Carb-drinks and gut health

Hello everyone, long time listener here and appreciate the great content!

With more and more studies showing a negative effect of maltodextrin on gut microbiome and health, I’m wondering if other types of carbs are a better alternative in that regard. Such as dextrose, fructose or highly branched cyclic dextrin.

To give you some background on my motivation: I got diagnosed with mild Colitis in early 2021. The first symptoms were the worst and since then, only mild flare ups. But still, it’s not something you want to get out of control, especially as I have been paying good attention to my diet for a few years now. I eat a balanced whole food diet, with 95% of meals cooked at home with attention to quality.

Coincidentally or not, I bought the first batch of maltodextrin two months before that. I also noticed a very strong correlation between times of heavier consumption (50-60g daily) and flare ups.
With data emerging, I’m obviously looking for better alternatives. I’m okay with sacrificing a few percent of performance.

Is there anything known about the effects of other carbs such as dextrose, fructose or highly branched cyclic dextrin on gut health? @trevor any experience with that?

Many thanks!

To my understandment you can train your gut to handle things better, you just need to add it little by little. Asker Jeukendrup has talked about it, so that’s one direction where i could point you at.

Different carb supplements might work better for you. I don’t know if there is clear difference between them or if it’s individual how people can handle them.

Yes, probably. But I don’t want to keep doing something that is clearly bad for my health.
We have only recently started to understand how important a well functioning gut microbiome is.

Anyway, I ordered some Cluster Dextrin. Let’s see how that goes.
Not much data on that stuff.

HI @nieroc,

Thanks for listening! Sorry to hear about the digestive issues you’re having. Colitis is no fun, but it sounds like you’re doing a lot of the right things to address it.

My experience is that these things require a lot of trial and error. The first recommendation for anyone dealing with digestive track issues is to buy a journal and start tracking what you eat. Everyone has different triggers and that’s the only way to truly identify yours.

That said, simple sugars - all of them - are likely going to be an issue for you. If it’s any consolation, I’m working myself on getting simple sugars out of my diet except as the very periodic treat. Not easy to do, but I haven’t found it hurts my performance. So, personally I don’t use drink mixes anymore (except Nuun) and stick with more real foods on my rides.

For sources of carbohydrates, I’d recommend fruits and vegetables and to get away from free sugars. Sounds like that’s what you’re doing 95% of the time. I’d just bump it up to 100% of the time as best you can.

The other thing I’d recommend, particularly in the short run, is getting lectins and saponins out of your diet. Both of those are anti-nutrients that can damage the intestinal lining. Eliminating those anti-nutrients from your diet will help your gut to heal. I’ve seen a lot of success in people with Colitis who do this.

Sorry, I know that’s probably not the answer you’re looking for, but I do hope it helps!


cluster dextrin per the company that makes it, maintains continuous glucose supply and low insulin level.
Low insulin level does not inhibit lipid oxidation.
Endurance capacity is enhanced because lipid oxidation is not inhibited.
the reason for the slow release of glucose is cluster dextrin has a high molecular weight, is decomposed slowly
→ Absorbed slowly under the condition that Alpha-Amylase secretion in small
intestines decreases during exercise.

*As a result, there is no rapid increase in the blood glucose level, and thus no
excessive insulin secretion caused.
(Excessive insulin secretion inhibits the burning of body fat)

*A certain amount of carbohydrate is continuously supplied, so that energy
intake which allows the burning of body fat is effectively made possible.
all of this is from information I received from the manufacturer.

As noted above the breakdown is in the intestinal region not the stomach, which may or may not be significant for gut health.

Hi @trevor @scooter, thank you for your answers.
I will test it on myself and see how that goes. Maybe I will be able to draw some conclusions from how it affects me and report back.

@nieroc, Definitely keep us updated!

I recently learned about the negative impacts of maltodextrin on the gut biome and have been experimenting with different foods. I’ve noticed that if I have maltodextrin based carbs during big workouts my farts are pretty stinky afterwards. However if I use a dextrin based drink (Skratch high carb), I feel (and smell) afterwards. Outside of those high carb needs, I go with oat based packaged foods or rice based fresh foods (Skratch recipes) if I have time.

Interestingly cluster dextrin is supposedly good for your gut health. Not sure the reality of those studies or the quality of them, but I feel better when I drink tons of it (used it exclusively for my first sub5hr century)