1.What Is It?
Cluster Dextrin® is a patented version of the ingredient Highly Branched Cyclic Dextrin (HBCD). As the name suggests, HBCD is a particular variation of a dextrin. A Dextrin is a low-molecular-weight carbohydrate produced from the chemical breakdown of starch or glycogen. Starch is a mixture of two distinct polymers, amylose and amylopectin; whereas Glycogen is a branched polymer of glucose. HBCD is produced from the enzymatic breaking of the amylopectin polymers in clusters and the use of a branching enzyme to form large cyclic chains. Cluster Dextrin® is the highest quality and most commonly used form of Highly Branched Cyclic Dextrin in the supplement industry.
2.What Does It Do?
Cluster Dextrin® claims to bring very unique and beneficial results in comparison to other carbohydrate sources. We will break down these benefits and explain how they will help you, but first, we need to cover the essentials. Cluster Dextrin® is a carbohydrate source and therefore provides caloric energy just like any other food carbohydrate source. 1 gram of Cluster Dextrin® has 1 gram of carbs which will provide 4 calories.
Cluster Dextrin® is Highly Soluble
Being highly soluble might not seem that important but it certainly is. When it comes to carbohydrate supplements, the more soluble, the better absorbed the product will be in the intestines; whereas insoluble carbohydrates will pass through our digestive system and be excreted. On top of this absorption in the body, a highly soluble product will mix in water a lot better which means you won’t have lumps or clumps in your shaker as your drinking mid-workout or training session.
Cluster Dextrin® has a Low Osmotic Pressure
One of the biggest issues with consuming carbohydrates around or while exercising is the feeling of those carbs sitting in our stomach waiting to be passed from our stomach to the intestines for digestion. Cluster Dextrin® overcomes this issue by having an incredibly low osmotic pressure.
Products with high osmotic pressure will take longer to pass from the stomach to the small intestine; the lower the osmotic pressure the faster it will pass through. Cluster Dextrin® has one of the lowest osmotic pressures, close to nil, meaning it will pass through incredibly fast and will not give you that bloated full stomach feeling while training.
Cluster Dextrin® has a High Molecular Weight
The high molecular weight of Cluster Dextrin® is its secret to a sustained release of energy with minimal to no influence on blood sugar and insulin levels. We will go into more detail about this when we discuss How long does it take to work?.
Cluster Dextrin® has a minimal effect on Blood Sugar and Insulin Levels
Why is it so beneficial that Cluster Dextrin® has minimal to no effect on blood sugar and insulin levels? When we increase blood sugar levels, though consumption of low molecular weight carbs, our body releases insulin to shuttle those broken down carbs into cells to bring blood sugar levels back to normal. When insulin levels are high, our body cannot tap into our fat utilising energy system and purely relies on carbohydrates for energy.
If we are able to keep blood sugar and therefore insulin low, while providing a sustained source of carbohydrates for energy, we can utilise both carbohydrates and fat stores as energy while training. This is considered to be the holy grail of energy system combos to tap into regardless of what exercise you are doing.
To summarise what Cluster Dextrin® has to offer. It is a carbohydrate supplement that mixes really well, will pass through our stomach very quickly so we don’t get any bloating while training but then provides a sustained release of energy, thanks to the minimal effect on blood sugar and insulin, for us to then train until we run out of exercises to do. Sounds pretty good so far.
3.How Much Do I Need To Take?
Referring back to our essential piece of information above. Cluster Dextrin® is a carbohydrate source and with that, it provides caloric energy just like any other carbohydrate source. 1 gram of Cluster Dextrin® will provide 1 gram of carbohydrates and that will provide 4 calories of energy. Due to this fact it is very difficult to provide a recommended, let alone, a clinical dose to aim for.
Dosages as low as 1 gram will help the absorption of formulas/ ingredients in the body. When we are looking at increased workout performance the dosing range is huge. Some users may experience the improved performance from a dose between 10 – 20 grams of HBCD whereas others may require a dose between 50 – 100 grams of HBCD to experience the full performance and endurance benefits.
At the end of the day, you will need to keep your daily caloric intake in mind when deciding on the dose of Cluster Dextrin® you choose to use around your workout.
4.When Do I Take It?
Can I only use Cluster Dextrin® around and/ or during my workouts? No, you can supplement with Cluster Dextrin® whenever you want an easily digestible carbohydrate source with sustained energy supply. While the benefits of Cluster Dextrin® really come to shine when supplemented during exercise, its not limited to only be used them.
Cluster Dextrin® is a carbohydrate supplement which does mean it does fall on that grey line between supplement and/ or food. Cluster Dextrin® has been designed to utilised during training due to the properties it possesses. However, you can take HBCD as a fast digesting pre-workout carbohydrate source, as a post-workout glycogen replenishment supplement or throughout the day to meet your macronutrient requirements.
5.How Long Does It Take To Work?
This is where Cluster Dextrin® can really show its strength. Between the low osmotic pressure and high molecular structure Cluster Dextrin® possesses; it passes through the stomach at the fastest possible rate. This means even when training, you shouldnt experience any bloating and heavy full stomach feeling as you consume your drink.
When we consume carbohydrates at rest and they reach our small intestine, they are broken down by enzymes into glucose and then transferred into the bloodstream. When we exercise, it is known that there are less of these enzymes released by the small intestine, therefore, slowing down this process. Typical sports drinks overcome this problem by using low molecular weight carbohydrates that are passed into the bloodstream easier. The only issue is, these low molecular weight carbs cause a rapid spike in blood sugar levels and therefore insulin.
Cluster Dextrin® with its high molecular weight is gradually degraded and absorbed into the bloodstream providing minimal to no increase in blood sugar levels and therefore minimal to no increase in insulin. The Cluster Dextrin® gets into our small intestine as fast as a low molecular carbohydrate but then once there it gets broken down and provides the energy of high molecular carbohydrates.
6.What Are The Top Products?
The top products containing Cluster Dextrin® are: