UCAN Edge energy gels. When I last did a review of UCAN vs. Maurten, I did not include my thoughts on the UCAN Edge gel because it was so new. In this blog post, I will give my thoughts on UCAN Edge, what I like about it, what I don't like about it, and how I use it in my training.
|UCAN Edge Energy Gel
When the UCAN Edge Gel was released in 2020, I was excited to try it. The first flavor was orange. My excitement dwindled when I read the ingredient list. Erythritol, a sugar alcohol, was the third ingredient. I am allergic to sugar alcohols so this was a non-started for me. But when the Strawberry Banana Edge was released, I noticed it did not contain any sugar alcohols. Hooray!
The Benefits of UCAN Edge Gels
My favorite thing about the Edge gels is that they prevent your blood sugar from spiking. Just like the energy powder, the energy source is "LIVSTEADY" corn starch. It's their slow-release energy which means you don't have to fuel as often. From a physiological standpoint, the LIVSTEADY energy allows your body to use fat as fuel instead of pumping it with a ton of easy-to-use sugar all at once. For endurance athletes, consuming sugar every 30-45 minutes doesn't allow the body to get the message that it should be burning fat for fuel.
To quote my coach, Greg McMillan, from his book Run Faster Marathons, "I personally use UCAN in my Marathons. This carbohydrate has been manipulated by heat and water so that it is absorbed more slowly to avoid the spike and crash. . . because you feed less frequently and it's easier on the GI tract, you avoid the GI upset that can occur late in the race."
Here are the main reasons why I use UCAN Edge Energy Gels:
- Fuel less often
- Train the body to burn fat for fuel
- Easy on the digestive system
- Tastes good (the strawberry banana ones tastes like a watery smoothie)
- Does not need to be consumed with water
As much as I love these gels, there are a few drawbacks. I don't always use UCAN gels; I sometimes use Maurten ones. I will explain in more detail later in this post. The drawbacks of these gels are:
- The orange flavor contains erythritol, which can bother sensitive stomachs
- They are messy; they have a watery consistency and I have sometimes gotten it all over my face, hands, clothes, etc.
- They are larger than most gels and may not fit into traditionally sized pockets
- There is no caffeine (which I find to be beneficial during a race)
My primary use of UCAN Edge gels is for long runs during marathon training. For a 20 miler, I drink the energy powder before hand, and then consume 2 gels during the run.
|UCAN Gel fits in larger pockets
Because it's important to practice fueling before race day, I do some of my harder long runs (the ones with speed) using Maurten so my digestive system knows what to expect on race day.
That said, I do think the Edge energy gels are a great choice for marathon fueling, and it's what Greg (husband Greg, not coach Greg), used for his most recent marathon PR last spring. Because he didn't need to fuel as often, he went from his typical 6 Gus down to 4 Edge gels. According the the UCAN Website, each gel provides up to 75 minutes of steady energy. I have found this to be true, whereas traditional gels need to be taken every 30-45 minutes.