Lowering Maltodextrin and adding Sugar


I am currently working on a DIY recipe with Oat flour, protein powder and maltodextrin as the main ingredients. My current recipe has 75g of maltodextrin and uses stevia as a sweetener.

I am wondering if it would be any downsides to removing the stevia and replacing some of the maltodextrin with refined sugar to keep the sweetness. Is sugar in any way “less healthy” than maltodextrin?

From what I understand, the official Soylent contains Sucralose and maltodextrin, so I’m guessing there has to be some downside to sugar I am unaware of…


For one sugar is a simple carb and will cause insulin spikes and crashes. This over time can potentially lead to metabolic syndrome. Maltodextren is a more complex carb and will digest more slowly. Keep in mind there are more than one kind of maltodextren and they are not all created equal. Some are easily broken up into sugar some are less easy.


What horsfield said. The real risk of adding sugar is that it’s going to spike your blood sugar, which is already going to be higher from a dose of Soylent than a comparable solid food just by virtue of its digestibility.

Some users on this forum have, in the past, performed blood tests on themselves to measure their blood sugar levels following a meal of Soylent and - while it remained within acceptable bounds for those individuals - it was already nearing the upper limits for what most would consider sustainable. Adding some refined sugars to the mix would probably not be a good idea for long term consumption.


Thanks for the reply horsfield.

But are you sure about that? According to wikipedia, sucrose has a GI of 65 while maltodextrin has a GI of 85-105, depending on the type.


Thanks for your reply too nwoll. Do you know what about Soylent causes the spikes in blood sugar? Maybe the maltodextrin is part of the cause?


Now that you mention it, I remember some discussion about this from this topic back in August, and now that I look back at it I don’t see any kind of resolution.

Maltodextrin is not a single substance so there are varying GI’s depending on the source, but even then it tends to have a relatively high GI compared to, say, sucrose. It works well as a thickening agent, which makes sense given the creaminess of Soylent (and Ensure, which also uses maltodextrin in addition to refined sugars), but the implication seems to be that substituting sugar for some of the maltodextrin in your blend might actually be a good idea.

I haven’t tagged @MentalNomad in awhile, maybe he can shed some light on this?


Reading the topic you linked to, im thinking it would be a good idea to replace some maltodextrin with sucrose. But im still puzzled as to why the official Soylent goes with maltodextrin and sucralose. They have surely thought of this and for some reason decided to avoid sugar.


I think they are avoiding sugar because of the taboo that goes with it… sugar is completely fine in the right amounts.
The fact that half of sugar (sucrose) is fructose and half glucose… fructose has very low GI, and doesn’t really cause a insulin reaction according to my reading… that being said, too much fructose is unhealthy from what I read… which is why High fructose corn syrup is unhealthy.

(The balance in sucrose is fine, and keep in mind that maltodextrin is basically pure glucose)


That may be a key reason for using it in Soylent, since glucose is able to be used more or less directly by the body whereas fructose needs to be metabolized by the liver first. This is one of the links between sugar/HFCS and metabolic syndrome, at least according to Dr. Robert Lustig (endocrinologist and author of Fat Chance) and the like.

It could be that the relatively low overall GI of Soylent compared to that of the maltodextrin was the driver for using maltodextrin, since it would allow pure glucose to be used without spiking the overall GI to unacceptable levels. That thread I linked to was surely not the only one on the topic and I haven’t seen it discussed in awhile so I feel like the answer is out there somewhere.


Thanks for the help guys.

The main reason I want to replace stevia with sugar is taste. I think i will start experimenting with removing the stevia and gradually replace maltodextrin with sugar until I find the optimal taste. The amount of stevia Im using should correspond to about 20g-25g of sugar in a days ration, so I don’t think it should have a big effect on the overall nutritional quality of the recipe.

Please let me know if you find any other arguments for using maltodextrin or sugar.


You should try monk fruit extract. I just tried some the other day and it pretty much tastes like table surgar, just barely sweeter.


A lot of the comments above are right on target -

Maltodextrins have high GIs, because they’re mostly glucose. They don’t quite qualify as a complex carb; the simplest maltodextrin is two glucose molecules together, which can get absorbed faster than straight glucose - that’s why some maltodextrins have a GI higher than 100. Pure glucose has a GI of exactly 100 (it’s the standard they calibrate against); molecules of maltodextrin are absorbed more slowly than molecules of glucose, but each molecule contains at least two glucoses, so it can end up raising your blood glucose more than straight glucose!

Starch is more of a complex carb - and maltodextrin is just starch broken down to be simpler. It’s broken down almost enough to make it into dextrose, a simple sugar.

This also plays into why it’s a good ingredient for a shake - like a starch, maltodextrin still thickens a liquid, and has a pleasant mouth feel, without excessive taste. Recall that they were NOT trying to make Soylent sweet.

Sugar has a syrupy mouth feel, and it definitely makes things sweet. In large quantity, it also starts getting hard to dissolve (think sugar granules at the bottom of an iced tea.) The sweetness would probably stop you adding any more sugar long before the mix became syrupy, but that’s the direction it would go - whereas maltodextrin adds a nice creaminess, and still dissolves easily in cold water at fairly high concentrations.

The sucralose in Soylent is not for sweetness; they’re not using enough of it, for that. The small dose of sucralose they use is primarily because it’s effective at masking other flavors - I think especially the bitters/tarts of their multivitamins. I’m speculating on what flavors they want to mask, but I’m quite sure they’re using sucralose to mask, not to sweeten.

They probably also had some desire to avoid the bad press that comes with “sugar” on the label, given the amount of bad press sugar and fructose get. I completely disagree with the bad press; I think fructose-mongering is 99% misinformation, but it can still affect your product badly, so if you’re not forced to include it, why include it?

If you want to make your DIY sweet, there’s no reason not to use sugar instead of another sweetener. It’s a perfectly healthy choice of quick carbs, as long as you limit it to a healthy proportion (you don’t want a ton of quick carbs in your diet, but there’s nothing wrong with them in moderation, unless you have a carb-management dysfunction, like diabetes.) Sugar in your DIY is certainly no worse for you than equivalent calories of maltodextrin. Neither is a good source of anything except simple calories, so no harm, no foul.

Strictly speaking, if you take out 100 calories of maltodextrin and replace it with 100 calories of sugar, you’ll make the end result sweeter, and you’ll lower the GI value, which is a good thing. Depending on how much sugar that is, you may find it takes a while to dissolve if you use ice water to mix.

Good luck, and have fun experimenting!


Now that I have some first hand experience with. When I first started adding stevia to my DIY I thought it had a weird taste and after taste that I found off putting. I stuck it out and after awhile my taste buds adjusted and now that weird taste is gone and all I taste is the sweet.


I have been adding packets of Splenda to my pitchers. From what I am gathering from this thread, I could use sugar instead, and it wouldn’t have any comparatively adverse effects? If true, then that flies in the face of everything I know (or thought I knew) about sugar: i.e., it makes you fat, it gives you rushes then crashes, it is just empty calories, and so on. I thought sucralose, by contrast, was something that could sweeten like sugar without those undesirable consequences. Hence, Splenda is superior to sugar, and not just for Soylent. So is this belief of mine wrong?


Thanks a lot for that thorough answer MentalNomad. I now feel comfortable adding sugar to my recipe.

A bit of topic; there is a lot of talk about lowering GI values on this forum. But I believe a mix between high and low GI carbs can actually be a good thing. Slow carbs will give you a steady supply of energy throughout the day, while fast carbs will give you a “boost” until the slow carbs kick in. The quick carbs will also give you a quick reward through the release of endorphines.I believe the trick is adjusting the ratio so that your blood sugar quickly rises to a sustainable level and then stays at that level for a long time. Too much fast carbs gives the feared peak and collapse. Too little fast carbs creates a delay before your blood sugar increases to the “steady” level.

That being said, I have no idea what is the ideal ratio between slow and fast carbs is. I assume that slow carbs should make up the majority of the carbs since the fast carbs will only act as a “booster” (my guess is that fast carbs should make up between 10%-30% of the total carbs). I also dont know how the choice of other ingredients in a recipe (fat/protein) will affect blood sugar levels.

Note that I am new to the whole nutrition thing, and all of my statements above are based on my own internet research and guesswork. So I may be far off :smile:


This isn’t wrong. It’s just that maltodextrin IS a sugar, so it can have the same effects. If you added MORE sugar (or maltodextrin if you really wanted) to your Soylent you would experience these issues, but if you were to remove some and replace with something else you’d be fine, since the current blend is fine. Personally I’d like a Soylent that’s even leaner on the carbs but that’s just me.

Sugar (especially fructose) is abundant in healthy foods like fruits and vegetables, but very few would take issue with those foods unless you were eating huge quantities of them in blended form or as juices where all of the fiber is removed or pulverized. This is kind of the same idea; Soylent has sugars in it because sugar provides the body energy, but that alone doesn’t make it bad. The problem is when your entire food supply is oversaturated with sugars, which is what you basically see in a typical north american grocery store.

EDIT: SO if you like the sucralose and don’t mind the controversy around artificial/zero-calorie sweeteners then you’re fine just using that.

Also, thanks @MentalNomad, I knew we could count on you :slight_smile:


Right - it’s all about the amounts, in balance with each other and the other macros (proteins, fats, fiber). The “right” balance will be different for different people, and will be different depending on what you do (desk jokey versus marathoner), will be different based on health conditions (diabetic?), etc…

Actually, that’s all still true. But before, you were thinking about “added sugar.” In context of a complete and healthy diet, adding extra sugar adds empty calories and makes you fatter. If you want to reduce your calorie count, but not take out important nutrition, you take out empty calories (like something made mostly of sugar, or mostly of fat). If you throw in a snack or meal that’s mostly sugar (and devoid of protein/fat/fiber) you’ll get a sugar rush, then an insulin spike, and then a crash.

But with DIY design, you’re not starting from a complete diet and tweaking it; you’re building one from scratch… you’re thinking about the building blocks of a diet. So once you have your ingredients in place to meet your micronutrient needs, and you have have your necessary fats and proteins and fiber, and you still need to bring up the total calorie counts to hit your energy needs, well, what you want to add is just calories. If all you need is calories, then empty calories work. Sugar and maltodextrin fit the bill, as long as they don’t become too much of the mix. (Back to the balance argument, again.)


Thank you nwoll and MentalNomad. I could have been more precise in identifying “cane sugar” as my alternative added sweetener as well, but that would only have been part of my concern. (The broader point was central, which is what you both addressed.) I appreciate having this cleared up. And I have NO problem with using artificial sweeteners or GMOs or what have you, as long as they have been scientifically determined to be safe. So if sucralose does accomplish the sweetening without the negative sugar issues (although Splenda does include some dextrose, I noticed), then I will continue with it in Soylent. (I don’t add sweeteners to anything else, or salt for that matter, as “other” foods typically have an abundance of both.) Thanks again.


Happy to help! There’s been a lot of discussion on the forums of the effects of artificial sweetener but, in brief, it seems like the risks are mostly in foods that don’t actually spike blood sugar (like sugar free drinks), because they can still trigger an insulin response and lead to insulin resistance over time. Soylent’s got plenty of calories and plenty of carbohydrates, so it should be fine.

Some new evidence suggests that some of these sweeteners may have a negative impact on gut bacteria, but there’s nothing even close to conclusive.

Basically, I’m with you on sweeteners and GMO’s etc


I agree; happy to help!

My preferred non-calorie sweetener is stevia… ironically, it is a “natural” product, and so hasn’t gotten the testing that things like Splenda have. It’s entirely possible that it’s worse for you, or that it screws up your gut bacteria even worse.

Even more ironically, now that there are commercial stevia-based products like Truvia, maybe it will get some more inclusion in lab work, so maybe I’ll find out if I’ve made the wrong call.

Meanwhile, stevia goes in my coffee and tea…