Highly Branched Cyclic Dextrin – A Promising Newcomer To The Gym

Highly Branched Cyclic Dextrin – A Promising Newcomer To The Gym

 Any athlete worth his salt knows the importance of proper carbohydrate nutrition. Carbs can help reduce fatigue and improve exercise endurance, contributing to an improved performance overall. It’s no wonder then, that the market is oversaturated with different carbohydrate products, with some being significantly better than others.

 Highly branched cyclic dextrin (HBCD) is a newcomer to the carbohydrate market, and a promising newcomer at that! HBCD is created by an enzymatic process, amylopectin is thus degraded into highly concentrated clusters dextrin.

 With its introduction to the market, HBCD has dominated the carbohydrate isle due to its effectiveness, easy of use and superior absorption properties. In this article we’re aiming to discuss some of the properties making HBCD a superior choice for your carb needs, and talk about some of the research behind this new product.

Highly branched cyclic dextrin – Origins

 First off, what is a dextrin? Dextrins are carbohydrates, they are made of multiple molecules of glucose (the substance we commonly refer to as blood sugar) and are an easy source of energy for our musculoskeletal system. In contrast to starches, dextrins are simpler compounds and are much easier to digest.

  Highly branched cyclic dextrins (HBCDs) are a group within the larger family of dextrins, which are usually produced via enzymatic reactions both in nature (some bacteria naturally produce these) and in the lab. It is produced from amylopectin, which itself is a component of the common starches we consume every day.

 HBCDs were thrust into the limelight at the turn of the century, when numerous scientists discovered that animals who were fed these branched dextrins had enhanced endurance during physical activity. Unlike those animals fed simple sugars, these did not suffer sudden insulin spikes.

 Insulin is an important hormone in the human body which regulates our blood sugar (glucose) levels. When we consume starchy or sweet foods, it rises proportionally so we do not get an overdose on sugar. Usually consuming carbohydrates produces a sudden increase, a “spike” per say, of insulin in our blood – this is not so with HBCD, it tends to produce a slower and more gradual increase in insulin. This peculiarity is helpful, as it allows for more glucose to be delivered to our muscles, allowing us to exercise longer.

HBCD vs. Other carbs

 There are a lot of carbohydrate supplements on the market – simple dextrose products, amylopectins, maize starch and etc.  What sets these apart from HBCD is the way our bodies process these carbs.

 Carbs are digested in the part of the intestine called the duodenum and absorbed into the bloodstream all across the small intestine. The human body is programmed to keep up a constant slow supply of energy from the intestine, this is achieved via special osmoreceptors in the stomach and small intestine. Certain carbohydrates can stimulate these osmoreceptors, causing a slow-down of peristalsis and a decrease in the speed of food moving from the stomach to the intestines. This is not optimal in the athletic setting, as we need all the energy during the workout and not afterwards.

 Highly branched dextrins have an advantage due to their structure. These compounds are large molecules which, though easy to digest, are not as osmotically active as smaller dextrose molecules. These structural characteristics allow HBCDs to be absorbed much quicker compared to simpler carbohydrates, allowing our muscles to be well-supplied all through our workout.

 Another notable advantage of HBCDs over simpler carbohydrate supplements lies in the adverse effects department. Generally, carbohydrate supplements are known for causing nausea and bloating during exercise and, even worse, might cause diarrhea. This is due to the way simple sugars react with water. Dextrose molecules tend to be osmotically active, they retain water around them preventing it from being absorbed by the intestine. The overabundance of water in the intestine causes bloating and nausea, and as the dextrose passes into the large intestine the bacteria there degrade what is left of it, causing flatulence. If the retained water is not reabsorbed in the large intestine, diarrhea ensues – this is the definition of osmotic diarrhea. Osmotic diarrhea usually happens with simpler supplements or vegans/vegetarians consuming very large amounts of fruits, it is very rare with HBCDs in comparison.

HBCD – The benefits

 There are many benefits associated with HBCD supplementation, listing and explaining them all would actually be beyond the scopes of this one article alone, but the most important ones include:

  • Boosting athletic performance
  • Delaying fatigue and exhaustion
  • Regulating your blood sugar levels during exercise
  • Improving post-workout recovery
  • Reducing post-workout muscle soreness
  • Improves overall strength
  • Increases lean muscle mass, while reducing body fat percentage.

 With all of these benefits, it’s easy to see why HBCD has become so popular among professional athletes. But what about the adverse effects? Who benefits most from using HBCD? What’s the dosage?

HBCDs – Safety and Dosing

 While the benefits of HBCD all sound good. There is a caveat. Not everybody might profit from using it! HBCD is basically for those who put a lot of effort and either exercise for longer periods of time, or are athletes. So if you’re just in the gym for your health, exercising for 1 hour or less, and don’t go that often – it might not be for you. Whereas if you are in the gym for more than 6 hours a week, it might be key in increasing that muscle mass!

 HBCDs are carbohydrates and, as all carbohydrates are, are basic nutrients that we might consume on a daily basis. There are very few conditions which might preclude to using it, ask your physician before consuming any supplement though! Adverse effects have been virtually unheard of, bar some cases of diarrhea.

 As for the dosing, the recommendation is to consume around 25g of HBCD for every hour you’re planning on training for. It’s fairly simple to consume, mostly coming in the form of powder which you might mix in with water.

 Highly branched cyclic dextrins have emerged as the number one carbohydrate supplement for athletes and non-athletes alike, we hope this article helped you to see why. Whether you’re looking to reduce that soreness or just want to pack on more muscle mass, this supplement might just be for you.