Success Stories: UCAN
What began as a parents’ treatment for a child’s illness is fast becoming “the holy grail” for athletes, with more applications on the way.
Eleven years ago, Jonah Feldman was born with a rare metabolic disorder that kept his body from breaking down certain carbohydrates, including glycogen. As Jonah’s parents, David and Wendy Feldman, of Cheshire, absorbed the difficult news (“lifelong,” “no cure”) and learned that Jonah would have to be tube-fed every two hours simply to maintain normal blood sugar, they began looking for better ways to manage the condition and allow their baby to sleep through the night. Their aggressive approach soon took them to Europe, and eventually to a breakthrough discovery that would transform their lives—something they have come to call “SuperStarch.”
This complex carbohydrate provides a steady release of glucose, keeping blood-sugar levels (energy) steady for several hours. This meant it was not only good for Jonah, but (it soon occurred to those familiar with the product) for athletes as well, whose reliance on sugary supplements often led to undesirable spike-and-crash cycles.
To test the possibilities of the new supplement, The UCAN Co. was established in Woodbridge in 2006. Clinical trials conducted at the University of Oklahoma confirmed that SuperStarch “positively alters metabolic response to exercise,” thus greatly enhancing sustained effort and endurance—while also leading to significant fat breakdown during exertion. “SuperStarch is legitimately the most exciting development in sports nutrition this century,” says Jeff Volek, associate professor of kinesiology at UConn and a UCAN consultant. “An athlete using SuperStarch is like a hybrid car that can run on gas (carbs), but is more efficient, can last longer and perform better by running on alternative fuel (fat).”
Once UCAN powder became available to the public in 2010, word soon got around among “nutrition thought leaders” and ultimately professional athletes. Consequently, if you’ve ever wondered how New England Patriot lineman Vince Wilfork hauls his 350 pounds around the gridiron every Sunday, it could be a result of his UCAN regimen. Same with marathon runner Meb Keflezighi, tennis pro Mardy Fish and growing ranks of college and pro athletes.
But the story doesn’t end there. According to UCAN co-founder and CEO Shoba Murali, SuperStarch’s greatest applications may yet come from those who use the product for everyday fitness, weight loss and eventually even diabetes control. The potential market is in the multimillions of dollars. For now, UCAN is sold in 10 countries, with sales doubling between 2011 and 2012, according to Murali. And Jonah, now in fifth grade, is able to lead the life his parents had once dared to envision for him.