Cluster Dextrin®, also known as Highly Branched Cyclic Dextrin or HBCD, was developed in Japan by Ezaki Glico Co. Ltd. (Glico) and is distributed by Glico Nutrition Co. Ltd. It was formulated to provide the optimal benefit a carbohydrate-based supplement can provide in the performance of vigorous exercise.
Glico researchers determined, through urinalysis of athletes who had used beverages containing Cluster Dextrin, that upon completion of a duathlon (a series comprising a 5-kilometer run, followed by 40 kilometers of cycling and another 5-kilometer run) the level of interleukin content present [(IL)-8, (IL)-10, (IL)-12p40] was significantly diminished, compared to those who used glucose-based drinks. They will be publishing these findings in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness.
Their analysis revealed that Cluster Dextrin attenuated the release of stress hormones, including cytokines, induced by physical activity, far more than glucose, proving its effectiveness in reducing the depredating effect that vigorous exercise has on the immune system. The net result is an improvement in overall athletic conditioning and performance.
In 2013 Glico launched human clinical trials of Cluster Dextrin, involving 24 adult male athletes. Tests showed that during cycling exercise, the group administered 15 grams of Cluster Dextrin performed better than those who took the same amount of a maltodextrin.
After 30 minutes of exercise, the subjects were examined for their level of exhaustion and reported it to be notably lower after taking, compared with maltodextrin. Blood was also drawn, and the Cluster Dextrin group exhibited higher blood sugar levels. This is due to the fact that Cluster Dextrin does not break down precipitously in the small intestine. Unlike sports drinks relying on low-molecular weight carbohydrates, the rapid breakdown of which rockets the release of insulin in the bloodstream, in turn inhibiting body fat conversion to energy, Cluster Dextrin maintains a slow release, offering the ideal interaction between carbohydrate breakdown and the normal release of free fatty acids. The result: superior carbohydrate absorption and superior endurance. Glico intends to release the results of these analyses in the coming months.
When Cluster Dextrin forms the energy foundation of a sports drink, its high-solubility and fast gastric emptying time bring it rapidly to the small intestine, there to break down and enter the bloodstream, while maintaining high blood sugar levels, and not inhibiting the burning of body fat. This makes it the most appropriate supplement yet developed for use in drinks supporting high endurance activities.