The Science Behind High Molecular Carbohydrates

  • By Caitlin Chock
  • Published Apr. 6, 2012
  • Updated Jun. 11, 2013 at 1:33 PM UTC
Elite athletes such as Meb Keflezighi have been realizing the benefits of high molecular carbohydrates for a few years now.

A revolutionary product made of high molecular carbohydrates is changing the way athletes fuel for endurance events. 

Glucose, sucrose, fructose, and maltodextrin; all simple sugars that, when ingested and broken down by the body, provide you an immediate source of energy. The process also causes a sudden flood of insulin to the body by way of the pancreas; as the sugars are digested this insulin level then takes a nosedive, at which point your muscles again crave energy.

These sugars are the basis of nearly all sports drinks, gels, and performance supplements. They are the means by which endurance athletes thrive because they are a means of quick energy and help stave off bonking.

But what if there was something else; something that prevented blood glucose and insulin levels from constantly spiking and dropping like a wayward EKG? To even avoid insulin being released at all? Theoretically, if we were able to avoid the ups and downs and instead keep the body fueled with a constant, even supply of energy, it should be able to run more efficiently.

Secondly, the slow-time release approach to blood glucose levels would provide longer lasting energy. This means you wouldn’t need to ingest nearly as much of a certain starch to get the same results; more bang for your buck, so to speak.

RELATED: Race Fueling Made Simple

Enter a high molecular ‘Superstarch’ that is the basis of Generation UCAN, a sports drink launched in 2010 that claims to revolutionize the entire approach to endurance fueling. Lofty words which, if true, certainly should pique the interest of all competitors. But how exactly is this Superstarch unique?

My aunt is an artist and has a term, ‘accidental art,’ which describes instances where masterpieces are created more out of chance. Such is the case with the origins of Generation UCAN, as the quest for a slower metabolized starch started with a boy named Jonah and a rare disease in which his body can’t naturally produce glucose.

Scientists eventually were able to create this remedy, saving Jonah’s life as well as others afflicted with Glycogen Storage Disease. However, further tests seemed to imply that this new Superstarch could be put to use outside of managing this single disorder. “We wondered what maintaining fasting glucose levels for a long time in the body would do, in particular, for athletes,” explains Peter Kaufman, executive vice president of Generation UCAN.

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