UCAN Edge Energy Gels are a unique fueling product because they don’t have any sugars in them, and yet they perform quite well as a quick source of energy that lasts. Pros: nice not overly sweet taste, little or no water needed; Cons: a little hard to squeeze/suck the gel out of the small opening (this is quite minor); Other notables: a little starchy texture – kind of like very fine flour.
Most of the top energy gel companies work on the dilemma of how to quickly and efficiently deliver sugars into your system. There are also other energy gel makers (Spring energy for example) that focus on slower release of energy by integrating fats into the formula.
UCAN Edge Energy Gels offer a solution that is a little bit different. They have designed what they currently call LIVSTEADY corn starch (previously referred to as Superstarch) as the main fuel source in their gels.
I tested three of the UCAN Edge Energy gels on a 2.5 hour easy run on a flat riverside trail. Two of the gels were orange flavored and the second flavor was pineapple.
I started the run in early afternoon and I hadn’t yet had lunch. My stomach was starting to make noises indicating hunger. I took the first orange flavored gel ten minutes before the run. I ate the second and third gel every 50 minutes after starting the run.
Overall I was quite happy with the performance. I never felt lacking of energy, the flavor was good, and the starchy texture was a bit of a surprise (but I can’t say it was unpleasant – just not expected). I did think that the packaging could be slightly improved as I needed a little extra squeeze to get the contents into my belly. Maybe with a bit of practice I could master ripping the tip off to expose a larger opening.
With that said let’s take a closer look at how UCAN Edge Energy Gel did compared to the company claims.
UCAN marketing claims
UCAN website lists four key selling points about their energy products. The website also offers extensive explanations and links to research studies supporting those claims. We’ve read through the website and experienced the gels in a real world situation. Here’s our take on the claims and how they did in the field.
- Long-lasting Energy: this claim is substantiated by studies that show that the glucose levels rise up, but not as high as from maltodextrin-based energy gels, and then remain elevated for a long period of time. In other words there is no spike, no boost, but just a steady delivery of energy. I did indeed feel like I was never lacking for energy, even though I started my run a long time after my last real meal.
- Improved Focus: our brains need glucose to function and so this claim is related to having a steady supply of it in your bloodstream. I personally didn’t feel any change in my focus and I didn’t see any ingredient which could contribute to improved focus. My focus remained solid throughout the run.
- Sustained Performance: I think this claim is related to long-lasting energy, I wasn’t racing during my test but was able to keep my pace steady for the entire 2.5 hours.
- Better Hunger Control: I was pleasantly surprised that I indeed felt no hunger even during the initial part of the run. I took the first gel just 10 minutes before starting – the website says to take the first gel 30 minutes before activity. The extra time I assume is due to lack of quickly absorbing sugars. Taking the remaining two gels during the run made me feel quite satisfied throughout the rest of my workout.
There were also quite a few additional highlights on the website with regards to the gels. We have no reason to question these:
Zero Sugar, Keto Friendly, Gluten Free, Non-GMO,
Now let’s have a look at the ingredients and share some more thoughts on the flavor and texture.
Ingredients and nutritional facts – what’s in the UCAN Edge Energy Gel?
These gels weigh in at 53 g and offer 70 calories of energy. The key source of energy are 19 g of carbohydrates or specifically LIVSTEADY corn starch (previously named Superstarch). There are zero fats and zero proteins in the gel. Both tested flavors contain 55 mg of sodium, no potassium, and 100% of recommended daily intake of vitamin C.
Aside from LIVSTEADY corn starch, the gels contain additional items that help with shelf life, texture as well as sugar-free sweeteners in the form of Erythritol for the orange flavor and Allulose for the pineapple flavor.
A little more about LIVSTEADY
LIVSTEADY is UCAN Edge Energy Gel’s secret weapon. The ingredient is based on a food that was originally invented to help people who could not handle sugar spikes. It is referred on the website as a life-saving food for a boy with a rare metabolic disease. Here’s a short description directly from the source:
UCAN’s breakthrough energy source is a sugar-free, ultra low-glycemic carbohydrate derived from non-gmo corn. Originally developed as a life-saving medical food, LIVSTEADY has demonstrated the unique ability to deliver energy to the body without spiking blood sugar levels.
If you’re not happy with the spike that are delivered by fast carbohydrate gels, then this may be the product for you to try.
What are the taste and consistency of UCAN Edge Energy Gels?
The taste is not overwhelmingly sweet and I enjoyed the orange flavor even before the run. I typically find energy gels overpowering in flavor when taken before actually working out. The pineapple flavor was tangy but not sour. Both flavors reminded me of a fruit drink boxes for kids.
UCAN Edge Energy Gels are a solid option for fueling your workouts and races. There is no big spike, but provides satisfactory delivery of steady energy and good satiation of hunger.
The flavors are very palatable and friendly for people with special requirements, such as gluten-free or keto-friendly options.
The one tiny drawback was the packaging opening could be improved, but it was my very first time using this gel so perhaps I could figure out how to open it more efficiently with future uses.