In my long quest to find the optimal fueling solution for my needs, I have found Maurten and UCAN to be the products that work best. How are they different? Can they be used together? Let's discuss.
Disclaimer: These products work well for me, but each runner has unique needs. This review is based on my personal experience.
I have tried all of the Maurten fueling products. They have 2 types of gels and 3 drink mixes. There are no flavors:
- Gel 100
- Gel 100 Caf 100
- Drink Mix 160
- Drink Mix 320
- Drink Mix 320 Caf 100
- UCAN Energy Powder
- UCAN Hydrate
- UCAN Edge
Above we have 3 different gels and 5 liquids. Even though there are 5 liquids, the only product above that provides hydration with electrolytes is the UCAN Hydrate. The Maurten Drink Mix does NOT provide electrolytes. Therefore, if I am looking to carry an electrolyte drink during a training run or a marathon, I opt for UCAN Hydrate. However, if it's cold (below 45) I find that I do not need an electrolyte drink as long as I have pre-hydrated the day before.
While both of these fuels are easier to digest than many other products on the market, they are very different from each other. UCAN Energy Powder uses SuperStarch, its proprietary formula for slow-release energy. The advantage to using UCAN over Maurten is that the energy is released slowly, over a long period of time and prevents spikes and crashes in blood sugar.
For my long runs, I sometimes use Maurten and I sometimes use UCAN. One of the main training benefits of a long run is training the body to use fat for fuel and not carbs. With UCAN Energy Powder, the slow release energy doesn't overwhelm your system with carbs, so your body still gets the benefit of learning how to burn fat. Some runners do their long runs with no fuel so that they can get this fat-burning benefit. I think training with UCAN provides the same benefit. There was a direct correlation with my long runs feeling stronger and better with UCAN than before when I used Honey Stinger gels.
The Maurten Drink Mixes are excellent for drinking the evening before a race or the morning of a race. Make sure you mix it with the correct amount of water: 500ml. I don't like drinking a ton of liquid right before bed (for obvious reasons) so for a half marathon or full marathon I drink half a serving of the Drink Mix 160 the night before. The 320 might also be a good choice, but I have never done it. The difference between the two is that the 320 has 320 calories and the 160 has 160 calories. The taste is similar with the 320 being more thick. They have a light taste and they are as easy to drink as water.
I once tried fueling with the Maurten Drink Mix 360 during a marathon so I wouldn't have to take as many gels. It had worked well during training and it's a good way to get in the calories easily. However, I didn't find myself to be all that energized during that marathon so I decided to abandon it for racing. It was only one time though, so I may decide in the future to go back to it. If you have problems with gels, carrying the Drink Mix 360 during your marathon would be a great solution. With 360 calories and the option to have a caffeinated version, it's solid fuel. Here is how I fuel during races, given that I already drank my Drink Mix 160 starting 3 hours before the start.
Both Maurten and UCAN have their place in my fueling and hydration. I use:
- UCAN Hydrate for my hydration needs
- UCAN Energy Powder for my long training runs so that my body burns fat for fuel
- The Maurten Drink Mix 160 to top of my energy stores before a race
- The Maurten gels (both Caffeinated and regular) to fuel immediately before and during a race