of Maltodextrins in food and beverage products has improved significantly during the last 20 years. Due to their specific functional properties and easy applicability, Maltodextrins can substitute sucrose or fat and are being used in ice cream, dried instant food formulations, confectionery, cereals, snacks, and beverages. Below, we will elaborate on selected application areas with a focus on food and beverages


Maltodextrin is a polysaccharide used as a food additive and flavor enhancer. It is produced from starches in a process called partial hydrolysis, which is the breakdown of starch into smaller units called polymers. Maltodextrin has many functions that include its use as a filler ingredient, to extend shelf life, improve powdery appearance, mitigate sweetness, prevent melting, avert or retard granulation and reduce nutrient losses.

  • Used in spray-drying or plating oil-based flavors or emulsions

They are particularly valuable in the flavor industry, where they supply a matrix for spray-drying or plating oil-based flavors or emulsions. Maltodextrins allow these liquids to be converted into a free-flowing powder without changing or masking the flavor.

  • Used in coffee whiteners

In plating, oil-based ingredients are coated on the surface of the maltodextrin particle by using a fine spray. This process can be used for flavors or to help distribute small quantities of oil in products like coffee whiteners.


Maltodextrins act as cryoprotectants in frozen products and desserts. Because of their higher molecular weight, they do not lower the freezing point as much as sugars on an equivalent weight basis.

  • Used in ice creams:

For ice cream and other frozen desserts, a decrease in freezing point can result in several negative effects. A lower melt point imparts an undesirable icy mouthfeel and makes the product difficult to scoop; it also negatively affects aeration and requires more energy to freeze solidly.
Maltodextrins also inhibit lactose and ice-crystal formation and prevent the resultant graininess and loss of quality. They help improve the melt characteristics of the product.


Maltodextrin can be used as a carbohydrate-based fat replacer. It functions by interacting with the water in the formulation to create a heat-stable, smooth gel. This gel can mimic the texture and creamy mouthfeel of fats, increase the viscosity of an unprocessed product, and add body/mouthfeel to finished products.

  • Used in high-energetic food products

Recent findings suggest that the use of maltodextrin in high-energetic food products may help reduce the fat content up to 50%, thus reducing energy density without altering important properties and characteristics of these products.

  • Used in low-fat meat products

Next to their fat-mimicking ability, research has shown that an additional benefit of the use of maltodextrin is their inhibition of the release of volatile odor compounds, making them, for example, suitable as fat-replacers in low-fat meat products.


Despite its classification as a complex carbohydrate, maltodextrin is quickly absorbed by the gut and can provide fast and readily absorbable energy. Maltodextrin provides you with a steady release of energy so your body can begin to break down fat to use as fuel. This essentially helps you avoid ‘bonking’ or ‘hitting the wall’ during your long run.

  • Usage as sports energy drinks:

Since there is a close relationship between muscle fiber glycogen content and its ability to execute repeated high-intensity contractions, either a reduced rate of glycogen breakdown or an increased glycogen content may help reduce fatigue and thus support performance capacity in field settings. Examining the effects of maltodextrins ingestion during exercise it was found that the ingestion of maltodextrin, like any other CHO, decreases net glycogen breakdown during long-duration exercise while maintaining a high whole-body CHO oxidation

  • Used in Sports Recovery Drinks

Some observations suggest that effects on postexercise glycogen recovery and also muscle protein synthesis can be enhanced when a combination of different CHOs and protein is used. This observation is often used by the sports nutrition industry to promote CHO–protein mixes for improving muscle strength, muscle power, and sports performance.


Maltodextrin functions as a flavor carrier, bulking agent, and spray-drying agent. Supplying 4 kcal/g, it is also a valuable source of carbohydrates and osmolality control for sports drinks, infant formulas, and weight management products.

  • Infant Nutrition

Maltodextrins are a viable replacement for lactose to provide energy when a lactase deficiency is present in infants. Instead of glucose, they may also be more favorable for reducing osmotic load and related gastrointestinal stress. Additionally, the solubility of maltodextrins allows for a lump-free formula.

  • Artificial sweetener

Maltodextrin is used in artificial sweeteners. Maltodextrin acts as a binding agent, helping to create the crystal-like sugars that are then put into packets. Although maltodextrin does not taste sweet, it is a saccharide, meaning its chemical properties are similar to a lump of sugar.

  • Weight Management

Along with the obesity rates, the demand for low-calorie alternative foods is growing. Maltodextrins behave like a pseudo fat and may be used to reduce the fat content of high-calorie foods – such as salad dressings, mayonnaise, and dairy products – without altering important characteristics like firmness.

This is important because fat contains more than double the energy per gram as carbohydrates (9 kcal vs. 4 kcal). Maltodextrins may also be used in no-sugar-added formulations to replace solids since they are not sugars.

  • Used in skin care products

Recent research has suggested that Maltodextrin may also have anti-aging and anti-irritation properties. In 2002, a patent filed by Unilever presented research on the use of maltodextrin in combination with hydroxy acids. Hydroxy acids such as alpha hydroxy acids and beta hydroxy acids are commonly used in skincare products. This is due to their ability to improve the appearance of photodamaged or naturally aged skin and help reduce the visible pigmentation caused by hormones, genetics, sun, and diet.

  • In Agriculture/Animal Feed/Poultry

Maltodextrin is used as a stabilizer, thickener, anticaking agent, and bulking agent. Maltodextrin may also be used in livestock feed and health care products to provide an easily digestible energy source intermediate between starches and sugars.


Due to their characteristics and physicochemical, functional, technological, and nutritional properties, maltodextrins have numerous applications in functional foods and beverages, as well as clinical nutrition, sports nutrition, and infant nutrition. The use of maltodextrins in specific circumstances, such as the use of concentrated energy drinks during endurance sports, may help reduce the risk of gastrointestinal distress compared to the use of glucose or sucrose, which would induce a high gastro-intestinal osmolality which may potentially induce gastrointestinal distress.

Next to their use as an energy source, applications of maltodextrins include their uses in replacing fat, encapsulating vitamins, minerals, and flavorants, enhancing shelf life, and increasing the bulk of products, amongst other things.


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