October 31, 2012


Introduction to Superstarch – Part II

by Peter Attia

Read Time 7 minutes

In part II of this series, as promised, I interviewed one of the nations top trainers of professional athletes to provide a “real world” look at how athletes are using Superstarch.  As excited as I’ve been using Superstarch and sharing my experience with endurance athletes, I was really interested to know his experience was, both personally and professionally, using it with the type of athletes I don’t work with.

As you’ll see in this interview, he gets just as much joy working with and helping troubled high school athletes in disadvantaged schools as he does working with the best football players and track and field athletes in the world.  It’s been a huge honor for me getting to know him and learning about the conditioning and training of athletes in sports I can’t really relate to.  Most amazingly, I’ve come to realize that whether you’re a Heisman Trophy winner, an avid cyclist, or a weekend warrior, we all struggle with the same problems when trying to refuel our bodies.

Tell me a little bit about yourself, your athletic background, and what you do today?

My name is Ryan Flaherty and I am the founder of Prolific Athletes LLC, a sports performance training company based in Carlsbad, California, that specializes in teaching athletes of all levels to be fast and injury free. We train all types of athletes including professional athletes from the NFL, NBA, MLB, Olympic Track and Field athletes, NCAA All Americans, and high school athletes all the way down to middle school all-stars. Our facility is focused on two very important athletic principles, which are speed and injury prevention. As a kid growing up I was not considered fast. I vividly remember when I was playing in a Little League baseball game and I was thrown out at first base when I hit a line drive to center field. Those familiar with baseball know that should never happen. As I was jogging past my coach back to the dugout I asked him what happened and he told me, “well, apparently you forgot to unhitch the trailer from behind you.” Aside from my coach needing a lesson in coaching kids, he was right, I was slow. Shortly after my embarrassing experience in baseball my mom made me join a track and field club at my middle school. At the time I was so frustrated because I was the only one out of all my friends that had to run track. But, looking back on it today I can emphatically say it was the best ‘athletic’ decision my mom ever made for me. My youth track coach, Paul Clark, spent countless hours with me to develop proper sprint mechanics and running form. The hard work paid off and soon I was one of the fastest kids in my middle school, then high school, and then college. I played football at Utah State University and was one of the faster players on the team, despite my size (I weighed 255 pounds). My speed combined with my size was not common and I was fortunate to have a great college career. The competitive advantage I had was that I learned at a very young age a secret that not many people know: speed is not something you’re necessarily born with, it is actually a skill that can be learned.

I am fortunate to now teach the youth athletes I work with what I was able to learn at a young age so they can reach their full athletic potential. Along with speed training, our philosophy equally emphasizes injury prevention. At the end of my football career I suffered several knee injuries that forced me to retire prematurely. Because of the injuries I became very motivated to understand the reason why they happened. I educated myself on ACL injuries while I was in graduate school and realized the archaic training I was getting from collegiate and professional strength coaches is what led to my knee injuries. Their programs were based on getting bigger, lifting heavier, and training harder. Much like nutrition, these “experts” or coaches were indoctrinated in old-school science and methodology. Today, a big part of what I am passionate about is being able to deliver the latest and greatest in science and research to the athletes I work with and help them to avoid injuries. Every athlete I work with is given an in-depth biomechanic movement analysis, movement screen, and we review past injuries before I design their unique training program. The information we gather gives me what I need to know to ensure that we are going to pinpoint their imbalances and develop those weaknesses to build a strong, balanced athlete.

What type of athletes do you work with?

Athletes that I train range from a 12-year-old kid who plays for the local Pop Warner (youth football league) all the way to Pro Bowl NFL quarterbacks. We have multiple programs that we offer for youth athletes that teach them how to sprint properly, change-of-direction speed, stimulus response training, flexibility, and core strength. Our High School programs offer the same as the youth training and here we introduce weight training. We also have a large NFL combine training program that prepares future NFL stars for the NFL combine and draft. I work with over 100 NFL players including: Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, Donovan McNabb, Vince Young, and Vincent Jackson. I also work with several Division 1 programs as a consultant to their strength staff.  And, we recently launched our Non-Profit that trains a local inner city high school that is nominated based on their need. We train their athletes for a year, train their coaches on our training programs, and we give their weight room a makeover. This past year, Kearny High School (San Diego) was chosen and it was an amazing experience for us. 

Prior to using Super Starch, what sort of products did you use yourself?  What about your athletes?

Over the course of my career I have tried a lot of supplements. I’ve used whey protein, casein protein, egg protein, branch chain amino acids, glutamine, creatine monohydrate, waxy maize, pre-workout supplements…the list goes on and on. I am not a big proponent of supplement use with my athletes because it’s a slippery slope with the lack of research associated with a majority of these products. I emphasize getting their nutrients from food as opposed to using supplements and I preach high fat, low carbs, and eliminating sugar from their diets. Most recently, however, I have become a huge fan of Super Starch.

How did you learn about Super Starch?

I was introduced to Generation UCAN by you, (Peter Attia). I had actually never heard of it prior to you giving me some to try on my own last year. At the time I was struggling in my own personal training after making the switch to a higher fat, low carb, no sugar lifestyle and it made a big difference for me personally.

What did you notice, personally, when you switched from other sports nutrition products to Super Starch?

I have always struggled figuring out when and what to eat prior to workouts. I became accustomed to either having an upset stomach while I was training or, to avoid a stomachache, I wouldn’t eat and would bonk in workouts. It was a constant struggle to figure out the right combination of certain foods or supplements and timing my digestion to optimize my own performance.  I never quite figured it out, until I found Super Starch. I take it about a hour prior to my workouts and it doesn’t upset my stomach, it gives me steady energy, and I get a carbohydrate source that allows me to keep burning fat stores.

What have your athletes been telling you about the changes they’ve noticed since switching to Super Starch?

I have about 20 NFL athletes that are currently using Super Starch. I train a NFL athlete for a total of 5 months throughout the year. Every workout is very important to their overall improvement and missing one of those workouts can be a major set back in their progress. I have had so many athletes over the years miss workouts because of getting nauseated or because they didn’t eat and they crash halfway through. So, for a lot of these athletes Super Starch is a big deal. I would say the overwhelming response I get from them is that they feel like they can make it through our workouts without getting nauseas, they feel like they are stronger at the end of the workout, and that they love the fact that it’s so convenient for them when they are on the road travelling or running short on time.

Have you or your athletes found any downside to using Super Starch?

The problem I experience most with Super Starch is the chalky taste. I usually have them try making a smoothie with Super Starch, almond butter, heavy cream, almond milk, and ice. It is so good that they usually all come back with rave reviews of the smoothie and that helps with the chalky taste issue.

A lot of the athletes you train seem to exercise so much – many of them are professional athletes – why do they even care about fat burning?

A big misconception is that elite athletes don’t struggle with weight issues. I have professional athletes I train who have struggled with their weight for years. Most of these guys have a target weight that they have to be when they report to the NFL team they play for and if they fail to meet the weight expectation, they can either get released or fail their physical. I have actually seen the biggest benefit of Super Starch with the 300+ pound NFL athletes because it gives them an energy source that will keep them burning body fat while they train. This past summer I had a defensive tackle from a NFL team go from 340 to 315 pounds just by using Super Starch and removing all other supplements that contained sugar from his diet.

Have you encountered athletes who do not benefit from Super Starch?

The athletes that have not benefited from taking it have been the ones who either haven’t enjoyed the taste and didn’t continue, or guys who didn’t give it a chance because they didn’t feel a more immediate effect. Supplements these days usually make the athletes feel the effects in their workout after taking it only one time. Whether it’s the caffeine or beta alanine, the effects are pretty immediate. The thing about Super Starch is the effects are not very noticeable unless you struggle with GI distress, which Super Starch immediately helps with.

What do you see as the most important factors necessary to give athletes and parents of youth athletes the best information possible to make an informed decision about what sports nutrition products they use?

Some products out there have incredible marketing and I see so many parents giving their kids crap and thinking because Michael Jordan is on the commercial it must be great. (Cough) Gatorade. I think educating parents on the truth behind other products and comparing them to Super Starch in a simple way is a start. In order to make a nutrition product something that athletes can’t live without, it needs to serve a purpose in their life or they won’t care about it. So, that’s where I think the benefits of no GI distress come in to play for a lot of my athletes. Once I was able to show the difference between eating a heavy meal or drinking a UCAN shake and how much better their stomach felt during the workout, that was a selling point for them. Now they can’t train without it and they are telling their teammates, family members, and so on.

What do you see as the benefit of Super Starch for average people and their relatively more moderate exercise regimen?

I think the benefits would be the exact same benefits as the athletes I work with: it’s convenience for people who don’t have the luxury of being able to time their meals with meetings, the fact that it will keep them burning fat and not spike insulin levels, and providing a steady carbohydrate energy source.

Photo by Kolleen Gladden on Unsplash

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  • Eduardo

    Hi Peter,
    I was waiting for part II to ask these questions.

    I recently started trying low carb and I feel great. It’s been a couple months and I’ve lost significant weight. However, I’ve been a bit afraid of getting into the usual muscle building routine from back when I was starting college (best shape I’ve ever been), so my weight training has been lighter than what I’m used to. I have also been incorporating intermittent fasting in the last couple of weeks and have really seen great results.

    Anyways… my questions are the following:
    Is glycogen essential to muscle building? What is the role of glycogen when muscle hypertrophy occurs? Bodybuilders always talk about ketogenic diets when they are ‘cutting’ but not many see it as sustainable when it comes to building muscle. In fact, creatine monohydrate, which I have seen great results with in the past, I believe relies on glycogen stores to work and that’s why it’s hard to find any creatine supplement without a lot of sugar. So, with this low carb diet, I have noticed I am struggling more than usual when getting through a tough workout. If so, would that mean Super Starch could be highly beneficial in muscle gains?
    Also, a bit off topic, but I have been working out fasted and frankly I’ve been seeing better results even though it makes the workouts a bit tough. I feel fine doing it, but would that make Super Starch a good pre-workout supplement that doesn’t affect my fasted state as much as sugar would? The idea behind working out fasted is the fact that I will not only burn fat doing, but also HGH is at higher levels.

    I love what you do and, like everyone here, I appreciate all the work you put into this blog.


    • The questions you ask about SS haven’t been tested in clinical trials. I can hazard guesses, but I don’t know. I think it makes sense to do an experiment on yourself under reasonably controlled conditions. I don’t use SS pre-workout, but I know a lot of folks do, and really like it in that capacity. I use it during really long workouts and post-workouts. Post lifting, I add about 8 gm of glutamine.

    • Marco Ermini

      From the UCAN web page…
      “Our protein-enhanced drinks are consumed either before or after activity to achieve ideal performance and metabolic states. Consuming SuperStarch post-exercise helps maintain glucose levels, enables fat burn, and optimizes recovery using nutrients efficiently to restore glycogen stores and rebuild muscles. Available in Vanilla and Chocolate.”
      I think that answers the question…

  • lockard

    Another great blog – ?I enjoyed reading about the work with the younger kids ( this stuff is for everyone)

    • lockard

      * no question mark typo “?”

  • Chuck B.

    As usual, Peter, not only are YOU the man, you surround yourself with others who’re also, clearly, amongst the best at what they do. It’s a shame that the information that Ryan has learned and teaches probably isn’t more available to the rest of us. Oh well, I suppose, that like the information that NuSi is going to get out there, that’ll change over time. Thanks for all that you do, it really makes a difference to a lot of us out here in the trenches.

    • Ryan is such a special guy. Every time we speak I learn something new about how he’s challenging the conventional wisdom in speed conditioning and injury prevention — the 2 factors that seem to play the greatest role in differentiating successful careers from less successful ones in pro sports.

  • John

    I’ve been ketogenic since about March. I don’t eat anything special prior to 30-60 mile bike rides (sometimes a couple tablespoons of MCT oil), or anything at all during them (unless we stop for breakfast, then an omelet or bacon and eggs). I seem to feel plenty strong (though having recently turned 60, I don’t burn roads up). What effect might I expect from adding some super starch?

    • I think a ketotic individual can easily ride 30-60 miles below threshold without anything but water, but it might be worth experimenting.

  • Hi Peter,

    The amount of fat that’s burned by lean tissues depends on the relative availability of glucose vs. fatty acids in the circulation. If you increase glucose availability/oxidation, you decrease fat availability/oxidation. To hypothesize that fat oxidation will continue undiminished in the face of increased carbohydrate oxidation (from the super starch) is to hypothesize that total energy expenditure is increased. Personally I find this unlikely, and there certainly isn’t any evidence to support it currently.

    I think a more likely explanation for the fat loss that some people experience on this product is that very slowly digesting starch may alter gut-brain communication, similar to other types of fibers. Increased nutrient delivery to the distal small intestine has endocrine/metabolic effects that may reduce food intake and body fatness. This may be one of the reasons why bariatric surgery is effective.

    • Great point, Stephan, and certainly worthy of more study. Unfortunately, there are so many unresolved questions at this point. But it will be very important to have this addressed. I think I might even take your point one step further: the change in composition of the product (and especially if combined with a dietary change that removes sugars and simple/refined carbs) may actually alter several aspects of gut flora that changes both permeability and conversions within the body. I know many folks are actively looking into this broader point, and I’m eagerly awaiting the answers.

  • Rueben

    I do my Crossfit workouts at 6am. At best, I’m up at 5:30am prior to the workout and I have never found a productive source of energy that I can consume shortly before the workout and not have to “deal” with it during the workout. I saw that an Olympic gymnast kept honey on hand for some quick energy throughout the day and got to thinking that it or agave syrup might be an answer. I’ve taken a tablespoon on some mornings and have seen a difference, but I know that is not the best solution. Would Superstarch be worth trying in this scenario? I am not out to break any records, just get my daily dose of athletic fun, post a respectable performance, and then head off to work ready to handle it.

    • See last response.

    • Edward

      Agave syrup is 90% fructose. Not a good thing for your liver. Go with the super starch even though it is a bit more than $3 per use.

  • Caleb Gammon

    Thank You Dr. Attia for the amazing information you have on your blog-I have enjoyed reading everything I can! I Have a question: Can super starch help me in my Crossfit (anaerobic) training? Above Mr. Flaherty mentioned it helps NFL players keep from getting nauseous in their workout-an occasional problem I have-and in part one, you mentioned improved recovery, which I am VERY interested in. Could super starch help with shorter, intense workouts? Also could it help guard against GI problems associated with occasional gluten ingestion (…read: cheat meals? 🙂 …)


    • A lot of Crossfit athletes I speak find it very helpful.

  • markus

    Hi Peter!

    First of all, let me just start by saying I’m a HUGE fan and I believe your research and experimentation is unparalleled. It’s guys like you, Mark Sission, Wolf, Lalonde, and Volek that make this wellness journey so enjoyable.

    Currently, I’ve focused on a minimalist approach to getting results. Think CrossFit meets P90X meets interval/body weight/sprint/gymnastic/metabolic conditioning style workouts. I’ve been experimenting with Keto and I’m wondering what your take on a product I take that has a combination of fructose, MCTs, l-carnitine, and magnesium and potassium (energy and endurance formula)~ 50 cal/serving and 12g sugar…I only use the stuff on the higher intensity workouts (crossfit style high reps/rounds/intensity/sprints)

    Thoughts? I’d be interested in trying Super Starch, but was wondering what your thoughts are on the above type of pre-workout formula taken with a low-carb/keto lifestyle.


    • Sounds interesting, but doses and timing probably matter.

    • Richard

      Hi Peter.

      Just learning all of this recently. I am in ketosis and really desire the shorter / higher intensity workouts (sprinting, tabata, etc).

      I am still confused on what the best approach is for me to ensure maximum energy for these types of exercises. Would UCAN SuperStarch work on such short notice? Or would I be better ingesting some form / dose of carbs some time prior to working out? And, if so, what kind of carbs are best for this?



      • It might, but it depends exactly on your state of adaptation and the exact exercise. Some of the stuff you do might be better served with creatine supplementation. Tabata is 4 min, so very glycolytic – hence I suspect SS would help if in a state of ketosis.

  • markus

    Ps. It’s my understanding that the combination of the fructose and MCT’s releases energy slowly by utilizing MCTs first and then fructose secondary, and increases VO2max with without stimulating insulin release. Could that be the answer?

    • I have not seen data to support this, but I’d be curious to see it.

  • markus

    if this doesn’t work, pull it from this page
    I look forward to hearing about your findings in relation to superstarch…again, I’m looking more from a CrossFit athletes profile than long term endurance exercise

    • Tough to really comment on, Markus. The study compares a placebo of basically water to a “proprietary” cocktail of a dozen things, included in them fructose and MCT.

  • Sam Y

    Thank you, Peter, for a great post as always.

    Are there any books or authors that you would recommend for endurance training?

    What theories or training styles influence your own training?

    • I feel like so much of what I learned during my “formative” years may be incorrect. As a result, I tend to rely more on recent papers, than formal texts. On the sports nutrition side, I think what Tim Noakes in South Africa is doing is the cutting edge. On the training side, I’m still trying to figure out which side of the fence I’m on, with respect to above vs. below threshold training guidelines.

    • Tom

      Peter, have you seen the identical twin project that Tim Noakes is supervising? It’s hardly a full trial, but it’s still a nicely-designed comparison that’s got a solid protocol (and diagnostics) behind it.

      It’s also approachable for the lay public (without being dumb) in a way that a lot of things aren’t in nutrition.


      • If Tim is doing it, it’s going to be solid. It’s a great idea.

  • Arron

    Hi Peter,

    Thank you for all the excellent info you put out, it is sincerely appreciated. I dabble in ultras and would like to start tinkering with my diet & exercise to see if I can raise my aerobic threshold. Burning fat + super starch for 24hours sounds so much better than sucking down sugar constantly.
    – Is there a reliable at home method to determine your aerobic threshold for easy test/retest experiments?
    – Did your improvements in the “What I Eat” come from strictly diet/fasting modifications or did you modify your training as well?
    – Do you think low carb + LSD + some Crossfit would be a good place to start?

    • Great questions:
      1. VO2 max with RQ is the best way to test this, unfortunately (besides empiric testing on yourself).
      2. Pure diet in my case.
      3. Yes.

  • dave

    My experience with SS seems different than most. A friend sent me some of the pom-blu and I experienced some nausea and a lot of gas the next day. I have tried this twice with the same results. I did seem to have steadier energy levels but I do not know if I wish to tolerate the other effects.

    • Interesting. Is it true with all flavors? Also, have you tried mixing at a lower concentration? I find I need to mix it at really dilute concentrations (I use 1/2 a pack for 20 oz of water).

  • Peter, the internets suggest that superstarch is just massively over priced waxy maize starch (mixed w/ whey protein in the case of a post workout mix).

    I’m always up for trying out new sups but resources are not finite. Any specific reasons to go w/ the SS over the generic?

    • Waxy maize is the starting ingredient of SS. However, unlike other waxy maize products, they run it through a 40 hour hydrothermal treatment which is what gives SS the unique properties it has according to their IP filings.

  • Indy M.

    Just received my Sampler packet, in time for my trip to back country Bangladesh:
    (Leave Hotel in Dhaka early AM, return Hotel late PM); hoping UCAN will help see me thru nice and easy over the 12 Hours in between! Will write with feedback on return late Nov.

    Indy M.
    Sunnyvale, CA

  • Dan

    I’m wondering if you are going to revisit the cholesterol series and complete the part on the role of pharmacologic intervention in the treatment and prevention of atherosclerotic disease and final wrap-up.


    • Dan, I’m dying to do so, but I’m just getting clobbered right now and, honestly, will be for another month or so. I definitely plan to do a part X, thought it won’t be a complete pharmaco-primer, as that would take another 10 parts.

  • steve

    Listened to your superlative, thoughtful and informative interview with Jimmy Moore. You mentioned some variance in your LDL-P that ranged from 400 to 1200 or so at different times. Was wondering while I know from your writing that you do not think particle size matters, if there were any differences in particle size say at the lower LDL-P measurement than at the higher number, and what differences in your diet there may have been.
    In my case, when LDL-P is very low, particle size is quite small vs. when LDL-P is higher. I am talking about LDL-P of under 400 vs. 600 to 700. In both instances trgs low at 28-34, HDL around 60, HDL-P 37, and on Crestor and Zetia. Strongly dyslipidemic and believe there may be a genetic tendency towards small LDL-P.

    • Great question, Steve. I’m really struggling to figure this out. There just aren’t enough data beyond the small empirical sets (for me, at least) to fully understand this relationship between apoB concentrations, LDL-P, LDL-C, and particle size. Most lipidologists agree that once you know LDL-P, also else is secondary, but if you can’t get an NMR, how do you judge the risk most accurately? I’ll try to touch on some of these issues in Part X of The Straight Dope.

  • steve

    Thanks for your response. I know for myself that with a lower fat content( but not aiming for low fat), the particle size falls. When the fat is increased the particle size will go up, but still on the low end of Pattern A. I think it is clearly genetics for me. When i eat carbs- whole grains, very little to no sugar, etc and before meds my NMR waa 1795 all small. Tried to just eat meat fish, chesse, and fruits an veggies only and it went down somewhat but still about 60% small. When i really restricted carbs and went heavy on the fat the particle size greatly increased to 2200, of which only 200 or so were small. With Crestor 20 and Zetia I keep the particle count at 600 or lower but still generate a lot of small particles. With not much carbs in my diet with TRgs of only 26 and HDL around 60 there clearly is something of a metabolic genetic oriented issue. At 61 with some CAD I am trying to get it as correct as I can. Like you I have an unfavorable family history. Good news the meds get me to goal. Diet is meat, fish, poultry,eggs, cheese, veggies with little fruit, some rice if eat Japanese food, and a baked potato here and there. No sugar except in 88% plus dark chocolate and no grains or oils other than olive or coconut.
    Your work is very helpful

  • Randy

    Hi Peter

    Great site! Does UCAN SS contain fructose molecules? If yes, how many grams per gram (weight fraction).


  • dave james

    Hi, quick question Peter, what happens all the fat we consume? why does this not get converted to fat in the body? assuming low to moderate exercise regime eg 30 mins walking per day

    • Completely depends on the hormone levels in your body, plus a host of other things. Check out earlier posts on fate of calories.

  • Kyle


    Yet another great post! My question concerning SS is for a person who follows a high fat, moderate protein and low carb diet as you and myself When consuming SS (being a pure carbohydrate) how does that effect your diet? Yes, I understand that it does not spike blood sugar levels but a carbohydrate is a carbohydrate. So 4g of carbohydrate equals 1 tsp of sugar in our body. As we know, excess sugar causes a hormonal imbalance, which leads to carbohydrate cravings and weight gain, literally turning your body into a fat-storing machine rather then a fat-burning machine. So how does SS not turn a fat burner into a sugar burner?

    • The only evidence we have to evaluate that question is the single external study suggesting SS does not impeded access to NEFA during exercise. I suspect there is a dose response at play, though. Perhaps in unlimited amounts it might do what you suggest. No data to be clear. However, for most of us, it’s not necessary to use it in such quantities.

    • Kyle

      That actually makes sense, LOL. So from a distance runner perspective, since I utilize BF rather then carbohydrates using SS can actually prolong my ATP supply by “dipping” into this SS carb as a “back-up” supply while it is supplying glucose to the brain and the body is using BF as fuel.

  • mike

    Hi Peter,

    I was wondering if you could discribe the difference between SS and the WM-HDP resistant starch product that is making its way through the Bodybuilding and Physique world at the moment. It seems that the WM-HDP is linked to a similar concept yet I think it utilizes a different mode of action. Any thoughts/input?

    • Without a head-to-head clinical trial, we don’t know. Based on processing, though, SS is a much higher molecular weight, and therefore much lower osmolality. How much of a difference this makes in insulin response and fat oxidation, would only be speculation on my part, but there is reason to expect these products to behave with quite different kinetics.

  • mike

    Thank you for the timely response. I personally have experimented with both products and feel that the SS better suits my needs. I was just wondering because there seems to be a tremendous lack of thurough explaination on the WM-HDP. I felt the same about the SS until I saw the video you recently put out. Hearing your breakdown of SS confirmed what I thought it was doing and knowing definitively what it does makes me feel more confident in using it.
    Love this site by the way. Top notch

  • Matt

    Hi Peter. I’ve been on a sub 150 carb diet for about a year now and a sub 50 carb high fat diet for about 4-5 months. I recently found out that my T3 (thyroid levels) are low…I’m not sure if this is due to low carbohydrates or to the fact that I have been consuming only about 1,200-1,400 calories a day (I am 6’2 185 pounds).

    I’ve done a lot of reading and found several studies that hint that low carb diets lower T3, but I suspect it’s actually the low calories – Have you had a chance to test your TSH and Free T4 Free T3 levels to see how your diet has affected you? Since you eat a lot of calories a day but are low carb you would be a good indicator (although not proof) of whether the lower T3 levels is due to low carb or low calories.
    As a side note I have recently increased my calories to around 2,400 a day.

  • Nathan

    Hello Peter,

    First of all, thank you for this website and all the research that you have done and continue to do, it has been a great help to many of us.

    I am hoping to receive some guidance from you on a difficult issue with which I struggling, and perhaps SS is the answer. After starting a low-carb diet (<20gm Carb/Day and <75gm Protein/Day, eliminating Diet Soda) roughly two weeks ago, I have noticed that my energy levels are often extremely low, and I often become very tired in the afternoon. While I recognize that I am still very early in the process, I am wondering if my lack of energy and general fatigue in making the switch is due to a lack of keto-adaptation or something else. Assuming that I am still making the physiological switch, would SS be good to use as a source of Carbs in my diet to assist in my transition to nutritional ketosis, or would it simply cause the process to take longer?

    Finally, I am curious to know if the energy drop and fatigue experienced are normal aspects of a switch to nutritional ketosis or is this unusual? I don't see many (any) comments on this type of issue on the blog, so I am curious as to your and others' experience moving from high-carb, low-fat diet to low-carb/high-fat.

    Thank you, Peter

    • Nathan, hard to say without spending a while asking lots of questions. Adaptation takes a while and certainly trying SS might be a reasonable bridge or adjunct.

    • Sylvia King

      I found that when one starts a keto diet make sure right from the beginning you are getting extra salt, potassium, calcium and magnesium every single day .
      It took me 21/2 months to really start to feel good on a keto diet. The biggest mistake everyone seems to make is underestimating the extra salt and potassium (and extra water one should drink) one needs to eat every single day .
      If your salt and potassium drop too low you will feel exhausted.
      I drink zipfizz in 32 ounces of water and add 1/4 of a teaspoon of salt (slightly heaped) to it.
      I am not an athlete so do not need as much salt as they do.
      Avocados are a great source of potassium as well and make a great addition to ketogenic smoothies.
      1/2 a medium avocado has 550 mg of potassium. Ones daily requirement for potassium is 3000 – 4000 mg per day.
      1/2 cup cooked spinach has 419 mg
      1 medium tomato has 273 mg potassium
      6 ounces tomato juice has 658 mg potassium
      Zipfizz is available at Walmart and I think Costco. It contains 60 mg sodium, 950 mg potassium, B vitamins, 500 mg vitamin C, zinc, calcium, magnesium, chromium, vitamin E etc.
      Try this smoothie : Blend a scoop vanilla protein power, coconut milk, avocado, spinach, some fresh mint and ice together.
      Best of luck on your transition. Be patient with your body and do not get too stressed about it. Your body will adapt it just can take some time.

  • Tom Hughes

    Hi Peter,
    I have read your blog with interest and I listened to your podcast with Jimmy Moore the other day.
    I am a Doctor from the UK, I also train as a long distance triathlete and timetrial/road race cyclist and over the past 3 years I have converted myself to be a fat burner. I live almost on fats alone and generally stay below 50g and although I don’t have a ketone monitor at the moment I believe I am living pretty ketogenic.
    I train 20-30 hours a week and train almost soley on a combination of coconut milk, a homemade bar made out of creamed coconut, cashew nut butter and 90% dark chocolate (yum!). And to be honest i’ve felt great.
    But I’ve always been worried (or thought I could be increasing my performance) with a bit of carbs on the fly, but I am wary of maltodextrin etc. as I don’t want to cause insulin spikes that will shut off my fatty acid oxidation which I believe my body heavily relies on.

    I have been fascinated by superstarch, but we can’t get it over here! I am currently speaking to a nutrition company over here regarding coconut based sports nutrition and also possibly bringing superstarch into the uk.

    I just wondered if you had found any information of the superstarch versus the only seemingly available alternative over here which would be waxy maize starch. This stuff is cheap over here, and I am not sure I have seen anything in the literature which would justify the effort and expense of importing superstarch.
    What do you think?


    • Tm, see previous response to this question. Very different molecular properties between WM and SS. How much of a difference this translates to in a clinical trial, I do not know. But big difference between SS and MAL. I suspect WM is closer to MAL, but would need to look at trials.

  • Tom

    Peter, speaking of starch, any thoughts on Ray Cronise’s all-potato diet?

  • Phillip

    Hi Peter,
    Not directly related to SS, but general bio-energetics:

    I’ve noticed that during a hard workout (~1000 Calories), my betahydroxybuterate (BHB) levels drop about 1.5 mM. So I thought I would calculate how many Calories that 1.5 mM drop corresponded to. 6.4 L(of blood) * 1.5 mmol/L = 9.6 mmol of BHB. I don’t have a good figure for the Caloric value of BHB. So I used 1/2 of glucose, or 343 kcal/mol.

    So only about 3.5 Calories! Even if you presume a similar amount from AcAc and glucose you still are looking at just over 10 Calories of these fuels available in my bloodstream at any given time.

    Do you think that means that most of my energy is coming from oxidizing other FFAs, or that there is just a steady flow of ketone bodies pouring into my bloodstream to feed me?

    • Based on the work of Richard Veech and Keiren Clark, the caloric value of B-OHB is actually greater than glucose — about 4.7 kcal/gm. 1 mole of glucose is about 180 gm, about 720 kcal. So based on this, ~10 mmol of B-OHB would amount to (4.7/4)*720*10/1000 = ~8.5 kcal.
      However, this calculation assumes no production of B-OHB. Think about this way, if your glucose is 85 mg/dL at the beginning of a workout and goes up to 90 (or down to 80), this trivial delta says nothing of the hepatic glucose output.

  • Phillip

    Hi Peter,
    Yes, I get it, B-OHB levels in the blood just indicate the “diameter of the fuel lines” not the size of the “fuel tank”.

    Thanks, by googling Veech and Clark I found a related review article (doi: 10.131/ nr.2003.oct.327– 341) that says the turnover time for blood ketones was approximately 2 minutes. But I guess when exercising hepatic ketone body output could increase.

    But that is moot because the same review also mentions that after keto-adaptation muscles stop using ketone bodies and instead subsist on free fatty acids. Which I vaguely remember reading in various places previously.

    Great site, by the way. I read all your blog entries and many of the comments. Good luck with NuSI!

    • Nice analogy. I like it. Veech and Clark get B-OHB levels up over 7 mM with their ketone ester. Amazing…

  • Tom Hughes

    Hi again, thanks for the reply Peter.
    I read with interest your article on the effect of a ketogenic diet on your performance and have told many many people about the changes seen on your physiological testing. You mentioned a way of keeping your top end, do you think this has been accomplished with superstarch?
    Is there a plan for more testing to see if you have re-gained your VO2max?
    Personally having reviewed your results with some sports physiology friends of mine we came to conclusion that we do not believe you ‘lost’ your top end/VO2max, we think its a function of your ability to produce energy so well at submaximal intensities that you no longer need or push your VO2max. We know that VO2max is very fickle and if you don’t push it it tends to drop. Well by looking at the kind of training you do we hypothesized that you no longer push your VO2max the same way you did before as you are not relying on your Oxygen delivery systems as much because of your ability to produce significantly more energy with fats over carbs.
    just our thoughts.

    • Very possible, Tom. Certainly, I became more substrate flexible at anything and everything below threshold without any loss in efficiency or time to exhaustion. The real question, once fully adapted, is how does having 50-60% of pre-existing glycogen stores impact glycolytic pathways? There is so much evidence suggesting that glycogen depletion improve all facets of beta-oxidation of fat, what’s not clear (to me, at least), is absent the quantity of glycogen issue, is there any change in function.

  • rachel

    I’m a low weight female (underweight) , not an athlete. 31 years old. Lots of back pain and digestive issues, etc. I’m confused now…can low carb be making me with all this intense low back pain? I’m not uber-low carb now ..trust me, I eat carbs…but not a lot (not in relation to fats and proteins)..

  • Tom Hughes

    That would be one of my worries. I have no problem with a significant reduction in glycogen as I don’t believe I use it much these days! But what I do worry about is whether my ability to use carbs when I need them has been diminished by down-regulation of glycolytic pathways due to the lack of carbohydrate ingestion/use in submaximal activity.
    I personally believe that my body is clever enough to retain its ability to metobolise carbohydrate if I continue to require it to do so on those occasions when I push the intensity. I have therefore made sure I include a little bit of hard effort in all of my rides, it seems to be doing the trick as despite being very low carb I can push the intensity of rides for long periods without any ill effect, I certainly do not feel that I have lost an ounce of my ‘top end’ as if anything my power at VO2max has increased.

  • Tom Hughes

    Oh and why do my comments say ‘awaiting moderation’ and take so long to be active on the site?

    • Comments sit in ‘awaiting moderation’ land so I can see them in one place and try to respond. Without that feature, I’d never respond to a single comment.

  • Ellen Urciola

    No offense Mr. Hughes but, “So long in moderation ?” I think Dr. Attia’s responses are the fastest , most complete I have ever saw on a blog. By the way, Happy Thanksgiving Peter! May you and your family have a wonderful holiday. I so appreciate each and every post. Without this blog I would have never learned the tools I needed. This is my first holiday that I do not have to worry about how much I can eat. I can sit in front of endless desserts and not once have a twinge of a craving! I am truly grateful for your tireless dedication to helping those of us with overwhelming weight issues achieve such astounding success. Thank you for calmly deescalating my panic when the scale shows weight gain, for putting up with my frustration driven rants, and insipid puling.

    • Thanks so much for the kind wishes, Ellen. I’m actually using this slight break (back from Houston yesterday and don’t get on a plane again for a while week!) to work on what I hope will be a good summary and overview of ketosis for this week’s post.

  • Tom Hughes

    Hi Peter,
    Thanks for the response, that makes sense, sorry I wasn’t questioning your speed of replying I just thought I might be doing something wrong! I have never posted a comment on a blog before!
    I am really interested in what you are doing Peter, there is very little evidence on the performance side of this diet. Personally I believe it has the potential to not only match carb fueled performance but improve on it. I’m looking forward to the latest work from Volek and Phinney.
    Ellen I think you got the wrong end of the stick so to speak!
    Dr Tom Hughes

    • I understood your context, Tom, but I sure like knowing Ellen’s got my back! Appreciate both of you.

  • Maryann

    Happy Thanksgiving Peter to you and your family! Enjoy precious time together!

    I can’t thank you enough for all you have taught me this year. Not only have I learned so much from you, and no doubt will improve my health and my husband’s health for the future…but you have gotten me over my fear of math and science 🙂 Thank you so much for your dedication and selfless hard work. Maryann

  • Paul

    Dr. Attia,

    I love your detailed blogs and am enthused by how you and Gary Taubes have started NuSI to test lo-carb theory.

    Having been on a ketogenic diet (as “confirmed”) by Ketostix for 5 months I have experienced some problems in my workouts. Mostly I am a long-distance cyclist ( having traversed America several times) and I did note most recently that I just did not need to stop & eat a burrito or chips or guzzle Gatorade every hour like my friends did. I could go without much food at all and felt I was constantly waiting for them outside 7-11 stores as they shopped for more carbs.

    When not cycling cross country, though, I favor 60- or 90 minute workouts on my gym’s stepmill ( escalator type) and have for years. When I began my low-carb diet I noticed that I seemed to get much hotter much sooner on the stepmill, and my heart rate would zoom. I start at about 90 bpm but by half an hour the heart rate reaches 160 or more. (Rather fast for a 61-year-old). Nonetheless I try to tough it out but it is really uncomfortable after 45 minutes. Using fans and drinking water forestalls this effect for a bit — 10 minutes or so. The thing is, I don’t remember experiencing these effects so dramatically before the ketogenic diet, nor getting so hot. I tried diluted SS recently and it may have helped slightly but not conclusively. Do you have any ideas why a low-carb diet would so raise heat production? ( I suspect heat is the underlying problem.) Your thoughts would be most welcome.

    • Interesting, Paul. It could be hydration or electrolyte abnormality, I suppose, but not really sure without knowing more.

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  • Sunel

    Hi Peter
    I have been trying to cut carbs for a few weeks now and it has been working well for me. I’m doing my first marathon in 10 days’ time and I’m wondering what I should use for fuel during the race?
    I currently live in Thailand.
    Thanks very much.

    • Might be trough to try such a huge demand after a big shift in diet. Maybe look to low sugar carbs, like nuts if you can tolerate them, but make sure you test during training. If you can find some SS, that would probably be easier. Same caveat with training, though.

  • Una

    Merry Christmas Peter!
    I love this site!
    Short Question, if I am keeping under 50carbs a day and eat SS – does that count to my 50g of carbs a day?
    Thank you,


    • Probably not entirely, and it’s highly dependent on your activity level around the time of consumption.

  • Una

    That makes sense, so today for example I ran my long run of 20K having one 25g servings of ss before and after.
    I tested my ketone levels and was at 1.3 Mm about 2 hours after the run.
    At this point I am running about an hour at a time on the week days (various intensity) and a long slow run each Saturday. I feel like I could “not count’ the carbs in the Superstarch when doing these types of runs, or is that not right, or only partly right.
    Thank you again, best blog ever!

  • Phillip

    Dr. Attia,

    Hi neighbor! (I live in San Diego too) A question regarding testing fat… Not my fat, but lard from my pigs. I started raising pigs for my primal freezer, then my neighbors wanted some, later my coworkers wanted in on the action after a BBQ. I’ve tweaked their diet over the years for HIGHER fat content. (The pigs, not my friends). I’ve even switched to a heritage breed known for its higher intramuscular fat. No “other white meat” for me! I’m happy with the apparent results. However, I’m also aiming for maximizing the lard fat profile through an optimal feeding program. I’m flying blind at this point because I can’t test my lard samples. I have samples from 100% grain fed lard to 100% grass fed and varying combinations thereof. Currently I have a batch of pigs on a ration which includes coconut meal (imitating the Tokelau by guesstimation)…

    Are you familiar with a lab or test where I can have these samples tested? Preferably local to San Diego? Shooting for Uber Bacon! Google hasn’t been much help for this one. Hopefully you don’t mind the offbeat question. I’ve enjoyed what you do here. Phenomenal and generous. See this link from an article at Weston Price for an idea of what I’m getting at.


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  • Tristan

    So, I hope this question hasn’t been addressed elsewhere (I did look!), or isn’t simply so obvious that I’m the only one who doesn’t get it, but there’s something I don’t understand about the properties of Superstarch. The labeling describes one serving (one scoop in the tubs) as containing 90 calories, but how is that to be of any use for even a moderate level of activity, especially if to the that value is being absorbed slowly over the the course of one or two hours?

    For example, if I run a 12-minute two-mile, I’m probably consuming somewhere between 200-300 calories, and if only a portion of Superstarch becomes available in that time, how could it possibly sustain serious activity? I really hope this doesn’t seem like an assault on the product, because I love this site and have ordered and use Superstarch because of it. I’m assuming that the misunderstanding is due to a technicality in the labeling requirements, but I would like to understand how SS functions calorically in the real world, as opposed to the FDA’s. 😉 Thanks for your all your time and effort!

    • Great question, Tristan! The point is that you’re carrying over 100,000 kcal on your body. Calorie-for-calorie replacement during exercise is impossible, except at low levels. For example, a tempo ride for me is about 2700 ml/min O2, about 750 kcal/hour. But I can do that for several hours without eating a bite, even when glycogen stores are low, because at that level of exertion my RQ is about 0.80, so I only need about 150 to 200 kcal from CHO (glycogen + any ingested CHO). Does this make sense? Maybe worth re-watching the video in Part I where I explain this in better detail.

  • Joe

    Hi Peter!

    I’ve been following a LCHF diet and particularly a ketogenic diet for the past 6 months or so. I went from pretty chubby to somewhat leaner (about a 35lb drop) and feel better than ever. Now that I am beginning to lean out I would like to strength train in order to gain some muscle as I begin to cut. However, I am not really in a place where I can afford products such as Super Starch. I am limited to pretty basic supplements and real food. Do you have any suggestions for an ideal post-workout meal? Do I even need a post workout meal? Almost all the resources I have read are coming from a traditional carb-loading perspective. I have read “The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance” and they only address this issue in passing with very little real world advice. What are your thoughts?

    • Probably most important thing you can do is ingest a bit of protein pre-workout (only 5-10 gm necessary), but more importantly, about 20-25 gm immediately after. There are other sits that will do a much better job of giving you insight into which foods could be most helpful in this regard.

  • Phil

    Hey Peter.

    I don’t know if you alrady talked about it, I’m sure someone asked but I can’t fin this information on this site (well, a bit in the last post here). Most of the people here are interested in losing weight but what about gaining weight? Is it possible without adding carbs at all or is a small quantity post-workout required? If so, what do you think is the safe amount to stay in ketosis? Thank you very much.

    • The type of workout determines the amount of post-workout carbs required. This can range from very little to quite a bit.

  • Negg
    • Read the article, Negg. It’s pretty clear what he’s saying. He’s not talking about “low” carb, he’s specifically addressing “zero” carb. A zero carb diet is nearly impossible to consume. I don’t know anyone who has (except him). I guess the Inuit did, though they seemed fine. Could be genetic differences, I suppose.

    • Bill

      In addition to opposing zero carb diets, Jaminet has been outspoken in advocating pretty substantial carb consumption, around 150g per day, mostly from “safe starch.” He warns of various dire dangers of consuming inadequate glucose, even well short of zero carb and very much within then range of popular low-carb approaches such as Atkins (e.g., loss of mucous, hypothyroidism, suppressed immune functioning, facilitation of fungal infection via ketones).

      Jaminet opposes ketogenic diets (except as specific therapy for certain diseases, and even then insists that starch be eaten along with coconut oil, MCT oil, etc. to compensate). He advocates substantial starch consumption even for diabetics and obese people and has strongly criticized Gary Taubes, Ron Rosedale, etc. He has quite a following and has apparently converted many low-carbers to his “Perfect Health Diet.” He appears to have quickly became a major opinion shaper in the ancestral health movement and says he’ll be an editor of their new journal. In 2/12 he wrote:

      ” . . . we would say that a carb intake around 30-40% is neutral and fully meets the body’s actual glucose needs; and discuss the pros and cons of deviating from this neutral carb intake in either direction.

      For most people, I believe a slightly carb-restricted intake of 20-30% of calories is optimal.”

    • Jane

      As I read it, the diet Jaminet writes about was “effectively” zero carb, but included a “high vegetable” component, amounting to 300 calories of carbs per day. For that to be “effectively” zero carb, I would assume that means about 75 grams of low carb vegetables, such as those recommended by Westman et al at Duke in the initial stage of their ketogenic diet, as well as in the initial stage of Westman’s New Atkins.

      Peter, do you agree that this would be zero carbs?

      What about Jaminet’s discussion of the long term effects of such a low carbohydrate Intake. Do you know of any studies that report those?
      Are they Biologically plausible?

      • I don’t agree with Paul’s suggestion, as I read it, but I’d rather not comment on it until I could speak with him directly. I hate when people mis-represent what I say/write, so I try to avoid doing it to others.

  • Lauren

    Please excuse any naivete on my part with the next question, as I feel that I may be one of the least educated persons on this site, but there were just a few things swimming around as I have been poking through your postings and the blogs…
    1. I have been looking into effective ways to determine your bodily environment, i.e. acidic or alkaline. Urine strips and mouth litmus are offered, but have naysayers for each, saying they are basically ineffective indicators.. Have you tried anything in your blood panel that could give a clue as to how your unique ketogenic diet has affected the acidity of your body? Can this even be determined? (Cancer is very high on the concern list for me).
    2. Can you point to any well-founded, well-executed studies that show the effect of a ketogenic diet and pregnancy? Is there any risk to maintaining this lifestyle during those months?
    3. I am new at trying this personal experimentation idea based on your journey, and I wonder if there are any combinations of diet that are absolute No-Nos? I don’t believe I am ketonic at this point, and am far too sissy to get a blood panel, but am systematically trying to eliminate most carbs from my diet, save nuts, seeds and veggies. I have increased my fat intake, in the form of olive and grapeseed oil, flax seeds, cheeses, eggs, peanut butter and am trying the coconut oil thing. If I am not achieving ketosis, can a “half-assed” approach at low carb be detrimental? Because of the increase in fats and proteins(<120 daily) and probably overall calories (I know there is a post on calories, just humor me). I have a history of diabetes in my family, have no reason to believe that I am insulin resistant, but tend to hold a lot of water and weight when I do eat flour, sugar or other known criminals…and they really slow me down.
    I am again asking as a member of the general and uneducated public. I do try very hard to understand what you write, but am struggling a little bit from time to time. Please do not be offended if these questions seem far too simplistic or ridiculous. I have been debating for a week or two as to whether to even ask them… Thank you so much for all you do!

    • Lauren, all great questions.
      1. Addressed in previous comments, though I don’t recall where. Sorry.
      2. No, I’m not aware of any and I don’t think it’s necessary, even in the case of gestational diabetes. Though a well-formulated carb-reduced diet, especially one reducing sugar and refined carbs, would be advantages. Prospective studies are emerging to test this directly.
      3. I’ve never felt that a very high fat + high carb diet makes sense.

  • Michael McBlane

    Hi Peter, I enjoy your site and the great information on it. I’ve been primal/low carb for about 3 years after being an avid carb eater and have had no problem dumping the carbs. I’m 62, 6’4, 185, play hockey 4 times a week and after initially going primal hit the wall big time, while playing “carbless”.

    I migrated over to a book called something like primal for athletes and now carb up with a baked potato 3 hours before playing as well as a banana and my usually sports smoothie consisting of strawberries, orange, Mark Sissons whey powder, bcaa powder and walnuts.

    My question is with UCAN powder could I forgo the potato and still have the energy to play hockey.

  • SteveK

    I’m a marathon runner and just received my first shipment of Ucan so that I can test it out. I am currently using Vitargo for my fueling needs during racing, another high MW carb product that is easier on my stomach compared to other options (but not perfect…gut rot at mile 21 is possible, trust me).

    The developers are proud that it spikes insulin levels higher than maltodextrin and they tout this as a benefit. In the back of my mind I always wondered if that was a real benefit when it comes to endurance. Weight lifting or sprinting, maybe, but not marathon running. Your talks have convinced me that it’s not a benefit…but perhaps a spike could be good for some individuals depending on how they burn carbs/fat ?? I’m not an expert so I’m wondering how an insulin spike during a marathon can be a benefit to anyone wanting to prevent hitting the wall.

    • No benefit to spiking insulin during aerobic or even anaerobic activity. Post workout glycogen replacement does not require a “spike” either. Even a modest rise in insulin a glycogen-depleted state will drive all available CHO into the liver and muscle as glycogen.

  • SteveK

    Thanks, Peter. I see now that I’ve been doing everything wrong for years. My usual protocol involves eating carbs in the morning to “top off my tank” prior to the marathon and then consuming insulin-spiking carbs during the race. No wonder I hit the wall nearly every freakin time. I’ve done pretty well for myself so I cannot really complain, but I am VERY excited to test out my new nutrition strategy. Thank you!!

  • Thomas Beresford

    I know there are many variables to consider but I have a question.
    I train with heavy lifting (deadlifts, squats etc, in the 5reps of 5 sets region) plus I also do some of the exercises recommended by Doug McGuff.
    Essentially I do high intensity bursts, lasting up to around 90 seconds, driving my anaerobic pathways hard, and the subsequently the aerobic pathways during recovery.
    I’m ‘assuming’ that I am predominantly using my muscle glycogen for emergency on site usage.
    My question is about recovery. I currently consume 3 wholegrain rice cakes (around 18g of carbohydrate in total) plus 20g of Vitargo (see here http://www.vitargo.com/) with the aim of getting my muscle glycogen replenished as quickly as possible. I’ve never tested my insulin response to this ingestion of Carbs post recovery.
    Do you think this is a) too much carbs in terms of grams; and b) having an adverse affect on my insulin sensitivity?
    Please feel free to advise in any way. I know you get stacks of questions and appreciate you might not be able to give me too much detail.

    • No idea, Thomas. I know nothing about your genetic make-up, training goals, etc. to have any commentary.

  • Thomas Beresford

    I suppose having read through a lot of the information on your blog, I’m now questioning the concept of consuming ‘high quality’ carbs immediately post exercise in order to replenish muscle glycogen stores. Recovery from exercise is extremely interesting to me. I am low carb (around 100g or so each day) moderate protein and high fat. I follow many of the principals of intermittent fasting, and the Bulletproof diet, which is effectively coffee + grass fed butter + MCT oil in the morning, then eating between 2 and 9pm. I only eat any ‘root’ carbs after training with my main meal. train 3 – 4 times per week. I have no ‘sugars’ or processed foods. I’m 75kg and 5’10” body fat is around 14% (and falling)

  • Hi Peter
    I would like to adopt your approach but need a little nudge in the right direction.
    Are you able to recommend any well conducted studies on the role of nutrition on recovery from exercise (high intensity preferably). Specifically on balance / quantities of macronutrients, timings, modes of ingestion etc.
    No problem if not, but I thought if anyone would know of well conducted studies it would be yourself.
    Best regards

    • There is very little WELL DONE research in this field, regardless of dietary approach. A colleague of mine spent a few years studying this in great detail and came away with very few solid conclusions. Much of what is known re: bodybuilding is empirical. Anyone who thinks bodybuilders are not bright would be surprised at their insight into maximizing anabolism, both chemically and nutritionally. As for HIIT/Crossfit-type work, much of work is limited. I do this type of training 3x per week and have been able to adapt, but it took a long time. My initial response to carb reduction was a reduction in performance, also. I think Volek and Phinney have a book about performance, that may be worth looking at.

  • Thomas Beresford

    I’ve ordered the Volek and Phinney book on performance.

    Have you come across this study? http://ajpendo.physiology.org/content/293/3/E833
    it’s a 2007 study but seems to suggest low carb is fine even in recovery.

    • Yes, I quite enjoyed it. I’ve never found the argument remotely compelling that one needs post-workout carbs to promote anabolism, which this seems to support. I do think — depending on intensity and RQ — there is a role for glycogen replacement, though this is a different issue.

  • SteveK

    Everyone is different and I think Peter is saying that we need to take the facts about biology and apply it to our individual biology and individual lives – how we train, our genetic makeup, how we respond to diet, etc, etc – and see what works best for each person. There is no cookie cutter solution.

    I recently cut my carbs and upped my fat intake, but I’m playing around with the mix and the timing. I’m a runner and doing hard 800m intervals is doable with minimal carbs – much to my surprise. My problem is recovering from all my workouts during the week in order to do a longer, semi-hard 12-16 mile run. I’m finding that I run out of gas so I’m upping my carbs slightly during the week to see if that changes.

  • Katherine

    Hi Peter, Thanks for all the great information. Your blog was recommended to me by a friend and I have not been disappointed.

    I have a question about Superstartch…I lived quite happily (and, I thought, healthily) on a ketogenic diet (albeit low fat) for a good five years. Felt amazing, endless amounts of energy and was very lean. However, after a 6 month period of sustained stress and sleep disruptions, in combination with the extreme and exercise regime i was undertaking at the time, started to suffer from adrenal fatigue/hypothyroid symptoms (and started to put on weight). All of my practitioners advised me to add carbs back into my diet, for the reason that the low carbohydrate/low calorie diet was downregulating my thyroid (I had very low free t4 and free t3) and was causing my RT3 to increase. I stopped my ketogenic diet at this point in time. Now I can honestly say that except for a 3 am wakeup every night, my energy levels and all symptoms have resolved, however,I am terrified to go back to a ketogenic diet again, principally because of these purported effects on the thyroid. However, if i were to add Superstarch to my diet, would this provide the necessary carbohydrates for T4 to t3 conversion, whilst still allowing me to extract the fat loss benefits of ketosis? Would this kind of diet be stressful on the adrenals?

    • I’m not sure if superstarch is the solution, but it sounds like things were not well before. Hard for me to know what is best for you just based on a short history.

  • Tim Jenne

    I’ve been training LCHF for quite a while now ~1.5 years, but in the last 2 months I’m really serious, I don’t cheat at all with carbs. ~25-50G per day, mostly in the form of vegetables. Cycling is my sport and my weekly average is about 150-180 miles, most of those miles are on an empty stomach with water/electrolyte.
    I did a century last week as my first experiment for a long haul. I used one SS shake 30 min before the ride began. The first 60 miles I felt pretty good, just on water. At the lunch stop, I decided that I ought to grab a few little potatoes and 1/2 banana, then put another SS shake in my water bottle. I drank about 12 oz and hit the road. About 15 minutes later, my stomach was clamped down in pain and I felt like screaming groceries. I never did, but I was not good at all for the last 25-30 miles. My riding buddy pulled me in the last 20. What happened? I was unable to eat at the end and it was about 2 hours before I could put anything down. Any advice would be great.

    • Hmmm, very serious GI distress, for sure. Hard to explain from 1/2 banana and a few little potatoes. I wonder if it would have happened without those foods, but additional SS? Or the reverse?

  • Jeff Johnson


    Stars Go Blue

    I decided to spike my insulin this afternoon – via – forcing myself to eat the following and I wasn’t hungry

    one cucumber( tolerable)
    one summer squash(tolerable)
    3 cups grapes(not so tolerable)
    one cup brown cooked rice(very boring)

    Unless this results in something great(fat loss) – this is the last time I’m doing this and even then – I think’s I’ll use whey protein instead – if there is a next time

    I was surprized how unenjoyable this exercise in spiking insulin was – and right now I don’y give a crap as I may need to perform surgery on myself to relieve the pressure – then call 911 to get some one to take me to hospital to fix my bad surgery – I think I’ll skip the self surgery on second thought

  • David Fyhrie

    I stumbled upon a athletic energy product out of the UK called Elivar Smart Nutrition which claims a slow release of glucose via Isomaltulose (chemical name: 6-0-?-D-glucopyranosyl-D-fructose), also known by the trade name Palatinose. It is a disaccharide manufactured enzymatically from sucrose via bacterial fermentation. There is a study on it showing a slow release of glucose. Holub, et.al. (2010). “Novel findings on the metabolic effects of the low glycaemic carbohydrate isomaltulose (Palatinose™)”. British Journal of Nutrition 103 (12): 1730–7. The peak glucose level for test subjects was 5.8 mmol/l and the max insulin level was 227.8 pmol/l which was 50% lower than sucrose which was 470.1 pmol/l.
    What you think about it’s effectiveness in still allowing for fat burning compared to SS?

    • I don’t know. Would probably need to compare head-to-head. Maybe see if it was compared to maltodextrin.

  • Brian Johnson

    After reading your articles on Superstarch, I decided to try it. I LOVE it, but there’s one huge problem that I have…

    I am an avid crossfitter and I have been on a keto diet for many years. I do a strength program (mad cow) in the early morning and an intense wod in the early evening. I rest on Sundays. When I take Superstarch (3 scoops before each workout; 6 scoops per day), I have much more energy that I can put into my workouts and my strength seems to be improving at a much better pace. My wife, who is also an avid crossfitter has tried Superstarch and she loves it. She is setting new PRs in all her lifts and she continues to best her benchmark wods!

    So here’s my problem: Superstarch is Super expensive. Between my wife and I, we consume an entire tub (30 servings) in just 3 days. We go through 9 tubs a month ($540 per month). We can not sustain this expense and we are torn about it because the benefits that we see while taking Superstarch are tremendous. Are you aware of any natural food sources (or) products out there that may provide similar effects without the super high price tag?

    • What? This seems crazy. 5 servings per day per person is overkill unless you’re professional athlete!

  • Rob Weiner


    As a thought experiment, imagine I were to take several doses of SS over the course of a day, and then sit on the couch and watch TV shows. In this case, wouldn’t my glucose level have to increase at some point, and my insulin level follow shortly behind? Am I missing something? Unless there is some magical “only get absorbed when insulin levels are low” property of this product, the user still needs to insure they are not overloading on SS calories. Is that right?

    I am trying to control insulin levels as a way to treat a channelopathy. I have been controling insulin with a LC/HF diet and caloric restriction, but I am losing more weight than desired. I wonder if SS might be a useful tool.

    As always, thank you for spreading your insights and knowledge. This blog has been enormously helpful in using diet to mitigate symptoms.


    • It depends on how insulin sensitive the person is. Some people will “dispose” of the glucose with far less insulin than others. It also depends on the state of glycogen stores.

    • Jason Shields

      Dr. Attia,

      Firstly, thank you so much for this information. I have cerebral palsy and mild Aspberger’s and have been following the ketogenic protocol for about 3 weeks now with amazing benefits. I consider myself very active, not necessarily sports-wise. I do lift three to four days a week and incorporate a lot of functional fitness in addition to working my cleaning business every night and chasing my special education students around during the day when I substitute teach. I was wondering if UCAN Super Starch would benefit me daily. I have lost some weight, down to 139lbs and holding and am 5’10”. I do not want to lose any more weight and actually gain some muscular strength.

      I use the KetoForce supplement and it helps to fight the fatigue and adaptation phase of ketosis for me. My question is would UCAN Super Starch help regulate my energy levels, especially in the second half of the day when I do workout and am active the most? On days when I’m in my home office writing or seeing clients, would the SS be beneficial in regulating sustained energy levels or should I just use it on my more active days?

      I hope I made sense. Thanks again for helping me change my life around. I’m working with other persons with cerebral palsy and autism to adopt a LCHF lifestyle to see if it would benefit them as well.

      • It could, especially if the workouts are glycogen demanding.

  • Matthew Borowski

    Hi Peter,

    Thanks for the great site. I was hoping you could help me with some nutritional advice. I am competing in the Australian Ultimate Frisbee National Championships this week. My team will play 8 x 90min games of Ultimate over 3 days. I will play about half of each game which will involve running, turning and jumping at 80-100% intensity. It is very energy intensive and by the end of day one quite exhausting. I’m trying to work out the best way to feed my body over the 3 days and in the lead up. Currently I eat a relatively low carb diet with a full complement of veggies, legumes and meat, but no grains, fruits or starches. I have purchased a tub of SS for consumption during the tournament.

    Do you have any thoughts on what I should eat during the day at the tournament as lunch and also what would be best to eat afterwards to refuel for the next day? I am confident that my current diet will supply enough energy through fat burning for 1 day of the tournament, but worried that I may not be giving myself the best opportunity for recovery heading in to days 2 and 3.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


  • Shawn Michael Larkin

    Hello Peter,

    You have inspired me to go Keto-adapted (or now). Thank you.

    I am considering using super starch after methodically reading your posts on it.

    I hope you can comment on my idea for how to apply it:

    I do some interval style training on a fasted stomach — something like the newly famed “7 minute workout” for 45 minutes — then break and then do some intense cycling for about 1 hour.

    Typically, I have some water and electrolytes between intervals and biking and a protein shake afterwards.

    However, I was thinking about doing the protein shake with SS in-between intervals and biking. From what I understand, my insulin levels would be low during the intervals (via the fasting) and without some agent like SS, the protein shake might spike them before I start biking or, worse, be converted to glucose (which would be a real waste) while biking.

    Do you think it is possible / probable that taking a protein shake with SS in-between intervals and biking might work to fend off both insulin spiking and the misappropriation of the protein?

    Thanks in advance,


  • Miriam

    Hi Peter,

    I have a personal observation that is a bit curious to me. Maybe it’s a spurious thing but maybe there is an explanation you can suggest. I began a ketogenic diet about 4 months ago, kind of abruptly from a low fat/low cal diet. The transition wasn’t terrible actually, but my crossfit/HIT style workouts became pretty hard to do. I started using a scoop of SS 30 min prior to my workouts with great results. The interesting thing is, there was a profound appetite suppression post workout. Prior to using the SS I would trpiccally come home from a workout and eat, but on workouts with SS on board, I will come home post workout without the slightest desire for food for several hours. I track my food intake, and so I noticed that on days when I consumed the SS prior to a workout, I ran a large calorie deficit. I eat when hungry, I do not try to purposefully restrict calories, so this was in no way deliberate. It really seems that the combination of the keto/ss/workout really suppressed appetite. I have not tried to consume ss without working out but if I workout and forgo the ss, I still get pretty hungry about an hour after the workout. It also seems dose dependent. Lately I have tried using half a scoop, and it seems like the effect is still there but less pronounced then with a whole scoop. Along with the suppression in appetite, I feel really energetic, almost euphoric. I would love your take on this. It makes me kinda want to start poking my fingers and measuring things 🙂

  • Bruce

    Hi Peter,

    First my experience and then a question; well no – let me start by saying what a great blog. Thanks so much for the information.

    I’ve been hearing a lot about SS (Ucan) and decided to try it myself. Two weeks ago I ran a 50km and had a mix of SS before the start. I knew it was going to be a longish day so I carried some more SS in powder form. At about 2 hours into the run I mixed what I had but I couldn’t mix it properly so I took a lot of it in powder form. Not very nice to take – but all good. After about 4 hours I started to take small sips of coke (up to then I only drank water) and within minutes started to feel quite gassy and uncomfortable. I got to the finish in a slowish 5:15 and while walking to the car I started to feel terrible. Long story, short, I have never been so violently sick. Couldn’t stand, couldn’t sit; just uncontrollable retching.

    Fast forward to today. Another 50km but this time a trail race. Same as before; I took Ucan before the event but this time I carried a properly mixed bottle. For 5 hours I was just dandy. At the 44km mark I had run out of drink and food so I took a small nougat and within minutes I could feel the terrible symptoms appear again. To give you an idea of HOW sick I was, it took me 2 hours to do the last 6km (and my marathon PB is 2:37!) because most of the time I was on my hands and knees.

    And now to the question: I don’t expect you to waste your valuable time on answering in detail. Is there anything I can read on the side effects of a Starch / Sugar combination ? I have done a search and have come up with “never mix starch and sugar because while there is starch in the stomach, the sugar just sits and ferments”.

    Any leads / links for me to read?


    ps – and lesson learnt – I will never do that again.

    • Bruce, let’s start the obvious, as you note: lesson learned! I have not seen this reaction before, but I suspect the osmotic load and, perhaps, the fructose content of the sugar-drink so late in the race/event are the problem. But, wow, that sounds like a horrible reaction. Do you think you can just go with SS the whole way, plus some BCAA, like BioSteel?

  • Douglas

    I am a amature cyclist…but I would like to do a lot better on my rides and that is to say, stay in the groupe on group rides, but I run out of energy very fast, 12 miles and I can already feel the drop or lower energy level, I will finish the ride usually way behide the group, the average ride on Saturdays is 31 – 47 miles, speed on Saturdays groupe rides are 20 mph but I will drop to 14 – 17 mph, I do ride once a year on a centry ride 100 miles this year average speed as per Garmin 910xt 12 mph and a double metric centry 145 plus miles, Garmin 910xt speed 12.1 Savannah Ga. too Augusta Ga., I would like to finish a little better and I’m curious about ketosis would this help ? as a rule I comsume very little suger fruit would be my biggest offender and no wheat or patsa, with my weekly exercise schedule two rides on the weekend, weather and work permitting, weekends 31 -47 miles Saturday and hopefully a ride on Sunday 60 – 70 miles and maybe a spin class thrown in there every now and then, My question is, would ketosis help a guy like myself or is it that I am not training hard enough ? and would I stay in ketosis all the time or just for the longer rides ?

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  • kb

    i follow a ketogenic diet and follow my macros very closely. i’m wondering, if i keep my net carbs to 20-25 daily, how can i account for the occasional use of ucan superstarch given that a serving of it exceeds my total daily carb count? i know that it’s a slow-releasing starch that shouldn’t interfere with ketosis. i’m just wondering how i can account for this in my macro tracking. thank you in advance.

  • Elizabeth Vandermer Lacey

    Hi Peter

    I have been following your blog for a while, I get a little lost in some of the more technical information but feel I have a good grasp of the basic concepts you write about. I have super starch and I have begun experimenting with BCAAs, I am a little confused on how/when to use these two products. I think I understand that SS will probably be most beneficial once I start longer training sessions–right now I’m just working out about an hour several times per week, but I still feel like I get something from it. In late march I will start longer workouts (tri season) how best to use BCAAs? How best to combine the use of both products? I got some samples of Biosteel and I was really pleased with the product! Thanks for this blog, I don’t remember how I fell onto the site, but the information has changed everything for me.

    • When I need both I mix the flavorless SS with the HPSD from Biosteel.

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  • Ellen Urciola

    Hi Peter,
    So glad to see your back to posting, I so enjoy your family photos (your children are gorgeous and I surmise as smart as their parents!).
    Soooo, any comment on the latest weight loss discovery, that seems to benefit mainly women (Yea!!!), from the primula tree? I know, probably just grasping for straws.

    • Ellen, the only thing I can say today is that more than ever I am amazed at how difficult it is to understand the complexity of fat regulation in women. It’s hard enough in general, but in women, presumably, due to the role of sex hormones, the complexity is greater.

  • I’m into the 4th month of my first attempt of a ketogenic diet. Based on the BHB blood testing I’m averaging 1.2 mmol/L with a standard deviation of 0.52 mmol/L. I precipitate in ultra mens masters bodybuilding age 60 to 69.

    I’m thinking about including SuperStarch as a pre-workout supplement to increase my glycogen levels for the anaerobic activity of weight training. My daily consumption of carbs is about 25 grams. My question is have you measured the impact to your ketosis state when you used SuperStarch?

    Jerry Bruton

  • Aaron D

    OK I have been limiting my intake of carbs with generally wonderful results – anecdotally speaking, because I haven’t had blood work done… No rice, pasta, etc. No sugar except as occurs in carrots, peas, and an occasional can of V-8. I used to get shakey when hungry, not anymore. My biking is MUCH improved – I don’t run out out of gas at 10 miles now, and am much “stronger” with much better endurance. So I am a happy convert.

    I hope you can address a question, though. I can’t find again where you mention SALT… I sweat a LOT during a two-hour ride here in KC, MO where it’s often in the 90’s in both temperature and humidity. How can I gauge my required salt intake? My feet/ankles swell almost daily to mid-shin height – too much salt? not enough? I probably don’t drink enough water, but I read various places that too little salt is more dangerous than not enough. And I do routinely get muscle twitches and even light-headedness sometimes. I’ve experimented a little with electrolyte supplements, but they seem to exacerbate the puffy feet. So I’m a little worried I’m doing damage….

    Thanks in advance.


  • GeoBenz

    Great info, but I’m a little confused on one point. You made it clear that you use SS during your rides not before. What I read in one of the responses and in all the studies was that UCAN intends for their product to be used before and after work outs.
    I recently made the switch to a ketogenic diet (6 Weeks ago) and am currently experimenting with drinking BP Coffee before workouts and water during. Todays ride was good but I was wiped out after. Was starting to bonk after 2.5 hours.
    I found this blog last night and am going to try SS. My thoughts are to try the BP Coffee before, SS during and SS w/protein after workouts. Is this a good place to start? any thoughts are appreciated.

  • Kyle


    Thanks for all of your hard work and dedication to the actual science, not just the marketing facade at the forefront of products. I have learned a lot from your site, and continue to learn, not to mention pass along your information. Hopefully I can change the views of a few people about what we eat with your help.

    If it isn’t too much trouble, I have a few quick questions. Do you have any feelings towards CarboPro (https://carbopro.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=58) as compared to Generation UCAN SS? Looks similar, costs less, which unfortunately is an important consideration for me.

    Secondly, there is a percentage of fat vs glucose burned at all times, but in running ultramarathons, it seems that after, say 27 miles, does the percentage of fat burning decrease? It seems that I needed more fuel for my last 50K that I thought I would. I ran with one Omnibar and a few cashews and almonds/almond butter, with water and some SCAPS.

    Thank you so much for all of the hard work and for taking the time to read/respond to my questions!


    • Su-Chong Lim

      Hey, Kyle:

      I’m not Peter, obviously, but I think I have some insight to the issues here. The whole point of UCAN SS is that it is a high tech product that ends up in solution/suspension in the gut, steadily slowly absorbed, not causing any blood glucose peaks. And no GI distress because molecular weight of 500,000 to 700,000, so the osmolality in the gut is not an issue.

      I went to the CarboPro website and although they say essentially their product is a polymer of glucose, they don’t have a lot of scientific backing. The molecular weight is “about 1000” which compares poorly with SS of 500,00- to 700,000. With glucose having a molecular weight of 180, essentially the CarboPro polymer only has about 6 glucose molecules strung together. A solution with the equivalent glucose concentration in the gut would have 500 to 700 time the osmolality of SS!

      I have no axe to grind with SS. I’m just an interested consumer like you. The high price sucks. But at lest the science behind it is sound. I don’t think it’s a big scam. The CarboPro sounds similar, but only superficially. I think you would do better doing what I used to do, and still might — make sushi rolls or small rice balls, maybe with some egg in them (watch out for bacterial growth in long hot waits). Or coconut. And wash down with water.

    • Su-Chong Lim

      @Kyle: just a follow up to the diy sushi suggestion — I have used brown rice to slow down the GI uptake. And small constant nibbles to flatten out the carb absorption/glucose spike, hopefully, which is doable off a top tube bento-box or rear jersey pocket on a bike. Ultra runner situation would have a pouch/pocket, no? You could research Korean rice rolls for a variation on the sushi taste and palatability.

  • Su-Chong Lim

    Hey Peter:

    I’m fully keto adapted now, and trying to work out a viable fuelling strategy for 1/2 IM and Full IM races this summer. I have managed to get the raspberry Superstarch from and Edmonton supplier, but I find the Stevia taste off-putting. The Canada suppliers don’t have the solid bars or the plain SS powder. But the UCAN people are reluctant to supply me directly, keep on referring me to the Canada list, despite my explanations, frustrating. Another technical problem is that making the solution ends up more like a suspension, I find — I’m not sure that blending it well is a guarantee that coming back from the swim I won’t find the sludge settling out and clogging my drinking straw. My aero bar mounted drinking system is not very conducive to shaking the bottle either.

    In the interests of better quantifying the timed intake of SS, is there any information on ingesting the SS as a solid? Maybe cooked up into a starch ball pellet or poured into gelatine capsules, or powder into a gelatine wafer wrap (into the mouth,… gag) and washing down with plain water or Skratch solution or something like that. The end result should be the same, no? — powder and liquid in the stomach > duodenum > small intestine. More accurate titration, no gummed up bottles. Water replacement is much more reliably available during the race, too.

    Any thoughts on this scenario?

  • Benny

    Hi Peter, great info on UCAN! I play beach volleyball and it’s primarily an explosive sport. I’m wondering if this product would be helpful for me as a keto adapted athlete during my tournaments. I haven’t been able to find much research on a sport like mine where you are max jumping a lot and sprinting for short bursts.

    Thank you for all work that you do,
    Benny Hammond

  • Mikel Bartol

    I read some of the research on your product and as someone who is perpetually on a ketogenic diet, I see lots of anecdotal information on how superstarch can maintain fat metabolism. However, I have not been able to find anything on testing before/during/after usage with regards to Ketone levels, (i.e.,Ketone MMOL via blood testing). Is there anything out there on this topic?

    Don’t get me wrong, I am very intrigued and plan on trying the product to ‘hopefully’ enhance short duration and intense training but am curious if any of the aforementioned testing has occurred.

    The last item, which is very nerdish, is related to the mTOR pathway mechanism. Some of those I work with have various neurological dysfunction which is well treated with a high fat / low carbohydrate diet, hence my interest in any clinically based opinions on ‘mTOR’.

    Kind Regards,


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