Cyclic Dextrin is the Best Carbohydrate for Ultra-Runners
What is the best carbohydrate source to fuel ultra-runners? If you look at the back of three different endurance fuels, you will likely see three different carbohydrate blends. Of course, all of them claim their blend is superior to the other.
Dextrose, fructose, sucrose (dextrose and fructose), and maltodextrin are by far the most common ingredients you’ll find in an endurance fuel. The vast majority of fuels are some combination of these carbs. These carbohydrates can go by many names. For example, if a label says “sugar” or “cane sugar,” that’s sucrose. It doesn’t matter what the company calls it; it works the same.
Utilizing the previously mentioned carbohydrates alone or in combination will never produce the OPTIMAL endurance fuel for ultra-runners. Why do I say this? Because they are not taking advantage of the BEST carbohydrate for ultra-runners – Cyclic Dextrin. Cyclic Dextrin is not just the best carb for ultra-runners but all endurance athletes who compete and train for long durations.
Other names for Cyclic Dextrin – Cyclic Dextrin, Cluster Dextrin, and Highly Branched Cyclic Dextrin (HBCD) all refer to the same thing. We will use the name Cyclic Dextrin.
Multiple Transportable Carbohydrate Solutions are Superior to Single Carbohydrate Sources
Before I get into WHY Cyclic Dextrin is the best carbohydrate for ultra-runners, just know that the BEST fuels will be those that have multiple carbohydrate sources as opposed to one single source. Multiple transportable carbohydrate (MTC) solutions allow endurance athletes to take in more carbs/hour by utilizing different transporters and absorption rates.
That being said, if optimal performance is the goal, the MTC should contain the most useful carbohydrates possible.
You’re not going to create the best carbohydrate blend without utilizing the best carbohydrate – Cyclic Dextrin.
So why is Cyclic Dextrin the best carbohydrate for ultra-runners? Let’s find out.
5 Reasons Why Cyclic Dextrin is the Best Carbohydrate for Ultra-Runners
1. Cyclic Dextrin Outperforms Other Carbohydrates During Endurance Exercise
None of the other reasons would matter if Cyclic Dextrin didn’t equal the performance benefits seen with other, more traditional carbohydrates. Not only does Cyclic Dextrin match the endurance performance benefits of any other carbohydrate on the market, but it also surpasses them.
Here are just a couple studies demonstrating Cyclic Dextrin’s superiority to commonly used carbs in endurance fuels.
- In a study comparing the effect of 15g of maltodextrin vs. 15g of Cyclic Dextrin on the rating of perceived exertion (RPE) during endurance exercise, participants who consumed Cyclic Dextrin had significantly lower RPE than did those who consumed maltodextrin (Furuyashiki et al., 2014)
- A study of elite swimmers found that time to exhaustion was significantly improved (70%) when Cyclic Dextrin was ingested as opposed to glucose (dextrose) or water (Shiraki et al., 2015).
2. Cyclic Dextrin is the Gentlest Carbohydrate on the Stomach
Ultra-runners are required to take in large amounts of carbohydrates over long durations of time.
When exercising, blood is directed away from the stomach to fuel working muscles. As a result, digestion is impaired. High amounts of calories combined with impaired digestion often result in gastrointestinal issues such as vomiting, diarrhea, bloating, and nausea. GI issues (and the problems that arise from them) are the #1 reason ultra-runners DNF during an ultramarathon.
Cyclic Dextrin has a SUPER fast gastric emptying time and, as a result, produces almost zero gastrointestinal distress (likely no more than plain water). Compared with traditional sources of carbohydrates, that’s not even close. Studies have suggested over double the amount of GI disturbances when consuming glucose (dextrose) or maltodextrin compared to Cyclic Dextrin (Takii et al., 2004).
Cyclic Dextrin stands alone as the best carbohydrate to prevent performance crippling stomach issues commonly experienced during ultramarathons.
3. Cyclic Dextrin Leads to Less Immune Suppression
Most endurance athletes know that strenuous endurance exercise can suppress the immune system, thus leaving athletes susceptible to infection. Taking in adequate carbohydrates during endurance exercise is considered one of the most effective strategies at negating this drop in immune function. Glucose has been shown to decrease immunosuppression by reducing stress hormone and cytokine concentrations.
A study on triathletes by Suzuki et al. (2014) sought to see if Cyclic Dextrin provided similar benefits to immunity after endurance exercise. Athletes taking Cyclic Dextrin, as opposed to glucose, showed significantly lower noradrenaline, lymphocyte counts, as well as pro-inflammatory cytokines, and immunosuppressive cytokines (Suzuki et al., 2014). In simpler terms, Cyclic Dextrin significantly outperforms glucose at preventing immune suppression following endurance exercise.
4. Cyclic Dextrin is Less Sweet than Simple Sugars
You might be thinking, “why the heck does that matter? I like sweet.” It matters because palate fatigue is a big issue in longer duration ultramarathons, and it’s usually a result of too much sweetness. Typically, ultra-runners start to get burnt out on sweets in the later stages of an ultramarathon and start to crave salty or savory foods instead.
This burnout results from taking in primarily super-sweet carbohydrates (dextrose, fructose, and sucrose).
Cyclic Dextrin is significantly less sweet than dextrose, fructose, and sucrose, reducing the risk of palate fatigue in the latter stages of an ultramarathon.
5. Cyclic Dextrin Encourages Fat Oxidation
The ability to utilize fat as fuel is essential for ultra-runners.
Due to the extreme durations of ultramarathons and their lower relative intensity, athletes who can more efficiently burn fat while taking in supplemental carbohydrates will outperform those stuck burning primarily carbohydrates. If an endurance athlete is burning mainly carbohydrates due to fat oxidation being suppressed, then that athlete will burn through their glycogen more rapidly.
Cyclic Dextrin is a low glycemic carb and provides a slow release of energy into the bloodstream. Cyclic Dextrin’s slow release maintains blood glucose levels more efficiently without skyrocketing insulin, and as a result, doesn’t inhibit fat oxidation. When an athlete fuels with primarily (or entirely) high glycemic, simple sugars (dextrose, sucrose), they significantly impair fat oxidation.
In summary, Cyclic Dextrin’s ability to maintain consistent blood sugar levels without significantly impacting insulin allows for a normal release of fatty acids to be used as fuel.
6. Cyclic Dextrin Provides More Stable Energy Over Long Durations
Another benefit of Cyclic Dextrin’s consistent “slow-drip” energy is that an ultra-runner will experience less severe energy swings during long runs and ultramarathons. When using Cyclic Dextrin, insulin is not impacted to the same extent as with simple, high-glycemic carbs.
Using primarily dextrose, sucrose, or maltodextrin will result in acute and drastic blood sugar spikes, while Cyclic Dextrin will keep blood sugar significantly more stable. This leads to a much more even, clean, and consistent energy.
So why isn’t everyone using Cyclic Dextrin?
If Cyclic Dextrin is the best carbohydrate for ultra-runners, then why aren’t more endurance fuels utilizing it? As you can imagine, much of what influences a company’s decisions comes down to cost. Cyclic Dextrin is over 5x the price of more commonly used carbohydrates, like maltodextrin.
See the blog, Cyclic Dextrin vs. Maltodextrin: Which is Best for Endurance Athletes? for a detailed comparison between Cyclic Dextrin and Maltodextrin.
Proxima C Endurance Fuel
Proxima C is a brand-new revolutionary endurance fuel explicitly designed for ultra-runners.
It considers factors that are especially important for athletes (like ultra-runners) who compete and train for exceptionally long durations. Proxima C utilizes a revolutionary four-carbohydrate blend with its primary carbohydrate being, you guessed it, Cyclic Dextrin. With Proxima C, no corners have been cut and no expense has been spared.