A couple weeks ago Seth Bronheim and Varun Sriram, the Director of Nutrition & Fitness and Digital Marketing Manager, respectively, of Generation UCAN were in the Philadelphia area for an endurance event and had a chance to stop by Endeavor to check the facility out. While they were in town, we did a quick interview discussing how we’ve been recommending our athletes and general fitness clientele use Generation UCAN’s products, and what types of responses we’ve seen/heard. As you likely know, I’ve been a big proponent of UCAN since being introduced to the company several years ago at the annual BSMPG seminar in Boston.

Save 10% on all UCAN Products using the code “competehard”

If you’re interested in learning more about UCAN, check out these posts:

  1. Revolutionary Hockey Nutrition
  2. The Death of Gatorade?
  3. UCAN Break Carbohydrate Dependence
  4. UCAN Perform, Look, and Feel Better

While UCAN is a young company, they’ve already gained popularity across many elite level athletic domains, including ice hockey, football, and endurance events. Anecdotally, we’ve had many players that felt like their legs crashed on them somewhere in the range of the middle of the 2nd to middle of the 3rd period and say they feel amazing through the whole game when drinking one of UCAN’s sports drinks immediately before the game or sipping it throughout. I’d encourage you to learn more about it, as it’s a much healthier alternative to many of the more commonly used sports drinks.

The video below is what I believe to be the first of several that they’re creating using some of the interview footage from our meeting at Endeavor and that with Cassandra Forsythe, a really bright nutritionist that I had the pleasure of meeting while I was an intern at Cressey Performance. As a brief aside, you’ll have to forgive my appearance. About 8 weeks ago I spontaneously made a decision that I was going to relive my glory days as a player and let my hair grow out until November (Flowvember?). This video was taken at about week 2 of the inevitable 12-week awkward grow out period. Enjoy!

…Not quite this awkward (2010 Playoff Beard)

UCAN Optimize Performance

If you need to restock your supply, you can use the code “competehard” to save 10% on all their products here: Generation UCAN.

To your success,

Kevin Neeld

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I mentioned a couple weeks back that I recently gave a nutrition talk to a U-18 hockey team. The talk started by describing the relationship between glucose, insulin, and other markers of fuel and performance. Without going into excessive detail, the generally ideas can be summarized as:

  1. The body breaks down energy stores and/or food into glucose which enters the blood stream to be used as fuel.
  2. With regards to food, the more simple the carbohydrate, the faster the digestion process and the more rapid and pronounced the spike in blood sugar (glucose). Cotton candy, which is entirely digested in the mouth, is an extreme example of rapid carbohydrate digestion and absorption, whereas something like sprouted-grain bread will take substantially longer to break down and will therefore have a “time-release” effect in delivering the nutrients to the blood stream.
  3. When there is excessive glucose in the bloodstream, a hormone called insulin is released to shuttle the excess to appropriate storage sites. This is not the only function of insulin, but this view will suffice for our purposes here. The greater the excess of glucose, the greater the spike in insulin release, so more insulin will be released in response to a 100 calories of cotton candy than 100 calories of sprouted-grain bread.
  4. With quick/large spike of blood glucose, insulin can overcompensate in pulling glucose from the blood. When this happens, blood sugar levels drop below baseline (where they were before the sugar rush). This is one of the reasons people feel borderline psychotically energetic after eating something sugary and shortly after feel completely drained.
  5. When there’s more insulin in the blood, your body’s ability to use fat as a fuel source is blunted. This isn’t only a negative for people that have body fat concerns (elite hockey players are generally required to be under 10%, so anyone over ~14% that is serious about playing at high levels needs to be proactive about changing their body composition), but it also makes the body more heavily dependent upon carbohydrates as a fuel source.

I’ll come back to this latter point, but this relationship between glucose, insulin, and fat burning is one of the major reasons I’m such a big proponent of Generation UCAN’s SuperStarch products. Simply, unlike most sports drinks, UCAN’s SuperStarch has a less drastic and more prolonged delivery of carbohydrates (think time-release), which significantly diminishes the insulin response AND allows the body to use fat as a fuel source to a greater degree. This means athletes will avoid the spike-and-crash effect of excess sugar consumption that is typical from the sports drinks they consume most frequently.

Check out this data from the University of Oklahoma comparing UCAN to maltodextrin (a carbohydrate source found in most sports drinks).

Note the drastically higher spike in insulin for the maltodextrin drink both pre- and post-training compared to UCAN’s SuperStarch

Note the increased availability of fat for SuperStarch, both pre- and post-training, compared to maltodextrin

Teaching the body to use fat as a fuel source is extremely important, as fat stores are so plentiful that they can basically be thought of as an unlimited source of energy for athletic purposes. Carbohydrates are broken down and used for fuel quicker than fat, meaning it’s a more effective source of energy for high intensity activities (such as during a hockey shift). While we rely on a combination of fuel sources (ATP, PCr, Glycogen/Carbohydrates, Triglycerides/Fat, etc), given that ATP, PCr, and Glycogen best fuel high intensity/short-duration efforts and are in limited supply within the body, it’s reasonable to take steps to conserve these sources for when they’re absolutely necessary. Many players will describe “hitting a wall” or “not having any legs”, which can be related to excessive depletion of carbohydrate stores. The players I’ve worked with that complain of these “symptoms” feel incredible when they switch over to using UCAN before/during games. Consuming a drink (or meal) high in sugar will ensure that the body relies more heavily on carbohydrates for energy on a short-term scale; consuming excessive carbohydrates in the diet will do the same over a long-term scale.

The more we can keep our body OUT of high-intensity mode, or, in other words, limit excessive stressors on the body (think sympathetic nervous system activity), the faster we’ll recover and the longer we can sustain high-level performance. I’m not suggesting that players shouldn’t work hard, only that there are strategies players can take to ensure that they get into high-intensity mode (sympathetic state) when they need to be, and then out of it when they don’t (parasympathetic state).

In a couple days, I’ll follow up on this post with how this idea influences training programs. In the meantime, if you’re interested in learning more about Generation UCAN’s products, check out these posts, which I wrote about a year ago:

  1. Revolutionary Hockey Nutrition
  2. The Death of Gatorade

If, after reading through those posts and some of the material on their site, you decide you want to pick some up for yourself, you can save 10% by purchasing through this site that we set up for our Endeavor clients link: Generation UCAN

To your success,

Kevin Neeld

Please enter your first name and email below to sign up for my FREE Athletic Development and Hockey Training Newsletter!