Ezaki Glico Corp. of Japan has, for years, been broadcasting the benefits of its Highly Branched Cyclic Dextrin (HBCD) as a sports nutritional aid to endurance. Its Cluster Dextrin® was heralded as a literal game changer in the field of carbohydrate-based sports drink supplements, and Glico, its sole producer, advanced to the leading edge of energy drink biotechnology.
Cluster Dextrin proved reliably more versatile than other sports drink components due to its three primary attributes: high solubility, fast gastric emptying time, and its ability to enhance stamina by managing blood glucose. These traits alone would make Glico’s HBCD a superior alternative to fast-acting maltodextrin or dextrose. But its ability to swiftly exit the upper gastric tract, thanks to its high-molecular weight and narrow molecular weight distribution, may also help reduce cramping and bloating that may be experienced with other carbohydrate sources, making it more suitable for use before, during, and after vigorous exercise.
However, there was a surprise awaiting researchers in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover study when they examined fluid samples before and after two duathlon trials from seven practiced male triathletes, average age, 29.7 years. The duathlon is a highly rigorous regime of running 5 kilometers, followed by cycling 40 km, and another run of 5 km. Participants were administered either a 5 percent HBCD-based drink or a 5 percent glucose-based drink in quantities of 200 milliliters following the running phase, 1000 ml during the cycling phase, and another 200 ml following that.
Whether seasoned athlete or everyday sports enthusiast, at the metabolic level all physical exertion produces a classic stress reaction, with concentration of plasma noradrenaline, facilitator of the “fight-or-flight” response, increasing significantly. Cytokine concentration, including Interleukin (IL)-8, (IL)-10, and (IL)-12p40, all rise precipitously with vigorous exercise as well. One effect of this is a greater propensity toward inflammation, which hastens fatigue and puts the body at greater risk of injury and illness. The surprise came when post-race urinalyses showed the group that had ingested HBCD had lower concentrations of the full complement of stress-related cytokines, and that noradrenaline concentration had risen dramatically with the use of glucose-based drinks in comparison to HBCD. Parallel testing to measure the subjective endurance capacities of seasoned swimmers corroborated the results of these athletes’ pre- and post-race blood and urine biochemical analyses.
The full details of the study, published in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, offer further support for the superiority of Cluster Dextrin, which is based on Ezaki Glico’s proprietary enzyme derivation process that yields a cluster-structured glucose polymer, as a source of energy for athletic activity at every level. Its efficient digestive properties, solubility and fast gastric emptying time make it more serviceable than carbohydrate formulations of lower molecular weight derived from a random enzymatic breakdown of starches.
Diminished evidence of catecholamine concentrations and cytokine concentrations in the urine told researchers that with HBCD the immune response of bodies operating under the duress of exhaustive physical activity was more controlled and less likely to undermine the metabolic functions that enable us to withstand stress and perform better, no matter what acts of endurance, large and small, comprise our everyday lives. Glico Cluster Dextrin Highly Branched Cyclic Dextrin offers greater versatility and effectiveness in mediating the body’s energy resources, and presents the most compelling case for use in hypotonic sport beverages on the market today.