As a former obese man who weighed more than 21 stone and who turned himself over time into an elite age grouper triathlete and who went to the competitive World 70.3 Championship in 2014, I am often asked about how I did it. I often discuss my training protocols and philosophies and how to use the paradigm shifting fuel, Generation UCAN. I am also a certified triathlon and running coach who has advised many triathletes and runners how to successfully use the product.
Many people know my story because of my Generation UCAN connection, as this product was used by me on some of my best races, I have spoken about it publicly, and my blog appeared on their social media and website. Generation UCAN also has an outstanding website, many free webinars, and there are many blogs by other athletes and associated professionals about the product.
A controversial but promising approach to fueling
Generation UCAN goes hand in hand with Metabolic Efficiency Training (MET) by Bob Seebohar, as well as heavy aerobic training protocols. You can't ignore your training as you have to be prepared for the event that is at hand and I find many athletes are woefully under prepared and bring a "I'm well prepared" bias into the equation.
Some of the basics are to eat less simple carbs and add more complex carbs and some grains as your training and racing picks up. You will often go heavy on protein, vegetables, and healthy fats across meals. One must limit sugar as it has absolutely no nutritional value and it adds a variety of negative health and metabolic effects.
Build your muscular endurance
As noted above, in the MET approach, training wise should be tilted towards aerobic versus anaerobic sessions. A focus on intensity in long course triathlon and other endurance sports is not essential for the vast majority as you are not necessarily trying to build your anaerobic thresholds but your aerobic thresholds. This is where you are primarily burning fat versus glycogen stores.
Because your body has ample glycogen stores, you should really only need fuel for moderate sessions of beyond 2-3 hours. Smash fest upper zone sessions of 1.5 hours or more, you are fine too but beyond that I would probably be fueling with some form of carbs, preferably Generation UCAN.
Stay away from the sugar
Widely used sports nutrition products are to be avoided in the MET approach as they are sugar based and the body will go towards the sugar once it is introduced. The analogy that I often use is when you have a fire you can use paper or logs. Widely used sugar type products are like paper and Generation UCAN is like logs. Once the fire is relying on paper, you will need to keep feeding it more paper. If you can rely on logs, like body fat, than you have a much more consistent and sustained burn, with less need to keep feeding it.
How do I recommend Generation UCAN be used?
On long days, I recommend that you ingest a UCAN packet (1.5 scoops) about 2-3 hours before the session or race, along with some low glycemic breakfast. Then you should ingest another packet 45 mins before your session or event. I prefer the protein added formula early and the superstartch only formula for 45 minutes before.
After that, I recommend a starting point of about a packet every hour and a half or so. How I do this is by putting a few packets or scoops in a torpedo bottle for long days and drink in globs. Let's say I enter 3 packets for up to 4-5 hours, so I'll drink it in thirds.
Some of my athletes who are on the course longer time periods continue to get more concentrated Generation UCAN superstartch in special needs and/or T2. Some use it as a paste or gel on run (there are blogs about this topic on google). Others swap over to a sugar fuel like coca cola every aid station for the last section of their event.
Your taste buds and mileage may vary
Other thing to note is several athletes have noted they like the new Tropical Orange flavor and that it clumps up less in their bottle. Previous, my athletes were big on fruit punch Powerade zero mixed with lemon Ucan as it tasted nice and didn't clump. Personally, I tend to go plain with water or, more often now, the new Tropical Orange flavor straight with water. We all learn to vary our doses to need. Some bigger, slower and/or faster athletes have needed more and smaller normal size athletes have done well on less.
Test it out
As with any fueling methods, these strategies should be tested out systematically. Modify fuel and effort level and pace according to performance. You may need to systematically alter pacing, effort, and dosing so track everything! That includes the days/nights before a big session or event. You have to learn what fuels work best for you and appreciate that race day nutrition starts before and ends after the race. Eat well enough to performa and as free from simple carbs as possible. Periodize your nutrition to your nutritional and training/racing needs.
I love the products like natural foods (e.g., lean proteins, avocados, green vegetables, nuts, fruit smoothies, etc.) and Generation UCAN that work hand-in-hand with my general nutritional and training program that I share with my athletes and friends. Obviously, I am not a big fan of sugar based products, which have no nutritional value and can lead to bonking because of the insulin spikes and difficulty with frequent dosing that Generation UCAN doesn't require or promote.
Although many endurance athletes have/had success on sugar based products including me in the past and there is a lot of research on its' efficacy, I was leery of the negative effects like weight gain, metabolic stress, and health issues. The paradigm shift has occurred. There is a new at least anecdotally successful approach that is simple and healthier.
Now it us up to you, maybe with the help of a nutritionist and/or coach, to learn the dosing protocols and how to refine them for your particular needs. Slower burning fuels like Ucan seem to me to be the way to go, but I respect and coach others that choose the traditional sugar-based paths of gels, blocks, and the liquid sugar mixes (if they work in training and they don’t mind the physical toll).
One final note is needed. This blog is written more for the endurance athlete. Short course triathlon is another animal and requires a separate discussion altogether, but I see far too many age groupers with a cornucopia of gel packs for a sprint or Olympic distance triathlon. Not only is that unnecessary, it slows you down and is bad for your body. You have 2-3 hours of glycogen stores for training or racing in you at any one time if you fuel well normally.
UCAN do this!