Substitutes for Powdered Dextrose

Sugars are simple carbohydrates with a substantial impact on your body's insulin levels.
Sugars are simple carbohydrates with a substantial impact on your body's insulin levels. (Image: sugar-basin and lump-sugar image by Maria Brzostowska from <a href=''></a>)

Properly refuelling your body after a workout is important. It can make the difference between substantial athletic gains and loss of size and strength. A specific combination of carbohydrates and protein is often employed to this end. Dextrose is a popular simple carb which is used to restore muscle glycogen levels. Substitutes for powdered dextrose do exist, however, if you cannot use dextrose for any reason.


If your standard post-workout nutrition options are unavailable, certain types of candy will do in a pinch. Some products such as Smarties and Sweet Tarts actually contain dextrose, making them a good substitute if you cannot find a powdered dextrose supplement. Other types of candy contain sucrose which is a combination of glucose and fructose. Although the glucose might be beneficial for post-workout recovery, muscle glycogen cannot be synthesized from fructose. The fructose will instead be stored as liver glycogen or converted to fat. Extra fat could be detrimental to your workout goals and certainly won't help quickly replenish muscle energy. These types of candies should be used as a last resort.


Honey is a natural product which contains a combination of fructose and glucose. Its sugar profile is very similar to that of high fructose corn syrup, at a ratio of almost 40% fructose and 31% glucose. Although its high fructose and relatively low glucose contents do not make it ideal for post-workout glycogen recovery, it will do in a pinch when nothing else is available. Honey has the added benefit of sweetening otherwise unpleasant tasting supplements that may also be consumed after a workout.

White Bread

The glycemic index is a measure of the effect various sources of carbohydrates have on insulin levels in humans. Foods with a high glycemic index create a significant insulin spike whereas foods with a low glycemic index do not have much of an impact. Normally you maintain a better state of health by choosing low GI foods. After a workout, however, you need to replenish energy levels as quickly as possible. High GI foods will help you do this. The trick is to find foods which have a high glycemic index but also contain carbohydrates that are broken down quickly in your body. White bread has a relatively high GI value and breaks down quickly in your body relative to other solid foods.


Maltodextrin, while technically a complex carb, is more quickly and easily digested than other forms of complex carbohydrates. It is not absorbed by the body as quickly as dextrose but it has a very similar effect on insulin levels. You will probably need to obtain maltodextrin from a supplement store, so it is only useful if the store is out of dextrose or if you would prefer to avoid dextrose for health reasons or flavor preferences.

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