Cluster Dextrin is one of the main ingredients of Intra Force (an electrolyte matrix making up the rest of the ingredients) and is widely touted as a game-changer in the field of carbohydrate-based sports drink supplements. But what actually is it?
What Is Cluster Dextrin?
Cluster Dextrin, which is sometimes referred to as Highly Branched Cyclic Dextrin (HBCD), is a new advanced breed of maltodextrin formulated in Japan. Cluster Dextrin differs from other high GI carbohydrates like Dextrose and Maltodextrin as it provides a sustained and controlled release of energy as opposed to a sudden spike in blood sugar and large insulin response.
Cluster dextrin has a high molecular weight, narrow weight distribution, is soluble, and has an osmotic pressure near zero. Which in plain English means it passes through your stomach faster than other carbohydrate sources, making it more readily available for your body to burn as energy and less likely to cause any issues with digestion, which is the last thing you need to worry about during an event.
How Does HBCD Help Endurance & CrossFit Athletes?
Carbs are essential for proper recovery.
One benefit that HBCD offers endurance and CrossFit athletes is the rate at which the cyclic dextrin passes through the stomach. This is advantageous for those trying to consume enough carbs in order to perform. The cyclic dextrin allows you to increase carbohydrate consumption without eating starchy carbs that may lead to a bloated and sluggish feeling.
This allows endurance and CrossFit athletes to be adequately fuelled and glycogen stores replenished without feeling bloated. This is vital in the case of highly demanding sports that have several events on a particular day or many days of competition where the athletes cannot resort to eating “real food” for a quick recovery.
HBCD is digested quickly but absorbs at a more gradual rate compared to the other quickly digesting and absorbing carb sources, which means that the athletes get a steady and sustained glucose supply to the blood. Although HBCD may not provide the higher levels of insulin and glucose that other forms of carbs provide, the sustained release provided by the cyclic dextrin offers improved endurance performance and also regulates the amount of insulin released, preventing the release of an excessive amount of insulin and at the same time allows efficient refuelling and recovery.
How Do You Use It?
If you’re partaking in endurance training or in an intense workout over an hour in length, then Cluster Dextrin provides you with the perfect intra-workout carbohydrate option. Similarly, if you haven’t had a pre-workout meal or are training early in the morning before breakfast, Cluster Dextrin can provide you with a quality pre-workout carbohydrate source that won’t upset your stomach during the early morning blur!
We recommend consuming 25g of Cluster Dextrin (one scoop of Intra Force) for every hour of training/physical activity – Mix with water and consume during and after.
Going through intensive workout sessions and athletic competitions can be quite challenging and carbohydrates can give you the edge needed to get through these sessions. In the past, carbs such as maltodextrin, dextrose and waxy maize were quite popular; however, these do not provide the quick absorption that is required during an intensive workout to effectively make use of the benefits of an intra-workout carbohydrate source. This is where highly branched cyclic dextrin has emerged as the best option which allows you to top up your energy reserves mid-workout and fully recover afterwards.