Among the more popular events on our Reader Forum are our nutritional (and sometimes botanical) user reviews. We recruit users – everyday readers like you – who’ll agree to try a product during their training and racing and report back on its taste, mixability, efficacy, packaging and whatever else you think important.
Then you write your reviews, and the reviews for UCAN are in. Well, most are in: 9 of the 10 are up as of this writing.
For those who find reading these in-depth reviews tl;dr here is a synopsis. UCAN sent its reviewers bars as well as during-training powder mix and not-during-workout protein drink mix.
Slowtwitcher "ATL Dad", 49, notes that, "With UCAN, a bottle of water filled with one packet of UCAN is only 160 calories or so,” versus the 250-300cal typical of other drinks. He liked the "cocoa and orange drink mixes to fuel rides,” and said the taste was pleasant and they were easy on the stomach. He found the super starch less mixable, and better cold. However, "UCAN warm is much more tolerable to drink than other sugar-based drinks under similar conditions.” He wrote that, "the lower calorie content did not bother me during the ride, and I found the SuperStarch provided me with a steady burn of energy.” ATL Dad found the bars "odd to say the least.” He liked coffee bean better than cinnamon.
"Overall, I'm a fan of UCAN,” he wrote to us. "I like the less sugar approach. I like less calories. I like the science behind the product. He will be a user.”
Note that these reviewers are acutely aware that UCAN relies on fat burning as a fueling strategy and device, and its products are made with this in mind. All were interested in seeing whether they'd flourish or bonk with UCAN.
“telebears” writes that, "I’m a convert! The product is as advertised. I was able to sustain good energy levels during workouts at a reduced caloric intake.” telebears writes that, "For both the drink and the snack bar, they were easy to consume and digest, I didn’t notice anything better or worse than my previous nutrition,” and that, "My swim workouts felt great. I never felt low on energy. Most workouts ranged from 30-90 minutes.”
telebears noted two workouts. "What I am impressed with the most is feeling really strong towards the end with an energy spike, when I can usually feel my energy starting to dip.” Also, telebears was training for a 2hr swim workout, and "I wanted to peak for the swim with a long, slow-burn endurance session. I pre-fueled with more than usual with 2 UCAN snack bars and a Cliff bar gel. I had backup nutrition for during but never felt like I needed. I had sustained energy the entire session!”
telebears "noticed... a rather starchy consistency to the drink,” which is something ATL Dad noted as well. But telebears wasn’t put unduly off, and, "I liked it and will look to integrate it as part of my future workout nutrition.”
For user “iamuwere” the snack bars were the favorite. "They go down very easily in the morning and sat well in my stomach with no digestion time,” and "These seemed to fuel my workouts when I had them better than many other foods that I have had in the morning.”
Iamuwere noted of the during-workout drink that, "Orange wasn't bad with a mild chalkiness from the starch. Sort of like Endurox r4 with a fruit flavor. The Cocoa flavor was probably my favorite. I somehow have come to expect liquid fuels to be a vanilla or chocolate flavor. Again some starchy grittiness.” iamuwere wasn’t a fan of the vanilla flavor.
Slowtwitcher “jpicune” wrote that, "As a fat adapted athlete, I’ve tried some other products in the past that I’ve not been happy with, or have been left feeling gross. With UCAN I always felt a steady stream of energy.” This Slowtwitcher raced 70.3 Boulder and, "I prepared a UCAN drink to use before the race and another to consume on the bike. I was concerned that this might not be enough to get me though, but it was. I also brought a UCAN bar along with me on the run, but didn’t eat it as I didn’t feel I needed it on race day.” This was jpicune’s first branded half and finished in good form and under 5 hours.
"I really like the sustained energy I feel from the UCAN, it’s easy to prepare any my system takes it well. I enjoy the flavors they have as well. Tropical Orange tastes like an Orange Julius. I admit it does have a slightly chalky texture, but not something that really bothers me at all.”
See a pattern? Works well for fat-adapted athletes, and for those who want to work toward fat adaptation. Chalky texture but not off-putting.
jpicune also used UCAN bars and during-race drink at USAT AG Nationals and another Oly tri, different flavors, and in the last race was stoked to make the podium. "UCAN has become my favorite fuel for racing and training. It’s easy to use, I enjoy the taste, and the consistent energy helps me perform at my best.”
Snowvols used UCAN for, "every bike ride that would be over 2 hours in length.” I encourage interested parties just to read Snowvols’ review, because there’s a lot in there about what flavors tasted best, at what temps, and even mixing the flavors. Bottom line: "UCAN products work great! I used to use Scratch and they would give me side stitches. I switched to tail wind and last year during IM Canada my stomach went to hell. I don't have any worries with UCAN so far.”
TriFluid felt that, "All three of the flavors had a fairly chalky consistency,” which, "wasn’t unbearable, but I found shaking with the [included] mixer bottle improved the effect.” The “upside” to the [orange] "flavor is the lack of phlegm-like coating in your mouth compared to other fruit electrolyte powders I’ve used.” "Energy levels were noticeably better than water during the bike VO2 max work as well as 50x50 swim workouts,” according to TriFluid, but "didn’t notice a strong difference in performance compared to the EFS I normally use.”
“instigator” has, in general, "horrible gut issues. Not just during training but on a day-to-day basis… I have very few consecutive days where I can honestly say I have had no stomach issues.” instigator's normal diet is, "whole-foods based diet. I eat very few processed foods and eat mainly meats, foods, and veggies with very limited dairy (full fat greek yogurt) and grains (rice).”
"Trial and error has taught me than an all liquid fueling strategy seems to work best,” according to this user. Of the drink mixes, “The orange was my favorite. I also really liked the cocoa delite but I didn’t like it as much during my workouts mainly as I prefer tart over sweet during exercise. I ended up using pre-workout. The vanilla cream was horrible.”
In general the users likes orange and cocoa, and were less enthusiastic about vanilla.
instigator "thought the digestibility was amazing. I had no cramping, bloating or bathroom emergencies while using the products,” while noting that, "product is a more challenging to mix than say infinit or scratch. You really do need to use a blender bottle to get the product to mix into the water.”
Read the entire user forum thread if you have further UCAN questions. What you read here is just a synopsis. You can also read more about UCAN here.
Reporting on UCAN is the first of a half-dozen forum threads replying back on the utility of various nutritional products during our summer season of Slowtwitch Nutritional User Reviews. These users aren't getting any ad dollars. Their reviews are unedited. What you're reading in these reviews is exactly what users think who're unbent by financial considerations, and who are using the product just like you would.