October 22, 2012


Introduction to Superstarch – Part I

by Peter Attia

Read Time 2 minutes

Occasionally, I have alluded to a product I use to improve my athletic performance.  This product, derived from corn starch, is called Superstarch and is produced by Generation UCAN.  Many of you have asked a lot of questions about it, and so at last I’d like to take the time to really explain this technology to you.

If you’ve been reading this blog at all, you probably already know one thing about me: I don’t do bumper stickers. I tend to leave that to the really smart folks who can take complex topics and turn them into slogans.  Instead, I tend to like the nuanced explanations.  In keeping with that spirit, I decided to create a presentation to formally introduce you to Superstarch.

In reality, if you want to understand why you’re better off consuming Superstarch instead of Gatorade, Powerade, goo, gel, or other “sports nutrition” products out there, you need to know how they work. I know, I know, most people don’t want to understand this sort of stuff.  And they certainly don’t want to read a 10,000 word post on the topic.  But if you really want to understand the remarkable evolution in sports nutrition, you sort of have to understand the whole evolution of these products, which is why I put this video together.

Jeff Volek introduced me to Superstarch.  After using it for a few months, and being completely blown away by it, I wanted to know more. I was introduced to the co-founder, Peter Kaufman, and soon I was poring over their patents in an effort to understand how in the heck they made this stuff. Once I understood this, I never looked back.  Today I simply refer to Superstarch as “superior technology.”  If Superstarch is the latest iPhone, all other sports nutrition products are rotary phones.  They simply don’t belong in the same sentence.

But to understand why I would make such a strong statement, you should not just take my word for it. In Part I of this post (i.e., the video, below) I’ll walk you through the nuances of how our bodies use stored energy (i.e., food and internal stored sources) to generate motion (and life, actually). Once you understand the basics I’ll explain why Superstarch is a step-function improvement over all existing products.

In Part II, I will share an interview with one of the most prolific trainers of professional athletes, who has not only transformed his training with Superstarch, but also that of some of the highest profile athletes in the country.

In the end I believe you’ll come to appreciate that this technology, while originally developed to save the lives of children with a very rare genetic disorder, is going to revolutionize sports nutrition as we know it.

The link to this video can also be found here, for those reading this post on email or those wishing to view it in a larger format.

Disclaimer: This blog is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute the practice of medicine, nursing or other professional health care services, including the giving of medical advice, and no doctor/patient relationship is formed. The use of information on this blog or materials linked from this blog is at the user's own risk. The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Users should not disregard, or delay in obtaining, medical advice for any medical condition they may have, and should seek the assistance of their health care professionals for any such conditions.


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  • Downloading now! I’m swearing by this stuff for my triathlons, and now recommending to most of my athletes. Not a fan of artificial sweeteners, so I go with plain or Cran-razz, but UCAN rocks.

    • Yes, I know the company is now working on formulations that don’t use them. I personally love the plain flavor for all my rides.

    • dave james

      Hi Peter I found below on a health insurance company website – any thoughts? Is this nonsense?

      Saturated fats
      The saturated fats you eat have the biggest impact on cholesterol levels in your body. Saturated fats cause levels of LDL cholesterol to rise in your blood, in proportion to HDL cholesterol. This raises your risk of heart disease and stroke. It’s important to limit the amount of saturated fats you eat. Saturated fats are found in foods such as meat, cheese, butter, cream and pastries.

      • Dave, please watch my presentation (post) How did we come to believe saturated fat is harmful?

    • Peter, I’m worried about an aspect of this. As far as I can tell, insulin provides us protection against Advanced Glication End-products / excessive protein oxidation overall. How safe is it to have in your circulation during a prolonged time and in high amount a sugar molecule that does not trigger insulin response? Is SS not as oxidative as glucose? Doesn’t it bind to blood and artery cells just as much as the other sugars? Because if it does, people taking SS would be putting themselves at a higher risk for cell damage. In my view, the only safe sugar molecule is the one that has been turned into a fatty acid. 😉

      • SS does get fully metabolized, but it does so much slower, without the spike in insulin. Contrast with fiber, which can pass right through you without raising insulin levels (but provide no oxidative or glycolytic substrate).

    • Sorry Peter, you’ve just lost me at some curve.
      I can’t see any parallel between SuperStarch (which gets into the blood) and fibre (which does not).
      Are you saying that it doesn’t matter how much of it floats around in the blood, or for how long it does, because it doesn’t glycate proteins at all (unlike glucose)?

      • I think the rate of glycation is proportional to several things, including the osmotic load of glucose in the blood. 100 gm of ingested glucose causes a higher serum level than 100 gm of SS.

    • Apparently the role of sugar in AGE formation and the impact of AGEs on the body are a lot more complex than one would think. it’s not dose-dependent, there’s all sorts of clean-up mechanisms that seem to work rather well, and the effects vary greatly.
      And yet again we end up with endotoxins as the suspects found on the crime scene of metabolic, cellular, and immune disease.
      Good to know, and at least in part downplays the seriousness of glycation, which is starting to look like it’s really a red herring. Damned bacteria… we’re just a game board for them. 🙂

    • Kelly

      Hey Peter,
      I read on Ben’s blog that he “bonked” during one of his recent Ironman competitions… He said that you had helped him analyze what had happened. I’m trying to understand it myself. Have you asked Ben if you can write an essay up on what your findings were? I think it’d be fascinating for those of us who enjoy geeking out on this stuff.

      I’m still kinda putting all these pieces together to get a full understanding of what’s going on during a very long, taxing race (ultra or ironman, etc.) If I understand things properly, keto-adapted athletes have glycogen stores about 50% of a carb-adapted athlete. Those stores get tapped into during anaerobic stretches of a long race, right? Being keto-adapted doesn’t negate the need to replenish those stores, does it? Also, if you DO deplete these stores by remaining anaerobic for too long… Do you or don’t you experience a “bonk”??? I keep hearing that keto-adapted = bonkproof, but Ben said he bonked…

      Shouldn’t a depletion of glycogen just result in the athlete having to back it down into the aerobic zone???

      Kind regards,
      Kelly T

    • Khaled

      Hi Peter, is there a possibilty to order Ucan prducts to Switzerland?

    • Sandy Zielinski

      Cinnamon Delite and Plain are my go to flavors. A real game changer that fueled me for my first Ironman with many more to come. I make a gel and put it in a flask for easy delivery and no sticky mess because there is no sugar!!

  • Frank Rizzo

    I lost approximately 50-60 pounds on low carb and then plateaued. I started an exercise program, but haven’t lost any weight. (I have gained strength and stamina.) I gained about 5 pounds since starting, but I’m assuming it’s partially due to muscle growth. I still remain low carb (approx 50g of carbs or less) even while working out 5-6 days a week – 3 days weight training and 3 days cardio for 8 months pretty consistently. I work out usually within an hour of dinner. Is Super Starch useful for someone like me? I’m still considered obese and I would gladly trade further weight loss for muscle gain, but neither seems to be happening for me.

    • Many people have experienced weight loss using Superstarch, so I think it’s worth a chance — probably consuming it as a post-workout meal.

    • Nicholas L.

      I have a follow-up to the question about supplementing with SuperStarch for modest exercise, I had a couple of questions. I bought some of the stuff a few weeks back (the plain, non-protein variety) after reading about it on your blog—I had been mulling it over for awhile, and your coupon code sort of pushed me over the edge on it.

      I’ve only used it a couple times since I got it—once after a run and once before a run. The post-workout run was excellent for me (I was previously well-fueled), and consuming it afterwards and checking my serum glucose and ketone levels showed that my ketone levels were, if anything, enhanced by the SS supplementation (ketones went 2.1 mmol/L before to 4.1 just after the run and immediately prior to the SS drink, and then up to 5.5 mmol/L an hour later—the highest ketone concentration I have recorded in myself. My BG went 86 mg/dL (pre) -> 81 (post) -> 71 (+1 hr). So that went phenomenally. But supplementing 30 minutes prior to a (slightly shorter) run of just over an hour, I observed my ketones went from 4 mmol/L prior to ingestion to just over 3 when I returned from the run (I was out of glucose strips for that test, so no numbers there). I also subjectively had a lot of trouble on that run, which I believe was probably due to some degree of undernutrition in the days prior.

      So I know that the stuff is safe for preserving my nutritional ketosis, at least taken close to a hard run. But I’m curious about the probable benefit of taking it after a ~30-40 minute HITT-type exercise? I don’t do anything that’s P90X exactly; I just strap on a heart rate monitor and do circuit weights with the goal of keeping my average heart rate at 145-160 bpm (my max HR is 200 bpm) for the duration of the exercise. It seems like using SS prior to this tiny workout would be silly. But, would it be worthwhile after these exercises to replenish glycogen and perhaps even help in recovery? I’m curious if you use SuperStarch this way or have any experience with that. My main reservation at this point is that I’ve noticed that my post-workout serum glucose after a ~30 minute run or lifting session absolutely skyrockets from my usual 65-85 mg/dL up to 130-140 mg/dL—I assume that is from hepatic glycogen release?

      Also, I wanted to post a huge thanks to you for what you do on this blog. I’ve been trying to lose weight and get in great shape for a year now, and while I did lose a lot of weight with a conventional diet and exercise (I’ve gone from couch potato to managing 8+ mile runs easily), I basically went from 210 lbs. to 170 lbs. over several months and then found my weight tracking back up from running injuries, laziness, and overeating. I found Gary Taubes through my dad in August and you through Taubes, and I became totally motivated to adopt a ketogenic diet. I’ve never felt so good in my life, and I broke through into the 160s on my weight in about a month of the diet, and I’ve been steady on the low-end of that weight for the last month and a half or two, steadily growing stronger and still losing body fat, at least according to the mirror. I feel like I found the ideal diet for myself—pure, unadulterated magic. It’s so much fun, and the food is absolutely delicious. So, thanks so much for everything, and thanks in advance for any pointers you have on using SuperStarch with HITT/weight lifting.

      • A lot of confounding variables there. HIIT is almost always going to LOWER your B-OHB levels because of the uptick in hepatic glucose output, so I’m not sure if SS will retard this process. It might, but we don’t know because this hasn’t been thoroughly studied. Bottom line, Nicholas, try your best to control for different variables and experiment under reasonably reproducible conditions.

    • Nicholas L.

      Thanks for the advice! You’re right, I haven’t done anything like controlled testing, even on myself. I only bought the blood glucose/ketone testing stuff (the Precision Xtra that I believe you recommend) about 3 weeks ago, and I’ve mostly been tracking my levels in the morning and evening a la Jimmy Moore’s current n=1 experiment—I’ve only made a few forays into monitoring my ketones and glucose around exercise. You can really burn through these test strips in a hurry!

      I was kind of hoping for some guidance on areas to test based on your experiments, but like you say—this stuff is so under-explored. I’m probably probably best off letting my fitness interests and goals guide what I test. That will be of the most use to me in any case. I’ll be sure and report back if I find anything interesting during my testing.

      • Nicholas, check out the posts (2 parts) about the interplay of ketosis and exercise. You’ll see, at least in my case, how varying intensities of exercise increased or decreased B-OHB and glucose levels (with and without Superstarch).

  • David

    Nicely done, Peter!
    Already finding my own success with Generation UCAN, and it’s great to hear your detailed analysis.

  • Victoria

    “I know, I know, most people don’t want to understand this sort of stuff. And they certainly don’t want to read a 10,000 word post on the topic.”

    I LIKE YOUR 10,000 WORD POSTS! The long, nuanced, and technical explanations is precisely why I and the rest of your audience loves you.

    • Victoria… you and maybe a handful of other folks…

    • Bob West

      Actually, I think there are a lot of people who like them. I’m certainly one.

      Basically, anyone who reads this blog regularly probably is quite happy with the comprehensive detail you provide. Don’t ever think that it’s not appreciated!


    • Mario Vachon

      Its way more than a handful Peter. While I won’t pretend to understand everything you write, I love the long detailed posts. Your series on cholesterol was a classic example. I need to go back regularly to review those as I tend to forget much of the detail, but those posts are absolutely awesome.

      At least for some of us Peter, you make an enormous difference and we are very grateful.

      I certainly hope your blog’s popularity skyrockets as you have a fantastic message that needs to be out there. Great stuff and thank you.


      • Mario, thanks so much for the kind words. Definitely keeps me motivated to work at this “side project” knowing that it helps people.

    • Peter, I’m not even an athlete, let alone an endurance athlete, and I adore your long posts. Your approach is unique; you don’t talk down to your readers, you back up everything you say, and your writing is clean, direct, and free of gimmicks. With all the misinformation published about nutrition, your blog is a breath of fresh air. I share it with my fitness community every chance I get. Thank you for your latest post, it was fascinating.

      • Very kind of you to say, Laura. Thank you.

    • Joshua Wardrop

      My favorite part of the longer explanations is that you’ll casually mention things ‘we all obviously know’ that I may have forgotten. This reinforces knowledge, and it doesn’t happen in shorter posts that cut to the chase. Talking in depth about comprehensive topics connects all the dots.

    • Ibrom

      I agree with you, Victoria. The ten thousand word posts are very helpful for a complete understanding of the concepts presented here. They are a big reason why I can trust what is presented here.

  • Carol

    There are many points in your talk where you refer to “glycogen” when I believe you mean glucose.

    • Yes, that’s my point in one of the slides. I refer to them almost interchangeably. To be rigorous, glycogen is the storage form (in muscle or liver tissue); glucose is the form that moves throughout the bloodstream and is taken up by tissues.

  • lockard

    what does this all mean for a Type 1 Diabetic? we can control the insulin levels released by shot or pump, can we then max how well we use the conventional products like G-raid? I know Superstarch is the best pick but just wondering how T1 fits in? – thanks for all the information, love your site I think i have read just about everything you have out so far

    • Great question, and one of current investigation. Preliminary data suggest Superstarch may be almost a miracle food for diabetics, including T1D. But more study is necessary to be definitively sure. That said, if you’re going to use it, just be as diligent as you would ingesting any form of starch until you learn your own body’s kinetics.

  • Fi

    Without wanting to sound like some lazy person off the internet (*cough*) – can I just listen to this or do I need to watch and pay attention to? Am doing some drawing and would like to play it at the same time, but if I need to watch the screen I will save it for later.


    • I think you’ll get more if you wait until you have time to watch, too.

  • Sean P.

    You said there’s no reason to supplement fat during exercise, is this true of pure MCT oil too?

    • Great point. During pure fasting workouts, ingesting MCT prior to the workout may generate some extra B-OHB, but I’d be pretty hesitant to ingest any MCT during a workout, given its potential impact on the GI system.

  • John Vogt

    Why is a low carb diet with Superstarch better than just a low carb diet?

  • John Vogt

    I meant to ask, “Why is a low carb diet with Superstarch better than just a low carb diet, in particular for someone who is not trying to maximize athletic performance. I have dropped 30 pounds on a low carb diet but have now plateaued, even though I have at least another 30 pounds to go. Is this product useful if I’m not an athlete?

    • Not really clear, to be honest, John. All testing to date has been done in either kids with GSD or athletes. That said, lots of anecdotal evidence of people (non-athletes) losing weight using the product, perhaps a substitute for normal carb eating. So I don’t really know the answer to your question about an already-low-carb-eater adding it in. But there’s one way to find out…

  • Dave Nelsen

    Peter, nice talk. Currently I can only do about 30 mins of Cardio and 45 mins of weight training. Is there a benefit of the Ucan product for this short of exercise duration? Will it help with food cravings and low blood sugar feelings I sometimes get after cardio? Would I only need if during recover, if at all? Thanks, Dave

    • I believe so, but keep in mind the exact nature of the research to date. I certainly think it is worth the effort to try it out and determine if you achieve a benefit in this setting.

  • Petie

    Is superstarch primary for atheletes, or does it have merit in maintaining a ketonic life style, outside of high physical demands?

    • Just addressed this in a previous comment. Short answer: I think there is merit beyond just high-end performance.

    • Michele

      Thank for the short reply Peter. In response to Petie’s commment, I found the following on the Ucan website concerning superstarch use for purposes other than atheticism:
      “UCAN USE IT ::
      Before and after workouts or athletic competitions
      For everyday energy and steady blood sugar
      As a meal replacement or healthy snack (check out our UCAN recipes)”

  • Jason

    Thanks for the video, looking forward to it.

    I am an ultrarunner and switched to a ketogenic diet 6 months ago. My endurance just keeps improving while being ‘”bonk proof”.

    The one thing I am not clear on is exactly why we need an external source of glucose (such as UCAN) during endurance events. Let us say I stay aerobic for a 12 hour race/run, then what does an external source of glucose (UCAN) do for me ? Is the idea that the body needs more glucose than fat oxidation and gluconeogenesis can provide ? I tried UCAN for one race and took one packet every 3 hrs or so and it seemed to “work” but I could not tell if I would have been fine without it as well (I am not yet a ‘high intensity’ runner during these ultra events).

    I would really appreciate any input any one has to this as this would answer a fundamental issue for me. The winner of Western States this year is a low carb guy but even he apparently did gels during the run. What is this for ?

    Thanks so much,

    • If you can completely control your tempo and stay outside of an anaerobic zone, you may be able to get by 100% of internal fat stores. The reason I don’t do this on the bike is that cycling has too many pick-ups in tempo where it’s necessary to go to 90-95% VO2 max, which always requires some glycogen.

    • Jason

      Thank you Dr. Attia for taking the time to answer my question.

      So basically anaerobic = requirement for external glucose.

      Can the muscles burn fat and glucose at the same time ? They are not mutually exclusive ? Or is the external glucose for the tissues in the body that are always glucose dependent (not able to use ffas/ketones)

      What about protein intake during extended exercise since the body does not “store” amino acids in fat. Do you just let your body canabalize some muscle or should supplemental protein be taken in? These questions are still in a etogenic context of course).

      Thanks again,

      • It’s definitely not mutually exclusive and more of a sliding scale, highly dependent on diet. Take a look at my pre- and post- RQ data with substrate utilization in this post: http://eatingacademy.com/how-a-low-carb-diet-affected-my-athletic-performance

        You’ll note that even above threshold in the post state, I was still able to utilize 30% fat (vs. 100% in the pre). The differences were even more stark below threshold.
        As for protein, during most of aerobic work I, at most, utilize some BCAA and/or some nuts. With weights, I always use BCAA + glutamine.

    • Jason

      Yes of course thank you, you are the man. I keep thinking of not having to eat as “pure” fat burning and forgetting the internal glucose generation/usage from fat oxidation and gluconeogenesis.

      So I guess the million dollar question for each person is how much external glucose supplementation is necessary based on diet and exertion in order to optimize the activity. Knowing one’s RQ would help.

      The last ultra I did Ucan every 3 hrs as the instructions recommended and it worked great, no energy problems. Now does that mean I can do every 4 hrs ? Or not at all ? I guess that is why you have to experiment.

      I one of those people that would prefer to just be able to calculate it beforehand and know I am not underdoing it or overdoing it 🙂

      Thanks again for your responses,

    • Jason

      Finally got a chance to watch the whole video. Very nice and thanks for the overview of how the different body’s energy systems work, very clear and easy to follow.


      • Glad it wasn’t too boring with just my voice droning on and on…

    • Dan Simonelli

      Jason, thanks for pointing this out. I’m working on the same question regarding long distance swimming, whereby usually one is remaining aerobic…and perhaps less need for glucose replenishment…?

    • Erica


      I am just starting to adopt a Ketogenic diet and am wondering how you count using UCan in your diet/target numbers. Also, do you find you need less UCan now on Keto than before? For example, I have been using 3 scoops for a 3.5-4 hour bike ride (not eating anything for breakfast, this was my nutrition for my workout).

      Any info you have that you can share would be greatly appreciated.

  • Eliot

    What about adding BCAAs in with the Ucan? Any need? Will it help assure muscle doesn’t get used in case one is not quite adapted yet?

    • I do this on occasion. I’ll add 6-8 gm of BCAA to the plain (no flavor) variant for in-workout use.

  • Thomas Smith

    Interesting…its not new BSM has had it for several years in the product Volumaize and both Modified Corn Starch, whats the catch guys, thought you were against GMO!!?? Free product right??

    • No so, Thomas. Many other companies have sold waxy maize, but that’s just it, and offers no real advantage over just maltrodextrin. What UCAN does — via a completely novel technique — is hydrothermally treat the high-content amylopectin to generate Superstarch.
      Not sure about the GMO comment and I don’t even want to get into that discussion, as I know too much about this topic to even begin to engage on it right now. As for your smart remark about free product…Yes, you’ve figured me out. This whole thing is one big game to get free product. From anyone! Apparently, someone is sending me free samples of cyanide tomorrow. Can’t wait to try it. Maybe that can be next week’s post? Of course, it better be non-GM cyanide, right?

    • Dave Nelsen

      Thomas, did you watch the video? Peter bends over backwards to explain the nuances of how and why the product was developed and then why the company subsequently entered the sports market. Peter states upfront he is a chronic self experimenter and after educating himself he tested it and liked the results. If you’ve read this blog at all you might find some apt criticisms of Peter (getting his in-laws to buy a Lactate meter as a Christmas present comes to mind), but attention to detail and thorough research wouldn’t be areas of concern. If you have a question or concern put as much thought into it as he will in answering it and you’ll probably get an answer that helps you and others. This site doesn’t need trolls or a lot of snarky comments. Not saying this specifically to you but just as a general rule.

      • Thanks, Dave. I like it when my readers can say it better than I can. By the way, if I never post again after tonight, you’ll know the non-GM cyanide worked 🙂

  • Thomas Smith

    Mistake, that’s BSN

  • Ian

    Interesting stuff. Question about the Roberts et al paper (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20951003), since its not publicly available I can’t read it myself. Was there any discussion about serum NEFA and what it may have looked like in the absence of SuperStartch, i.e. water only? The graph you showed was notably lacking that control, and it would be compelling to see that serum NEFA was statistically the same as a water control, or informative if not…

    • Great question. No, there was no water-only control, though that would have been a good idea. The goal of this study was to test SS against the “gold standard” (i.e., maltodextran).

  • Brian Snyder

    I would really like to see some head-to-head performance outcome clinical trials of super starch vs. Multiple transportable carbohydrates maximized to deliver an optimal dose as Jeukendrup has demonstrated.

    Additionally, the I would argue that the insulin response to CHO feeding independent of source ‘during’ the exercise bout is not an issue since insulin release is blunted and contraction induced GLUT4 is responsible for the bulk of the glucose uptake.

    I cannot recall the specific paper right now, but there are data that rebound hypoglycemia in the pre-exercise period is not detrimental to performance for exercise bouts lasting up to 2 – 2.5 hours. While fat oxidation was blunted in those trial, Jeukendrup’s data suggests that mazimizing carbohydrate oxidation is key to performance (assuming a mixed diet in training).

    All that being said, I do think that super-starch has some potential applications for athletes who are using periodized nutrition, ‘training low’, and for those who have gut issues with higher carbohydrate feedings. As we know there is not a one size fits all approach.


    Roberts et al FYI: http://generationucan.com/pdf/nutrition_Journal_Article.pdf

    • Brian, I think this is a fair point, but it’s important to keep in mind that most of these studies are done in highly trained and highly insulin sensitive subjects, suggesting the results are actually less (relatively) impressive than if they were done in “regular” folks who my not actually blunt insulin response as much. In fact, this may partially explain some of the anecdotal weight loss experienced by many folks using Superstarch as a meal replacement.

  • dave james

    Hi Peter, Any thoughts on below quote I pulled from another website discussing hi protein low carb diets :

    “In addition, research from Beth Israel Medical Center indicates that a similar type of rapid weight-loss diet low in carbohydrates and high in protein may lead to clogged arteries.”

    many thanks

    • 1. Who knows what they are talking about and what kind of “research” they are referring to. I can’t comment without specifics.
      2. Who’s talking about a high protein diet?

  • Neil

    Hi Peter,

    I would like to follow on from Brian’s comments, as he basically asked what I was thinking – That pre-exercise, superstarch might be beneficial in providing a glucose source without spiking insulin and maintaining fat burning as you start. But during exercise, insulin response is still blunted to a large degree, hence, simpler sugars which are more quickly digested and absorbed are often considered better…. The trouble is, the studies on superstarch have only been done on ingestion pre- or post- exercise, not during (for instance, on feedings during an Ironman/TDF?). So its difficult to know whether using superstarch during exercise, as ben greenfield has been trialing, would be superior to normal sports products for any other reason than its osmolality.

    Hence, would it be possible in your opinion, as the product is slow to be absorbed, to calculate your glucose needs over an event (eg ironman over 10 hours burning 50% CHO 50% fat, 400kcal = 100g CHO per hour) = 1000g of superstarch and pre-load, or even half at 500g (10 servings) and then 500g at 50g/hr or more simple CHO during exercise to reduce GI load? Has anyone tried it in this way? Or are you forced to use it like standard CHO titrated across an event?



    • I understand, but keep in mind the GI distress issue. I don’t know if I mentioned this during the presentation, but almost every single “failure” I have witnessed in endurance competition has not been due to cardiovascular “failure” — it’s almost always due to metabolic “failure,” often the result of GI distress preventing adequate replenishment of glycogen. Don’t under estimate the value of ingesting a molecule with a molecular weight of 500,000!!

    • Jason

      Yes! Generation Ucan has provided me a way to take in glucose supplementation during events in a way that does not interfere with my fat burning (no/minimal insulin response) and (finally) allows me to have a stable stomach the entire event. Pre-low carb I would always either bonk or be slowed down/stopped by stomach problems from eating all the carbs.

      The osmolality is one of the main reasons I jumped on Ucan when I first read about it since I had also gone ketogenic.


    • This question also popped up for me… Is the insulin really an issue during a workout? Would be interesting to see the insulin response from the same source in a rest state and during heavy activity, both simple sugars and super starch. With good planning pre workout carbs isn’t a problem as I see it.

      • Probably depends a lot on the intensity of exercise (in this study there were working out really hard) and the conditioning of the athlete (these guys were really fit).

  • Brian Snyder

    “suggesting the results are actually less (relatively) impressive than if they were done in “regular” folks who my not actually blunt insulin response as much.”

    I am interested in the insulin response during exercise comment as most of the papers I have looked into are in relatively fit ‘athletes’ and the insulin response is blunted to CHO feedings during the bout. Are you aware of any data from the non-athlete ‘regular’ folks with CHO feedings during exercise and their insulin response?

    Not that you speak for UCAN, but do they have any studies currently underway?


    (p.s. I really enjoyed your talk at AHS12 about cholesterol. I am still trying to get fully up to speed on that whole aspect of nutrition)

    • You should reach out to the directly (as should anyone with specific questions about UCAN or Superstarch). I know they’d love to hear from folks.

  • Hi Peter,
    Great presentation, I already forwarded it to my skeptical friends.
    Do you have experience or anything to say on the product named VESPA, which suppose to help burning fat ?


    • I don’t and it’s not clear to me how good it is based on the ingredient list. Perhaps someone has some data they could share beyond marketing information.

  • I can tell you I started using this on my longer runs. Anything over an hour. First run was only 8 miles and about 3-4 miles into it I could feel the difference. One data point among many variables but it held true over every run. I ran the La Jolla Half this year with one 16 ounce drink of water and half a packet, back then in the old days they only sold it by the packet… ;), and ran 5 minutes faster than the previous year with no other hydration until mile 12. Less training too. No more Gatorade or Cytomax for me…last marathon it made my sick to my stomach.

    I mentally committed to a half Ironman next year and a full Ironman in 2014 so this post comes at a good time to start getting my house in order regarding fuel, hydration, and performance. I’m in over my head but goal oriented so I can take it easy after the Ironman is checked off the list.

    Since this is a great forum for nutrition and endurance I’d be open to any resources or advice on training articles, sites, etc. I’ve done a few triathlons including LavaMan so I am not starting from scratch but am definitely an age grouper.

    • Great to hear, Tom. You should definitely check out the recent work of Tim Noakes in South Africa. He’s really the guru in this space.

  • Mark

    Hey, Peter.

    I ordered the Superstarch, and have used it on my 2-hour or longer runs. It hasn’t affected my ketosis at all, and I can definitely tell a positive difference. One difference is, and I may just be imagining this, is a much easier recovery. I’m only using it pre-run. Are you aware of it helping with this?

    • Yes, many people do comment on this. You’ll notice this in some of the quotes I shared at the end of the presentation.

  • Dan Simonelli

    Great video, Peter. Thanks for the illumination on this topic. Looking forward to part two and beyond…

    I’m ripe and ready for refining my feeds for longer swims as I recently finished a 10 mile event but ‘bonked’ around mile 7-8 and slogged through the last couple miles. Not fun!
    And although I’m primarily using Ucan, I deviated a bit by sucking on some ‘sports drink’ for the electrolyte replenishment…but I think that screwed me and sent me for a ride on the “rollercoaster”!

    So, swim and learn…but still, my question for you here is, what about electrolyte replenishment for longer duration training/events?


    • Very important question, Dan, and one I didn’t really address in this talk. The nuance, of course, is that electrolyte replacement is highly dependent on diet and activity. For example, someone like me (in ketosis) has a greater sodium requirement. Someone like you, who is ocean swimming, actually has a lower sodium requirement (since you’re ingesting sodium while swimming). On a bike/run, a general rule (though, of course, it depends on humidity and other factors) is to replace between 250 and 500 mg of sodium per hour. My personal routine (good for me, but not necessarily for others, and derived from years of tweaking) is 2 gm of sodium pre-ride and about 100-200 mg/hour. I also keep loaded up on magnesium every day, and don’t supplement during riding. Also, I have found repeatedly that I do not need supplemental potassium if I keep sodium up, but some folks to require potassium to prevent cramping. I recommend MicroK at about 20 mEq pre and post workout, for long workouts (assuming your doctor gives you the “ok”).

  • Greg

    Is this substance similar – Vitargo?
    Its just that the Superstarch is not available in Australia and the Vitargo seems to be similar (and is available in Australia). They talk about the molecular weight being 500,000 to 700,000, which sounds similar to superstarch. They don’t have the clinical studies that superstarch do, but do suggest similar results to superstarch.

    • I am not familiar with their product, but unless they are violating UCAN’s intellectual property, they won’t be able to undergo the same hydrothermal processing. However, I can’t comment on the efficacy without seeing more details than I can glean form their website. It’s possible that it’s just a high content amylopectin, but I can’t be sure.

    • Shane

      Greg – UCAN and Vitargo are quite different. I wasn’t sure at first because they are both high molecular weight starches as you said, but I heard Ben Greenfield cover this on one of his podcasts. If you look at Vitargo’s marketing, they say “Vitargo transports through the stomach faster than any other carbohydrate for an instant surge of energy” and in there clinical studies, they boast a 78% higher insulin response than other carbs (http://www.vitargo.com/clinical-studies/). Basically the exact opposite of what SuperStarch does. I’ve been an avid UCAN user for about 6 months and truly have never experienced anything like it for endurance training. Just a steady flow of energy that leaves me feeling good for several hours. I’ve been training in Spain and ordered UCAN through their international distributor in Spain. Appears they have one in Australia too (http://generationucan.com/international.html)

  • Claire Johnson, M.D.

    Hi Doc,

    Wow. That was a great review. I felt like I was back in medical school. Thanks to you, I have spent the last several months becoming fat-adapted after suffering from severe GI issues at my last ultra (even though I never felt close to bonking) and I will be running my first 100-mile race on Saturday with UCAN in my armamentarium. I wish I could see Part II before that, but I truly appreciate all that I have absorbed from you, Ben Greenfield, Drs. Volek, Phinney, Noakes and more.

    With Gratitude,


    • Good luck, Claire! Jeff Volek and I had dinner tonight here in Jackson Hole. Amazing times and amazing discussions of how many questions we want to be able to answer. Tomorrow we are presenting to the DoD on the possibility of using dietary intervention to improve human performance. I think a 100 mile would classify.

  • TB

    Fascinating content. Thank you.

    Whenever I encounter such an overwhelmingly positive promotion of any product, I instinctively look for the presence of a disclaimer addressing whether or not the author has any financial ties to the manufacturer or profits in any way from the sale of the product. I didn’t see anything like that here. Did I overlook it? I also haven’t read all the comments–you may have addressed this already. In any case, I do think it would be appropriate to have that kind of ethical statement displayed very prominently in a piece such as this one.

    • I did comment specifically on this in the oral part of my presentation. I have zero financial ties to the company producing this product. I agree, this is a very import component of presenting such information.

  • gm

    Hi Peter — Why do you train? (I won’t mind if you want to come back to this at a later date. For me, Dan John’s “to become a better person” has been ringing true lately.)

    • Great question, and certainly worthy of its own post. Short answer, it makes me feel good. I’m not very good at anything and will never be world class at anything, but I love trying constantly find improvements — be it in flipping that tire a little bit faster, or swimming that 200 IM just a bit faster — and it makes me feel great. There are several other reasons. Some of them, perhaps, not healthy, but it’s what I love, I guess.

  • Barbara

    Peter, I have been following you since I first head you on ben greenfield’s website. You are money!!! You and Ben have transformed my training and over all health. I started using Ucan and will not go back to the gels and other stuff I was using. I used it on an endurance event this summer…7 days of 80+ miles a day…in high heat and humidity..no muscle cramps…no bonk….but good sustained energy. The other thing about Ucan is fab customer service as well. You offer a wealth of info….and I love what you do…..keep it comming!!

    • Awesome to hear, Barbara. You’ll enjoy part II of this when it comes out.

  • Mark

    Hi again, Peter.

    I wanted to take some time to comment on my own experience utilizing the information I’ve learned (mostly) from this blog, since I stumbled upon here a few months ago. Not just in body transformation, but also in how it has impacted my physical health and performance.

    I’m 46-years old, and up until four years ago I was tipping the scales at close to 300 pounds. I had the standard North American fast food diet, as well as a habit of slamming down copious amounts of beer. After a visit to my doctor, which showed the expected health profile of someone in my physical condition, I decided to drop the weight and see if I couldn’t get my health improved. So I hit the gym, quit drinking and went on standard low-carb diet.

    With those changes, I dropped down to about 240, plateaued for bit, incorporated the principles in another of Jeff Volek’s books that I haven’t seen mentioned on this blog, “The TNT Diet Plan,” which is essentially a ketogenic diet and resistance training plan. It is a great book for someone like myself, who is largely ignorant of this stuff. Anyway, I dropped down to about 210, but gained roughly ten pounds of muscle over about eight months of using this plan. My diet was very similar to yours, only I consumed half of the calories and 150 grams of protein.

    I kept that weight off, and two years ago decided to start running and training to do a marathon, which I did. During that time, which was about eight months, I ate the standard “runners diet” of high carbs, sports drinks, energy bars, etc. I didn’t gain weight, and actually lost about five pounds, but considering the hours I was running, and the calories I burned, I was amazed that I didn’t drop down further (I’m six feet tall). Over the next couple of years I put in hundreds of miles, as well as a substantial amount of gym time, and I was still doughy. A lot like you (although I’m not a sadist, so I wasn’t putting in three-hour a day workouts!).

    I stumbled upon this blog in March, the same time the snow melted here in Atlantic Canada. I was wanting to improve my time this year, and was desperately looking for a way to drop the twenty or so pounds of flab I still had around my middle. My problem was that I knew I needed carbs to train (because this is what the experts said), but I also knew from experience that I could only lose weight in ketosis. My google search was “exercise + ketosis,” and I found you.

    I was highly skeptical that I could train for cardio in a low carb state, as my past experience was that I didn’t have the energy. A few key changes – sodium supplementation and taking the time to become fully keto adapted – were two changes I made that I know made the difference. A few tweaks to the diet, like adding fat and lowering protein, and my weight dropped down twenty pounds to 190 in three months. Some of that was muscle, but most of it was fat.

    I had my gallbladder yanked in July, which set both the diet and training back a bit. One thing I can about that experience is, it isn’t fun getting re-adapted to ketosis. It took me a month to fully get back to where I was, but now I’m good to go. I’m knocking out twenty-mile runs with nothing but water, and over the last couple of weeks, I’ve downed some superstarch pre-run. My running friends all think I’m crazy for going low-carb, or they did until they saw my improvement (from 10:45 a minute mile last year to 9:45 this week). That’s kind of a sad time for most runners, but considering where I was before, I’m really pleased. I could not have walked a marathon five years ago.

    Most importantly, and why I started exercising in the first place, is my bloodwork (from June) shows I’m good in every category, and my blood pressure is now normal. I feel much more energetic, and can think much more clearly than I ever did. Not just in comparison to my beer and wings diet, but also to my “healthy” high carb diet.

    I’m running the Dallas marathon in December, and the only thing I’ll be ingesting is water and few grams of superstarch. If you had told me last year that I could do that, I would said you were smoking crack. Now I’ve no doubt I’ll finish and beat my earlier times.

    The information you give in this blog is life changing. At least it was for me.

    Thanks, Peter

    • Mark, what an amazing story. Thanks for taking the time to share it with me and others. Please keep us posted on your training and what you learn about Superstarch.

  • Aleisha

    Thank you Peter. I have been using Ucan all summer. I started a low carb, ketogenic diet earlier this year. I lift weights pretty seriously and it was brutal at first on the low carb diet. But if I take the plain before I don’t have any signs of weakness during lifts. Also I can eat two eggs and two pieces of bacon and 1/2 a packet of plain superstarch and then go on a 6 hour hike up in the wilderness between 8000 and 12000 feet(no trails, just bushwacking) and never get weak. I believe in this stuff so much I have decided to train for a marathon(run, walk, run method). I am a 51 year old female who has never competed in anything and since finding this product I can’t stop pushing myself beyond my comfort zone. I ‘m glad you did this post because everyone I tell about Ucan really doesn’t believe me. It’s such a new concept. Now I have a place to send them for a real scientific explanation.

  • Susan

    Hi Peter,
    This is off topic, I know, but is there a reason the time stamp on your comments is set 4 or 5 hours (at least) ahead of San Diego?

    • No idea, but I’m not in San Diego at the moment, if that matters.

  • Mark M.


    Fully researched, and well-thought out response to the Super Starch question. And I would echo what others have said re: preference for detailed, long, nuanced posts / presentations. In an ADD world where accuracy is often sacrificed for the sake of brevity, your approach is actually quite refreshing.

    Quick follow-up question. If I’m understanding all this correctly, of the three energy systems, creatine-phosphate, anaerobic, and aerobic, you really only need carbohydrates to fuel the anaerobic system. Given the anaerobic system tires out after 2-3 minutes, shouldn’t the existing glycogen in your muscles and liver be sufficient to meet the energy needs (I’m assuming that even in an extended period of ketosis, you still have some glycogen in your liver and muscles)? Even if you are repeatedly calling on your anaerobic system (as in an interval swim workout), shouldn’t the duration of each instance be short enough that you wouldn’t need an external source of glucose?

    • Yes, the real problem is when people use glycogen for the bulk of their aerobic needs, also. This is what I refer to as metabolic inflexibility.

    • Eric U.

      “I’m assuming that even in an extended period of ketosis, you still have some glycogen in your liver and muscles”

      Peter, can you comment on this? Do long-term low-carbers actually still carry glycogen, or do they do without completely? If they have some, where does it come from?

      I’ve been curious about that for a while; it’s really not discussed much. There seems to be very little good info on ketosis and exercise outside of this blog ;’>.

      • Phinney, Volek and others have studied and documented this pretty well. In fact, I just reviewed some of this data last week at a meeting. In ketosis, subjects were found to have been 50 and 70% of baseline muscle glycogen. We don’t know the answer for liver glycogen because we can’t really justify doing liver biopsies they way we do muscle biopsies in healthy subjects. Ironically, someone in ketosis gets more out of less glycogen, because of the higher RQ.

  • chris

    That has to be the best answer to the “why train” question. Ever.

  • Maryann

    I think you said that the phone on the left tastes better 🙂

    This was another excellent post, Peter. I, too, llike the long posts. I think that you might consider them to be long because of the great care you take to explain the foundation and knowledge needed to understand the eventual points you intend to make. For someone like me, who has no science background, it is so very much appreciated. You have been able to take me with you as you explain so many amazing things (especially in the cholesterol series). I really appreciate it.

    • Wow, very kind compliment. As you can imagine, I *love* to talk about science. It’s my dream to be able to communicate it in a way that is as exciting to others, also.

  • Martin

    Similar to some of the commenters above, I am quite happy with strict a ketogenic diet (I regularly do blood B-ketone testing and I am consistantly >1mmol) and I don’t seem to have any problems with fueling my ‘sport activities’. What I do is trail running, MTB and bouldering. As I understand super starch might help me with the first 2 of the activities. I wonder, though, what effect it might have on my typical bouldering sessions: when I train indoors, I typically stay in for 1-2hrs and then do several very high intensity climbing rounds (<1min) with a few minutes of rest in between. When doing the actual climbing outdoors, a typical day would consist of a few periods of 2-5 hours each when I basically do the same: climb very hard for <1min, rest for several minutes (I rest longer when climbingf outdoors) and then do it again. There is no doubt that the effort is anarobic and the to be able to sustain it for up to 5 hours (climbing on and off) requires lots of stamina. So far I have felt pretty good on low-carb, supplementing with MCT and BCAA. Should I consider super starch as a supplement for my bouldering days as well? An important factor for me is the body weight (in climbing it's a decisive factor): I know I would gain weight if I eat starches coming from e.g. sweet potatoes, etc. Is there any risk that my body would react similarly to super starches?

  • bill

    The bike on the right is still not as advanced as a recumbent. Recumbent riders have set every bicycle speed record longer than a sprint.

    Riding a recumbent alleviates neck pain, arm and shoulder distress, crotch problems (least of which is numbness) and opens up the lungs compared to a wedgie. The bike and body are in a much more streamlined position and it is safer in a crash.

    4 hours on a wedgie??? Ouch!

  • Canuck

    Hi Peter,

    Another fascinating post – thanks so much! And, I also do love the long posts as well – they fly by, and I think it’s because of how much care you take to incrementally build up to your conclusions, in a language that’s accessible to people like myself, who know very little about this science.

    I do have one brief question. I’m sure it’s a bit basic, but here it is. In your talk, you mention a calorie requirement of approx 750kcal/hr for an athlete exercising at a given VO2 level. You also mention that standard glucose supplementation can only give you about 150kcal/hr, and further, that muscle glycogen stores have a finite storage capacity. So, there’s a ‘calorie gap’. Supposing that an individual is ‘out’ of muscle glycogen and completely ‘fat blocked’ (i.e. can’t access their fat stores for energy), how do they fill this gap? Do they break down muscle protein for energy, or do they just immediately ‘bonk’?


    • Great question, but a complicated one, so bear with me. SO first off, the relationship between VO2 and caloric requirement is pretty constant: every liter of oxygen processes requires about 5 kcal. So, for example, 2,500 ml/min of O2 (that’s about 60% of my max, or a pace I can hold for several hours), requires 12.5 kcal/min or about 750 kcal/hour. The process to bonking is, in fact, quite sudden as anyone who has experienced it will confirm (I have experienced it about 3 times very badly). The path to bonking, though, is not uniform and probably depends on factors like insulin levels, glucagon levels, and intensity of exercise. If exercise intensity is still low enough to access the Krebs cycle *and* if the individual can generate enough substrate *besides* pyruvate (e.g., oxaloacetate), they effect can be blunted, but typically not for long…

    • Canuck

      Thanks Peter – that’s very interesting!

      One quick follow up – what role does protein breakdown have during situations of extreme exertion? If it does play a role, does the presence of carbs like superstarch, or availability of fats for lipolysis (due to low resting levels of insulin), reduce this role?

      I guess the question I’m asking (in the context of my CrossFit workouts) – is, while I’m working out in a keto-adapted state, could I be cannibalizing my own muscle (while simultaneously trying to build muscle via my workouts!)?


      • I just spent a few days with Jeff Volek who shared data suggesting that ketoadapted athletes actually spare protein (AA) more during exercise, especially lysine.

  • Adam

    Hi Peter – thanks for the great material. One big question. I haven’t seen any studies directly addressing differences in performance between the raw amylopectin / waxy maize starch, and the super starch obtained after the proprietary UCAN treatment. You mention in the talk that amylopectin/waxy maize is only an incremental improvement, while super starch is on a different level. But the studies cited compare super starch only to maltodextrin. What I would like to see is a direct comparison to the starting point. Is there material on both the chemical differences and differences in physiological affect? Seems worth investigating, as waxy maize / high amylopectin starch sells for about 1/8th the cost.

    • It was effectively done in the internal study comparing argo starch to SS. Argo starch is about as complex a carb as you can find in nature. Based on molecular weight, the difference between amylopectin and SS is significant, but of course a head-to-head would need to confirm it. Keep in mind how complex malto is, though, and this has been tested.

  • Bob West

    Hi Peter,
    Probably someone has already mentioned this, but the list of links to comments on the right side of each page seems to be missing now. This is a great tool to keep track of comments to different posts throughout the blog. Just FYI.


    • Having trouble with the plug-in at the moment.

  • Chmee

    An excellent, very imformative presentation.

    However, you should know that ‘Bonk’ and ‘Bonking’ has an entirely different meaning this side of the pond in the UK, as you said but did not explain. Over here, it is slang for sex ! 🙂 Read the right ( or should that be the wrong ? ) way, some of the comments above abbout bonking in races were hilarious. Though maybe that’s just my warped sense of humour.

    I thought you should be told, as we say.

    Thanks and keep up the good work.

    • Ah, yes, sorry for the confusion…I guess on your side of the Atlantic what we calling bonking you probably call call “hitting the wall.”

  • Heather

    Hi, Peter:

    Another T1 diabetic question here (a little tangential, perhaps, but your slide on insulin response to SS triggered it).

    I’m almost two months into an attempt at a ketogenic diet — following all your (and Phinney/Volek’s) dietary guidelines but failing to reach ketosis (according to my meter). Despite very conscientious efforts to stay in range, my blood sugar regularly goes higher than 6-7 mmol/L, as a result of non-food-related variables — including, perhaps, the physiological stress of changing my diet so radically. Do elevated BG levels and/or the insulin taken to lower them block the production of B-OHB? If so, do you happen to know the rough BG and/or insulin concentration levels at which this would occur?

    I’m not feeling miserable, but neither am I experiencing the great benefits of ketosis that I’ve been reading about.

    Very interesting video! I’m not enough of an endurance athlete to be interested in high-tech dietary interventions, but your lecture style is terrifically engaging.


    • As a T1D Heather you will need to probably work very closely with your doctor. Also, look the work of Dr. Richard Bernstein. This may also be a good resource for you: http://asweetlife.org/blogs/

    • Heather

      Thanks, Peter … yes, I’m familiar with both Bernstein’s book and the Sweet Life blogs.

      Unfortunately for me, neither my GP nor my endocrinologist is particularly knowledgeable about low-carb/ketogenic nutrition, and none of the specialists I’ve had has ever been available for “working closely.” 🙁 So I’m doing this on my own, with all my info coming from books and the (always risky) Internet.

      I realize you’re not able to provide individual advice — hence my attempt at a more generic wording with my question! — but if you happen to have any relevant medical connections in Vancouver, BC, I’d be most interested.


  • Mark

    We made some turkey gravy with superstarch last night. I’ll be dipped if it didn’t come out perfect.

    • According to the company, heating Superstarch beyond a certain temp, perhaps 200 F can cause the structure to denature and revert to just amylopectin. Check in with them on the details.

  • Liz

    Loved every geekin’ moment of it. I’m a LCHF keto-adapted ultra runner looking for a good fueling solution for very long runs and races … have just started to play with UCAN and am thrilled to know [thanks to you] that it won’t disrupt my hard-won state of ketosis. Am looking forward to giving it a full-blown try at my next 24-hour race in three weeks.

    Thanks for the good work. Excited to see the follow-on interview too. 🙂

  • SteveL

    I went on a low carb diet about a year ago. I went wheat free about three months ago. I recently had my yearly physical and my HDL went from 46 to 63 and my LDL from 70 to 80 with my triglycerides going from 48 to 33. All this with no real change in exercise levels just diet. I eat butter, red meat, fish, chicken, coconut milk…

    • Alex Li

      Good to hear your result. And yet this article is still attacking Saturated Fat

      Can somebody write a rebuttal please?

      • The problem with this — and most studies that attempt to study if SFA or even trans fats are harmful — is they don’t control for the other stuff folks eat. I’m not saying trans fats are not harmful. They may be. But there’s no proof. Folks who eats lots of trans fat eat a lot of processed foods. Same is generally true for SFA (except for a few low-carbers and ketogenics). So SFA and trans fat consumption is really a marker for bad eating habits. Chips, cookies, crackers, etc. This is an interesting study, no doubt, but all it does is suggest a Med Diet is better than eating junk food.

  • Elenor

    Peter, I am SOOOO not a runner or serious body builder. I do Doug McGuff’s “Body by Science” weightlifting once a week — lifting very heavy weights for a 56-yr-old, overweight (280-pound {wince}) woman, but not for an actual bodybuilder. Maybe someday but, fer shure, not yet! I do an hour of water aerobics twice a week (and sprint like hell for … well, I’m up to nearly two minutes total over a couple of bursts). I am not considering taking SS and certainly don’t foresee taking up running pretty much ever. Those descriptions given: I *absolutely* read (and benefit from!) your great-long blog entries and all the comments, every single time you post! I found you through Gary Taubes (who saved my life, as I see it!); and your blog is an important part of my focus on health, whether or not your entries apply directly to my situation. Please keep doing great-long posts — they are beyond valuable!

  • Henry

    One thing I’m trying to find more about where SS is concerned is to what extent it will give potential for muscle growth. Taking the view that carbohydrates are ‘necessary’ for muscle gains with resistance training, would the post-workout protein variant be a way of getting these necessary carbs without leaving ketosis?

    I’d like to stay in ketosis, but gain some muscle, and if this were possible using super starch, I’ll be trying all I can to get hold of some (in the UK).

    • I’m not sure that view (as logical as it sounds) is backed by science. In fact, Volek has published work directly contradicting that. That said, I use SS + protein post lifting 3 times per week. Look forward to hearing about your experience.

    • Ilya K

      I’ve read that you also use it during some of your longer workouts, but not pre-work out. Is there a reason for that?

      During your longer workouts, do you just keep a bottle of SS+water (or whatever) mix and sip on it starting at a certain point? I haven’t seen anything about using SS during a workout, only fuel pre- and post. As a long distance runner, my general question would be, what’s the amount/timing you intake of SS during a long workout.

      • For 3+ hour rides, I generally consume a pack every 2 hours or so. See my posts on the interplay of exercise and ketosis for some particulars by workout.

    • ryry


      My main training partner and myself have been using a ketogenic diet for the past 7 weeks. We are both athletes and already in “good” shape. We started this with the intent of taking it beyond the typical 10days -3 weeks we had used it for in the past ( in an attempt to accellerate fat loss to move down a weight bracket in wrestling).

      In the past 7 weeks we have both gained a noticeable amount of muscle while decreasing total body fat. I dont need a caliper.. the fat loss is VERY obvious as is the muscle gain. The fat loss was expected; the muscle gain was not. I use to tell people it was impossible to gain lean mass on a keto diet because thats what i had read. In our 2 cases its just not true.

  • Jamie

    Hi Peter,
    I am a dietitian and I am currently researching glycogen storage disease. What is the name of the supplement that was created using the hydrothermally modified starch for treatment of children is GSD? Also, have you heard of patient’s with GSD using UCAN?


    • Reach out to the folks at UCAN directly. I don’t recall the name of the sister company, but UCAN spun out of it, I believe. Yes, many kids with GSD are using SS.

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  • ryry


    Wow, awesome place you have here! I am constantly referring people to your page. I wish you would have started this page 3 years ago but more importantly i hope to see what the next 3 years will bring!

    I am having trouble finding answers to my question of

    ” is it simply total, daily perhaps, insulin output (i dont think thats the right term) that dictates my staying in ketosis”?

    I know some people are more sensitive to carbs than others. Timing also seems to play a part. In your personal studies were you able to determine a “ceiling limit” of carbohydrate that you could consume and remain keto-adapted? Ive read the articles and see that you were consuming around 90gms but did you try more? is there theoretical benefit?

    If i were to consume 70gms/day of cho would i be better off eating it in one meal and then returning to ketosis or am i better off having the cho trickle in throught out the day? with ucan it seems the blunted insulin response is the ticket? could i mimic the insulin response and total cho intake via simply having one bite of oatmeal, every hour on the hour? Boy, that sounds a little much but i think you can see where i am going with this. How about a slower digesting cho paired with fat to slow digestion rates? would it be possible to consume increased amounts of SS if you were to even further increase the absorbition via smaller (but more frequent) dosages? Using the above example of oats..you could potentially do the same thing with super starch? can i be walking around with high muscle glycogen levels, training hard and still be keto-adapted? is there a major flaw in this reasoning? please feel free to tear this apart if im overlooking the obvious.

    Is there an advantage to consuming SS peri-workout as opposed to simply having the muscle glycogen in place ahead of time via consumption of SS or other glycogen replenishing cho? Is the SS “brain fuel” or simply a little bump to my muscle gycogen reserves?

    I am a strength and conditioning coach, gym owner and washed up athlete 🙂 .

    My current sport/devotion is grappling (folkstyle/american wrestling and brazillian jiu-jitsu). I have found that as long as my training doesnt revolve around really high lactate-type training sessions (read: a typical wrestling practice) and instead is a more carefully planned template of skill work, low-volume strength work, reactive/dynamic strength work while avoiding lactate realms and finally most work being done in aerobic intensity zones then my lactate thresh hold continues to rise, along with all of the other performance markers we use (run times, fast/heavy lifts or lifts performed at 50-90%1rm, broad and vert jumps, various weight lifting movements etc).

    with wrestling, work low seems counter intuitive at first..until you realize that it is possible, as you know, to reach a heightened state of improvement via other means. power output is a must in wrestling but i find that in such a mixed sport one does not need to be preoccupied with lactate power/capacity if you are able to improve skill, aerobic capacity and power,LT and short term power. Im not taking anything away from the lactate demand of a sport like wrestling (you need it) but more and more I find the american training system of “just do everything as hard as you can” really doesnt cut it for most sports. wrestling/grappling isnt any different.

    Thanks for letting me share and sorry for the single question that turned into 20 of them 😉


    • To a first order approximation, pancreatic output of insulin certainly plays a big role in determining if and how much the liver converts fat into ketone bodies. So timing of meals that stimulate insulin matters and so, too, do other factors. For example, while exercising insulin levels are depressed, so one might tolerate a higher amount of “daily carbs” if ingested while exercising (assuming the type of exercise is vigorous enough to suppress insulin secretion and/or increase insulin sensitivity). You may find my posts on the interplay of exercise and ketosis helpful.

  • PW

    Just starting using SS 1/2 hour before my 2-3 hr. cycling. Too small a sample size so far, but I rarely need more than water to sustain my ride pace.

    My question is post-ride. I drink a protein shake with 20-30 gram of fat and 40-50 grams of protein right after the ride. I then eat some eggs cooked in coconut oil an sausage an hour or so later. I’m definitely eating low carb (less than 50 grams a day).

    Q1: Do I need to add some carbs or calcium (supplement or cottage cheese) to the post ride protein/fat shake?
    Q2: What’s an inexpensive way to monitor if I’m maintaining ketosis and to what level?

    Thanks for all the help.

    • Q1 is too detailed for a quick answer. Q2 – only real way to do so is via blood testing. Each test is about $2 to $2.50.

  • PW

    Now that’s a quick reply!
    Am I correct is thinking the science shows a positive correlation between calcium levels and the body’s predisposition to use fat as its preferred energy source?
    Does the science show a correlation between post-exercise blood glucose levels and the body’s ability to restore/repair muscle?

    My Q1 was based on this information that I’ve seen in multiple places and am now trying to chase down the science.

  • Hey Peter,

    Other than the 2011 study…

    Ingestion of a high-molecular-weight hydrothermally modi?ed waxy maize starch alters metabolic responses to prolonged exercise in trained cyclists

    …..has there been any other research into the performance effect of superstarch.

    The The metabolic responses look very interesting but the performance observations from that study were underwhelming.

    From the study….

    Time trial performance

    Upon completing the 150-min cycling bout, cyclists performed a time trial at 100% VO2peak to fatigue. Paired-samples t tests revealed that there was no difference between the HMS and MAL trials (HMS 125  28 s, MAL 136  27 s, P ¼ 0.66).

    Doug Robb aka @HealthHabits

    ps Big fan of NuSI

    • No, not yet. There are, I believe, studies ongoing, but this is the only external study. (Lots of internal data, of course, but not validated.)

  • Sam

    I feel sort of out of depth discussing these things with you guys (a lot of very smart people here!) but I have a pretty dumb question… at around 18:00 minute mark you discuss the fact that it is basically physiologically impossible to ingest sufficient carbohyrdates without getting “gut-rot”… I guess what has me scratching my head is that I have ingested PLENTY of carb rich foods, sodas, sugars, etc without vomiting, cramping, or other stomach problems (except for an ever-expanding waistline). Mind you, I’ve never done so during a serious endurance exercise. Is there something about the products you’re discussing that makes them less digestible than other forms of carbohydrates? Is there something about endurance sports that makes food absorption more difficult? I’m sorry if this is an obvious question but I think I am missing something here. Also thank you very much for doing this I love reading your posts!

    • Sam, it’s mostly a function of the demand for substrate once glycogen stores are depleted. So this only applies to marathon and ultra-distance (which is my athletic background). It becomes impossible to ingest comfortably and digest calorie for calorie the demands of these activities, if you have to rely solely on glycogen. Even with the eating you describe, I doubt you were trying to ingest more than about 1 gm/hour — hour after hour — while under significant metabolic demand (i.e., when your body is preferentially sending blood to non-splancnic circulation). So certainly, someone can sit down and eat 100 gm of carb in 30 minutes and feel ok, this is not really possible when running/biking/swimming, and doing so hour after hour.

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  • Tommy

    It sounds like this product is better used for longer training say two plus hours. But would this product provide a substantial bennifit to me while i only practice two hours per day and spend anywhere from five to twenty minutes in a race?

    • Anecdotal reports would suggest so, but the clinical data, which are limited, suggest a preference for aerobic work.

  • Alex

    Hi Peter,
    I’ve been following your blog for some time now after reading Taubes’ eye opening book “Why We Get Fat”. You say you use BCAAs during weight training. What product do you use because I have a no flavor BCAA powder and there is no way in hell I could drink that straight. It’s way too bitter. I use bulk powder as it is more cost effective than pills.

    Thanks so much for all the effort you put into your blog and educating the public. Can’t wait to see what NuSI will bring to the table!

    • I’ve tried 3 or 4 different brands. Frankly, they all taste (and smell) horrible.

  • JT

    thanks for turning me on to UCAN. i have been on VLC diet for approx 2 months and have really struggled with my higher intensity cycling workouts prior to using superstarch. for instance, 2×20 threshold intervals were a real struggle to complete and power was dramatically lower (15%) than pre-VLC diet levels. that changed when i started using SS. threshold power during intervals has improved and is now approaching pre VLC levels. i’m not sure if i can attribute it entirely to SS or there has been some ‘adaptation’ effect, but i am certainly feeling better about the diet change and impact (or lack thereof) on higher intensity cycling performance.

    one question — if i’m trying to optimize ketosis for fat metabolization, should i avoid using SS as a post-workout recovery supplement? the concern would be that i’d be metabolizing some glucose when i could be back metabolizing mostly fat…


    • JT, in my experience SS has minimal impact on ketone production, especially when consumed during and right after workouts.

  • Rick

    Really love your blog, the data is presented in a way that I fell like I can grasp. Most data I have seen in the past is beyond my highest grade achieved, this is a breath of fresh air and I feel like I can eliminate that ” throw it at the wall and see what sticks” approach I feel like I have been doing with my diet .

    Nothing feels better than understanding the plan.

    That said, I have a couple more questions. I added in the heavy cream for a calorie boost and saw an immediate increase in my keytone throw( urine sticks). I am switching to the blood meter, and I believe you said that you meter daily? How necessary is this? I get the desire to constantly ” make sure” but I am concerned tha I might carry this same desire to see it daily into the VERY expensive blood sticks.

    Also, my exercise is an aggressive regiment of heavy Olympic style lifting and explosive cardio( CrossFit). In my switch to LCD and Nutritional Ketosis I have seen a dramatic loss of stamina. This has not manifested itself into a loss of strength but it may come, is SS a potential answer to this type of workout? I realize you have said you feel it best suited for aerobic but wanted your thoughts on this if possible?

    • It’s certainly note “necessary” to meter daily, but I’m the most OCD person on earth, and I love to measure responses constantly. But it’s a costly habit!
      Though it took a while, I can do every form of exercise I did on high carb without many carbs, but it a long time to adapt.

  • Chris

    Thanks for the great information. I have recently moved away from First Endurance EFS shots to Vitargo. AS an ultra runner, my concern is amino acids. You mention you add BCAA to your UCan mix. Can you speak to the need for l-glutamine? I notice that EFS shots have L-Glutamine, Lecine, IsoLeucine, and Valine. The closest I can find to this is Hammer Nutrition’s Endurance Amino. It has L-Leucine, L-Isoleucine, L-Valine and Glutothione. Do you think the latter supplement will suffice in addition to a super starch, to protect muscles during long events and training runs? Thanks again for your great site.

    • The key with adding other supplements is not to contaminate them with sugar. So if you add stuff, try to keep it “clean.”

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  • Gunhild

    On the UCAN website SuperStarch is described as: “SuperStarch is a complex carbohydrate (derived from non-GMO corn) that uniquely stabilizes blood sugar and causes virtually no reaction from the fat-storage hormone insulin.” So, that sounds a lot like the properties of jerusalem artichokes, due to the inulin? So I was wondering wether artichokes (beside being prebiotic) does not interrupt nutritional ketosis? I have searched for an answer high and low on the internet, but can’t seem to find it, so I hope someone here can help. Couldn’t even generate at result searching this side for “inulin” or “polysaccaride”!
    BW Gunhild

  • Gunhild

    Sorry for my mis-spelling. Of course “polysaccharide” (with an “h”) refers to the glossary.

  • On sports drinks:
    Food/drink works at the ultra-marathon class event. A school I worked at had 50 mile snowshoe races. (Gr. 10-12) About every 5 miles the kids (and me) could choose from water, dilute juice, bread + honey sandwiches, bananas and oranges. I worked on a basis of 1 sandwich per 6 miles.


    This is stuff done at barely an aerobic rate. E.g. Typical winning times for the race was 11.5-14 hours, depending on snow conditions.


    Consider if you mixed super-starch half and half with ordinary flour. (Would require much filddling with recipes.)

    Now that danish you got with your coffee that caused the glucose spike, and insulin spike, would become a smaller spike, followed by a much smaller crash. Is this a possible action?

    Doing this enmasse would require inexpensive sources of super starch.

  • Hi Peter, I have listened to your podcast interviews many times over and have been experimenting with a high fat gel made of cocoa butter/powder and coconut oil with vanilla and stevia added for taste. In constant small amounts this mixture is safe for the stomach and can sustain me on a long run easily. Do you think using UCAN in combination with this high fat mixture offers a beneficial advantage? I have only so far used the protein UCAN for recovery after a long day.

    • The benefit of SS in this setting since, I assume, your RQ is already quite low is that it provides substrate to the glycolitic pathway without compromising your beta oxidative pathway. So depending on you activity, this could be helpful.

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  • Phil Earnhardt

    Do you know of any studies currently being conducted with T1D and superstarch?

    I understand that Generation UCAN cannot make direct recommendations for the treatment of diabetes. At the same time, it would seem appropriate for them to promote some diabetic athletes — individuals who could safely tell their stories about using the product.

    I’m a newbie to your blog. I personally hate the similarity of the names T1D and T2D. They are very different diseases — especially when pre-diabetic (precisely, pre-T2-diabetic) is injected into the conversation.

    • I believe they are looking very closely into this. Agree with you completely about the nomenclature. The diseases have almost nothing in common — one is autoimmune, the other is a disease of insulin resistance.

  • Christopher Kelly

    Hi Peter, fantastic presentation, many thanks for making it public. I’ve recently started Superstarch with very positive results but my coach remains skeptical. He watched the video and sent me this message, I’ll paste it verbatim, any thoughts?

    He makes a dramatic omission around minute 20 that dogs the rest of the presentation. When you are doing hard endurance exercise, your muscles can take up glucose as fast as your gut can absorb it. There’s no glucose spike and no insulin spike when glucose is consumed while exercising HARD. At 80% of maximum heart rate, there is a mild insulin response after glucose consumption. Much less than at rest, but some. If he was right, there’d be no way people could do 8-hour rides on GU or Cytomax without bonking, but they do. 
    The studies at minute 46 and 49 are irrelevant to during-exercise feeding (see above). If the take home message is that superstarch is better than glucose for the pre-ride meal, that would be correct. If it suggests superstarch is better than glucose during exercise, that would be an unjustified conclusion. A preride meal of any low-glycmic carbohydrate source would be equally good. If you prefer superstarch to brown rice, lentils, rolled oats and so on, use it. It is good, but it’s not magically different than other things you could eat.
    We’ve known for at least 15 years that pre-exercise consumption of high-glycemic foods suppresses fat metabolism during exercise. That’s why I advise saving the athletic energy products until you are well along in the warm up rather than using them as pre-race snacks. 
    He makes an observation and unsubstantiated assertion about it’s meaning around minute 28. He notes that the power he produces at the 50% fat-50% carb fuel source transition increased from 125W to 275 and asserts it was because of dietary changes. That would also be the expected response to a good aerobic training program, so unless he had been training for a few years and didn’t change his training at all when he changed his diet, we don’t know if he’s right in the attribution of cause.

    • The issue is one of glycogen sparing. SS offers no advantage in exercise over glucose on a per carbon basis, of course. The point is 1) it’s easier to ingest because of the osmotic effect, and 2) its use spares glycogen by lowering RQ, so you need LESS glucose for the same exertion. Metabolic flexibility is the issue. To your coach’s point at the end, there was no change in training. This difference was dietary (in my case).

  • Jim

    I have a question about using SuperStarch Generation UCAN in conjunction with Whey Gold Standard nutritional supplement. The trainer my 16 year old daughter is working with has suggested rouse these two products together before and after workouts. My concern is using both these products together. My daughter is trying to loose weight but I am concerned about ingesting too many supplements to support her objectives.

    • I’m not familiar with that particular protein, though it’s reasonable to consume up to about 20 gm of protein immediately post workout.

  • Christopher Kelly

    Hi Peter, I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to respond to my coach’s questioning. I’ve no idea how you find the time to respond to all these questions but I’m very glad you do. SS is a game changing product for me and I never would have discovered it without the fantastic content you post here. Keep up the good work.

    • I’m so happy to hear that, Christopher. Thanks for sharing.

  • tatertot

    Hi, Peter – Wanted to talk with you about SuperStarch if you have a moment. We were discussing Resistant Starches at Free the Animal and your name came up.

    Do you know if this SuperStarch is the same as Generation UCan’s SuperStarch? http://www.dfepharma.com/en/Excipients/Starch/Partly-pregelatinised-maize-starch.aspx#tab-overview Seems strange they could share a trademarked name.

    Anyway, it doesn’t really matter. What I’m curious about is if you’ve looked into using Hi-Maize Resistant Corn Starch or even just plain old potato starch in the same way you use SuperStarch.

    We’re finding that the Hi-Maize and Bob’s Red Mill Potato Starch are 50-80% Resistant Starch with no glycemic load. Our interest in RS isn’t performance, but glucose control, cholesterol and lipid metabolism, weight loss, and gut microflora support.

    We’ve found that it takes about 30-50g/day of an RS to garner the full benefits. Do you know the approximate RS content of SuperStarch?


    • The link you’ve provided is a different company/product than that of Generation UCAN. Unless they are infringing on UCAN’s intellectual property for hydrothermal treatment, their product is therefore different. As far as RS, I do not know how much, if any, RS is in UCAN’s product, but it would definitely be worth asking them directly. It is worth noting, however, that one thing that separates UCAN’s product from other variants is the following feature pairing:

      1. It is very slowly broken down, *but*
      2. Is is fully absorbed.

      This is important for 2 reasons. There are many products that meet condition #1 (but not #2) — RS is a great example in the most extreme state; conversely, most glucose loads meet #2 (but not #1). The former is problematic for performance (or Glycogen Storage Disease, which is what UCAN’s product was developed for) because the athlete (or patient) can’t actually access the glucose they need and the purpose of supplemental glucose is defeated. The latter is problematic for all the reasons we know pertaining to glycemic control, osmolarity, osmolality, and impact on lipolysis.

      So…without really answering your question, hopefully I’ve addressed the confusion…a RS is not really what an athlete wants (or someone with GSD wants) because they actually do need the glucose — the key is giving it to them slowly and in a completely sustained release pattern.

    • tatertot

      Your explanation was great! I can see why you were as excited about SuperStarch as I was about resistant starch.

      Corn starch contains two types of molecules of interest here; amylose and amylopectin. The brand Hi-Maize is starch from specially bred corn very high in amylose. It is treated somehow with hot water to make the amylose stable at baking temperatures.

      If one eats Hi-Maize (or potato starch) by itself, there is zero glucose spike. Somehow the Generation UCan folks figured out how to make it so their product doesn’t completely resist digestion. The fact that it doesn’t spike blood sugar tells me it contains a good bit of uncooked amylose (a resistant starch), making it an awesome prebiotic. Thanks for bringing this product to our attention!

      In the optic of using RS for prebiotic purposes, we have found that adding 3-4TBS a day of Hi-Maize or potato starch to a smoothie, milk, or other cold food gives one the optimal amount, based on much research, to grow the beneficial gut microbes found in probiotics. Sounds weird, but lots of research done on this out there!

      Thanks again.

      • The UCAN process begins with select WM that is specifically chosen because of its proportion of amylopectin, typically north of 97%, and ideally north of 99%. This ensure the digestibility aspect, but says nothing of the slow release. The slow release properties are “created” by the hydrothermal process described in their patents. So a high amylopectin:amylose ratio in WM will ensure digestibility, but doesn’t portent a statement about GI/GL. Sounds like the RS properties you mention are optimizing for something slightly different.

  • Bob Armstrong

    This is a copy of a note that I sent to UCAN I hope that it helps someone, by the way thanks to you, I decided to trial it!

    A history of Food Intolerances and Swimming

    My grandson, Nat, had difficulties with a variety of foods from an early age.
    Never the less he was always very energetic and from an early age took to
    swimming like a duck to water. At the age of 6 he also became involved in
    Rugby. At both sports he excelled.

    At the age of 8 he joined a local swimming club and was quickly moved on to
    an associated elite club, located some 22 miles away from our home.

    By the age of 9 he was one of the top swimmers in the country in his age
    group. For a number of reasons, we took the decision to move him to another
    club when he was 10, where he continued to flourish.

    However about 6 month after moving clubs he went into to full flush of
    puberty, rather early but the medical advice was to let it ride.
    From that time on his intolerances seemed to intensify, with food flushing
    through him at such a rate that toilet visits were in excess of 10 a day, and up
    to 17 times on a bad day. We used to joke that it was his best friend!

    We sought medical help, but were told his problems were simply IBS and he
    had to learn to live with it. We sought to isolate the aggravating foods and
    eliminated eggs, dairy and cereals, which reduced the level of issue but did not
    completely resolve it.

    His swimming generally improved, however he had a stamina issue that
    showed up when swimming in 50 metre pools, in 25 metre pools he was
    almost untouchable, in the longer pool although very good, he was not
    amongst the top handful in the region.

    When swimming in training or competition he was known for giving
    everything, to the extent that he could struggle to get out the pool or throwing

    When he was 12 we moved him to his current elite club. After about three
    months there was an incident in a land training session, when he collapsed and
    was taken to hospital by ambulance to be checked. They found nothing wrong
    and he was released much later that evening.

    In the same year, at the County Championships at the end of a 400 im race,
    which he easily won, he collapsed , I thought, as I generally did, that he was
    hyperglycemic and gave him sugary drinks and sweets. He appeared to be fully
    revived after about half an hour. Because of this his doctor insisted that he
    took no further part in the championship (which finally won the overall
    championship, although he had completed less than half of his events.)

    There then followed several weeks of checks and tests at the hospital, as
    everyone was convinced that he could have a severe heart problem. After all of
    the tests etc. he was found to be OK and was allowed to continue swimming.
    An interesting finding was his resting heart rate was 24/25, when awake, and
    could peak out at 220+ under extreme stress, which illustrates his fitness.

    Over the next 12 months his stamina level fell and he was once again refered
    to hospital where he was found to have a “complex series of food
    intolerances/allergies.” His weight had crashed, he was constantly tired and
    his school work had deteriorated.

    In early September 2012 all normal food was withdrawn for a period of six
    weeks and he was put on Elemental 08 reinforced with Duocal, a foul
    concoction which is normally taken by tube, but Nat took it orally, consuming 7
    litres a day plus 2 litres of water. He kept swimming, but his performance
    was, for him, poor.

    I ought to say, his coach has been and continues to be very supportive and is a
    major factor in Nat continuing with swimming and what follows.

    After 6 weeks we were told to reintroduce foods one at a time, each for three
    days. If a food is tolerated he could have as much of it as he wants, whenever
    he wants. If he finds that he cannot tolerate a food wait for his body to settle
    down before trying the next food on the list.

    Every time his body objects, Nat is ill for at least 5 days, he has diarrhoea,
    stomach cramps, tiredness, sickness, lacks focus etc.

    We are now nine months on and we find that he cannot tolerate: Fructose (so
    he cannot eat fruit,) all cereals (no bread, cakes etc.,) dairy (including lactose
    free,) eggs, nuts, all starch (so no root vegetables, potatoes and many other
    foods) and pork. He experienced a lower reaction to beef and chicken.

    What he can eat is lamb, turkey, fish (including shell fish,) cabbage and similar
    vegetables, broccoli, brussel sprouts, glucose, sucrose (yes it does contain
    fructose but the level is lower than the glucose which seems to facilitate its
    acceptance.) A combination of this is used for one meal a day together with
    the 7 litres of Elemental 08 with Duocal and sucrose as a supplement in the
    form of Kendal Mint Cake and/or Fox’s Glazier Mints. This was the position
    until Monday 29th April 2013 when we tried Superstarch.

    I had read somewhere in my various periods of research a reference to
    Superstarch and had, it appears, stored it away and it suddenly came to mind. I
    could not remember its name or what is was but found a reference to it again, (your blog)
    thanks to Google. Having located a source I ordered some and got Nat to try it
    on the 29th April in his training session.

    The effects were dramatic, I have not seen him train, as he did that night on a
    very heavy 2½ hour session, so well for years. At the end of the session he
    jumped out of the pool, full of energy and hugged me thanking me for finding
    this stuff. All this benefit and no reaction, but there are two more days of
    testing to do. I told his coach what we were testing. She was sceptical that it
    would help.

    Tuesday no reaction, other than in the pool, however it was a light session,
    could this be an answer?

    Wednesday, a very heavy 3 hour session, Nat flew. He set several training PBs,
    including improving his 50 metre breaststroke kick time by 5 seconds. At the
    end of the session he was slightly dehydrated, but bouncing. This is the
    answer to our prayers!!

    Nat’s observations of the effects are:
    He had endless energy, when he knew that “lactose was about to kick in,” he
    felt slightly odd (whatever that means) and then he had a “sugar type rush,” at
    the end of the session he could easily have carried on for another hour, his
    muscles were “pumped up,” but did not ache as usual and he felt so fresh that
    maybe he “didn’t work hard enough,” although his “times said differently.” He
    needed to increase his hydration, by about 50% but fell short on Wednesday
    because of the tight turnaround times on some sections. He also says that he
    “breaths deeper.”

    I don’t know about the experience of others, although I have read much of
    what some say, but do know that UCAN have facilitated one 15 year old, none
    endurance, sportsman to be able to compete in his chosen sport on an “even
    playing field or pool.” Nat should not be able to tolerate this starch, but he
    can, so for others who have corn or starch intolerance, my advice is “suck it
    and see.”

    I would recommend anyone involved in sport, to ditch your sports drinks and
    move on to this remarkable product.

    I have written this because I believe others, in similar situations to Nat, should
    be encouraged and enabled to strive for their dreams.

    Bob Armstrong (in UK) 1st May 2013
    A proud and happy grandfather

  • I loved hearing the info presented!! I agree this Superstarch product is the solution athletes have been needing! Thanks!!

  • Suki

    Would you recommend SS pre-workout, peri-workout, or post workout for a heavy weight lifting session? How do you use SS for intense heavy weight workouts?

    Amazing blog! I am very grateful for the time and information that you provide.


    • See Q&A of video in most recent post, where I answer.

    • Heidi

      Hi Dr. Attia,
      Your blog and the information contained withing are amazing. My question is the same as Suki’s question and I’m not certain if the answer you gave is that you address is during the Q & A portion of the video or if there is another post. I’ve listened to the video and did not hear this addressed.
      I apologize for being a PIA but this info is helpful.

      Thank you!

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  • Hal

    Peter, thanks so much for doing this website! I would like to submit the following question for you to consider addressing in a future post:

    For non-diabetic people on nonketogenic diets, is exercising before breakfast a bad strategy? Does it cause loss of muscle tissue? Are there any fueling strategies (e.g, protein and/or super starch) that would make such exercise safer if it is not safe?

    From the moderate amount of reading that I have done of your posts and comments, you have pretty much answer this question for people in NK. But there is much confusion in the literature over this question.

    The post could discuss how blood glucose level is regulated during sleep for non-NK people. Which hormones are released to increase blood glucose during sleep if they get too low?. Is insulin released during sleep to reduce levels if those hormones release too much glucose, or do those hormones inhibit insulin release? If your fasting blood glucose is higher than your glucose level was before sleep, is your insulin level high in the morning? The post could also discuss when Gluconeogenesis occurs, and what substrates it uses.

    HERE IS MY CONTEXT: 53 yr, obese white male, 6’2″, 245 lbs, 44″ waist, 48″ belly, muscular long legs, lost 55 lbs over the last year on a slow-carb diet (35% fat, 30% protein, 45% slow carbs such as yams, quinoa, Ezekiel bread, converted rice, whole gain pastas, yogurt, veggies, 2 frutis/day). 45 mins of exercise before breakfast, which my doctor does not like at all! Exercise before breakfast cuts my hunger for most of the day. been losing weight at a rate of about 1 lb/week, but I am worried that I may be losing muscle mass. I have never bonked during exercise, and pre and post glucose levels are about the same, with post exercise usually being higher. Year ago, FBG=106, TG=300, HDL=32, TC=160, Calculated LDL=110. Today, FBG=96, TG=105, HDL=40, TC=150, calculated LDL=95, A1c=5.6. Elimination of sugar and processed grains reduced my TG from 300 to 178. Reducing fruit consumption from 4/day to 2/day reduced TG from 178 to 105. I had 1/2 of my Thyroid and two parathyroids glands removed at age 26 because of cancer, on 0.1mg levothryoxine replacement. Also on 2 tablets/day of Lisinopril-HCTZ 10-12.5 MG for hypertension. Controlled BP is 135/75, heart rate is 62 BPM. Uncontrolled BP is between 145/85 and 150/90. I am seriously looking at NK for a few months to reduce my insulin resistance, but want to get more fit before doing so.

  • Hal

    I should have pointed out that the appeal of exercising before breakfast is as follows: that time of day is when insulin levels are typically the lowest, with the assumption that lower insulin mean greater utilization of stored fat.

  • Ian

    Hi Peter,

    I love your website. I started LCHF about 5 weeks ago and have ordered some SS which should arrive tomorrow. I am an endurance mountain biker and have my next race on Sunday. It is 70 miles and will take me around 4:45 to complete and I would expect an average HR of about 158bpm vs my tested max at 186bpm.

    In the following post, http://thatpaleoguy.com/2011/07/17/tdf-inspired-cycling-post-1-updating-high-fat-diets-for-cyclists/ Jamie Scott speaks to research that in fat adapted individuals, performance is better when there is a level of carb-replenishment prior to the race (only one day needed), but also that the research shows that there is a resultant decrease in fat utilisation as a result (and probably an increase in weight due to glycogen and water).

    My question is, would I benefit from taking SuperStarch 2x or 3x the day before the race, again 2 hours before the race and then again 30 minutes before the start as a form of “carbo-loading” without any of the negative benefits from carbo-loading?

    Many thanks

    • I don’t know, but it sounds like a great self-experiment! Hope you’ll keep us posted.

  • alexander w

    Dear Dr. Attia: I just recently came across your website and found it is extremely informative. I myself started low carb diet about two weeks ago. I’ve got one question. I have been doing p90x program for a while now and I take protein supplements such as hydrolyzed whey after my workout. Sometimes I take whey protein shake between meals. I am just wondering if taking whey protein supplements will throw me off ketosis? I have read an article which describes that the addition of whey to meals with rapidly digested and absorbed carbohydrates stimulates insulin release and reduces postprandial blood glucose excursion after a lunch meal consisting of mashed potatoes and meatballs in type 2 diabetic subjects (from the American journal of clinical nutrition, by Frid AH et al., 2005). I do realize that their study was done in type 2 diabetic patients and was in the presence of carbs. However, I am just wondering if taking hydrolyzed whey alone would spike my insulin level and throw me off ketosis. Your response will be much appreciated!
    Really enjoy reading your articles!

    • Alexander, I’ve addressed several times throughout other posts and comments.

  • Luke Peterson

    I’ve spent the last year training for Ironman Florida which I just completed last weekend. As you know, long-distance racing requires mental and physical fortitude, but it’s just as critical to develop a nutrition solution that provides for gastrointestinal fortitude. My race-day nutrition regimen, which left me free of GI distress, was the following: 1. Breakfast = 1 cup of coffee, 24 oz water with a Nuun (flavored electrolyte tablet) and a scoop of UCAN. 2. Swim = couple 8oz dixie cups of water at halfway point. 3. Bike = Bike Bottle #1 was 1 liter water plus 1 Nuun every 30 minutes throughout for hydration and electrolytes; Bike Bottle #2 was 6 scoops of UCAN nursed throughout, topping up with water consistently to dissolve more powder into the slurry — finished this at mile 100; Mile 56 Special Needs was a half-pound of brie and a half-pound of peppered beef jerky which I ate over the next 10 miles. 4. Run = 4 scoops UCAN+2 Nuun tablets nursed throughout in CamelBak, and then I had a cup of water or two every time I passed an aid table. Mixed in some chicken soup after dark. In keeping with my low-carb race prep, I didn’t have a single swig of Perform or Cola, nor did I eat a Bonk Breaker, banana, brownie, cookie, pretzel, or any of the other stuff they put out for us (though I do find UCAN knocks me out of ketosis, it is a far superior carbohydrate to any of the other stuff I’ve tried). Next time I race I’ll use the same formula and expect the same results. Thanks for the guidance!

    • Very cool, Luke. Did you measure BHB before and after?

  • Luke Peterson

    I’m getting a rough estimate of acetoacetate via ketostix. Evening before a UCAN workout I’ll be in the medium-to-high ketone range, and then following exercise i’ll be in “trace” or the “not present” range and it’ll take me a day or two to read ketones again. In contrast, if I’m reading medium-to-high ketones the night before I ride for a few hours on just water and electrolytes (Nuun), the ketostix will show a ketone increase relative to the pre-workout reading that tends to remain elevated for a good 12 hours.

    • Keep in mind, Luke, the more “keto-adapted” one gets, the less they body will waste AcAc in urine. Last time I did a 24-hour urine collection I excreted less than 1 gm of AcAc in 24 hours (>6 liters) of urine, despite plasma BHB levels of 2-4 mM.

  • Christopher Kelly

    It’s been 7 months since I read this article, discovered your writing and made the switch to SS. The USAC just upgraded my license to Pro. Yesterday I kicked off with base for next season and rode for 3.5h. I consumed 1 scoop of SS and 1 dessert spoon of MCT oil about an hour before setting out. Plain water only during. Last year this was a 5 gel and 2 bottle maltodextrin ride, a total of about 1,000 kcal of sugar. I feel a bit queasy just thinking about what that did to my stomach, but the real advantage for me comes after the ride. Before the post ride carb craving bordered on anxiety attack.

    My doctor just dumped me for insisting on the NMR Lipoprofile test over the VAP. Apparently it “wasn’t working out”. Will you be my family practitioner?

    Keep up the amazing work, it is very much appreciated.

    • Christopher, amazing to hear about your transformation, and congrats on the upgrade! I wish you the best in finding a new doc. A VAP is acceptable if they have changed over to measuring apoB (vs. what they used to do which was calculate/estimate, which could be misleading). But it sounds like that ship has sailed.

    • Yossi Mandel

      Chris, you should check the list of lipidologists on http://www.lipid.org and find one in your area, they should on their own get you the NMR and other diagnostics through HDL. If you live in NY, I can tell you who I went to.

  • Roz

    Are there any ‘natural/food’ starches that would suffice that you would suggest if one didn’t want to or couldn’t use/buy the Super Starch?

    • Hydrothermally treated amylopectin does not exist in nature, of course, so technically there is nothing quite like this. Depending on your insulin resistance/sensitivity, it may not matter as much and you may get away with a waxy maize.

  • Angel

    I wanted to take some time to comment on my own experience utilizing the information I’ve learned (mostly) from this blog. Not just in body transformation, but also in how it has impacted my physical health and performance.

  • Kevin Purvis

    Dr. Attia. My name is Kevin Purvis and I prefer racing long course triathlons. After 4 years of chasing symptoms I was diagnosed with candidiasis in 2011 and started antifungal medication. I can’t claim total purity in the diet department but I’m pretty tight with it. I’ve had to back out of Ironman Florida twice due to this issue. I’ve tried every conceivable way to approach this from simple fast acting sugars only during workouts to a half ironman on brown rice as my fuel substrate. About mile 5 on the run I knew I wasn’t converting the rice into glucose fast enough and started to bonk. 4 cups of coke and I was clear in 5 minutes. I finished the last 8 strong on coke and water. The problem is after 3 weeks of these types of sugars the yeast overgrowth shuts me down. Generally takes 2 weeks to get the system back to normal. I tried Optimum Nutrition’s Glyco-Maize over UCAN due to price point. I may have just been wrecked in general but after 6 straight weekends of GI issues to the point of bonking I threw in the towel. My new grand scheme is ultra training because the low HR allows me to metabolize more fat and use things like quinoa. Saturday I ran a slow pace, average 13 min/mi with combined run walk strategy averaging 133 HR, workout on h2o, electrolytes, and Masters Aminos. I ate a serving of quinoa at the 4 hr mark. The quinoa actually caused a 5 beat increase in HR for an hour so I need to play with serving size. In all a 6.5 hr walk/jog on 1 serving of quinoa at the 4 hr mark.

    All that and here’s the question. Is there a difference between UCAN and ON brand of super starch? Second is SS low enough glycemic index not to feed the yeast? Even Dr. Alan Lieberman of COEM in Charleston SC who specializes in this field doesn’t really have an answer. In good faith and desire to help me he suggested MCT which I did exclusively on a long bike and by the 3 hr mark my gut was jacked. He gets a kick out of the training and racing I do but doesn’t understand it well enough to help me develop a plan to work within my situation. Any input from you would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

    • Not sure I know the answer to #2, but to #1, UCAN is hydrothermally treated, so the chemical structure is different than waxy maize or other similar compounds. Only direct comparison we have is vs. maltodextrin, though.

  • Kevin Purvis

    Thank you for your input Dr. Attia. I’m going to give UCAN a shot and see how the old gut handles it!

  • kelly

    Thank you for this amazing blog.. I appreciate your willingness and dedication to explaining complex concepts to average folks like us. I find myself wishing I could find a Dr. like you for my Type1 Diabetic boy 😉

    Anyway, curious about the glycogen stores in muscles. Forgive the stupid questions if this is widely understood… I understand that these glycogen stores are held “captive” by the muscular system due to the muscles inability to break the glycogen down to glucose… Is it accurate to say that these glycogen stores are held “captive” to their respective muscles? Or can this glycogen be shared throughout the muscular system???

    i.e. If I exhaust the glycogen stores in my glut’s, for instance, can my gluts leverage existing stores of glycogen in other muscles?

    Kind regards,
    Kelly T
    Ft. Collins, CO

    • Kelly, glycogen is captive within each cell, so it can’t be shared across muscles, per se.

  • Matthew

    Great work. Great organization, and knowing about your life, great time efficiency!
    I think I looked around enough to make sure this questions are not redundant. I apologize if they are.

    For reference, I eat 75/20/15//fat/protein/carb and 90% of those carbs are fruits & vegetables and never added sugar, never gluten, and never corn products. That has been my diet for 15 months.
    I just ran my first marathon (first run over 18 miles actually) fully fasted (a little coconut oil 2 hours prior). I completed in 4.2 hours and found it quite easy to do with nothing more than a sip of water every 3 miles. I have been running 2 – 2.5 hours every Sunday for a year, so at that slow pace I assume I had a low RQ. From what you have taught me, it makes sense I did not need to ingest any carbohydrate. I was still surprised that I was using so little glycogen in 4.2 hours. You have mentioned we store only about 1400 kcal in our muscles. I did not “bonk”. I did not “carb load” either so my glycogen stores are likely lower than the average person’s given my normal diet. Next time I’ll try the Super Starch and see if I have more energy at the end of the race.

    My current goal is to run a 40.0 minute 10K by April 19: a completely different ballgame than the slow marathon. Training for this includes frequent all out sprint intervals and running nearly every day. The intensity is so high, I often wonder if the lactic acid is going to kill me. Clearly I have a high RQ during these trainings. But, back of the envelop calculations indicate that even if I would be at 1.0 RQ, I have enough glycogen capacity to get through these workouts (~ 1 hour, <5 miles total) in a fully fasted state.

    I have been disappointed however at my ability to improve my performance week to week as measured by how long I can sustain my desired race pace. I worry about under-recovery between sessions but I don't know enough about it. My questions to you relate to fuel storage recovery but I'll gratefully accept any general overtraining comments as well.

    1) How can I go into a workout confidently knowing that I have fully replenished my glycogen reserves?
    2) How long does it take (more than 24 hours?) to fully replenish glycogen reserves if I do not eat carbohydrates? How long if I ingest a fixed dose (say 1000 kcal) of glucose after the workout? How long with SS? I ask because I want to maintain my baseline no/low carb diet for overall health reasons but want to make sure I am not headed into the next workout session glycogen depleted. I assumed that 24 hours is plenty of time for glycogens levels to be fully refilled even in ketosis but perhaps that is a bad assumption.
    3) Is there any point is Super Starch for this athletic goal? Even if you think 24 hours is not enough time to replenish glycogen reserves from fat reserves or from gluconeogenesis, is Super Starch any more helpful than pure glucose if taken at a fixed dose after the workout (when an insulin spike would be tolerable since you don't need the fat metabolism to feed the workout)?

    • Matthew, I think I have addressed all of your concerns in the “co-exist” post from about 6 or 7 months ago. You may need more glycogen for the 10K, but if used appropriately, should not impeded fat oxidation significantly.

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  • Johnnie Buttelwerth

    Dr. Attia

    I sincerely appreciate your work and your approach to teaching others about your discoveries. You are an excellent educator. I recently purchased UCAN and I was wondering if there are any data regarding the absorption of the product in the GI tract. It seems such a large molecule would have a lot of difficulty reaching the blood.


    • Yes, the molecule is fully absorbed, just very slowly in part due to its size. I think there is a slide or two in the presentation I gave showing the kinetics.

  • Johnnie Buttelwerth

    Got it. Thank you sir!

  • Toni

    Recently I have stumbled upon such a definition as ‘strength diet’. I have found a lot of interesting information about this kind of diet, as well as overall tips on how to increase your strength, endurance and health in the following article: http://militarygradenutritionals.com/blog/nutrition-in-sports/your-strength-diet-know-what-to-take-out-and-what-to-put-in/.

  • Gin Kuzma

    I ordered superstarch and told them I learned of them through your website and asked for a coupon code, but they did not give me one. Would you please tell me the code so I can call and give it to them and try to get it applied to my order?

    Also, this might sound paranoid, but the Chocolate is so sweet that I feel like I’m cheating on my ketogenic diet. I have worked VERY hard to maintain this awesome keto-adaptive state – I average 10-40 grams of carbs a day, with about 70-80% of calories from fat, with blood ketones consistently between 2 & 3. My pain level is dramatically decreased, and my daughter has no more seizures on the diet, just at one month. SO, are you really really sure I won’t lose it by eating superstarch? I use it for very long mountain hikes.

    Thank you very much.

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  • Chris

    Dr. Attia – I’m 41 years old 6′ 3″ and 177lbs. I’m a cyclist (Tour wannabe) and now getting into triathlons (i’ve done two sprints). I can’t image swimming to Catalina. On my last triathlon after about 3 gels and sports drink, my stomach was mess (gas). I completed it but started to question what I was doing as far as food goes. I’ve always done high carbs (simple carbs) during long rides but do have stomach issues on long rides. I’m thin but I still have plenty of fat to get rid of and yes I’ve bonked several times. Anyway, you mentioned you vomited during your long swim. Since using SS how has that changed? Was the vomiting from salt water or other factors (long distance)? I struggle like you with nutrition etc and workout as if I’m trying out for a cycling team or at least I think I a.m but nutrition is so hard and those guys in the Tour eat simple sugars and carbs during the ride and they too bonk. They are close to VO2 max too so I get it. I’ve tried fruits and vegies and electrolytes/carbs during excersice but getting close to their level is a dream. I’ll try the Keto diet. I like bacon! I’m from the school of low fat, good carbs (fruits and veggies, some rice, sweet potatoes, quinoa), and some protein. Also how do you get 4700mg of Potassium on the Keto diet? Sorry for all the questions. Keep up the work on nutrition. Your effort and knowledge is greatly appreciated. I know your searching for truth versus trying t defend a conclusion so keep that up because we all want to know whats the appropriate diet or some formula based on body type etc.
    We can put a man on the moon but we can’t figure out the best or most appropriate diet for humans.

  • Armando Lopez Jr

    Dr. Attia–I am totally new to the idea of a ketogenic diet. I watched a presentation you gave, and it piqued my interest. From the perspective of traditional bodybuilder and power lifter, carbohydrates with protein after a workout was desired to produce an insulin response, insulin binds to insulin receptors, allows the cells to open up etc etc, increase protein synthesis etc etc, return glycogen as fast as possible back to the liver and muscles.

    I emailed famed powerlifter Dr. Hafield, aka Dr. Squat, who I kinda know because I used to work for his company, and he referenced Dr. D’agostino who has been on a strictly ketogenic diet for years, and accomplished a Guinness world record feat of most weight lifted in a day, weight 250lbs looking like a bodybuilder…..because he was there and watched it. So basically he said its possible.

    My question is this: If I am in a ketogenic diet, can I eat carbs that spike insulin after intense weight lifting in a way that doesnt knock me out of ketosis? Or, will the same response happen within the body consuming fat and burning ketones, so I don’t really need to worry about the insulin response?

    The appeal of the ketogenic diet for me is that fact that I often suffer from excessive fatigue and energy swings despite doing “everything right” And for me, it is worth it to try it….but I still want to keep pursuing my fitness, strength and size goals as effectively as possible.

  • Gary Jones

    Dr. Attia…Thank you up front for this website and the fascinating information that you provide. I am 51 years old and in pretty good shape. Been working really hard the past year cutting out sugars and processed foods. I have gone from about 230 to about 195, which is close to my fighting weight. Anyway, I started out all of this health stuff because for my 50th birthday I decided to do something wild and I signed up to climb Mt Rainier. Needless to say, it kicked my ass. I made it to 11,000 ft and then had to turn back (weather and fatigue). I have set the goal of making it to the top this year (14000+ ft) and I am going back at the end of July for another try. I have ordered some UCAN to help me through my hard workouts pre trip. But here is my question: On the climb, there will be two straight days of climbing almost 5000 ft carrying a heavy pack, maybe in snow. So obviously, I will be burning thousands of calories each day. I will use the UCAN before, during, and after each climb. But what else should I be eating along the way? Of course, they (the guide company) recommend all the candy bars, protein bars, trail mix…anything to give you needed energy. But should I stay away for anything that has sugars? Keep in mind that weight is very critical, and so I can’t carry a dozen avocados. Any suggestions? Should I look for stuff with lots of fat…? Protein? Of course, I will also be drinking lots of water. Think you for any guidance you might give!

  • Arthur

    Dear Dr. Attia,

    I discovered your blog very recently and I am amazed with everything I learned. Thank you so much for debunking my false ideas !

    I would have a question about Superstarch: it seems clear that this product is full of benefits. But for us folks not living in the U.S., it is hard to our hands on this product. Ergo, I am searching for an equivalent product.

    My question is: what is the difference between waxy maize and SS? You addressed this question by stating: the SS has been hydrothermically treated. But what does it mean regarding its chemical structure? Does this process just make it a bigger molecule? or does it affect the amylopectin and/or amylose content?

    Thank you so much for all the time and efforts you spend educating us!

  • -Adam

    Peter, like you I’m a swimmer (collegiate and now in triathlons), hyper-educated (BA, BS, MD, MD, triple boarded) and love to think about problems outside of the box and use myself and my experiences to better understand the world. I have used UCAN in the past more as a treatment for the GI distress that I was experiencing during competition as I got back into athletics a few years ago. I found that I’ve accumulated enough training time at high-intensity I no longer get GI distress using non-UCAN products and so have moved to a nutritional strategy of using the nutrition that is available on the course of my races so that I do not have to over think how much to bring or worry about losing bottles, forgetting nutrition when packing or creating gel-like formulations to be transferred into little bottles on the run. But a friend who is a doc and nutritionist recently pointed me to your website and so I have begun to think about using UCAN again. But I get stuck on one major questions:
    If all of the biochemistry you so eloquently explain is true (ie. limitations of maximum glucose uptake from the GI track vs caloric expenditure during high-output endurance activities), how do so many long-course triathletes use the traditional method of nutrition without developing Gut Rot or bonking? You can say they’d have better performances changing strategies, but the science that you are suggesting makes it sound like glucose/maltodextrin–>insulin spike–>no fatty acid utilization–>inadequate calories available to sustain aerobic metabolism. And yet they do.

    Thanks for pushing the limits of our understanding of sports (and general nutrition).

    • For the most elite out there, they are very insulin sensitive to begin with. They operate at a very low RQ, so they are naturally partitioning fuel to access FFA more than a “regular” person. Second, many people (myself included) just figure out a way to grit through it. When I was doing 12-14 swims on pure maltodextrin, I sucked up. I’d puke, and go back to it and my performance simply wasn’t what it could have been. Without consciously realizing it, I was likely reducing my output, not because of “fatigue,” but because of metabolic failure.

  • Adam

    Thank you for your quick response. That makes sense. I can’t becoming uncomfortable when information is presented in seeming absolutes when in fact there is a large degree of context needed to understand a complex problem (which I think you nicely explain in your entry on Ketones and Carbs co-existing). I think for my brain it makes the most sense to think about these issues by realizing that in the context of sports nutrition:
    Energy requirements are met by exogenous energy intake (simple sugars, complex carbs, SS, protein fat) as well as the availability of endogenous energy availability (FA and glycogen/glucose) which is undeniably linked to the type of exogenous nutrition consumed (and its effect on insulin secretion).

    Keep up the good fight. Adam

    • Very few absolutes in life. Most of them are in mathematics.

  • Susan

    Thank you, thank you! I just purchased some today and can’t wait to try it for marathon training. I ditched the dreaded GU cycle last year and have never felt better.

  • Morgan

    Hi Peter. I hope you are well.

    In the graph that shows serum NEFA, why is there an increase in serum NEFA immediately after ingestion in the recovery period (cf the decrease after ingestion in the pre-exercise period)?

    Thank you.


  • Rob Murphy

    Hi peter,

    I am a new viewer of the blog. I do high jump and pole vault in college (I’m also a dietetics major, thinking of switching to biochem). I have a question about the use of super starch regarding anaerobic training (all of my workouts).

    I have always been told that an insulin spike immediately post-workout (weight training) is the best way to replenish glycogen levels in the muscles as well as (and most important to me) give the muscles all of the proteins (and amino acids) necessary for growth. With the use of Ucan, obviously the point is to limit the insulin spike. Does this hinder the effectiveness of protein supplementation? Or are the benefits of an insulin spike post-workout wrong?

    • I think that is viewed as pretty common wisdom, but I’m not away of any evidence that says a we need a huge spike of insulin to replenish glycogen. Post workout, the metabolic priority for ingested CHO is always going to be glycogen replacement before anything else (e.g., DNL). So keeping insulin low while replacement glycogen low is a good idea, because it enables continued fat oxidation.

  • justin

    Peter – any experience with ucan for very high intensity efforts such as a 60 min cyclocross race. I want to switch over to a lower carb paleo/primal blueprint diet fully because i have had good GI results using this diet in past but i always move away from it during cyclocross season because of fear that I won’t have the energy for such a high intense effort.

    • I will sometimes take a half package of UNCAN before a short (20 km) race, but for any training under 3 hours I use only Biosteel, regardless of the intensity.

  • Lonnie


    I watched the video and see the logic of the product. My question is with the study you mention, they ingested the superstarch 30min before exercise all at once. The problem is sports drinks aren’t typically used this way. Normally they are sipped a few ounces at a time over an hour or so. This way the amount of sugar or starch consumed from a typical sports drink at one time will be quite low, and I would think would not be enough to create an insulin or glucose spike, especially while exercising when glucose is rapidly taken up and insulin is suppressed. (If I remember right, the muscles don’t even need insulin to uptake glucose during exercise.) So assuming you are using an hypotonic sports drink, wouldn’t this create the same desired effect of keeping the glucose and insulin levels low? I’d say gels and blocks would cause more of an issue with this.

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  • Jubran Nassar

    Hi Peter I am a fan of your website and have checked out a lot of what you have written on. I am an amateur boxer, and have been low carb for awhile. I have just recently started using UCan superstarch before and after practices. Is boxing primarily glycolytic? If so, is a packet out superstarch enough to get someone through a two hour practice? I am looking to drop a weight class and I am looking to utilize superstarch to maximize fat loss while maintaining lean mass. Will my performance be compromised being low carb, or can the superstarch be enough to get me through practices and competitions? Thanks, I know you used to box so maybe you have some insight.

    • Yes, boxing like wrestling or MA is probably mostly glycolytic. But remember, you have a lot of glycogen in your liver and muscles when you start practice. When I used to box seriously (aged 13 to 19), I would typically train 6 hours/day, of which 2-3 was in the gym (e.g., bag, skipping, sparring). I needed nothing beyond water. If I were doing that again I would probably add Biosteel (BCAA) to the mix.

  • Chria Hazlitt

    Hi Peter,

    I am on day 10 of the keto diet and have experienced amazing results already. I’ve been stuck at 25-35% body fat for several years despite several times getting into very good cycling shape, and so far I’ve been averaging more calories per day on the keto diet yet have lost several pounds of body fat. Crazy! I have some questions about high intensity training (cycling) in a ketogenic state, as it has been a little tough for me so far, but I will read a bit more to see if I have missed some info. The main thing I wanted to ask is, how did your ascent of Palomar improve when you got your weight down to 75 kg? Also, why can’t I find you in any of the usual places on the web (USAC, Strava, etc.), are you racing under a pseudonym? I did find one Eddy Merckx division result at Fiesta Island–pretty solid time for a conventional setup!



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  • Galen

    Have you tested your RQ while using SS?

  • Rob Janssen

    As a pulmonologist and keto-adapted triathlete, I enjoyed your post “How a low carb diet affected my athletic performance (Part 4)” in which you describe your self-experiment with cardiopulmonary exercise testing before and after keto-adaptation very much. You finish the post with some very important questions: “The real question is how can you get the best of both worlds? That is, is there a way to reap the benefits of keto-adaptation of on the aerobic side, without any of the anaerobic cap costs?”. You finish the excellent post with the remark: “In short, I believe the answer is yes, and I look forward to writing about this in great detail in the near future.” I guess you are referring to SuperStarch supplementation prior to exercise. I was curious whether you have once performed cardiopulmonary exercise testing in a keto-adapted state with and without SuperStarch supplementation, because I could not find such a self-experiment in your SuperStarch-posts. There are two possible explanations for the reduced maximal workload in the keto-adapted athlete. Is it due to decreased glycogen muscle stores, the lower activity of glycolytic enzymes or a combination of both. Only if decreased glycogen muscle stores are the reason for a reduced maximal workload in the keto-adapted state, improvement of the maximal workload can be expected after SuperStarch supplementation. I will do this self-experiment in our pulmonary function lab but was just curious whether you or someone else has done this experiment before.

    • Tom

      Let us know when you do that experiment! I’m very curious, and I imagine many others are, too!

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  • Tom

    How does regular corn starch compare to UCAN’s SuperStarch? osmolality, blood sugar spike/crash, etc. I’ve dug into multiple results pages on Google, read several journal papers and many blogs, but couldn’t find anybody showing similar studies comparing regular corn starch v maltodextrin, SS, or simple sugars.

  • Art

    Peter: Thank you for the informative post and lecture. I have now listened to the lecture three times, and it only gets better with each listen. I am a 53 year old ultra runner and cyclist (with a weight lifting problem). I am essentially re-born now that I have gone low carb — stronger than ever and psyched to continue the “experiment.” I have a question which you have likely answered elsewhere, or you haven’t answered because the answer is obvious: if the fat adapted body has tens of thousands of fat calories it can access (which I totally agree with), then why do we need to ingest fat as fuel before and during long endurance efforts? Thanks in advance. Art

    • I’m not sure you need to, though it may be satiating. From an ATP generation perspective, you’re likely to require exogenous carbohydrate before fat.

  • Jacob

    You say amylopectin is the makeup of UCAN. But the research says amylose…. Which one is it!?

  • Su-Chong Lim

    I did a “poor man’s” version of super starch ingestion last night. My rationale was to tweak my ketone adapted diet in preparation for a Half Marathon race– I was less than happy with a 10 k race performance 2 weeks ago, but in retrospect, maybe the pace of the race was more intense than ideal for a purely fat-optimised diet. So just for laughs after a slightly more CHO generous start to the day (22g late breakfast compared to usually negligible, but gradually increasing in the last week or so) I added hourly increments of small half slices of buttered toast in the late afternoon. Half hourly blood glucose monitoring revealed 30-60 minute post meal spikes of less than 6 mM, quickly flattened out within another half hour, except for a spike of 7.3 mM when I added a trivial (I thought) smear of jelly to the toast; again this flattened out to 5.5 within 60 minutes. Except for this mistake, I thought this compared well to the pre-marketing study where Superstarch created an initial slight post ingestion peak of approx 118g/dl (~6.6mM). I finally gave up and just before bed-time I had 1/3 cup of oatmeal which is about 8g of, I hope, reasonably slow release carbohydrate to top up my tanks during sleep.

    For reference I weigh 51kg; I had not exercised that day.

    This morning my pre-race fasting glucose was 5.5 mM and my BoHB was 0.5, suggesting residual keto-adaptation. I did not have a pre-race meal, like I would have done last year (pre-keto), as I did not want to disrupt my no eating before exercise routine of the past year. Well the race went better than my 10 k — in fact at 10 k my time was better than my 10 k race time of 2 weeks ago, suggesting maybe the quasi carbo loading allowed for a higher intensity than my pure keto preparation 2 weeks ago. But I was still 2 minutes slower than last year, for a multitude of possible reasons, including one more year under my belt lol. But I still won the 60-69 age group category. Post race glucose was 6.0, BoHB was 0.6.

    My inclination for another 1/2M would be to tweak the CHO supplementation a little further — I think I ran out of steam a bit with 5k to go.

    It was an interesting experiment, though. And it demonstrated that the piecemeal titration of CHO isn’t as trivial as I thought. And as for “poor man’s” version, I sure used up a lot of glucose testing strips! So Superstarch might be cheap in context.

  • rick

    Not sure where to ask question this so Ive placed it here. When your fitness level increases as a result of training for endurance type events, what from a physiological standpoint is leading to that increase in performance? Is it you ability to inhale more oxygen? Your ability to transport oxygenated blood to the specific muscles being used for the given task? Your cell’s ability to process the energy substrate being used? Your ability to discard waste products as a result of metabolic activity? All of the above? And if so what is the weakest link in the chain?

  • April Wells

    I am disappointed that the drink mix product has sucralose in it. I did away from sugar and chemical sweeteners a few years ago. I do use stevia. I also grow my own stevia. But I have noticed that a LOT of protein powders and drinks have sucralose in them. Why, why why?

  • Nathan Berg

    Not sure if comments are still being responded too, but here goes.
    I raced triathlon for many years at half a full 140.6 and was consistently in the top 5% or so. More recently I’ve been focusing on endurance and back country mountain bike racing. I race at a reasonably high level, having won a handful of 12 hour solo races and some big back country loops. I’ve always struggled with weigh having been anywhere from 165 to 240 lb in the last 20 years. I have mild hypertension for which I take a sartan. I switched to HFLC back in June. In general I feel better on this nutrition approach, but have not found that I can sustain the high level of effort in racing without using a sugar product (Tailwind, specifically). Can Superstarch be used for extreme efforts for long duration races effectively? Is there a protocol to adapt this? I typically require ~ 300 cal/hr of a product like tailwind or I start to get too far behind and crash. Subsequently I’ve adopted a low calorie low carb training approach then use Tailwind for very long intense efforts. Beyond the insulin response Superstarch would be highly advantageous just from a weight packing scenario as some races have no support and you have to carry the entire 2-3000 calorie supply on your back, a more dense nutrient source would be convenient.

    As an aside, I recently paced an athlete from mile 78 to 90 or so at the Leadville 100 run, he had been using Superstarch as his primary nutrition source, but he was suffering some of the worst GI distress I’ve seen a human endure during a race. My assumption is he had not trained with the product sufficiently to adapt his system, or is Superstarch counterindicated if you are not engaged in a HFLC lifestyle?

    • Also possible he was consuming it at too high a concentration. When I used this stuff for ultra distance I needed to mix it at half the recommended concentration.

  • Robert baloga

    Would you reccomend this for diabetics?

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  • Jeff

    Dear Dr. Attia

    IT is INCREDIBLY kind of you to answer all the questions here.

    My understanding is that resistant starch such as is found in a raw potato or an unripe banana ids fermented by large bowel flora into butyrate, and then absorbed.

    Is this correct and is this the same process that happens with the UCAN product ?

    Are there functional differences between this natural RS and the Superstarch ?


  • Anya drozdova


    This information has really blown my mind. My question is, how can this diet be applied to an athlete who relies on anaerobic energy, would a powerlifter or an ‘explosive’ athlete benefit from a high fat diet, more specifically would training for powerlifting in a fasted state or on a high fat pre-workout be counterproductive…?

    thank you,

    • Anya drozdova

      I found your other posts about this – sorry ignore my question im sorted! 🙂

  • Erica

    I am just starting to adopt a Ketogenic diet and am wondering how you count UCan in my diet/target numbers. I came across a post where someone said he didn’t count his UCan intake because he burned it off right away….not sure if that would work.

    Before starting Keto, I have been using 3 scoops for a 3.5-4 hour bike ride (not eating anything for breakfast, this was my nutrition for my workout). On Keto, will I need less UCan?

    Any info you have that you can share would be greatly appreciated.



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