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What does it take to make good supplements?
How do you decide what types of products to make, what goes into them, and how much of each ingredient to include?
While many supplement companies haphazardly pixie dust their products with minuscule amounts of mediocre ingredients and pad their ingredients lists with fancy herbs and compounds, there is a flip side of that coin. That is, if you want to be better than your run of the mill supplement company, there’s a true art and science to formulating good supplements.
And that’s what I’m talking about with Kurtis Frank on this episode of the podcast.
In case you’re not familiar with Kurtis, he’s the Director of Research for my sports nutrition company, Legion, which means he’s responsible for creating new products and improving existing formulations. And he knows what he’s talking about too–Kurtis is the co-founder and former lead researcher and writer of Examine.com, a ubiquitous supplement resource in the science-based fitness community.
In this episode, Kurtis explains exactly how he goes about creating a supplement formulation for Legion, and he discusses . . .
- What it means to be “science-based”
- The importance of testing and trusting your manufacturer
- Patented forms of ingredients and why standardization matters
- Ingredient list length
- Manufacturing costs and “elite” formulations
- And more . . .
So, if you’ve ever wondered what goes into the process of creating a supplement here at Legion, this is an episode you don’t want to miss. Press play and let me know what you think!
13:12 – What does it mean to be a science-based supplement company?
36:14 – What are your thoughts on companies that say they are a better company because they use patented ingredients compared to companies that don’t use patented ingredients?
41:11 – What does it mean if something is water extracted compared to oil extracted?
47:15 – What is standardization and why is it important?
52:37 – What are your thoughts on products with a long ingredients list?
59:27 – What about the kitchen sink approach for pre-workouts?
Mentioned on the show:
What did you think of this episode? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!
Mike: Yes, it is time for another episode of Muscle for Life. Thank you for joining me today. I’m your host, Mike Matthews, and this episode is a deep dive into what it really means to make science based supplements, or really you could just say good supplements. Supplements that work, supplements that are worth buying and taking.
How do you decide what products to make? How do you decide what should go into them and how do you decide how much of each ingredient should go into these products? Many supplement companies I am. Sorry to say this is just the truth. What they do is they go to a manufacturer and they say, Hello, manufacturer, I would like to make a pre-workout and I wanna make a lot of profit.
I can’t stress the importance of making a lot of profit because rollies in Lambos will not buy themselves. So what do you recommend? Then the manufacturer says, Ah, yes, we too love capitalism around here. And so what we can offer you is a pre-workout formulation that is totally not just off the shelf and completely haphazard.
No, this formulation was created by God himself. This is the absolute pinnacle of pre-workout perfection, and even better, it only costs. $4 a bottle and your Muppet followers, dear devoted fans will pay $40 for it. And so when you break out the crayons and do some back of napkin math, there’s really only a couple of questions.
Is it going to be the date just, or is it gonna be the yacht master? Is it gonna be the H or are we talking about the event a door? And just like that, another pre-workout is born. Now, jokes aside, that actually is how it goes with many supplement companies. They don’t really care that much about the formulation.
It is mostly about the marketing. Some do want to at least have some good stuff in their products, like they care a little bit, but they’re not gonna go out of their way to really deliver a lot of product value. They’re going to try to keep their costs as low as possible so they can spend as much as possible on the marketing.
And I understand that if we are looking purely at the financials and the business side of things, because the supplement space is very competitive and many consumers are very skeptical, it is. Pretty sophisticated market, or at least there are large segments of the market that are pretty sophisticated and it can require a lot of money, a lot of marketing firepower to acquire customers, CPAs, cost per acquisitions are quite high in this space.
Like for example, if you can’t spend 40 to maybe as high as $50 to acquire a customer, you probably shouldn’t even waste your time. Now, early on when I decided to get into the supplement racket, I knew that I did not wanna do it that way, if that was the only way. To do well in the supplement space, then I just wasn’t going to do supplements.
I would just do something else. I would just write more books or maybe do digital courses or figure something else out. Really focus more on the coaching, for example. However, I saw there was an opportunity to do things very differently in the formulating and the marketing of sports. Supplements specifically, I saw the opportunity to spend a lot more money on formulations than my competitors could or were willing to spend and to be able to just leverage my platform as at that time, I was already a successful and established author and writer at a website I had called most for life.com, which at the time of launching Legion was receiving about seven to 800,000 visits per month.
And I may have launched the podcast around that period as well. I don’t remember, but I figured that I could leverage my services essentially to the business and acquire customers profitably, or at least at a. Break even, or maybe at a slight loss where I can make it up then on the back end with customer lifetime value, by just providing really good products and really good service and use that to jumpstart the business up to a level where then it could start spending a fair amount on marketing and advertising outside of what I was doing to grow even further.
And the strategy has paid off fairly. Things can always go better and could have gone much better if I would’ve known things. I know now back years ago when I made mistakes that I made, but on the whole, Legion has established itself as a real player in the sports supplement space. It is now the number one most popular, the number one best selling line of all natural sports supplements in the world, for example.
And we are just getting started. We have done no retail up until now, and we’ve done very little in the way of aggressive paid advertising to acquire customers. And so I think lesion can. Double its revenue, its annual sales, which are eight figures right now in the next, let’s say one to three years.
And a big part of why Legion has been able to do as well as it has is the products themselves, is the formulations. And I give all. The credit for the formulations to the person I interview. In today’s episode, Curtis Frank, who is the director of research and development for Legion. And if his name doesn’t ring a bell, you probably have heard of his previous line of work, which was examine.com.
So that was Curtis’ Baby for seven years or so. If you go to examine.com and you poke around and you dive into some of the very technical stuff on the site, most of that was researched and written by Curtis. And Curtis has been with me since the beginning working on formulations. Even when he was working with Examine, he was coming up with Legions formulations, but he just didn’t want any attention.
He didn’t wanna be in the spotlight for it at all. And now he works with me full time on creating new products, updating existing products, creating content particularly around supplementation. Sharing spicy memes and other vital activities. And so in this episode, you are going to hear from Curtis on what it really means to be a science based supplement company.
And you’re gonna learn about the importance of testing and trusting your manufacturer. That’s a major pitfall in the supplement game. You’re going to learn about patented versus non patented forms of ingredients. And when that matters and when it doesn’t, and why you’re gonna learn about standardization and why that is very important.
You’re gonna learn about how much it really costs to make really good supplements. And again, it’s a lot more than many of my competitors want to spend. That’s for sure. And more. Also, if you like what I am doing here on the podcast and elsewhere, definitely check out my sports nutrition company Legion, which thanks to the support of many people like you, is the leading brand of all natural sports supplements in the world.
And we’re on top because every ingredient and dose in every product is backed by peer-reviewed scientific research. Every formulation is 100% transparent. There are no proprietary blends, for example, and everything is naturally sweetened and flavored. So that means no artificial sweeteners, no artificial food dyes, which may not be as dangerous as some people would have you believe.
But there is good evidence to suggest that having many servings of artificial sweeteners, in particular every day for long periods of time may not be the best for your health. So while you don’t need. Pills, powders, and potions to get into great shape. And frankly, most of them are virtually useless.
There are natural ingredients that can help you lose fat, build muscle, and get healthy faster. And you will find the best of them in legions products to check out everything we have to offer, including protein powders and protein bars, pre-workout, post-workout supplements, fat burners, multivitamins, joint support, and more.
Head over to www.bylegion.comylegion.com, and just to show how much I appreciate my podcast peeps, use the coupon code M F L at checkout and you will save 20% on your entire first order. So again, if you appreciate my work and if you wanna see more of it, and if you also want all natural evidence based supplements that work, please do consider supporting legions so I can keep doing what I love, like producing more podcasts like this.
Hey Curtis. What’s up, brother?
Kurtis: Not much. Not much. How’s it been with
Mike: you? Oh, just doing my thing, just staying busy. One of those questions I’m like, I don’t know. Nothing’s new, nothing’s up. I just grind away in my cave like a hermit every day, I know that feel . I actually don’t mind it though.
I’ve been very productive during covid, mostly because I’ve had an excuse to not do anything but work and nobody could say anything otherwise. I
Kurtis: usually use that excuse when it comes to time zones. I just wanna get some work done at 8:00 PM Oh, I totally have an associate in Europe. Makes me feel more important and also a good excuse as to why I was not working at noon.
Mike: Fancy. Fancy. And the confession is received. You are absolved of your sins as long as the work gets done. Yeah, exactly. So we’re here to talk about how you go about creating. Supplement formulations, and this is something that you have written about [email protected] It never occurred to me that we never did an interview on it, and I think it’s a timely interview because for many people listening okay, so in the intro I’m gonna, I’m gonna explain why I’m talking to you about this, but for anybody who skipped the intro, you should know that Curtis is not only the co-founder and former lead researcher and writer [email protected]
So if you’re familiar with that website, all of the technical stuff over there, or at least you could probably say most of the vast majority of the technical stuff over on that website was research and written by Curtis. And so that was a project, what was that, six or seven years of work, Curtis? Yeah, about.
So that was a, obviously a ton of work, and since the beginning, Curtis has been creating all of Legion’s formulations. Now, in the beginning, he requested an nda, basically requested that I didn’t give him any credit for the work because of his work with examine. Not that there was any actual ethical conflict there.
Of course, his business partner knew what he was doing, and there were no issues in that regard. It was more just that Examines brand was, and still is completely independent from any individual supplement company. So Curtis just didn’t. People to think that, Oh, these are examines supplements or anything like that.
So he was just working behind the scenes and didn’t care to get any of the credit for the formulations. However, now Curtis works with Legion full-time in research on formulations. He also has done a lot of work on creating content similar to what he did at Examine, but more layman friendly and he’s working on a new project related to that now.
And then also upgrading existing formulations. That’s something that Curtis has been working a lot on over the last year or so and then of course there’s just staying on top of all the latest research in the science of supplementation, so he knows what new products we could make. Actually are worth taking.
Like for example, testosterone boosters still no go. Unfortunately, we get asked for it all the time and we wish, I wish Curtis wishes we wish we could create something natural that would work, but we really can’t, so we don’t. BCAAs were asked about all the time, We wish there were a good reason to use BCAs.
There is not EASs. Same thing. Collagen protein, same thing. So if you appreci. The value in legion’s products and appreciate the attention to detail that goes into the formulations and how much work goes into choosing each ingredient and the dose of each ingredient. That’s another important thing that Curtis is gonna be talking about.
Then you’ll probably find this episode interesting because Curtis is the guy who gets all the credit for all of that. We do have a scientific advisory board who is a sounding board, and they provide different perspectives, and they certainly have good ideas and have good input. But I would say Curtis is really the driving force behind the research and de and the development of all of Legion’s products.
So Curtis, where I think we could start this discussion is, I think we should start with you quickly explaining what does it really mean to be a science based supplement company? Because when Legion started back in 2014, I believe was year one I feel like that there weren’t as many companies. Putting the evidence based claim first and foremost in their marketing and their advertising.
There were some companies that would throw in some citations here and there and talk about some studies here and there, but there weren’t as many companies that are leading with, Oh, we are the real science. Everyone else is the fake science, we’re the real science. And that, of course, was a big element of legion’s, unique selling proposition in the beginning, where I wanted to tell people like, Look, there is a legitimate science of supplementation and here’s how we are going about it, and we would like to set the standard for what it means to be a science based supplement company.
But the problem with that, of course, is it’s hard for a, an ignorant, and I don’t say that in, I don’t mean stupid, I just mean a consumer who doesn’t know too much. Science and particularly supplementation science or fitness science or nutrition science to qualify. My claims, or even our claims versus our competitor’s claims who also say that they are science based and they also cite studies and the window dressing looks the same.
Now legion’s fortunate in that we have a lot of very educated customers who can discern the difference and they can see, Oh wow, legion’s actually doing it. That is rare. I like that. But for many consumers, and I’m an ignorant consumer in many ways, because it’s not worth becoming an expert consumer of pencils or many things that we buy electronics and whatever, right?
So it, it can be hard for people who are trying to, They haven’t established much of an understanding of the brand. They haven’t interacted with the company much. They’re just looking at the messaging. And so what does it mean, Like how would you go about describing. What it means to actually be a science based supplement company?
What are the criteria?
Kurtis: For the most part, it’s just whatever ingredient you use, it has to have good science behind
Mike: it. And what does that mean, good science? Because that’s tricky, right? Again, that’s something where exactly all of our competitors, they say that their science, that the science they’re referring to is the good science or is good science when often it’s not.
Kurtis: So generally speaking the things that I focus on most are replication. I don’t put too much faith in a single human study, but if there’s multiple human studies from multiple different research groups that can help build faith in the compound. The second one would be just that there’s human evidence rather than just in vitro or rodent evidence, because you never know when there’s gonna be a species difference or.
Just cuz rats and mice are very good estimates, doesn’t mean that they’re perfect. Estimates
Mike: in some ways they’re better than others, right? Yeah. If we’re talking about extrapolation to humans, yes.
Kurtis: Mice are pretty good when it comes to, just cuz they have short lifespans. So you can see how something affects them over the course of their life.
But they have significant differences when it comes to metabolism of fatty acids, particularly the. And this is seen a lot with the supposed fat burner, conjugated linoleic acid, or
Mike: a cla. Something that we get asked about fairly often, and we have to explain to people why we don’t sell it. And I’m actually gonna be adding, it’s on the list.
It’s not a high priority thing, but I’ll get to it likely this year, I’m gonna add a section to the store for all the stuff we don’t sell. And it’s just gonna be basically talking shit about the products that we don’t sell because they’re either useless in the case of BCAs or they’re just very hit and miss.
Like with cla. Yeah.
Kurtis: CLA has the honor of being the only fat burning supplement that in at least one study. Increased body fat in humans. And what was the proposed mechanism for that? The researchers just said we didn’t expect this to happen. They just didn’t have a proposed mechanism. Okay.
But the thing is what’s supposed to do is activate some receptors that bring fatty acids from the peripheral to the liver and then have the liver process them. When you do this to a human, it doesn’t really activate that much. There’s no major change. When you do this to a rat, it activates to a decent degree and rats can lose some fat.
When you put it in mice, it brings so much fat from the peripheral to the liver that they actually get non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. So it’s a perfect example of a species
Mike: difference. And how did that turn into a best selling fat loss supplement for people wondering when they go? That’s it.
That’s the level of evidence we’re talking
Kurtis: about. It was like a garin mbo, the thing that Hydroxycut was based on. Also a species difference. Very good appetite. Suppress in rats. Doesn’t work in humans, but it was just the marketing team got to the rat studies before the research teams did. Cause the research teams would’ve replicated them in humans.
But the marketing team’s No, we can get money off this . And
Mike: so they just said, We are just big rodents after all.
Kurtis: Yeah. Reduce hunger by 50%. Little asterisk
Mike: in rat. In reality, the asterisk isn’t there. It would just say, Oh, research shows big sexy benefit, and that’s it. And then it would be on you, the consumer, to check the citation if there even is a citation.
Oftentimes there are no citations, or you’ll find there are some companies I won’t name, where if you check their citations, you’ll find they’re just citing random stuff and it’s not like it’s a mistake or in-house
Kurtis: studies, which I hate. Yeah,
Mike: that’s something probably worth talking about, making note of that.
But with our. Sales pages, for example, some of them have scores of studies cited and people have reached out to us to let us know Oh, just so you know, citation 47 is a duplicate of 46 or something like that. We have made some honest mistakes along the way, but not where half of the studies you’re citing have nothing to do with the claims or don’t back up the claims at all as a consumer.
That’s one thing to look out for. Just a quick and easy way to see if someone, see if a company is just blatantly lying to you is actually follow up their citations. And even if you are not scientifically literate, which if you’re not and you would like to be more scientifically literate than you should check out a book that James Krieger and I co-authored and just recently released called Fitness Science Explained.
Now I am gonna do a proper book launch for this, which is why I have not mentioned it much. And the book launch will, I’m not sure when this episode’s gonna go live, but the book launch will probably. Go up, I don’t know, maybe October, but I’ll just mention the book here because it’s relevant to this discussion.
If you don’t know your way around research, that’s fine. You can minimally just go check the citation and read the abstract and just see does this have anything to do with what sent me here? There was a claim about bid Allen, is the study even about Beta Allen? Start there. Not that reading an abstract is enough to know what’s going on in a study, but you also could, Okay, it’s about beta alanine in the abstract.
Are there any claims as to benefits or is the researcher’s conclusion that it didn’t do anything in this case? And if you want to go deeper than that, you’re gonna have to know a bit more, but you can at least start there. Anyways. I just wanted to jump in there just to let people know on that point in particular.
But you were saying though, that looking at Gar Kimbo as an example, another example of something. Showed promise in animal research, but didn’t pan out in human research. However, marketers got their hands on the animal research before the scientists could follow up with more research and discover that it was useless.
Kurtis: Yeah, essentially. So I guess what I’m trying to wrap around to is that when it comes to quality research, you focus on humans, no matter how well constructed they’re at, or my studies are like, even when it comes to studies in primates that are not human, at least all that’s good, but wait for the human studies to come out.
And ideally in a high tier journal, like a lot of people know of BMJ or jama, like just the acronyms that are thrown around when it comes to high quality research, getting close to that stuff is good. If you see I don’t know, a journal page that’s like from some. Indian backwater town that looks like it was made in
Mike: 1995 and hosted on like tripod or Geo Cities or something.
Yeah, like a Geo
Kurtis: Cities science website. That’s not a good journal.
Mike: And for people wondering about peer review and they go why is that? Doesn’t the journal, wouldn’t the GeoCities Journal have a peer review process as well? Not all peers
Kurtis: are made equal.
Mike: Okay, good. I know it goes without saying, but I’m just forwarding questions that I’ve been asked over the years because again, if somebody doesn’t know their way around this, they may assume that not all journals are the same, but that if a journal is a journal, it must have some standard of quality and the research must be worth something.
Kurtis: Yeah, it’s worth something, but I dunno, like that’s where it’s really hard for a customer to know the specific nuances of this stuff. And why at the end of the day, there’s gonna have to be a little bit of faith to put in the formulator.
Mike: Yeah. Also, even something that I’ve talked about with research in general is science is the scientific method is fantastic, but the people involved in research and the people interpreting the research and propagating the research, all that has to be taken into account as well.
Because people are people and sometimes they have ulterior motives and sometimes they’re willing to do unethical things for reasons they believe justify the means, oh yeah, definitely. So let’s get back to what else goes into being a. Science based supplement companies. So there’s, there are the ingredients in making sure that there is enough high quality human evidence to warrant their use and to justify benefit claims, really.
And then I think it’s worth segwaying from that into dosing and why that is very important. And how do you go about determining the doses for legion’s formulas?
Kurtis: If the science is at a level where a ideal dose is actually determined, I’ll simply do the ideal dose or as close to it as possible. And just to specify what I mean by, as close to as possible, there are some compounds that are quite expensive and so we want to get the ideal dose, but then we’re left at the point where it’s we can’t actually afford to put on the ideal dose.
Should we go half these or just leave it out? And we choose half seas usually because a little bit is better than nothing, even if it’s not perfect.
Mike: Yeah. And the goal is always to be within the range of what is clinically effective, even if it’s a twofold range. Yeah, sure. Of course. And in some cases, I know that you’ll decide to go for less than the maximum clinically effective dose because the cost rewards ratio just doesn’t make sense.
Where you’ve explained to me that once you get over this amount of this ingredient, you’re not gonna get that much more out of it, even though it might look better on a label. And if that were the only point, okay, I guess you could use the big dose. They’re the biggest dose, but in some cases you’d rather use a clinically effective dose.
Maybe it’s just in the middle of the range, but it provides, let’s say 80% of the potential benefits of that ingredient because that frees up money that we can use on. Other ingredients and sometimes that is new ingredients altogether or larger doses. So that might be the difference of an ingredient that you really want to include.
And if you go biggest on ingredient number one, you can go minimally, let’s say the minimal effective dose on ingredient number two. But if you bring the dose down on number one to something that still provides the majority of the benefits, you’re able to now go up to, let’s say also the mid-range on ingredient two, which makes it a lot more effective.
Exactly. And so what else are you looking at in terms of what it really means to be an evidence based or a science based supplement company? The only
Kurtis: other two things would just be overall safety, cuz we’re not gonna put in anything that is too risky. And that’s actually the main reason why Forge and Phoenix are two different products.
Mike: wanna explain that
Kurtis: specifically? Yeah, it’s Yohe bean. So Yohi being is one of the few fat burners that actually works very well in already thin people because normally fat burners work good in fat people, and then as you get thinner, they start to lose efficacy. Yohi being and efrin are good for thin people, but we can’t legally sell efrin.
So yohimbe are only option, but yohi, Yohimbe has the side effect where only if you suffer from panic or trauma related disorders. Yohimbe can cause panic attacks. If you don’t have a panic or trauma related disorder, Yohimbe is not gonna do anything. But if you do, it’s probably
Mike: your worst enemy.
Although you might get some jitters if it is. Oh yeah. The
Kurtis: jitters are fine. Like I’m just talking about full blown panic attack.
Mike: Yeah. No, I know. I just wanna let people, We let people know with Forage, and that’s why we recommend starting with like half of the full, clinically effective dose if it’s their first time.
If they’re not, if they’re not habituated to yoy being, because some people, it seems to be more women than men, maybe it has to do with body weight, but some people, if they take the full clinically effective dose right away, they’ll get a bit jittery and they just don’t like how it makes them feel. And it seems to go away after a week or so.
Kurtis: Yeah. About that. Yeah. But that’s the main reason why we didn’t wanna put yo, him being in Phoenix, because then some people wouldn’t have a fat burner from us to use. So some people can just buy them both and combine them if they can tolerate it. But for other people who don’t want to use Yohimbe for safety reasons, they can still go to Phoenix.
Mike: Yep. That’s also of course why Yohimbe isn’t in anything else. Like I’ll see Yohimbe in pre-workouts just yet another stimulant to throw into the mix, yeah. And we’re just
Kurtis: not gonna do That
Mike: makes sense too.
Kurtis: Yeah, Too potentially risky has to be isolated as best as possible.
Mike: As for safety, there’s also contraindications.
Right? There are also ingredients that you will not include because there are too many drug interactions and it’s just not worth risking it.
Kurtis: Yeah. Pretty much like we’re changing our fortify around to remove the black pepper, like cuz we’re using black pepper to increase the absorption of Kirk Human.
And we did this initially because it worked and it kept prices low and at the time we couldn’t find a really cheap and reliable. Source of any other absorption
Mike: enhanced form. And as far as actual risk goes, I mean it’s quite low, right? That’s the most common that pairing is, You’ll find that in probably, I don’t know, 80% of the best selling percu supplements on Amazon, for example.
Yeah. Because without it, it’s useless. At least for, I mean it’s, it’ll have some, maybe some beneficial effects in the gut, but outside of that it doesn’t do anything. The black pepper extract, if it’s without the black pepper, if it’s just the curcumin, if it’s not absorption
Kurtis: enhanced, then yeah, it really just does gut stuff and that’s it.
Yeah. But like risk inherently with the combination is low and otherwise healthy people, it’s just that some people do by fortified to give to their grandparents for their joint pain. And when it comes to taking it alongside other pharmaceuticals, that’s where the problem could. And how come Just cuz black pepper extract reduces?
Cuz curcumin is absorbed from the intestines into the liver. It’s just that the majority of it is then thrown back out into the intestines by the liver. Black pepper extract shuts down this process, allowing the curcumin to pass, but it shuts down the process overall. If there’s a pharmaceutical that would normally be subject to the same thing as curcumin, then it gets a pass as well and you can lead into an accidental
And just for anybody listening, we’ve never, Yeah, we’ve never had one of those yet. Never heard of this happening with the customer. And again, curcumin and black pepper, this pairing is extremely common, but It’s more just a point of if we can reduce a very small risk to basically just non-existent and we can do it without making the product extravagantly expensive, then we’re interested in doing that.
Right, Curtis? Yeah. Cause
Kurtis: we didn’t do it initially because we couldn’t find a cheap source, like everyone was just trying to gouge us with prices. But then we did find a cheap and reliable source, and now we’re
Mike: making the switch. And the switch is to curcumin
Kurtis: my cells, like the phyto zones.
Mike: Explain what the difference is.
How does it, Oh, they’re just
Kurtis: not lux by the liver as much as regular curcumin is, but they don’t shut down that process that black pepper does. So just because curcumin is in the phyto zone, if it is taken alongside another drug, that drug is still subject to the safety measures. It’s only curcumin that gets the past this time.
So it just makes it a little bit safer, and I’m glad that we were able to do that before we had any complications for the former, no matter how low the
Mike: risk was. Yep. Makes sense. I believe there was one other thing that you were thinking of along the lines of what it means to be a science based supplement company.
Kurtis: It’s just making sure that you have a good manufacturer. That’s why we always like, have stuff sourced from either the US or in the case of our protein, I believe Ireland. Yep. We gatherers from , like just. You can’t call yourself a science based company if you’re getting cheap stuff from China and India.
Mike: Absolutely. Although I think in a couple of cases like India, I think India is actually known for having decent spirulina. Am I remembering that correctly? There are a couple of ingredients that you can rely on, but for the most part you have to be very careful. Yeah, I think they
Kurtis: would be good for spiral Lina.
It’s a pretty cheap compound
Mike: overall. Yeah, and that, see, this is an insidious element of the supplement game because Sure, there are companies out there who don’t care really what is going in their products. We get contacted by Chinese suppliers for everything all of the time, and if we didn’t care, we could cut, take that protein, right?
So all in, it costs us probably 18, $19 a bottle to produce that protein and send it to somebody. And if we were to go with a Chinese supplier, we could probably cut that in half. If we didn’t care to even look into what are we getting exactly, and is it WHE protein? Does it contain the amount of protein per serving that it is supposed to contain?
Or is it amino spiked? How does it taste? Then we could just. Double our profit essentially on that item. Actually, you’d even more than that when looking at it at scale. And we don’t do that because we don’t wanna do that because we wanna sell high quality stuff that can stand up to scrutiny and pass third party testing.
And I just disagree with it. Fundamentally, like ethically, I just disagree with those types of practices. So that’s one part of it. But then there’s the manufacturer and is the manufacturer doing their job? I’ve shared this story before a couple of times in the past where we were looking for a backup manufacturer for our multivitamin triumph, and there was a company, I believe they were based out of New York, and they had all the certifications and everything looked good on paper and they were gonna do a run of the product to show that they could do a good job.
And I told them that I was gonna send it to a third party lab, either Eurofins or Covas, I think Fins to get it tested to ensure that it had everything it was supposed to have at the right amounts. And they were like, Yeah, no, sounds good. They do a minimum order we’re just giving them a go giving them a trial run.
And so whatever that was, maybe it’s a thousand, 2000 bottles or something like that, send three of the bottles off to get tested. It comes back that it’s basically just vitamin C. That’s it and send the test to them. What are you guys doing? They basically said, Oh Fins is wrong. No, goodbye.
Didn’t pay for it. That was part of the agreement was I’m not paying for it if it doesn’t pass this test, and I’m only gonna work with, I don’t care what your internal testing says. I don’t care. I don’t wanna work with your buddy’s lab. I wanna work with this company over here. Big established reputable lab.
So they agree to all that and they just make me vitamin C pills. And so what can happen, again, as the person wanting to make and sell good stuff, is you can get screwed without even realizing it. Your manufacturer can screw you. And if you don’t want to be screwed, you have to be very careful with choosing your manufacturer.
And if you are bigger, your manufacturers, because if you’re bigger, you’re, you are going to be working with several companies. You’re gonna have your primary and your backup manufacturers, and you have to stay on top of third party testing. And it’s very expensive to do, but you wanna be doing it semi-regularly just to make sure that you are getting what you’re paying for.
So there’s no way, as a consumer to know if the company got what they paid for. That is really just a matter of trusting the team. Behind the company. And are these people paying enough attention to all the details? Do they care enough to really make sure that they’re not only producing good formulations on paper, but are also producing products that conform to those specs and that they are not letting a manufacturer take advantage of them?
For example, many manufacturers that are gonna give you great prices are gonna cut corners, . They’re already counting on it, whether it is leaving ingredients out altogether, under dosing ingredients, using non patented ingredients when you want patented ingredients or standardized ingredients. So there are little tricks that they use to see if you’re gonna be none the wiser and they can just pad their profits.
It’s a whole process to not only create the formulations like your work Curtis, but then to make sure that we are producing what you want. Speaking of patented ingredients, when this is a marketing point, many companies will promote all the patented ingredients they use and they’ll use that almost as a part a unique selling proposition.
And they’ll say, Oh, we’re great because we use all these patented ingredients, whereas our competitors are cutting corners and using generic ingredients. What are your thoughts on that? It really depends on the
Kurtis: patent. Cuz the patent I like most is carnosine for beta A. , because literally all they did was patent the cheapest way to produce it and sell it.
So now nobody really uses any other form of Beta Allen because why would they pay a premium for something that’s not reliable? And so Carnosine was pretty much able to get the entire market by its balls. And they didn’t need to do any underhanded tricks. They just got in early, got the paperwork filed, and now just makes sense to use them.
Alpha size for Alpha GPC is trying to do this as well, although they have a 50% Alpha GPC powder, so there could be other patents that beat them out. Let’s see where that one goes. The ones that I don’t like would be something like Estrogen, which is a patent form of astrics S, and it just doesn’t say what it’s patented for.
Like Astrics is something that in raw powder form, you would take it at around 10 grams. Astrogen. The patented thing is 40 milligrams. Now, if that thing was 100% the primary component, like astroid four, I’m just running off saying big words again. Sorry about that. That’s
Mike: the bioactive.
Kurtis: Yeah, it’s the main
Mike: component substance that you really are
Kurtis: going for.
Yeah, and there’s like about 40 milligrams of it in 10 grams of the raw powder. So if that patent was just that one molecule, it’d be totally fine. But they don’t say that and there’s no way to prove it. And if you email them, they give you a bunch of buzzwords. So that just makes it really
Mike: skeptical. What about the Ashwaganda KSM 66?
I believe they just patented
Kurtis: it in a bunch of researchers used it like it’s not like KSM 66 has funded all the research themselves. They were just the first to have a pretty reliable patent. And so a lot of the studies used it. And if you are able to get the brand name of something used in all the studies, you can put more faith that the studies or the results seen in the studies.
Will occur after supplementing that particular patent.
Mike: And is that often due to standardization, which you could probably explain to everybody what that is and why it matters? Pretty much.
Kurtis: Cause like I do have to say that when it comes to patenting herbs, you cannot patent the herb itself. You can only patent a specific process to get to a Yeah, a
Mike: specific processing of the herb, part of the production.
So in Carin they can’t, they don’t own the beta A molecule, they just, they own the synthesis route. Yeah, the process for producing that specific product. And if you take astragalus,
Kurtis: if you take a water extract or if you take a fatty extract, they’ll be two different patterns and you can just grow asterisk Alice in your garden.
No biggie, no legal problems with that. But some companies just make their particular extraction. It seems to work and no one really wants to dabble in why it works. They just wanna do more human evidence. And so the patent just. Has its name in all the studies. And there are other times where when it comes to our immunity supplement, there’s a, our Pegon OIDs that we used, we couldn’t actually use the patented form, I forget its name, E GB 71 60 or something.
But basically that patented form was an oil extraction that could only be delivered in a dropper. Like you’d have a little bottle of oil, you’d drop a few things on your tongue.
Mike: I’ve used that before from, I forget the name. A company out of Europe sold it in a dropper. It must have been the oil extracted form.
Kurtis: Yeah, that might have been the one, the specific one used in the studies. But the thing is, if we included that little bottle with a dropper beside the actual immunity supplement with all the other goodies in there, more than tripling of the price
Mike: easy, and it’s now it’s just also obnoxious. So now you’re supposed to take these pills and you’re supposed to use this dropper.
Kurtis: Yeah. So that’s why we had to not use the patented form, but then do a workaround and try to get as many of the bioactives as possible in the powdered form.
Mike: And how did you accomplish that? I
Kurtis: just reverse engineered the patented form as best as I could, found the bioactives that were most likely responsible for the effects.
Then see how much raw powder and what extractions were needed to mimic that.
Mike: Interesting. And as far as extraction methods for anybody wondering, do you wanna quickly explain what does it mean if something is water extracted versus oil extracted?
Kurtis: Basically you’d have 10 grams of a powder and then you’d put a bunch of oil in it, and you’d have, the powder would separate into two components.
The stuff that sticks with the oil could be like two grams of the powder, and then the stuff that floats away would be like eight grams of the powder. And now when you have the two grams of the powder, that would be two grams of the oil extraction. Or a five to one concentration because you just took 10 grams and reduced it to a fifth of that, which is two grams.
But if you did that with a water, like you still get to different sort of residues, but you’d get different molecules cuz some molecules are fat soluble, some are water soluble. And depending on what compounds you use during the extraction process, you can just get different molecules to different levels.
And sometimes plants have toxic molecules that you can actually remove from the part you wanna actually put in your body. Like I know water soluble cinnamon does this, like cuz if you eat too much raw cinnamon with the fatty acid components, you could potentially damage your liver if you have a preexisting weak liver.
But a water soluble extract of cinnamon takes that dangerous Kumar compound out of it. And so you’re just left with the goodies. That’s also why some people use cinnamon sticks. And put them in their coffee, but they don’t actually eat the stick themselves because the kumars are actually staying in that cinnamon stick and not being leached out into the water soluble
Mike: coffee or tea cinnamon stick in coffee.
I’ve never heard of that. Some people do
Kurtis: it, but that being said, if you put like coconut oil or something in your liquid, then you could actually take some of those commands out, but never really tried that.
Mike: Is that still a thing where they Oh, the bulletproof coffee That’s what it is. The coffee plus the dollop of MCT oil, as if that transforms the coffee into a magical potion.
Kurtis: I’m pretty sure most of its popularity was just, if you have coffee throwing a bunch of butter and maybe you’re not hungry, that tastes good, right? Yeah. Like it tastes good, and then maybe you just satisfied enough that you skip breakfast. And then like it was the first step into that whole intermittent fasting realization where it’s like, Oh, you wake up and you’re full of adrenaline, cortisol, and I just don’t need to eat for eight hours.
Like baby stepping into intermittent
Mike: fasting, which really, if you’re gonna follow intermittent fasting and you’re into fitness, it’s probably just like skip breakfast. Like you said. That’s probably basically all you’re gonna do. You’re not gonna do extended bouts of fasting. You’re just gonna skip breakfast every day.
Maybe a little bit of a late lunch. Yeah, you’re gonna eat it like 12 or one, and then you’re gonna stop eating probably at eight or nine, maybe a little bit of a late dinner or an after dinner snack and rinse and repeat. Yeah, that’s literally
Kurtis: it. And it is godly
Mike: if you like it. I don’t particularly like it, so I’ve never done it much.
Sometimes on the weekends, if I’m eating less food, which I often am, cause I’ll do some cardio in the weekend, but I’m not lifting and doing cardio, so I’ll just skip breakfast. Or sometimes I’ll eat a small amount of food in the morning, but not like a full, even a full protein shake per se. Maybe I’ll just have, I don’t know, a hundred calories of fruit or something.
And that’s my version of it. I
Kurtis: ador it cuz I bulk on 2000
Mike: calories. Yeah, you’ve talked about that. That’s not, that’s hell on earth , that’s not many calories. I just wanna damage my flour
Kurtis: just a little bit more so I can get some t3, t4, . But the doctor’s just no, technically you’re in range.
Mike: It’s damn it can’t you I forget the technical term, but there are. Foods that can depress thyroid function at least a little bit. You might be able to, Oh, I’ve tried
Kurtis: avoiding them and it hasn’t really done too much .
Mike: I’m saying, Or you could go the other direction is eat a bunch of them, then go to the doctor and he is gonna be like, Oh,
Kurtis: have not tried that yet.
Mike: I know someone who he wanted to get test through his doctor. He probably could have just told him I want test, but I don’t know. He wanted to like test low, so he did a bunch of drinking and stayed up all night and he did a few things and then went and got tested. Oh, you have low testosterone and got a prescription.
He probably didn’t have to even go through that. You could’ve just went and said, I think I have low testosterone. And the doctor would’ve been like, I think you’re right. Here you go. Yeah. I
Kurtis: never really tried that stuff. Soon as I hit the big four Oh, going right for it though. That’s
Mike: what a lot of people say.
I get asked that fairly often and. I say that I’ll stay away from it for as long as I can. If my quality of life isn’t impaired and I’m not, cuz if you go get a blood test, I mean you know this, you do have to also take into account or are you exhibiting any symptoms or not. Cuz 400 n gdl might be okay in one guy.
He might feel totally fine, have sex drive, have high energy levels, sleep fine. And let’s say in the range of three to 400, sure that’s on the low, but there may be nothing in the way of reduced quality of life. Whereas the same test in somebody else could be exhibiting or could be, he could be experiencing it very differently.
He could have significant symptoms of low testosterone. But for me, I figure I’ll just keep doing everything I can to support a healthy level of not just testosterone, but just a healthy hormone profile for as long as I can. And if one day I’m low in testosterone and I’ve done everything I can naturally and it is negatively impacting my quality of life, then yeah, sure.
I don’t see anything wrong with a t r. Protocol. Just understanding that I’m gonna be on it for the rest of my life. That’s also with something I tell people is just, no, you’re never gonna want to get off. Once you start, you’re not gonna wanna stop. So keep that in mind. Yeah, definitely. Anyway, back to supplementation.
So can you quickly explain standardization and why that’s important? Why some ingredients and people, if they have looked closely at legion’s formulations, they may have noticed that some of the ingredients we explicitly call out. Okay. We’re using this ingredient standardized to contain this percentage of this by weight.
Why? What’s the importance of that? When I
Kurtis: was talking about the extractions earlier, I kept on referencing how you want to get like the raw powder and reduce the size and weight of it to get the specific goodies. But at the end of the day, you need those goodies and ideally you should be able to, in some cases, specifically call out the goodie you want.
Astro galles, we want Astorga side four specifically for Bpoe. We want the back sides, but we’re not really sure which of the back sides is the one we want relative to the others. Same with pheno Greek. We want theen sides. Again, not sure if we want phy a, phy B, so on and so forth, but at the very least, whatever we want, we know we want X amount of them.
And so standardized basically means this compound. If we put 300 milligrams of it in there, standardized to 10 milligrams of X, that just says we have 10 milligrams of X in here. And if all the studies say 10 milligrams of X does the benefits,
Mike: then you’re. What’s an example or two of ingredients where this is important, where if you are not getting the standardized ingredient, you are probably not going to be benefiting from it as much as you would otherwise, if at all?
Kurtis: Pretty much every plant in existence, Ashwaganda, it needs to be standard for the Olly specifically. Fnu Greek is actually a good example because water soluble extracts will get you the fibers, but fat Solubles will get you the fides. So if you buy a, say a Fnu Greek supplement, and it doesn’t say that there’s fides in it, but instead it looks like just a powder that you can almost make bread out of.
You probably don’t have many fides in there, but you have a nice fiber. Then there’s the back probably mentioned lemon bal and lunar oil. Oh yeah. For the rossmo acid. Yeah. So pretty much every plant in existence, at least the ones that we know of, that we know about the specific goodies in there.
Sometimes all we know is Reduce its size using a fat soluble extract or a water soluble extract and take it from there,
Mike: in which case it would be okay, we need to get this much of the raw root, for example, the equivalent of it reduced down. We don’t know specifically which of the bioactives we’re going for.
We’re just gonna make sure that we have all of them. So that would be not standardization per se, but that would be more of an extraction. Exactly. In other cases, it’s okay, we specifically want to make sure that we have enough of this guy or these guys in addition to other things, but we really want to make sure that we have this or these two or whatever.
Kurtis: in a traditional Chinese medicine, at least they had one mixture. And I’m going to butcher the pronunciation so hard right now. Forgive me any trigger warning, Dangue book Zui T. Just
Mike: call it dbt. I’m so ashamed of your Chinese. I don’t,
Kurtis: Oh, yeah. I cannot pronounce it. By the way, after this podcast is done, all listeners Google the Mandarin lion poem.
It is torture. It’s a poem that basically talks about a trader went to the market, saw lion, killed it with a rock, but it was actually 10 lions. And it makes no sense in English, in Manda. It sounds like
She. It’s literally a troll poem. The guy made it specifically, cuz every single word is she with different
Mike: annotations on it.
That sounds like a nightmare of a language to learn. Yeah. But
Kurtis: anyways the D B T, the initial extraction was quite literally take 10 grams of this route. Five grams of this one. Put them together with a little bit of wine and simmer until you get four grams. I think four grams might be wrong on that one, but that’s like the oldest form of extraction.
And even nowadays, that’s what we do except in a lab when we don’t know the specific molecules
Mike: to standardize for makes sense. You just need to make sure that you have the equivalent of this amount of the plant. It’s
Kurtis: kinda like the patents, you know the process that leads to the good stuff.
So just stick to the process. Don’t butcher anything in your golden.
Mike: you like what I’m doing here on the podcast and elsewhere, definitely check out my sports nutrition company Legion, which thanks to the support of many people like you, is the leading brand of all natural sports supplements in the world. What are your thoughts on very long ingredient lists? And that’s something that people will often ask us about.
People who are new to our brand. They’ll see some of the products that we sell and they’ll notice that they contain fewer ingredients than some of our competitor’s products. And there are, again, I’ll let you explain this, but there are just so many products out there, not just in sports nutrition. I would just say in supplementation in general, certain.
Types of products seem to be worse in this regard than others. Pre-workouts, this is common neutropics, this is common, and that is the kitchen sink approach where it seems like the people who create the formulations are just finding anything with any evidence of any efficacy whatsoever. And just putting it in the product.
Often, not even in high enough doses, but even if they are putting it in high enough doses, which is the case sometimes. Some of these products I’m thinking of are like, they want a hundred dollars a bottle because they put so much stuff in there and the margins still probably aren’t even that great for them.
Like our margins are not great. But I know that you’ve written about this kitchen sink approach and so I figured that also would be something worth commenting on. And why more ingredients doesn’t necessarily mean a better product. Yeah,
Kurtis: So first I’m excluding multivitamins from this analysis because you just have to put in all the vitamins and minerals, like that’s default.
But beyond that, it’s every product will have a physical size to it, and you have to put in as many goodies at the doses that they work within that physical size limit. And sometimes the physical size will be like, say, four capsules, and you wanna put in one ingredient, and that ingredient just straight up takes up two capsules at the effective dose.
Some companies will then cut the ingredient in one 10th of the dose just so they have more room for other stuff, or they’ll just cut it down two capsules because people will prefer that, but they’re literally just ruining the effective dose of the compound so they can fit more things on the label to make it look better when they’re actually making the product worse.
Every single ingredient in a supplement should have a reason for being there, at least. Like it doesn’t need to be the primary acting component. Some of them are like, Let’s say for a muscle builder, you’re gonna want creatine in
Mike: there. And the reason shouldn’t just be marketing.
Kurtis: Yeah, exactly. , like in our fat burner, we have some b12 and literally the only reason is super cheap takes up absolutely no room.
There are some people who do get an energy boost out of it. Those who don’t get an energy boost won’t care and is completely safe. So that was worth an extra like what, four, 5 cents per bottle? Just some people would like the product better because of that.
Mike: And that’s also how it’s explained. Like we’re open about why it’s in there.
It’s not gonna help you lose fat faster. There’s nothing super special about it. It’s just what Curtis said. It’s that some people are gonna notice a bit more energy and it’s inexpensive and it’s safe, so why not? And then there are some products,
Kurtis: like one thing that really annoyed me when I was making Genesis was all the kitchen sink approaches for a veggie and fruit extracts.
Mike: is our green supple supplement for anybody
Kurtis: wondering. Cause Genesis is very different from other green supplements in the fact that it has less than 10 ingredients. Like fruit extracts is there’s the dark berry mix, which has blueberry and blackberry and elderberry and cloudberry and wolfberry.
And if you just went to the manufacturer, sorry, the formulator and said, Why did you use these five berries in particular, they’re gonna say, Eh, they’re dark. Like they could have just used the cheapest berry. For the exact same dose, but they wanted to have five different names on the label so they can hit a marketing claim of 24 different fruits.
And it’s just if there’s no proven benefit and no theoretical benefit that they’re willing to stand by, then throwing more stuff on the label is just paralysis by analysis.
Mike: And the problem with that is you’re paying a premium to do that. So the formulator, his budget is getting a little. The budget’s not getting smaller, but he’s allocating just a little bit more to that simply for the sake of how the label looks as opposed to doing what you’re saying is getting the same effect for less money, which maybe makes the label look less appealing to some people, I’d say, to maybe very uninformed consumers or very misinformed consumers.
But if he did do that, then he would have more money to allocate elsewhere, which would ultimately make the product better. Yeah,
Kurtis: and like the best way to just demonstrate this and like really drive it home for a lot of people is to just take a scoop of like greens powder that says it has 50 vegetables in it, Not 50 actually, like probably around 20 vegetables.
Take one scoop, just put it in a bowl, and then just put on a plate or something and then just move them into 20 different little piles. And that’s basically how much of each
Mike: veggie you’re getting at that point. Now, what would you say to somebody who says that’s when it has been processed?
So they would say, Oh, it’s similar to you, took the 10 grams of this root, and then through processing you got it down to two grams and it’s just more concentrated.
Kurtis: The piles are gonna be really small, and then they just take one surfing of broccoli, which is half a cup, put it right beside it, and it’s okay, they did not incinerate the broccoli that much.
The size difference is disgusting. Broccoli may be 90% water, but this is assuming 99.5%.
Mike: Water . Okay, good. So it’s just that point of if you were, cuz that’s how these green supplements are often sold is, hey, you basically don’t even need to eat fruits and vegetables because you can just take one, maybe it’s 30 or 40 grams scoop of this stuff, maybe even less than that actually.
But let’s just be generous and say one 30 to 40 gram scoop of this and don’t worry about those yucky vegetables.
Kurtis: And then over in Genesis, she’s Yeah, five grams of spirulina. There’s just five grams of it. You can measure it five . The other ones are just like 24 grams of insert proprietary blend that goes on for two sides of the bottle.
Mike: super antioxidant blend. Oh yeah,
Kurtis: just breaking about the ORAC scale. Never even mentioning what it is. It’s just Oh yeah, it has a high ORAC operating. Don’t question
Mike: it. Don’t look into it. But that’s really good. So what about the kitchen sink approach with pre-workouts? That’s definitely a thing I’ve seen more of recently and I’ve come to you with questions about ingredients and I’m like, Oh, that’s interesting.
That’s ingredients. I guess you could say the meta of pre-workout formulation is changing and I think it’s going in the direction of just more things. What are your thoughts on that and some of the ingredients that are popular right now that you’re not sold on and that you did not include in Pulse when you updated the formulation semi recently?
Kurtis: When it comes to that stuff, I’m pretty sure it’s also 100% marketing. Cause ever since pre-workouts first became a genre, they were a kitchen sink approach. Like a No Explode, I think was the first major pre-workout, the first I ever took. Yeah, and it has 40 compounds in it, at least the first edition did and like proprietary blends and all that.
And it’s just people take a pre-workout, the first thing that they do is, see how jittered they get, what the buzz is what the pump feels like, all that stuff. That’s completely subject to placebo. Mind you. Cuz it’s all like a psychogenic response except maybe beitit aine. That’s the
Mike: one thing that is just your face is tingling or it’s not.
Yeah, like I don’t think you can
Kurtis: placebo beit Aine tingles, but all the other stuff could be just placebo and so you market the stuff out, you make your label look as good as possible and then you change it up every few months when somebody else has better marketing. And we’ve seen a lot of scandals when it comes to pre-workouts.
The main one that I remember is a one three dmaa and it’s oh, we threw Dro in. What species? Don’t worry about it. There’s 600 species. We need to, Don’t worry about it. Oh, was that synthetic drug? Oh, nope. I didn’t know about that. Then they just ran off with all the money. Liquidated. The company probably came back with another one.
Three days later.
Mike: I think somebody went to jail. Multiple people might have went to jail over that. I know that this, You’re talking about USP Labs obviously, right? Yeah, the JOC 3D product and yeah. If I remember correctly, there was somebody running a, one of their manufacturing plants who might have ended up in jail or the feds went after ’em for doing what they did.
I don’t know though if anybody from us P Labs got busted or not. They probably just had to pay some money. Like they made hundreds of millions of dollars on that product and then, Oh, okay here’s some money. Goodbye. But yeah, that’s
Kurtis: just what pre-workouts are like these days. That’s what any stimulant product is like.
To be honest, even fat burners are subject to it. People just want the psychosomatic response of getting the new fix, so to speak. And marketing plays a role and you just wanna make your label look
Mike: unique. And Pretty Theatre is an example of that. I know that’s like a trendy, we get asked about that, a trendy stimulant.
Right now, I’m still waiting on
Kurtis: more evidence, but at the very least it does seem like it could work. Like it has, I think two, three human studies on it. There are bits conflated with industry funding, but at the same time they’re not bad studies. So I’m just abiding my time waiting to see if we can trust in theore.
It may actually pull out to be a useful ingredient. In what way? Just kinda like a caffeine replacement or an alternate caffeine. That’s one topic that hasn’t really been addressed too much. If you take Theore and caffeine alongside each other, do they just negate. Do you only get the benefits of one but not two?
Or can you get the benefits of both simultaneously?
Mike: And what do you think, based on your understanding, if you had to guess, what do you think? Do you think it’s gonna pan out? You think this is an ingredient you might want to use at some point? I think it’ll
Kurtis: probably pan out and be useful, but as a caffeine replacement, I don’t think that it’ll be additional
Mike: to caffeine.
And why might you want to replace caffeine with Theore? Just to keep your caffeine intake in a healthy range or Theore seems to
Kurtis: have a less tolerance associated with it. Oh, okay. Which is a major thing cuz if you want caffeine for the straight up adrenaline rush, you need to take 600 milligrams once a week.
And if you take like even one energy drink on a Wednesday and you’re a deadlift day where you take all the caffeine is on Sunday, that one energy drink could screw you up. So potentially theatre could give you the benefits, like the power benefits of caffeine. And give you a bit more forgiving throughout the week so you can have a little bit more from time to time.
Mike: Interesting. And for people wondering, that’s the stimulant effect of caffeine, right? What you do not become desensitized to is the antis sleep. Yeah, the awakening effects. Yeah. There’s
Kurtis: like the jittery adrenaline power effects, then the antis sleep effects. Antis sleep effects are permanent for as long as you continue to drink caffeine.
But the stimulant effects will only happen if you’re not tolerant to caffeine. If you’re naive to caffeine, then it actually acts like a powerful stimulant. But after three days of ingesting it’s done. You need to take a few weeks.
Mike: And that’s something that I’ve written about and I’ve spoken about.
I don’t do it myself because I’m not, I like having some coffee every day, basically. So yeah, I’m willing to sacrifice the booster effect in the gym and I don’t know if I would really actually like to, I guess if I did it once a week, it would be a big deal, but I don’t particularly like how it feels to take six or 700 milligrams of caffeine in one go.
Especially when you’re not tolerant to it. Yeah. Yeah. It blows you up. Awesome, man. Those were all the main questions that I had for you. Is there anything else that we haven’t addressed that you think is worth sharing with everybody before we wrap up?
Kurtis: Probably just, we do listen to feedback, so if you want to.
Just ask a question about something, maybe a report, a side effect. We actually really do take care of side effects and they do help us refine a lot of products like Ascend. Had a lot of people loving it, but we did have a higher than normal amount of people reporting
Mike: headaches with it. And Ascend is our new atropic, just so people know.
Kurtis: And because of that, we actually took that into consideration for the reformulation to make the headaches less frequent. So like reporting side effects to us does help.
Mike: And how did you accomplish that? Some people
Kurtis: are sensitive to choline when it comes to headaches, and we did have a high level of choline in Ascend, and when I was looking back on it, I probably put in, like I put in enough that some people would really love it, but I was probably throwing some people out on the cold at the same time.
I see. I was a bit too eager pumping in the cold there, so I had to tone it back a little
Mike: bit. Trigger happy on the coal man?
Kurtis: Yeah I’m one of the people who benefits from a lot of it and it’s one of my favorite compounds to take. So I’m just used to taking a lot and got a bit hubris
Mike: fueled. Yeah, so to that point, if you wanna reach out, if anybody listening wants to reach out and share feedback good, bad, any feedback whatsoever, good feedback
Kurtis: as well.
That’s always nice to read ,
Mike: Just shoot us an email [email protected] If you have any questions specifically for Curtis, you can shoot them over to contact and then they’ll get them over to Curtis and you will get an answer from Curtis. And if you have any questions for me directly, [email protected]
But yeah, ongoing feedback is very important. We pay a lot of attention to. Product reviews and anybody reaching out with any sort of suggestions, even on, we get a lot of suggestions on how to improve products. We don’t act on many of them because most of the time these are things Curtis has already considered or he doesn’t agree with the suggestion.
But we do appreciate any and all communication because it helps us do what we do better. There are quite a few examples of another example, it’s a bit simpler, a bit more obvious, but the first iteration of Weight Plus had leucine added to it because we thought it would be neat to pump up the leucine content of each scoop of protein because there was some evidence that suggested that this may elicit a higher muscle protein synthesis response to the meal.
And the problem is leucine is disgusting, it tastes so bad. Because we use natural flavor systems, natural sweeteners, natural flavors, we just couldn’t mask it. That’s one of the big downsides of all natural is take something like sucrose. It is not only incredibly sweet, it also just completely eliminates bitter.
It’s amazing how effective it is at eliminating bitter and leucine is very bitter. I guess it’s bitter or is it sour? Is a bit of both. Whatever, Something like that. It’s very, it’s strong and it does not taste good. And so a lot of people, they couldn’t get used to this tang, this kind of aftertaste that would just be left in your mouth from the leucine.
And so eventually we got rid of it, even though on paper was, I thought it was neat and the product was selling well. And there were many people who appreciated the additional leucine, people who didn’t even they could taste it and they wished it weren’t there for the purpose of taste, but they liked that it was there for the purpose of building muscle.
But in the end, the feedback was clear. We had to get rid of the luine. And so we did.
Kurtis: And just to clarify, Luine is horrendously bitter. The tartness is cause like just when it comes to sort of flavor sciences, Tart negates bitter directly. So the bitterness you tasted was most likely less than half the actual bitterness of leucine?
Yeah, because they probably added in some malic acid, which is the tar tangy you heard to cut how bad leucine was. But still the remnants of leucine were
Mike: that bad. Whereas if we were using slo, we could have. Easily. Yeah. And it would’ve just been delicious. So contact legion supplements.com again is the easiest way.
If you wanna email if you want to live chat us, you can do that on our website as well. We have a little live chat in the bottom right hand corner of the website. The message goes to the same people. So yeah, please do let us know what you think of what we’re doing and what you think. Maybe we should be doing new products as well.
People will, again, ask for BCAs all the time. And as much as I would like to make BCAs for the purpose of making money, it just doesn’t make sense for any other reason. Even though the joke is with, and some people, we have a copy and paste response to explain why we don’t sell BCAAs. And there are, I would say, a fair amount of people who will still respond and say, Oh, okay.
That’s good to know. Really, I just like drinking tasty water. Maybe you could just make them and I would buy them anyway because I just wanna make my water tasty . But that’s not a great sales pitch if that’s the reason why this product exists, because it makes your water tasty. I don’t think that’s gonna be a best seller.
Kurtis: tasty water. Yeah, right off the
Mike: shelves. Yeah. Quote unquote anabolic .
Kurtis: Yeah. Zero calories, 1% gains if that, it’s better than nothing. That’s the whole tagline.
Mike: Yeah. And even that is questionable as to how honest that is. Maybe it’s better than nothing on low protein days. Why do you have low protein days?
That’s another discussion. But anyways, I think that’s it for this one, man. Thanks as always for taking the time. And because it’s relevant, although I guess by now, by the time this goes up, I’ll have already put up a monthly update where I’ll be sharing all the new stuff that you have coming. Cuz I, I sent an email just a couple of days ago, Curtis, explaining all the new products and new formulations, the updated formulations that you’ve been working on.
But where are you going from here? What are your next projects that people might want to hear
Kurtis: about? And it’s fine if I talk about the ones in the email
Mike: already. Sure. Yeah. If you wanna comment on those. I summarized them. I think there was one that I didn’t, and I don’t remember why. Oh, it was the probiotic.
I didn’t because it’s been such a pain in the ass. Oh yeah. So we will get there eventually. But yeah, unfortunately, I mean if you wanna explain quickly, cuz this is a product we do get asked for fairly often. Obviously probiotics are popular and they are not entirely useless, but it’s hard to do it yeah,
Kurtis: so basically we have two gut health supplements coming out and similar to why we separated Phoenix and forge into two products, just for practical reasons. This one is because one of the good gut health supplements that we have in Product A has antibacterial properties and we don’t want it sitting on the shelf for like months eating away at the probiotics.
So we had to put it in separate pills. , so that product is finalized, looking perfect, and it might also be Antidiabetic in a way that’s just a happy little side
Mike: effect. And it’s called balance, that’s the name. And
Kurtis: as for the probiotic, all the cool ones have been patented and the companies are very greedy and do not want to give us the rights to use.
So I’m still on
Mike: the And why is that for people wondering cuz that doesn’t make sense on its face. They’re like, wait, what they took all the time and the effort to create a patented ingredient and then they don’t wanna sell it to you.
Kurtis: Truth be told, I don’t know. I think they just have enough of produce and enough of like good enough supply chains that they can handle selling it on their own.
And they’re probably healing some time before licensing it out to others. The exclusion, however, would be El Cai, which is known as a product. Yakult, it’s a Japanese yogurt beverage. They have an entire like Yakult yogurt beverage empire. So that’s their brand. I can see why they in particular wouldn’t wanna license it out to other people all that easily.
But yeah, aside from the yore empire, I just think that the other ones, they just earn money enough right now and they don’t want to sell it out
Mike: yet. By selling it just themselves. And so that it’s not that they don’t wanna work with us per se, they don’t wanna work with anybody other than
Yeah. Unless they can get like a really good deal. But that’s just gonna drive our cost up way too much. So we’re just gonna wait to see if we can actually get a better option that isn’t gonna cost us out the nose. And if we can’t, then we’re gonna have to bite the bullet on one of those.
Interesting. Yeah. No use making a bare bones probiotic, it has to be cool in some way unique at least.
Mike: And the point there is not that it has to be quote unquote cool. For the sake of being cool. But it’s that a bare bones, if we were to sell it, honestly, it just wouldn’t be that interesting. We wouldn’t be able to honestly claim much in the way of benefits.
Kurtis: Yeah. I don’t wanna sell something that you can just go to your basic supplement store and get it for 15 bucks just out in the little fridge area. Like it works, obviously, but people are already doing that. It’s selling the BCA supplements.
People are already doing that. Whether it works or not doesn’t really matter. If other people are selling it for either the same cost or lower due to economies of scale, and we have no unique selling point, like at that point, why bother just go to your local store and pick it up for
Mike: cheap, Which is why we don’t sell individual ingredients, for example.
Probably never will. I don’t think that would ever make sense under the Legion brand to sell just Citraline here’s a bag of Citraline. If we wanted to do that, we’d have to start a separate brand. And that’s all that brand would be about is high quality individual ingredients in bulk at a low price.
And there are some companies out there already doing that well, although I would say their branding is really bad. So there, there could be an opportunity there, but not one that we’re looking to pursue. And so that kind of comes back to, your personal philosophy and also legion’s philosophy of formulation, which is there needs to be something unique and it needs to be with how we start, and this is something that I don’t think we got into, but.
In the beginning when you create your formulations you are not thinking too much about the cost. You’re just curious, if I were to make the best possible, blah, how much would it cost? Cause we’ve gone through that, where you’ll put together, I remember the first genesis formulation. Remember that? It came back at $80 a bottle or something?
Our cost. Yeah, my bad. and yeah. And remember one of the problems was the anthocyanins were like 20, which is pigment in berries. And
Kurtis: then I went for the expensive
Mike: mushrooms. Yeah. But the anthocyanins alone were where I think it was 20 or $30 a bottle. Our cost. Just that one
Kurtis: ingredient. And that’s a perfect segue because of the other two products that are coming up.
One of them, the vitality does contain anthocyanins in it. The thing is, we put in the highest dose we could financially do, which was also the lowest scientifically proven dose. So on one hand, yes, we got in the scientifically proven range. Yays. On the other hand, we could have doubled it and got extra benefits, but again, the costs were just insane.
But it is gonna be worth it because it’s paired with a bunch of other stuff that helped the target demographic, which is older athletic people.
Mike: You wanna talk about that product and what specifically is gonna help older
Kurtis: people? It’s actually A D H E A product. So it is gonna be a hormonal product. D h e is best for when you get old enough that your natural steroid production starts to slow down.
D h e just supplements it a little bit. So the decline is less than anthocyanins. Aside from just being standard, good oxidants help with not only cognition in older generations, but it was actually quite recently a study came out showing that in the 40 to 50 age demographic blueberry anthocyanins, which.
Should be the ones we’re using. If not, we’re using another dark berry also help. And then we threw in some rodeo because it’s always good.
Mike: Yeah. Rodeo is neat.
Kurtis: Yeah. And then finally we are doing something that I’m actually really looking forward to how people react to, It’s a beauty supplement, but it’s oral
Mike: as opposed
Kurtis: to anal.
A suppository. , topical . I’m joking. Like when I was looking into the just all beauty suits as they’re called. Maybe ours should
Mike: be anal. Maybe it should be a
Kurtis: suppository. That would be, they would have to be probiotic. There’s no probiotics in it.
Mike: It’s just Yeah. And yeah, . Yeah. It’s just our perpetually patented process of delivery.
Kurtis: like just looking at all the beauty suits there’s no way that we could have gotten any of our manufacturers. To make creams that are better than the stuff you can just get for 10 bucks on store shelves. Yeah. Like they’ve nailed that stuff down. So we had to compete in another way and no one had a good oral supplement for like skin, hair, health I wanna say nails.
But there’s literally no evidence on nails for anything. Not even bio has evidence for nails. That one was really shocking.
Mike: Yeah, cuz obviously there are many beauty products out there, but specifically when you’re looking at the formulations, you couldn’t find anything that stood out to you as valid
Kurtis: Yeah. Not for nails. Like the only things I could find were for skin and a little bit for hair, at least by the oral route I should say. There’s a lot of good stuff for hair if you actually put it in a shampoo, but we’re not doing
Mike: that. And one other thing that I would, I’d be curious to hear feedback from anybody still listening at this point.
what do you think about doing? Reach Mike almost for life. Email me and let me know. What do you think about us doing? An elite line. That wouldn’t be the, that wouldn’t be the phrase I would use. That’s too cheesy. At least I don’t think I would use it. But basically if we could create some really high end stuff.
So if you’ve been listening up until now, you’ve heard for example, that some ingredients we’ve just not been able to use in some products because they’re too expensive. Even though it would definitely make the product better and it would be exciting, but the economics just don’t work at our current price point.
This is something Curtis and I have been talking about. It might be interesting to take a few of our more popular products, like it’d be neat to do it probably with pre-workout, maybe post-workout, if it’s possible. Multivitamin, maybe fat burner. If it’s possible, just take some of our more high selling products that are also just part of the bigger segments of the sports nutrition market and create a product that would cost you the consumer.
Probably double our current stuff. Maybe even a little bit more. Let’s just say these products would be in the range of probably 70 to a hundred dollars, but they would be over the top good. They would be, again, some of these first run formulations that Curtis has produced that come back at $40 a bottle or $50 a bottle and you go, Shit, we can’t do that.
If we were to do that, is that something you, dear listener might be interested in? Would you be willing to pay that much for a super premium product that truly is unlike anything else on the market? And I understand most listeners would not be willing to, I totally get that, but I’m just curious how many of you out there would be interested, even if it were just, maybe you don’t want all of the super premium.
If we had 3, 4, 5 things, maybe you just want one. Let me know Mike, at most life.com. I would be curious to hear your thoughts. Because Curtis, you could have some fun with that. Oh yeah, totally. All right, man. This was informative as always. Thank you for taking the time and I look forward to the next one.
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