What Is Waxy Maize Starch?

Waxy maize is a source of carbohydrates that is derived primarily from corn, rice and barley and is rich in a substance called amylopectin.

Amylopectin is a highly branched glucose polymer and is essentially the “plant version” of glycogen. Because of its high amylopectin content, waxy maize is considered to be an extremely fast-acting carbohydrate and is sold by supplement companies in powdered form.

What Is Waxy Maize Supposed To Do?

Because of its supposed rapid absorption in the body, bodybuilders often mix waxy maize into their post workout shakes for the purposes of quickly restoring glycogen levels following training. (Glycogen is the stored form of carbohydrates in the muscle tissue)

Some companies will claim that waxy maize is absorbed 70-80% faster than other popular post-workout sugars such as dextrose or maltodextrin.

Whey protein combined with waxy maize has been a popular bodybuilding post workout cocktail for many years.

Does Waxy Maize Work?

Well, the real question here is… who cares?

Using some very simple logic, it’s easy to see that immediately restoring glycogen levels following a workout is NOT something that a typical bodybuilding trainee needs to concern themselves with.

First off, a standard weight training workout will only deplete glycogen levels by somewhere between 20-40%.

Unless you’re performing exhaustive endurance training, your workout is not going to leave you completely “glycogen depleted” like some people will tell you.

Secondly, there’s no need for immediate glycogen replenishment unless you plan to train those same muscle groups again within the next 24 hours or so.

I don’t know of any bodybuilder who trains chest in the morning and then again at night, so unless you’re an athlete performing multiple training sessions per day, this is not a concern either.

The process for most typical bodybuilders is pretty simple…

You’ll go to the gym…

You’ll train, for example, chest and shoulders…

You’ll use up a bit of glycogen…

You’ll go home and resume your regular nutrition plan that includes meals containing carbohydrates…

The carbohydrates from those meals will naturally restore your glycogen levels…

You’ll go back to the gym within the next day or two and train again…

The end.

So, whether or not waxy maize even works for its intended purpose is irrelevant, because its intended purpose is not going to aid your bodybuilding program.

The funny thing is that, even with all of that said, waxy maize doesn’t even appear to work for its intended purpose anyway…

Study #1: Waxy Maize Vs. White Bread

Result:  Similar blood glucose response, but white bread results in greater insulin levels.

He J, Liu J, Zhang G. Slowly digestible waxy maize starch prepared by octenyl succinic anhydride esterification and heat-moisture treatment: glycemic response and mechanism. Biomacromolecules. 2008 Jan;9(1):175-84.

Study #2: Waxy Maize Vs. Dextrose Or Maltodextrin.

Result:  No difference in 24-hour glycogen replenishment.

Anderson GH, Catherine NL, Woodend DM, Wolever TM. Inverse association between the effect of carbohydrates on blood glucose and subsequent short-term food intake in young men. Am J Clin Nutr. 2002 Nov;76(5):1023-30.

Study #3: Waxy Maize Vs. Maltodextrin Or Sucrose

Result:  Maltodextrin and sucrose raise blood glucose levels faster than waxy maize.

Sands AL, Leidy HJ, Hamaker BR, Maguire P, Campbell WW. Consumption of the slow digesting starch waxy maize leads to blunted and sustained carbohydrate utilization but does not influence energy expenditure or appetite. FASEB J. 2008;22:1089.2

Study #4: Waxy Maize Vs. Slow Starch

Result:  Slow starch produces a similar response in blood sugar and insulin levels.

Jozsi AC, Trappe TA, Starling RD, Goodpaster B, Trappe SW, Fink WJ, Costill DL. The influence of starch structure on glycogen resynthesis and subsequent cycling performance. Int J Sports Med. 1996 Jul;17(5):373-8.

The Bottom Line On Waxy Maize Starch

Waxy deserves a firm position in the bodybuilding supplement graveyard, and I cannot think of a single reason why anyone should run out and spend their hard-earned money on this stuff.

There is no need for “fast acting carbohydrates” in the post workout period, and even if there was, it would be just as effective and less expensive to simply use dextrose or basic table sugar instead.

 (For more information on real, science based post workout nutrition, I’d suggest checking out my previous article “Best Post Workout Meal?”)

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