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.

Putting It To The Test

Cyclists at the University of Oklahoma took part in a 2 ½ hour test ride to compare ingesting this Superstarch 30 minutes prior and then again after the ride, versus a maltodextrin-based product. It was revealed that in the case of taking in the Superstarch, the riders’ blood glucose levels were maintained eight times longer and, as initially theorized, they also were able to compete at a higher peak performance level. “Maltodextrin affects the blood glucose levels over 60% within 30 minutes,” explains Kaufman. “Every spike is followed by a crash, which, if you didn’t re-ingest them, as these other products recommend, for 2 hours you’d find yourself 24% below fasting level.” It is below fasting level that dizziness and similar effects due to lack of energy are experienced by athletes. The Superstarch further kept the riders above these fasting levels much longer and proficiently post-workout.

Scientists noted that because the intestines, not the stomach, digests the Superstarch, there wasn’t the same kind of GI distress many endurance athletes typically complain of. Krista Austin, Ph.D, cites UCAN as her top choice of liquid for the world-ranked athletes she works with. “It doesn’t sit heavy in their stomach or cause GI distress…[but] it will give them the long-lasting carbs to sustain blood glucose levels.” Despite getting into the system quickly, UCAN is slow-burning and stays in the system much longer.

The main difference between taking UCAN or another starch-based product is that UCAN needs to be consumed 30 to 60 minutes before the workout. “It’s different for everyone but typically you should take it 30-60 minutes before your workout,” suggests Kaufman, “Amy Yoder Begley’s found that she is able to do a 20-mile run off of 1 ½ packets an hour before. She then saves the second ½ packet as a recovery drink after.” Austin, also working with Yoder Begley, encourages drinking it 60-90 minutes prior to the workout.

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