First, a quick background on the product: It was developed as a slower burning carbohydrate for children with a genetic disorder that caused blood-sugar issues due to an inability to convert stored glycogen to glucose.
I found UCAN when I was researching energy sources to help me with my late-marathon dizziness. Within the span of a week, an elite runner friend and the nutritionist I work with both told me about UCAN. As I looked into it more, I found many athletes and runners that swore by it. Not just some of the top runners, but a bunch of them!!! Crazy. How had I not heard of this before?
As I looked into it more, UCAN really resonated with me. The starch they use (non-GMO corn starch, undergoing a 40 hour moisture processing treatment) is so slow burning and unique that your insulin receptors that are typically turned on when you ingest carbohydrates aren't activated. Why is that important? Because then you can burn the UCAN carbohydrate along with your body's fat stores!! With any other carbohydrate, your insulin kicks in which causes your fat burning abilities to "turn off".
Fat burning is something I have struggled with for years. I never seem to shed weight like other runners, and I carry a larger percentage of body fat than practically any other elite/sponsored marathoner out there. This is despite tracking everything I eat! I think my struggles have been from a combination of family history (many VERY overweight relatives - I don't come from a family of runners!), and also having taught myself to be a carb-burner over the years (I've always fueled before every run with carbs: oatmeal, fruit, bread, etc!). My U of MN study confirmed how much of a carb-burner I was.
Anyone else found themselves in the same situation? Either it's really hard to drop weight, despite high mileage, or finding out they're a complete carb burner after a VO2 max study?
Anyway, back to the point of this blog post! I started using UCAN 6 weeks ago (see my pre-UCAN blog post here), and I have found amazing results with it, especially when used consistently.
|Pre-Generation UCAN 7-14-13|
|Post-Generation UCAN 8-31-13|
I have been very diligent about taking one packet of the regular UCAN (1.19oz, 110 calories, 28g carbs) 30-45 minutes before every morning run. I try to have it mixed up the night before since I don't function that well in the mornings, and also because I think it tastes better cold from the fridge. I usually do not eat anything else before my run, but if I do eat I make sure there are minimal carbs (greek yogurt, eggs, etc), since you don't want to spike your insulin with other carbohydrates in order to continue to be in fat-burning mode. My favorite flavor is the Cran-Raz.
After each morning run I take a packet of the UCAN with protein (1.98oz, 200 calories, 33g carbs, 13g whey protein). Sometimes I just mix the packet with water, sometimes I toss in a little fruit and make a smoothie. I am a big fan of the chocolate flavor (mmm... chocolate!). After this I am often not hungry again for 3+ hours!
By sticking to this routine, the combination of burning more fat and needing fewer calories during workouts has lead my body composition to change ever-so-slightly each week. Nothing drastic (I have lost 3 pounds in 6 weeks), but see the photo evidence above as proof. I have always monitored my caloric intake and been diligent about tracking my weight. For the first time in my LIFE, I have found myself close to race-weight (the weight that I raced my previous two PRs - Grandma's '11 and Olympic Trials '12) without being uber-hungry at night or depriving myself throughout the day.
In addition, I haven't had any energy "crashes" like I did when I was fueling with regular carbs or gels. I used to get dizzy 3/4 of the way into any hard or long workout, but that hasn't been the case yet (and I have put in a number of 20-24 mile runs with tempo and marathon pace). I have yet to RACE a marathon with UCAN, but I'm very excited to see the difference in the last 10k of Chicago!!!
If you've been at ALL considering using the product, or are just hearing about it and want to give it a try, please comment below. I am more than happy to help with any questions you might have (you can email me too at nichole(dot)porath(at)gmail(dot)com). If you at all relate to my weight/metabolism issues, or just want to stay fueled long into an endurance workout, please give this a try. It may change the way you fuel/eat in general - I know it has for me!!!
*Disclaimer: I am a sponsored UCAN athlete and the product was given to me. Although, I will say that there is nothing in this review that I would change if I wasn't sponsored. Truly!