The first thing that happened after I drank a cup of Generation UCAN sports nutrition drink was nothing. It was a great and welcome nothing. Specifically, there was no blood sugar spike that normally accompanies downing Gatorade or other sugar-based sports drinks and supplements. From a nutritional point of view, this signaled to me that Generation UCAN might be a new tool for managing my blood sugar. Over the next two weeks I tested Generation UCAN ten more times and each time the drink, which boasts a new complex carbohydrate the company calls “SuperStarch” performed exceptionally well as an effective meal or snack replacement and as effective sports energy drink that did not wreck havoc with my blood sugar before, during, or after exercising.
As I wrote about last week here, Generation UCAN is a new sports drink that features a proprietary, long-acting, time-released carbohydrate. For athletes, such a carbohydrate means they receive a longer lasting source of food energy with each ounce ingested compared to traditional, glucose-based performance drinks or maltodextrine-based sports gels. Those products quickly cause blood sugar to spike fairly high, which causes a rise in insulin production that, in turn causes blood sugar to crash if they don’t take another drink or gel within thirty minutes to an hour. For type two and, like me, type one diabetics these supplements usually mean blood sugar increases that we have to endure until long acting insulin, over time, counteracts the sugar. Or, it means we take insulin to avoid and counteract the sugar spike and that increases the risk of future low blood sugar episodes when the insulin is working but the sugar has dissipated from the bloodstream.
Because Generation UCAN didn’t cause dramatic blood sugar increases it has possibilities as a meal or snack replacement. It also means that, because the starch is long acting, it might aid diabetics in dealing with overnight hypoglycemia attacks. (I say all of this in a completely non-scientific way. I am a diabetic and a runner but I am not a scientist and I am not making any objective scientific claims, only relating my subjective experiences and studying and testing the product.)
My first test with Generation UCAN was when I tested my blood sugar at lunchtime. It was 158. My intent was to see how UCAN performed as a meal replacement. I poured an envelope of Cranberry-Pomegranate flavored UCAN into 16 ounces of water and, after mixing it thoroughly in a special shaker supplied by Generation UCAN that housed a high-tech, little metal whisk, drank it down. The consistency was not smooth. It was grainy and a little rough. Even company spokesperson Peter Kaufman admits that the drink is not the kind of thing you serve over ice and drink casually. I tested my sugar one hour later, after engaging in normal activity such as working and running errands, and it was 163. One hour after that it was 155 and after another hour it tested at 132. SuperStarch can last as an energy source for up to eight hours, according to Kaufman, but more typically is good for two to three hours. For me, my sugar dipped down to 78 at 4 p.m. but I did not suffer from hypoglycemia.
My next test was to see how it performed as a sports supplement. The goal was to not make any adjustments to my food intake, except for the UCAN, nor to or my insulin dose in relation to my evening run. I ate a normal lunch, drank a Lemonade flavored UCAN at 5:15 p.m., then went for a three-mile run at 6 p.m. My blood sugar tested at 134 before the run. Afterward I was at 118 and two hours later my blood sugar was 142. In other words, it worked in providing me with a consistent source of nutrition for my run and for hours afterward.
The last test I did was to see how it functioned in helping keep my blood sugar steady through the night. Nighttime hypoglycemia is a not uncommon condition for me, especially because I usually run in the evening and I’m not very consistent in remembering to have a snack before bedtime. About an hour before bed, and a few hours after running five miles, I tested my sugar and it was 118. In lieu of a nighttime snack, I mixed a Vanilla UCAN (which is by far the worst flavor of the ones I tried), drank it, and hit the hay. When I woke up seven hours later I tested at 107. I read this as an indication that my blood sugar had not dipped significantly over night. If it does then usually one of two things will happen: I will wake up hypoglycemic or my blood sugar will be extremely high because of the Somogyi effect, or dawn phenomenon, in which the liver dumps glucose out into the bloodstream to counteract a hypoglycemic attack.
All of this testing indicates that, while Generation UCAN makes no claims to improve blood sugar control for diabetics, the product might be worth including on your list of nutritional supplements that can help you improve managing your blood sugar. I know that, for me, it worked well.