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From Sugar to Fat and UCAN

From Sugar to Fat and UCAN

By Matthew J. Kutilek

In April 1998, at the age of 19, during one of the first formally organized mud and obstacle-filled endurance events, I consumed my first “nutrition” gel. This gel, like the hundreds I consumed over the next fifteen years, was expensive, tasted horrible, and was loaded with insulin-spiking simple sugars. Always trying to push the limits, meet my untapped potential, and compete against the best, I spent my twenties and early thirties participating in all manner of running and endurance events. I researched the latest “revolutionary” fueling trends in an effort to optimize my nutrition and perform as well as I could without bonking. At the time, that meant cramming as much sugar into my body before, during, and after each race because…glycogen!

Now, at the age of forty, reflecting back on my fueling experiences during training and competition in countless races—including six marathons—I’m nauseated. Nauseated not only for the amount of sugar and carbohydrate I mercilessly ingested, but also for the relentless attacks on my pancreas—repeatedly forcing it to produce vast quantities of insulin that it was never designed to make. The amount of money I spent on junk products, the number of times I inexplicably bonked in training and races, and the embarrassing memories of gastrointestinal distress I experienced at very inopportune times leave me shaking my head and angry at myself for having bought into the sugar cult for so long.

A Life-Changing Transformation

In July 2011, after my eleventh surgery to repair the damage from a high-velocity gunshot wound to my lower right leg (different story for a different article), I started cycling for rehabilitation purposes. Deploying back to Afghanistan (where I was shot) in 2012, I rode roughly 600-800 miles around the airfield where I was stationed on a junk $100 Chinese mountain bike. Once I returned to the states, I started riding for real and have since covered over 55,000 miles and participated in countless gravel, road, and mountain endurance and ultra-endurance rides and races. In the process, I have made a monumental and life-changing transformation of my nutrition and exercise fueling.

I was first introduced to UCAN through one of the dietitians I worked with, who highly recommended UCAN because it is all-natural, wouldn’t spike my insulin, is a slow-release fuel, and would help me in my ultra-endurance events. He gave me a few free UCAN packets, so I tried it. I later looked at the ingredients and, true to form, proudly reported that it was not the fuel for me because it didn’t have any sugar—how good could it really be? Then a few years ago, by sheer accident, I came across a YouTube video on the harmful effects of sugar and carbohydrate consumption on the human body. Like all great addictive things on YouTube, one video led to another, which led to twenty more and then to several books on nutrition, sugar, and endurance fueling. I soon found myself pouring over everything I could find on high-fat, low-carbohydrate living, intermittent fasting, the previously-unknown-to-me ketogenic diet, and the exotic idea of fueling exercise using only the 40,000+ calories of fat stored in my body. Throughout this journey, I slowly eliminated the vast majority of sugars in my life and experimented with alternative pre-race, in-race, and post-race fueling sources.

Finding a Fueling Solution

Finally, in 2018, after extensive research and reflection, I made the informed decision to become as metabolically efficient as possible and to train my body to oxidize my fat stores. I caved into the dietician’s demands and started utilizing UCAN as my only fuel source and have not looked back since. Over the course of several months, I developed into a highly metabolically efficient athlete with the ability to oxidize my nearly endless fat stores at very high intensity levels and power outputs. As a fat-adapted athlete, I have built my fuel planning strategies around UCAN. In doing so, I’ve eliminated many of the frustrating and debilitating effects of sugar and carbohydrates. I no longer carbo-load, don’t have to carry massive quantities of gel or bars with me, and never worry about bonking or having to stop to alleviate sudden gastrointestinal distress. The positive impacts of UCAN have fundamentally changed the way I approach every training ride and race I participate in, regardless of the distance or conditions.

Since it contains minimal to no sugar, but only an all-natural, slow-release SuperStarch, UCAN does not spike my insulin, allows me to control my blood sugar, and keeps me in fat-burning mode as long and efficiently as possible, even during periods of very high intensity. These factors have resulted in a net decrease of caloric intake in my training and races by a remarkable 75-85%, at times even more. In addition, my sugar consumption has been reduced by nearly 99% and is now virtually zero. Yes, I know that may seem impossible to sugar and carbohydrate-burning athletes, but it is the truth. I’ve extended my fueling/eating window during races from every forty-five minutes to every 90-120+ minutes, depending on the event and level of intensity. The benefits of UCAN don’t end at the finish line either, as I’m no longer famished when I reach the finish line and therefore am not compelled to participate in the informal junk food binge eating contest. Lastly, I’ve noticed a significant decrease in muscular soreness, fatigue, swelling and tension after even the longest of rides.

A Healthy, Sustainable Fueling Strategy

Becoming a fat-adapted athlete and consuming UCAN has provided me with extreme levels of confidence knowing that I’ll be able to remain in fat-burning mode, fueling off of my 40,000+ calories of stored fat stores with no danger of crippling gastrointestinal distress. Going into every race I know, without question, that I have the healthiest, most sustainable, and efficient fueling strategy of any athlete in the race.

For all sugar-burning athletes out there, who are no doubt suspicious of my advice—I can relate. But I encourage you to do a little personal study and reflection on your lifestyle and race fueling and explore for yourself the pros and cons of sugar/carbohydrate fueling versus fat fueling. Then give UCAN a try and see for yourself the positive changes it can have on your performance! Fortitudine Vincimus!

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