Often times when people hear the word, "cornstarch," the first thing they think of is a treatment for diaper rash. In Southeast Asia people cover their bodies in it to keep from sweating. In the world of bodybuilding though, it’s used for bigger pumps and faster recovery.
Waxy maize is a bodybuilder's dream. It is a modified starch derived from corn that serves as both an energy source and a delivery system. What is unique about this complex carbohydrate is how it operates.
Amyl pectin (a.k.a. waxy maize) is a glucose polymer found in plants. Starch is approximately 70 percent amyl pectin. By modifying the certain properties of waxy maize starch, it can be used in a variety of ways as a food additive. By adjusting the consistency of the product, it also can be used as a thickening agent or to help improve texture.
This is where the bodybuilding application comes in. By increasing the molecular weight of waxy maize, the starch will rapidly pass through the stomach and be absorbed quickly into the bloodstream, about 2x as fast as regular sugar. By minimizing gastric emptying, it enters the bloodstream as a complex carbohydrate.
The benefits of this are numerous. You will get a steadier supply of energy from the low-glycemic carbs and faster recovery due to less transit time to the bloodstream. There also is less of a chance you will get that sudden energy crash associated with the simple carbs needed to rapidly enter the bloodstream.
An often overlooked factor is that during and right after anaerobic exercise your body goes into a catabolic state where it breaks down muscle tissue. The fastest way to stop this process is to raise your blood sugar, as this will cause a release of insulin (insulin is the most powerful hormone within the body). Another benefit to using waxy maize is its rapid delivery of nutrients to hard-working muscles. By avoiding the digestive processes in the stomach, more nutrients may arrive intact. Creatine, leucine and arginine are all nutrients that can be piggybacked with waxy maize.
The possibility exists that this may be the answer to the precontest carb-up question. If the time spent in the stomach is minimized, less bloating will occur. And with a complex carbohydrate source in your bloodstream as opposed to simple sugars, there may be less chance of the dreaded "spill over" effects that so many bodybuilders experience. If you also consider the subcutaneous water being pulled into the bloodstream, it is easy to see how this would be ideal come contest time.