Sunday, June 5, 2016

UCan, I can, we all can

Disclaimer: I received Generation Ucan  product as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!

Nutrition and fueling is not something I really like to think about.  It's just my nature.  I LOVE ultrarunning but I don't really like to analyze and figure out what I'm putting in my body and how it will affect my running.  I just want to go out and run forever and not worry about anything else.  Unfortunately being an ultra runner means just the opposite.  I really do need to pay attention to these things (darnit!).   
I've tried lots of different foods and products over the last few years but never Ucan.  Even though I pretty much have a fueling strategy that works for me, I'm always on the lookout for other things that maybe will be even better.  Which is exactly why I wanted to try Ucan.  I've seen many runners and triathletes raving about this product so when it came up as something we could test as Bibrave Pros, I was all in.

The Ucan we were testing is a super starch.  What that means is that it's a natural, slow releasing carbohydrate which keeps your blood sugar levels steady.  Steady blood sugar means a steady stream of energy for your brain and body.  This is different from many other fuels in that it prevents the spikes and crashing that usually occur.  With steady energy should be a more steady, better performance.  This whole process actually makes your calories count for more.  You are getting more fuel/energy with less calories than the traditional sugar based products.  This also can help you lose those few extra pounds that can come from extreme runger.  By preventing a rise in blood sugar and insulin, Ucan helps you burn more fat and helps to prevent those post run cravings that come from low blood sugar.

Well that all sounds really amazing!  But does it really work?  And also how does it taste?

First things first.  Taste.  I received 6 packets of super starch.  Two chocolate, two orange, one cran-raz and one lemonade.  I also received the shaker for mixing the Ucan with water.  They recommend 8-10oz of water however it also says that it does not matter how much water you use, the product still works the same.  I preferred mine to be more thin just like water consistency so I probably used more than the 8-10 oz.  I could not imagine using say like 4-5 oz of water as it would be super thick and goopy.  I also really recommend either using the shaker bottle from Ucan or some type of mixing device.  A regular spoon in a glass in not going to cut it, you will end up with major clumps.  The shaker bottle was super easy and fast and then you can just drink from it.  Many people on twitter recommended making it as cold as possible for better taste so I made mine the night before and put it in the fridge.  I didn't mind the chocolate, the cran-raz and the lemonade flavors too much but the orange I just couldn't drink.  I'm a bit finicky about strong flavors.  My husband drank the second orange and he didn't mind it too much.  All the flavors have a sort of chalky taste however I think this is pretty common/normal for these types of products.
I did not like orange!  HAHA

The product information that came with my box as well as the info online all said to drink about 30 minutes before running.  I used the Ucan for several weekends of medium-long runs.  They were all in the 12-16 mile range as I was recovering from my 100 mile race.  The actual amount of time I was running varied greatly depending if I was on the TM, road or trail.  The Ucan info does indicate that the superstarch will fuel you for about 1.5-2 hours of running then they recommend using more if you are continuing on with your running.  I found this to be true, I did need more fuel after that initial 1.5-2 hours however taking Ucan with me just wasn't convenient so I used my gels as usual.  I did read that you could make your own gels out of Ucan but I'm not really into doing that plus honestly I really think that would be gross.  I experimented with mixing just a little water with the powder and it just looked so awful.  It probably works great as far as a fuel during running but I have to be able to actually get it down for it to work.  I also typically run with my hydration pack and I must have plain water so I didn't feel like bringing another bottle full of Ucan. 

 Overall I can say that I do believe Ucan does exactly what they claim it does.  I felt that I had a steady stream of fuel/energy for the first couple of hours of my run, which is longer than if I was using gels or chomps or a bagel or something.  I found it to be very easy on my stomach, no issues there.  Although to be honest, not much bothers my stomach as I've eaten sushi and drank beer and whiskey during ultras ;-)  But I know some products are super hard on the GI system and this really didn't seem to be.  I think Ucan could really work well for a lot of runners and triathletes especially since many are doing workouts of 2 hours or less and Ucan would be all they need.  For me, someone who almost every weekend is doing two runs way longer than 2 hours, I'm just not sure it's worth it.  I didn't find anything really wrong with it, but I still need to use my other fuels as well which to be honest I like better as they are more convenient for me to shove in my pack and carry on my runs.  I spend so much time training, I just don't want to have to make my own gels or be preparing numerous bottles of stuff to take with me on the run and I don't want to have to carry extra bottles either.  If you haven't tried Ucan, I still highly recommend trying it because I said, I think it is a good product and could work really well for lots of people.  And currently you can try it out for 15% less by using the code BIBRAVE!

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