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Maltodextrin 101
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Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Maltodextrin 101 on 01/15/2013 09:03:58 MST Print View

Not all Maltodextrin is the same.  Two commonly used powers for drink mixes are Maltrin QD M500 and Tate & Lyle Star-Dri 100. There are three key characteristics of these products that will affect its use for Backpacking Nutrition. 
1) DE Value – DE stands for Dextrose Equivalent and ranges from 3-20.  The higher the DE value the sweeter the taste.  For example; a Maltodextrin with a DE of 5 is about 1/10th as sweet as table sugar.  DE of 18 is about a ¼ as sweet.  This can be important because generally a Malto mix will use a high level of solids and a lower DE will make the final drink mix less sweet, or a better way of putting it, not as over-sweet.  Both the Maltrin and Star-Dri products have a DE of 10 which is 1/5th the sweetness of sugar. This is one reason these are popular in Homemade Malto mixes.
2) Powder vs. Agglomerated.  Non-scientific explanation – Agglomeration takes powder and forms larger clumps.  This potentially has a positive impact for the Malto mixer.  First, Agglomerates will flow better out of a bottle or even as you are filling bottles.  Second, they are less dusty than the powders.  Powder Maltodextrin is very messy.  Finally, an agglomerate will mix better in cold water while a powder will often retain clumps that will eventually mix.
3) Density – There can also be huge differences in the Bulk Density of Maltodextrin.  The primary density driver is product form, powder vs. agglomerate.  Why is this important?  The higher the bulk density the higher dry weight (more calories) you can get into a given bottle.  For example; you can only fill about 900 calories of agglomerate in a half liter bottle while you can fit over 1200 of the powder.
So, which is better powder or agglomerate?  That depends.  I have used both and generally prefer the agglomerate over the powder due to messiness.  But, the biggest advantage of agglomerate over powder is the cold water mixing. The agglomerate mixes SOOOOOO much better. So, is the agglomerate worth the extra cash, you decide but I will never again buy another 50 lb bag of powder.
1) Agglomerate - Maltrin QD M500 by GPC. Bulk Density- .34g/cc. DE-10 Can be purchased from Skidmore Sales, JM Swank and possibly Essex Grain in 50lb bags.
2) Powder –Star-Dri 100 or Star-Dri 10 by Tate & Lyle. Bulk Density - .54g/cc DE-10 Can be purchased from Honeyville and JM Swank in 50 lb bags.
What about smaller quantities?
There are smaller quantities that can be purchased though it will be considerable more expensive per pound.  I have read that Carbo Gain is a powdered product and CarboPro is an agglomerate.  You can also find Maltodextrin at beer supply houses.
How does this compare with branded energy products with Maltodextrin?
Most of the energy drinks containing Maltodextrin will use one of the two products listed above or exact equivalents.  Some may also contain secondary ingredients such as protein but you will have to gauge the benefit.  It can be amusing to see how products such as CarboPro fluff up their marketing prose to mask the fact that $9/lb product can be bought for less than $1.50 in bulk

Edited by gg-man on 06/11/2013 20:37:48 MDT.

Raquel Rascal

Locale: Rocky Mtn. West
Paleo? on 01/15/2013 09:21:10 MST Print View

Hi Greg,

You have helped me before with developing my own electrolyte mix on the trail. I know you suggested maltodextrin for the mix, but I had to switch to the SCD diet last fall due to a health condition. The SCD diet is very similar to the Paleo diet and it is completely sugar and grain free. This includes all corn and potato products as well. I'm feeling MUCH better, and when I slip and have any sugars, I feel ill again and go into flare.

Due to this, I can't use Maltodextrin in my electrolyte mix. I'm thinking of using fruit juice or raw honey instead to keep it more in line with Paleo on the trail.

Also, isn't Maltodextrin a processed, extracted food- therefore NOT a whole food. Shouldn't that be reason enough alone to avoid it?

What do you think?

Edited by flutingaround on 01/15/2013 09:21:43 MST.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Paleo? on 01/15/2013 09:51:35 MST Print View

"Also, isn't Maltodextrin a processed, extracted food- therefore NOT a whole food. Shouldn't that be reason enough alone to avoid it?"

I don't think anyone eats maltodextrin because they think it's a healthy, wholesome, or delicious food. They eat it because they are involved in endurance sports with extremely high caloric needs that are not practical or weight-efficient to meet by carrying whole or fresh foods. Keep the context in mind; consider Greg's PCT thru hike and the speed in which he did it (as well as other ultra endeavors out there) and malto starts making more sense.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Re: Paleo? on 01/15/2013 10:38:09 MST Print View

Let's split this into a couple of parts.
1) as far as an electrolyte mix,, this is a seperate mix that can be added to anything, even food or maltodextrin. The main reason to add it to maltodextrin is because you are drinking it anyway, that of course if you are drinking it.
2) Malto is not a health food, it is pure energy. As such it contains no vitamins or minerals. That would need to be supplied with other foods.
3) yes, Malto is made of grain and therefore sounds inconsistent with your diet.
4) where Malto is helpful, along the lines of Craig's response is for folks that are doing very physically demanding trips such as high mile or elevation gain. It also is a possible help for folks that have trouble eating at higher elevations, this was originally my situation.

I posted this primarily because questions could up periodically on maltodextrin and sources. I also discovered while making my last batch that there are processing differences. As I looked into these differences I found a whole bunch of garbage information out there regarding what I posted. I wanted to get this out there more for future reference than trying to push Malto on others. There will be a small group of people that this will apply.

Nathan Hays

Locale: San Francisco
Love My MyoMalt on 02/11/2013 14:55:29 MST Print View

Just gotta put in a plug:

Switching to a malt drink while on trail has made an enormous difference in my enjoyment of all hikes, from easy to strenuous. I save my whole food time for a *small* snack at lunch and for dinner.

Previously, the lump of food in my stomach from 3-4 meals/day left me with a roller coaster of energy and a tubbiness that lasted an hour or so. When I would eat a steady stream of nuts, etc... it was better, but I could only consume so much per hour and that left me short of energy on long hikes.

With the malt, I only run into quad burn or VO2max on long uphills when I push it. Energy is always plentiful, and that is priceless on trail. There's nothing like ending a 25+ mile day by just strolling into a campsite feeling refreshed.

My family was reluctant at first, but on day 3 of the JMT, they were all over it, rejecting the cliff bars, jerky, and cheese that normally fueled the day hikes.

My MyoMalt is 75% malto (Tate&Lyle), 25% whey. I add choline, carnosine, and carnitine to boost fat processing. I keep the electrolytes separate because my salt needs vary according to how much I sweat. I consume 1Lb = 2000 kcal/day (~10 hours of hiking).

And thanks Greg. You've been very helpful in many ways.

Raquel Rascal

Locale: Rocky Mtn. West
thank you on 02/12/2013 06:00:15 MST Print View

Thanks so much for explaining about makes more sense to me now.

Rob E

Locale: Canada
Carbo Pro on 02/12/2013 06:26:11 MST Print View

I've used Carbo Pro quite a bit over the years in endurance sports, the stuff is amazing, and was thinking about bringing some on my next backpacking trip.

Joe Groesbeck
Carbo Gain Question on 02/28/2013 13:32:53 MST Print View

Good reading here for my intro into maltodextrin for hiking purposes. Could one of you that currently use Carbo Gain please confirm the below link is the product being discussed, or a good substitute?

Thank you in advance.


daniel B
(dbogey) - F - M

Locale: East Coast
Re: Maltodextrin 101 - How would you mix this on 02/28/2013 13:58:04 MST Print View

If I was to purchase a 5 lb bag of this, what would I mix in with it and how would I prepare on the trail/road? I do a lot of running, typically 8-12 miles per day and would like to use this a fuel prior to my workouts instead of buying commercially made and overpriced products.

Yes 1000
Formula and health issues on 03/01/2013 08:25:21 MST Print View

hey guys, does malto has any negative side effect? like on our insulin levels or something. Also is there any formula to make it as close to Hammer Perpetuem.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Formula and health issues on 03/01/2013 10:05:16 MST Print View

"... does malto has any negative side effect?"

Well, it doesn't support life...

It is only a complex sugar, capable of providing energy in intense situations.

You need to get minerals, vitamins, electrolytes, protein, and fat from the other parts of your diet.

An all day run or ride on malto is fine because you (hopefully) started with a real breakfast and will finish with a real dinner (or two).

Edited by greg23 on 03/01/2013 10:09:07 MST.