Product Review – Generation UCAN on a 6+ hour bike ride
Because I will be training for an Ironman next year, I am in search of the best sports nutrition product for me. About three weeks ago I tested one of the flavors of Generation UCAN on a 40 mile bike ride lasting about 2.5hrs. When testing new products, it is best to try them in all types of conditions, and especially in conditions similar to your racing. As an Ironman has a 112 mile bike leg (in between a 2.4 mile swim and a marathon) I took Generation UCAN on a 96.7 mile bike ride that lasted almost 7 hours.
Some background on the company Generation UCAN: The product came about when the founder thought it possible to try adapting a product used for his son, who has Glycogen Storage Disease Type 1a that prevents him from converting glycogen to glucose. People with this disease can’t self regulate blood sugar (our liver helps us out when we sleep so we don’t go into a hypoglycemic state which could result in death) so they need to eat every couple hours. You can see this is a problem overnight and for small children/infants. A form of modified cornstarch was found to help maintain blood glucose levels for people with this rare disease. Because maintaining steady blood sugar levels is exactly what endurance athletes try to do, this product was transformed into Generation UCAN.
Eat my normal pre-ride breakfast and then use only Generation UCAN for a century ride (or close enough to one!). I opted for the vanilla and chocolate flavors due to their protein content (13g/packet) as I find some protein beneficial on long rides.
Breakfast: 6:00am – 1/2c oatmeal, 1/2 scoop Hammer Whey protein, 1 small banana, ~2T peanut butter and 1T nutella (a weakness of mine).
7:25am I hit the road. The course is modified Elephant Rock Century ride so I could start from home and have adequate (3) water/bathroom stops as I was riding solo. I am familiar with the roads on the course and it is pretty hilly with rollers and about 5200ft of elevation gain according to my Garmin data.
30 minutes into the ride I started sipping on the vanilla Gen UCAN that I had – 1 packet in a 24oz insulated bottle. My only other fueling was Hammer endurolytes every 45-60 minutes. This first bottle lasted me about 36 miles. I refilled with a second packet of vanilla and started consuming around 2hrs30min into the ride (at my second stop).
My final refill, this time with chocolate, was at about 73 miles and 5hrs into the ride at my 3rd (and final) stop. Pushing 60 miles I was definitely feeling my legs (last weekend I did the Moab Century Tour with Team In Training – hot and windy conditions and 10hrs on the course with the team!) The downhill with a tailwind between miles 63-68 were welcome, but the hills and wind once I turned on to Shoup Rd got to me. I was feeling pretty beat so the final rest was welcome. I was debating on whether to eat the Clif Bar I had brought with me (always bring back up fuel when testing something new!) but decided not to. I took some substantial swallows of the chocolate mix and headed out after a 15min break to use the bathroom, refill my water bottles and let my husband know where I was on the course. The last 25 miles my power did drop off a bit but I did get a “second wind” and stayed as steady as I could on the rollers. The legs were pretty sore for miles 85-90, but after topping out at just under 7700 feet, I had a quick and fun descent back home. I didn’t quite finish the 3rd packet before I finished the ride (the last 5+ miles are mostly downhill and fast), but I did finish it when I got home.
Total Calories Consumed
During Ride: ~500 (2×180=360 for vanilla and ~0.75×200=150 for chocolate packet)
Flavor: vanilla is nice and sweet (Gen UCAN uses sucralose) and the chalky texture due to the cornstarch was reduced by being in a 24oz bottle. I can say I really liked the vanilla, and the chocolate, which I have used before as a recovery drink, was a nice change 5 hours into the ride.
How I felt – I’m pretty certain I should have increased my intake of calories, as I usually fuel with ~150 calories/hr and use Hammer Perpetuem for long rides. For this ride I was at ~75 calories/hr, so half of what I normally consume. I’m trying to be metabolically efficient, and I think Gen UCAN does help but I am pretty confident I was too low today. My leg fatigue might have been a factor as well, as my body was more sore than usual. I found it difficult to relax my shoulders. My recovery from Moab possibly played a role in this as I’ve never done century rides on consecutive weekends.
Post ride comments: More testing in other conditions is needed, but 500 calories or so of Generation UCAN did get me through a 7 hour, 96.7 mile ride with 5200 feet of climbing with out any stomach distress, gas, bloating, or a growling stomach. One thing that I continue to notice when I use Generation UCAN is that my hunger post exercise, while still present after a ride like this, was muted. I didn’t feel like eating everything in sight, though I did want a post-ride meal. I’m typing this the next day and I’m still not raiding the fridge. I will need to modify my fueling plan for a ride of this duration to include more calories, but I didn’t bonk and get shaky as I did at mile 50 two months prior on a 73 miler on a similar course. I will continue to test this product, as so far I’m getting good results.