Product Review: Generation UCAN ‘The Revolutionary Energy’ sports drink
Generaton UCAN recently caught wind of my ride up Mt. Evans and sent me some samples to try on that ride. However, because a ride of this magnitude was beyond what I’ve done before, I opted to follow my usual advice of “nothing new on race (event) day.” I did try the protein drink after the ride, but I’ll talk about that later.
This weekend I was riding on my “home turf” so I felt it a much better way to test out a new product.
So first a little about Generation products. They call the carbohydrate blend in their product SuperStarch. They claim the sports drink will:
Sustain Energy with extended delivery, keeping you above baseline longer.
Optimize Performance with clean energy, without the spike and crash
Enhance Fat Burn by inhibiting insulin release and tapping into body fat stores.
You can see a summary of their study results here.
The general claim is that SuperStarch, as high molecular weight glucose polymer made from corn starch, quickly goes from the stomach to the intestine and is slow to absorb in the intestine, leading to a substanitally reduced insulin response over other carbohydrates commonly found in sports drinks.
My test – use Generation UCAN on a 40 mile ride.
My pre-ride breakfast was my usual fare, oatmeal, a small amount of whey protein mixed in, a banana, peanut butter and some nutella. This was consumed about 80 minutes prior to begining the ride. Fluid consumed before the ride was just water.
My normal sports drink is HEED. I usually mix 1-1/2 scoops per 22oz bottle, which is about 150 calories and 40g carbohydrates. Today I mixed one packet of UCAN Lemonade flavor into a 22oz bottle and filled my other bottle with just water. The UCAN is 110 calories and 29g carbohydrate. I was planning on riding about 40 miles. A packet also contains 230mg sodium also 140mg potassium. My normal HEED bottle contains 60mg sodium and 40mg potassium.
This past year I’ve been working on my ‘metabolic efficiency’ and can easily ride my moderate effort long rides with some climbing on less than 200 calories per hour. In fact, I consumed at most 150cal/hr last weekend on my Mt Evans ride that was 130 miles and over 12,000ft of climbing. So I figured one packet should be enough for this ride, but I did have a second with me, along with a clif bar and hammer gel just in case. If you know me, I always carry more fuel that I will need. I didn’t need anything other than the initial packet of UCAN.
My ride started at 8am and I rode with three others for the first 90 minutes. Then I went solo for the remainder. Total distance, 39.65 miles, elevation gain, 2584ft, total time 2hrs 34min. Calories burned: 1098 (based on heart rate). Temps were in the upper 60s-70s (and climbing) and some wind coming out of the north. It warmed up quickly today. As I usually do, within the first 10-15 minutes, I started sipping from my fuel source, this time Lemonade flavored UCAN. I consumed a total of about 44oz fluid on this ride. One bottle with the UCAN and one bottle with plain water. I probably could have consumed a bit more fluid than this, and would have refilled my bottles had I ridden longer.
I took about 1hr and 45 minutes to go through the bottle of UCAN. I also occasionally drank from the water only bottle. My energy levels felt steady. My legs still are a little tired from last weekend, but I was still able to get in some good climbing efforts, especially with the long climb at the end of the ride.
Summary of the ride: my energy levels were steady. Even though my legs were slightly protesting the climb with residual aches from last weekend, I never felt depleted in terms of energy levels.
Taste: I’m not a big fan of lemon-flavored things, but this flavor wasn’t too tart and actually pretty mild. A bit stronger than lemon-lime HEED, but definitely more subtle than lemon-lime gatorade.
Consistency: UCAN is mainly modified corn starch, so if you’ve ever mixed corn starch and water, this is what you are drinking. It was a bit thicker than what I normally drink for sports drink, so that would take some time getting used to. It wasn’t completely dissolved at the bottom of the bottle, but that could be user error, and be solved with a little more shaking of the bottle when mixing.
Recovery: Immediately after the ride, I consumed one packet of chocolate protein drink. I’m a big chocolate fan and this consistency and flavor satisfied my tastebuds quite well the Thicker consistency works well with chocolate flavor. I also had one of these chilled last weekend and found it to be enjoyable after 13 hours on the road! The protein drink is similar to the sports drink but includes 13g of whey protein isolate and 33g carbohydrates (vs the 29g). Sodium and potassium levels are the same.
Summary: I had no stomach issues today with the UCAN, though I am usually pretty tolerant of sports nutrition products. The lemonade flavor, would not be my first choice because in general lemon flavor isn’t my first choice, but it was mild enough to not cause any taste problems. The other flavor Generation UCAN has available is pomegranite-blueberry. I would like to see a chocolate flavor in the sports drink variety, as I tend to like all things chocolate. I like how you can just buy the plain SuperStarch mix from their website. Though with that you would need to add your own electrolytes. My energy was constant and I felt good at the end of the ride. One observation I made after my ride was done was that I didn’t feel hungry, even 2 hours after my ride was over. I fixed myself a small healthly meal, but my post-ride appetite was noticably reduced. I’ll have to test it again to see if this holds. If it does, it could be very useful for athletes trying to maintain or lose weight and help keep them from going on the “post workout eating frenzy.” I would also like to try this product again to see how it works on rides around 4 hours or longer.