top of page

For the past two weeks we watched the world’s greatest athletes compete at a level that is unfathomable for most of us. But what we don’t see is all the preparation it takes to get to this point. Extensive training and some natural born talent are a huge part of the equation but there is also a growing awareness around the importance of proper nutrition for peak athletic performance.


That’s where UCAN comes in. UCAN is a developer of natural energy products that sustain optimal athletic output, reduce fatigue and eliminate spikes and crashes. So it’s no wonder that many olympic athletes are utilizing and excelling with their products. In the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Team UCAN represented 8 of the US Olympic medals won. If UCAN was a country it would have finished 28th of the 206 nations that participated.


UCAN team member Maggie Steffens led USA women's water polo to their third consecutive Olympic gold. Katie Zaferes won a bronze medal, notching just the third Olympic medal from a US triathlete in history. Zaferes and the US also claimed a silver medal in the inaugural mixed triathlon. Stefanie Dolson won gold for the US in 3x3 basketball. Team UCAN wrestlers rose to the occasion with Thomas Gilman winning bronze. Whether it’s water polo, triathlons, wrestling or basketball, UCAN helps athletes reach their full potential by giving them sustained energy through their training and competitions.


Innovation Born out of Necessity

The secret ingredient in UCAN products is called SuperStarch. While SuperStarch has extensive applicability for athletes, it was initially developed as a solution for Jonah, a boy that was born with a rare metabolic disorder that prevented him from breaking down glycogen, the body’s natural source of stored energy. This condition required him to be tube fed every 2 hours to maintain normal blood sugar levels. Jonah’s family teamed up with a group of European researchers who, after extensive research, were able to develop a precise cooking process that yields a gentle, slow digesting carbohydrate. They then applied this method to non-GMO cornstarch to deliver a steady release of glucose. This new SuperStarch could provide up to ten hours of energy in the form of glucose for children with glycogen storage disease and for diabetics frequently experiencing episodes of low blood sugar. This meant that Jonah and his parents were finally able to sleep through the night. The UCAN company was then formed to manufacture SuperStarch.



Time for a Metabolic Revolution

When it comes to our health and food choices Americans are headed in the wrong direction. Recent research has shown that 88 percent of Americans are not metabolically healthy and we are more sedentary than ever. The average American consumes 17 teaspoons of added sugar per day and 120 million Americans are living with prediabetes or diabetes. When you eat sugary foods your blood sugar spikes causing a large insulin response which triggers your muscles to burn the available sugar for fuel instead of body fat. When you then quickly crash from a large spike in blood sugar, your body interprets this drop in blood glucose as a hypoglycemic threat which causes a hunger response and can result in overeating.


The best way to combat this cycle and improve metabolic fitness is to fuel with foods containing smart carbohydrates that can regulate blood sugar. Smart carbohydrates provide a slower release of carbs to avoid the spike and crash phenomenon and extend the maintenance of blood glucose. This results in low insulin impact and allows for increased breakdown and utilization of fat. The benefits are far reaching including sustained exercise endurance, sharpened focus and cognition, better hunger control and reduced cravings and lower risk for metabolic disease.


This is where UCAN comes in. The patented and proprietary method for making SuperStarch, which involves a hydrothermal treatment process to a non-GMO cornstarch, significantly alters the body’s metabolism and causes it to break down the sugar slowly over time without causing a significant rise in blood sugar or insulin. Since SuperStarch is a complex molecule, it takes the body’s enzymes a relatively long time to chip away at it to release its energy unlike simple carbohydrates, which the body can break down quickly resulting in sugar spikes. And since SuperStarch does not lead to a spike in insulin production, it doesn’t block the body’s ability to burn fat resulting in more effective workouts.

“UCAN is amazing to avoid fatigue, loss of focus and keep hunger in check—without making metabolic compromises.”

- Tim Ferriss, entrepreneur, author and podcast host


A Consistent Fuel for Athletes

Many athletes today fuel with energy products such as sports drinks. But despite sports drinks being a billion dollar industry, there has been little innovation with respect to carb formulation and current offerings still rely on sugars with an emphasis on quick energy that requires continuous supplementation to rescue the body from it crashing. Even for athletes training at the highest level, this could lead to overconsumption of carbohydrates. An athlete training for a marathon or triathlon typically consumes between 100-200g of sugar during a multi-hour training session when following recommendations from popular sports nutrition companies. But the American Heart Association recommends no more than 24g of added sugar per day for adult women and 36g of added sugar per day for adult men.


Athletes who use UCAN products on the other hand, benefit from the slow-release of SuperStarch out of the intestine and into the bloodstream which stabilizes glucose for long periods of time. Both elite and recreational athletes are using UCAN to take their performance to the next level including Sara Hall, the second fastest female marathoner in US History, Olympic triathlete Katie Zaferes, CrossFit star Scott Panchik, 4x Olympian Meb Keflezghi, top American pro triathlete Tim O’Donnell, Olympic water polo player Maggie Steffens and hundreds of pro and college athletes. For Maggie Steffens, UCAN products help her maintain energy through 6-7 hour water polo training sessions which require her to sprint over and over for hours at a time. For triathlete Katie Zaferes, proper nutrition is key to enable her to juggle three sports disciplines.


“Water polo is really an endurance sport but with a lot of short, explosive movements. Consistent energy is key and fueling with UCAN before and after my tough training has made a huge difference in my energy levels and focus.”


- Maggie Steffens, 3x Olympic Gold Medalist, Water Polo Player, 2021 US Olympian



"Properly fueling my sessions is critical so that I can recover and perform over and over again in my training. I love the long lasting energy from UCAN. What used to be a weakness for me is now a strength. I take UCAN before my training sessions and it simplifies my nutrition approach, allowing me to focus on execution.”


- Katie Zaferes, World Champion Triathlete, 2021 US Olympic Bronze Medalist


“I try to eat pretty low carb and low sugar to stay fit but I need fuel before games that will help me sustain a high level of performance without impacting my weight. I like that UCAN is a different type of carb that doesn’t cause a spike and crash and keeps me going strong throughout the entire game."


- Stefanie Dolson, Pro Basketball Player, 2021 US Olympic Gold Medalist


Leveling the Playing Field

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics were monumental for many reasons. One major reason was that issues women athletes have been facing for decades were brought to the fore. From mental health to the sexualisation of women's uniforms, women took a stand to bring attention to the obstacles they face in competing at such a high level. One area of extreme pressure for women athletes is around diet and physique, especially for women participating in sports that promote leanness such as running, dancing, swimming and gymnastics. Two decades of research among female athletes shows that a lack of knowledge of nutrition about what they need to eat to stay healthy can contribute to low nutrient intake, poor performance and potential health risks. Studies have shown that female athletes are often insufficient in meeting nutritional and energy needs leading to low energy availability, medical related issues and poor performance and health. When there is a discrepancy between the energy and nutrients from the foods an athlete consumes and the level of energy expenditure and nutrient needs for proper body function and growth it can affect a female athlete's bone health and reproductive system.


Given the different nutrient needs for men and women, there has been extraordinarily little research that looks at the performance effects of ingesting simple carbs for women. Guidelines around simple carb fueling strategies have been almost exclusively based on performance benefits observed in men. But unlike men, it is difficult for women to super-load their muscle glycogen stores. One thing that is known is that when women ingest a simple carb food or beverage before exercising their fat burning advantage is lost.

"Women really benefit from a slow/low glycemic carbohydrate to fully take advantage of their fat-burning potential. UCAN is a smart carbohydrate that delivers long-lasting energy and keeps blood sugar stable without interrupting fat burn.”

- Dr. Cathy Yeckel, human metabolism researcher and assistant clinical professor at Yale School of Public Health


For athletes, UCAN can provide a lasting and stable supply of energy to sustain them through rigorous workouts and competitions. But UCAN may also prove to be a healthier carbohydrate solution for everyone with its potential to reduce risk for obesity, metabolic syndrome, diabetes and a number of other chronic diseases. “UCAN’s products provide game changing nutrition solutions for busy adults, as well as recreational and professional athletes to make healthy choices while achieving their full potential,” says Chuck Templeton, Managing Director at S2G. “I am excited about the innovative applications of SuperStarch for addressing the larger human health concerns we are currently facing.”

 

Interested in trying SuperStarch for your health or fitness journey? Order a sample box to explore UCAN’s line of products.


Team UCAN Wins 8 US Olympic Medals Fueled by SuperStarch

Team UCAN Wins 8 US Olympic Medals Fueled by SuperStarch

AUTHOR

Tonya Bakritzes

Managing Director

Tonya Bakritzes is a Managing Director on S2G Ventures' Platform Team where she oversees the fund’s brand strategy, marketing and communications and provides strategic guidance to the fund’s portfolio companies.

CO-AUTHOR

Josie Lane

Art Director

Introduce your team! Click here to add images, text and links, or connect data from your collection.

MORE ARTICLES
Project Well.png

Breaking Down Biologicals: How the Industry and Individual Companies Can Scale

Project Well.png

Reflections on 2023 Food Tech Trends

Project Well.png

Reflections on 2023 Food and Agriculture Supply Chain Trends

bottom of page