I’ve decided to add a new feature to my blog: product reviews!
First up: Generation UCAN. I first tried Generation UCAN last summer, back when I still believed my stomach couldn’t handle much carbohydrate during exercise. Turned out it was the type of carbohydrate drink I was using that was the problem, not the carbs themselves, but I’ve still stuck with UCAN for many of my longer workouts. Generation UCAN is different from other sports drinks on the market in a lot of ways. It’s made from a “superstarch”, which is a complex carbohydrate derived from non-GMO corn according to the website. The theory is that this superstarch helps stabilize blood sugar during exercise without causing a spike in insulin or gastric distress. The gist is that the superstarch moves quickly out of the stomach but is slowly broken down in your small intestine, which minimizes GI distress and also provides a slow and steady carbohydrate source that allows your body to more efficiently rely on its own fat stores for fuel during exercise. This means you don’t have to worry as much about taking in carbohydrate during your workout. Utilizing your own fat stores also in theory helps improve overall body composition.
Generation UCAN has 2 products, a “sports drink mix” and a “protein-enhanced sports drink mix”. The sports drink mix comes in 4 flavors: lemonade, cranberry raspberry, blueberry pomegranate, and plain, and is meant to be used as a pre-workout drink and can also be used during really long workouts (supposedly you only need 1 packet for every 2-3 hours of activity). The protein enhanced version comes in chocolate and vanilla and is meant mainly to be a post workout recovery beverage.
Price: Prices have gone up since I first started using Generation UCAN. I’m too much of a commitment phobe to get the tub, so I buy the individual packages which are now $19.50 for 6 packets ($3.25 per pouch) of the sports drink . The tubs are $60 for 30 servings ($2 per serving, however a serving is defined as 25 grams where as the single serving pouches are 37-38 grams). So if we go gram for gram the pouches are $0.087/gram and the tubs are 0.080/gram- basically the same. The protein-enhanced flavors are $25.50 for 6 single serving pouches ($4.25 per 51-56 gram pouch- $0.083/gram) or $60 for a 25 serving tub (interestingly listed as 30 gram servings-$0.080/gram). So again, you don’t really save much by getting more at once. The good news is that if you order online they will occasionally send you discount codes. Still, the price is higher than many other sports drinks on the market.
Nutrition breakdown: Generation UCAN sports drinks contain about 32 grams of carbohydrate (it varies slightly by flavor) per pouch. Typical sports nutrition recommendations are for 30-90 grams of carbohydrate per hour, so if you only use 1 packet for 2-3 hours of activity you are getting way less than the recommendation-but that’s kind of the point. The protein-enhanced sports drink has about 13 grams of protein per pouch, which is right in line with post workout recovery recommendations for protein. Nutrition labels for selected flavors listed below.
Taste review: I started by ordering a sample package that included 1 of each flavor. The plain sounded too unappealing to me and ended up getting handed off to a willing boyfriend/taste tester who no longer remembers what he thought of the product. No help there! The lemonade I honestly didn’t care for. The flavor was too mild and not as lemonade-y as I’d hoped. Sorta like foamy lemon water. The cranberry raspberry and blueberry pomegranate I enjoyed the taste of. The vanilla and chocolate I really enjoyed the taste of (especially when mixed with milk instead of water). I have to admit that the texture is a little odd and may take a bit of getting used to. The superstarch is a very fine powder, that when shaken up, creates a sort of foamy protein shake texture (even the non protein-enhanced flavors do this). The texture is not bad per se, just different than any other sports drink I’ve tried. It could be a turn off to some, especially when used during exercise, which I have not yet tried.
Does it work: Well, there is a fairly convincing scientific study referenced on the website, but not a ton of details about the study provided. Did I personally notice a difference? Well sort of, but I am also a big believer in the placebo effect and I, of course, knew when I was drinking it before a run and when I was not. There is starting to be more anecdotal evidence about metabolic efficiency and training and eating a certain way in order to improve your fat burning during exercise, and Generation UCAN falls nicely in line with this. It’s an intriguing concept for sure. We (the nutrition world) are still waiting on more actual studies about metabolic efficiency as it’s a fairly new concept, but there are athletes and RDs using it with great success.
I’ve never had any GI distress with the product, and I did feel like I had more sustained energy last summer as I was upping my miles. Overall, I think it does work, just maybe not quite as amazingly as the website may have you believing! (Seriously, watching the videos about it on the website the other day got me all excited to use it on my next run-excellent marketing!).
Bottom line: I overall like this product. It’s probably best utilized by endurance athletes, and particularly ultra endurance athletes who really have to focus on their nutrition strategy. It’s definitely helpful for those who struggle with carb intake and GI distress during exercise. Other than price I see no downside to the product, unless you can’t handle the texture. Whether it really does what it claims or not, if you feel better when using it I say go for it. I for one plan on continuing to incorporate it into my long workouts.
For more information visit http://generationucan.com/home.html
*I have no affiliations with Generation UCAN. Products tested were purchased with my own hard earned bucks.