This is the final (at least for now) installment on Generation UCAN. To catch up, you can read Part 1 here which is about the science supporting the product, and Part 2 here, where I talk a little bit about my experiences with using UCAN.
I do want to mention again, that UCAN products are manufactured in a shared facility at the current time. However, UCAN’s products have been independently tested and found to be free from gluten. They are also pursuing gluten free certification.
Onward to the testing!
I’ve been back on the bike after my elbow dislocation for just over a month now, and ramping up my training. I’m now getting in about 9-11 hours a week on the bike, 1 hour of weights, and 1-2 yoga sessions per week. (Every 4 weeks I back off of the volume and “deload”-take a bit of a break.)
Training is going well and I am definitely becoming a stronger cyclist. (As an aside, I am also learning to “suffer” more, which in cycling is a good thing.)
So how does this relate to UCAN? Well, riding more and riding harder means I am using more energy, expending more calories. If you don’t have adequate energy stores, you can “bonk” ie: run out of energy. It really sucks.
Calories, mph, and prep.
It’s been a bit of trial and error for me to figure out how much energy (calories) I need to take in prior to getting on the bike, how long ahead of time, if I need to eat while riding, etc. It’s still a work in progress, to be honest. When I do hard rides I think I will need to drink 2 packs of UCAN before going out. Hard rides for me are several hours in length and speeds can be close to or over 30 mph for some stretches. Remember, I live in flat south Florida.
For example, yesterday I rode the hardest I’ve ever rode. 20+ mph winds, covered 49 miles in 2 hrs and 32 minutes and according to my Garmin burned 1100 calories. That was an extremely hard ride, and there ain’t no way I was taking one hand off the handlebars to eat, especially not with one weaker arm still. Days like that I think I will need 2 packs of UCAN pre-ride and likely some calories in my water bottle as well. As it was, I took one pack of UCAN pre-ride with a half scoop of whey protein, rode for 45 min at a moderate pace on the way to the group ride, had a banana before the suffer fest began, and bonked just a couple miles from where the car was parked. D’OH!! I had obviously used my stored glycogen. After I had some food and sat down for a while I felt much better. 😉
I have not yet reached the level of science geekdom to take a glucometer to measure blood sugar while I’m out on my rides, although I have seriously considered it. I do have a couple more measures of note to share with you since the last time, though.
Blood sugar testing
In my last post, I shared that my blood sugar had gone up to 123 after eating approximately 100 grams worth of carbohydrate from Chex cereal and kettle corn (along with some protein.) I repeated this experiment using approximately 100 grams of carbohydrate from UCAN after a hard-ish but long (over 3 hours) ride. I tested my blood sugar about 45 minutes later because I was starving and wanted to eat again, and my glucose level was 73 ng/dl.
Of course, as I mentioned before, this is not the best scientific method that I am using here. I may have expended more calories and energy on this second test, so had more “room” for those carbs. But you can clearly see there is a big difference in my blood sugar response between the two forms of carbohydrate. I can’t lie though, I do like to chew my food rather than drink it.
Here’s another example. Last weekend I decided I wanted to chew my pre-ride meal. Instead of taking UCAN and protein before my ride, as has become my custom, I had a bowl of Mesa Sunrise with raisins and a protein shake (I mix the powder with water and use it instead of milk.) I kept fueling through my ride, Larabars and Honey Stinger energy chews every hour or two, and felt fine. After the ride I had a Quest Bar and gluten free pretzels, then we went for brunch where I had an egg white omelet with chicken, grits, and fruit. We came home, took our dog for a 20 minute walk, and I promptly felt awful. Checked my blood sugar and sure enough it had fallen to 58 ng/dl. Funky, eh?!?!
Could it be that my blood sugar was more unstable after having the faster digesting carbohydrate, and stayed that way? Sure seems like it, although of course I’m just guessing. What I do know is that I will NOT be experimenting with chewing food prior to my rides. Going forward I will happily drink my UCAN and protein. the only question will be…
1 pack or 2?
I am willing to forgo chewing for more stable blood sugar while I am out on my bike, you can bet your gluten free biscuit on that.
As I mentioned before, the folks involved in the UCAN company are truly all phenomenal and have an awesome company mission. They frequently post motivational quotes and pictures on their Facebook page, which I definitely recommend you check out. (FYI, If you don’t already “like” GFF on Facebook, that’s where I post lots of interesting articles and blog posts that I come across that I used to post in the “roundup” posts.) So, check out both Gluten Free Fitness and UCAN on Facebook.
Lastly, as yet another piece of proof that UCAN rocks, they are offering a discount to GFF readers. Use code “UCANCYCLE” at checkout. This will get you a discount, and it will also indicate that you were referred from GFF and earn me credit. So thanks!
If you need some more info for generally eating a healthier gluten free menu, not just for peri-workout nutrition, check out Gluten Free and Fit 101 for lots of articles to get you started.
So what are you waiting for? UCAN do it!