We just got back from Natural Products Expo West 2016.
EXPO WEST, as it is known, is the largest showcase of natural foods and products in the world. (See the exhibit hall below? There were 7+ rooms like this!)
Imagine walking down the aisle of your favorite health food store…
NOW, imagine every single company behind every product on those shelves building a massive booth to showcase their goods…
That’s EXPO WEST.
The booths start in the 100’s and go all the way to the 9000’s.
With over 600 new products this year, more than 3,000 vendors and 77,000 attendees, it’s massive, exhilarating, crazy, and sensory overload.
The Future Of Natural Foods and Supplements:
In this post – and podcast – we’re going to distill EXPO WEST 2016 down to the important things for you – the consumer.
This year, we noticed a huge move from supplements in previous years to almost all food and drinks. With record highs for new products, vendors, and attendees, the demand for natural, healthy food choices is at all time high and this is GREAT NEWS!
The shift from processed foods to natural that has driven the growth of natural food “meccas” like Whole Foods, is slowly trickling down to larger grocery chains. This year’s EXPO WEST represented that as more companies try to meet consumer demands and distributors and retailers try to get a piece of the action.
A Special Optimal Performance Podcast
In this week’s OPP, we’re breaking from our routine to chat with Natural Stacks co-founder Roy Krebs so we can share with you the trends we noticed and the products, people, and brands doing big things in the natural foods, supplement and nootropics industries.
We’re also answering listener questions – so go ahead and post your questions in the comments below and we’ll answer them on a future episode of the OPP.
What you’ll hear on this episode of the OPP:
New segment on the podcast. We’ll answer your questions on future episodes of the show – leave your questions in the comments below or email firstname.lastname@example.org
What the ever-growing demand for healthy and natural foods means for you the consumer in regards to ingredients and labeling.
EPIC Bars, nose-to-tail use of animals, new cooking fats, and bone broth
Prebiotics, probiotics, the difference between the two and why you need both
The end of bathing, covering yourself in bacteria, and using animal fat for deodorant and moisturizer
The cival war in the mushroom supplement world: Full spectrum dried shrooms vs. distilled extracts of specific compounds within those mushrooms
Caveman Coffee’s new Nitro Teas and chowing down at the Bulletproof Coffee Shop in Santa Monica
Mark Sisson, Primal Mayo, and the new Primal Collagen Protein Bar
Listener question #1: The best tips to cook your food to avoid carcinogens and advanced glycation end products (AGEs)
Listener question #2: Optimizing your GABA levels, why phenibut is not the best GABA supplement for long-term health
Stacking our Brain Foods for synergistic effects and using them daily for natural optimization of your neurotransmitters
Roy’s daily routine – scheduling work flow for optimal productivity, supplements, and exercise
Honey before bed and combining the Bulletproof Diet with Carb Back-Loading and the Tim Ferriss carb approach
You can take the Braverman Test and learn more about your own neurotransmitter levels by clicking here.
Post your questions below and we’ll answer them on a future podcast episode.
The Future Of Natural Foods, Supplements, and Nootropics
Ryan: Hello, you are listening to the Optimal Performance Podcast sponsored by Natural Stacks. If you’re into biohacking, performance or getting more out of life, this is the show for you! For more on building optimal performance, check out our blog that has recently moved from optimalperformance.com to naturalstacks.com.
Alright, happy Thursday all you optimal performers!
Roy: St. Patty’s Day.
Ryan: Yeah, happy St. Patrick’s Day! And, you guys, that is co-founder of Natural Stacks, Roy Krebs. Roy, say hello.
Ryan: So, for you guys listening, we’re gonna try something a little bit different today: less of me interviewing a guest and more of Roy and I talking about some things that are going on in the supplement, nootropics, biohacking world as well as answering some questions and being a little bit more interactive and engaging with you guys, the audience. So make sure you shoot me an e-mail, email@example.com or leave us a comment on the blog, on the YouTube video, anywhere that you consume this information. Let us know how you like this format. Like I said, we’re gonna try this, make it a little bit different. And if you like it we’ll do more of this, maybe once a month a Q&A, maybe I answer your questions once an episode, whatever that might be. So you guys let us know, your feedback’s gonna really help us shape this going forward. So, the reason that we wanted to start this this week is that last weekend the Natural Stacks team was at Natural Products Expo West. It is the largest natural foods expo in the world. There were over 3000 vendors, 77,000 people in attendance. It was a zoo, it was amazing, it was really, really cool. And if you ever get a chance to go we highly recommend it. So we wanna talk a little bit today about what we saw and kinda let you live vicariously through us and see what it was like to be there. So, Roy, what do you – what would you like to say about it?
Roy: Yeah. First, it’s just massive, it’s hectic and very stimulating, lots of things going on. What’s interesting is there’s 600 new companies represented this year. Companies that haven’t been there before. So, these are up-and-coming companies that are looking at the trends and trying to develop something new and creating their own niche in the space. So, with so many new companies, it’s great to see how they’re branding, what their ideas are for a new product. Most of them are in the food space, the natural food space but also a bunch of supplements represented as well. And it’s great to see that mix and just what’s new and what’s – what people are feeling responsive to.
Ryan: Yeah. Ben made a really good point – our other co-founder – saying that, you know, what we actually see there is the shift from processed foods to natural foods that has driven the growth of, for example, Whole Foods or Erewhon markets in LA. It is trickling down to the larger, the more chain grocery stores and that’s something that kinda early adapters like our audience has to – we – you can’t help but be pleased to see more of that becoming mainstream.
Roy: Yeah, it’s great. I think probably every single new vendor out there was – was vegan, organic, Paleo, every certification you can get – non-GMO. Of course, there was some great beef jerky and stuff out there that’s not vegan. But everything has a strong focus on sourcing [coughs] – sourcing, traceability, is all very important.
Ryan: So when you say traceability, what do you mean? Or what comes to your mind when you say that?
Roy: It seems that – that the products have a strong focus on okay, what are the ingredients? And usually there’s only a few. Where do they come from? And that’s the messaging that a lot of these companies are starting to put across, which is great! That’s what we care about. What’s in the product? And how do we know that this is legit and it’s not ultra-processed and made in a way that isn’t the most optimal for us?
Ryan: Right. And, you know, when you say that one of the companies that comes to my mind is, you know, you already mentioned jerky. So, EPIC Bar, EPIC Provisions. I mean, that’s one that we know when we eat that we’re getting grass-fed meat. We know that they control for the most part. All of the animals, you know, except for maybe the salmon that goes into their products, they’re controlling that from start to finish. And they’re actually – one of the cool things that we saw out there at the conference was that they are – they’re going on this nose to tail movement where they’re starting to use the entire animal. So not only are they putting the meat in protein bars or jerky but they’re now gonna have bone broths in jars that’ll be available for the public, they’re gonna have duck fat and other lard or tallow that are trying to get the entire animal out to the market.
Roy: It’s great. It’s great to see them thinking that way. And – and they were actually recently purchased by General Mills. Um, but they’re staying true to their roots and expanding their product line in a way that makes sense. So, it’s great to see that. And they do – they do an awesome job with telling their story and the story of their products. And again, sourcing. Where did this stuff come from? Is it sustainable? Things like that. What I thought was interesting is that I really didn’t see many products or dietary supplements focused on brain health or performance.
Ryan: That did seem to be a – a lacking area. I mean, I don’t think – I don’t think most people would walk in there saying – and realize, the way we would, that it was a void. But that certainly stood out to all of us, that that really wasn’t an area being targeted.
Roy: Right, and there’s – there’s always the basic stuff for energy or for relaxation. And those little energy shots or something that’s supposed to make you feel some vitality or also rest and sleep and relax. But there’s nothing that takes it a step further that’s: how do I actually improve cognition or function or focus? Mental performance. So, it’s cool to see that we’re in that space and we’re doing that. And I think it’s gonna to continue to be that trend. And we’ll see next year when we show up to see if there’s – there’s more people focusing on that.
Ryan: Yeah. And we’ll be one of them, right?
Roy: Exactly, yeah.
Ryan: So, come see us at Expo West next year.
Ryan: So, what else stood out to you? Any other brands or companies that we came across that were innovating?
Roy: Well there were a lot. And I think just major trends. Of course, there’s – there’s so many different types of beef jerky out there now. It’s – it was almost becoming a joke. So we, you know, tried a bunch and see what it is but it’s so much competition in that space, they’re really almost all the same. So, that was, kind of, it seemed like a flooded market there. Things like – like trail mixes and Paleo bars and – those kind of seem overplayed. And certain drinks, variations on water. There’s a lot of stuff like that out there. So there were a few things that really stood out. I think one was there seemed to be more focus on gut health, which is great. Lots of probiotics, of course. But then also, on the food side, fermented foods, sauerkraut, kimchi. There was quite a lot of those companies out there that seemed like they had just gotten off the ground and were doing pretty well.
Ryan: That was really cool. When I travel I’m always worried about being able to get enough vegetables and to keep that, you know, the routine that I have at home in place or as close to in place as possible. So, I’ll just – you know this ’cause you were there but for everybody listening I just walked up and down the aisles all day both days we were there and ate as much kimchi and sauerkraut as I could so I could stay on track. But it was – it is really cool to see that. So, all of our favorite sauerkraut and kimchi brands were there and they were unveiling new flavors. I think it’s – is it mothers in the raw or one of those brands had a flavor that I’ve never tried. It was a white kimchi. I’m not a fan of the spice in kimchi, so this one was without the red pepper. It’s basically kimchi without the spice. So that was really good. Farmhouse Culture was another good one. I think we got Ben hooked on that.
Roy: Yes, we did. Yeah.
Ryan: So –
Roy: It was great to see.
Ryan: While we’re on that topic, can you elaborate? I think there’s a little confusion for some people between the difference of prebiotics and probiotics.
Roy: Sure, so – so to make it really simple, prebiotics are food for probiotics. And if you’re ingesting the right prebiotics, which are resistant starch, certain starchy tubers and things like that, they act as food for your probiotics. And if you’re ingesting these prebiotics on a regular basis you’re gonna build this culture of good bacteria in your gut that are feeding off those prebiotics. So, you’re basically super-charging your probiotics. And it helps get rid of the bad probiotics and also increase the number of good probiotics in your system such as bifidobacterium and – what is the other one? Lactobacteria.
Ryan: Yeah, that’s how most sauerkraut’s made, through that lacto-fermentation, right?
Roy: Yeah. So, it’s a super simple breakdown. But you need both. And – and probiotics them self are really delicate and really the best way to get them in your system is through fermented foods. In a supplemental form it’s really tricky. Heat, processing of any kind can damage and kill a lot of those active, live probiotics. So, it’s best to have some fermented food or things like that and then supplement that with prebiotics.
Ryan: Yeah. I think that’s a really good point about the delicacy of probiotics and I think a lot of people think: hey, even if I’m getting it out of the refrigerator at the vitamin store then, you know, I’m safe. But what we don’t know, what we can’t control is the process from manufacturer to that refrigeration unit in the store. So, how long was it in the warehouse? How long was it in the truck? What was the temperature? You know, if you’re transporting across the country in August, odds are by the time it reaches the refrigerator it’s not the product that you think you’re getting.
Roy: Exactly. Constantly heated and then cold and then heat and cold again. And those are active live bacteria in there that are very delicate. That’s why, with things like kimchi and sauerkraut, that’s continuing to ferment and continuing to build those bacteria even when it’s sitting in your fridge. So – so that’s really the best place to get that.
Ryan: Yeah. And I think both of us follow that protocol, eating fermented vegetables daily, taking prebiotic, the resistant starch complex at night for optimal gut health.
Roy: Yeah. I’ve been doing that for maybe 6 or 9 months now. And I’ve been eating kimchi every day for lunch and then also sometimes at dinner. And resistant starch in the afternoon and the evening. And – and really I do feel better. I’m more regular and – and I feel like I – my body composition is more on this, kind of, even keel.
Ryan: Yeah, I would have to say I’ve noticed the same thing. And you just mentioned bacteria. So, I’ve gotta jump to another booth and some people that we found very interesting is the Mother Dirt folks.
Roy: Yeah, totally interesting concept. Totally interesting concept. So these guys are spraying live bacteria onto your skin as a form of soap. So, it’s – it’s kind of the anti-soap soap. Spraying dirt on yourself and – but it’s – you start talking with this lady and there’s an amazing amount of research behind this thing. It’s been in RND for 10 years. Heavily funded. And – and I think they’re on the verge of something really cool here.
Ryan: Yeah, we actually – if you guys listening go back to, I believe it was podcast 18 we had Paul Jaminet on who wrote ‘The Perfect Health Diet’. He is affiliated somehow with these guys and he actually was the first to tell us about it. And the spray, the bacteria spray is AOB is ammonia oxidizing bacteria and it helps convert the bacteria or the sweat into nitric oxide. So, it was really interesting to hear him talk about it. But, like you said Roy, we got to run in – we got the rundown from Robin at the conference and we learned something interesting about the company’s founder. He hasn’t showered in 18 – or 13 years?
Roy: 13 years, I think it was. Yeah. Just been spraying bacteria on himself. And apparently, he’s still alive and well.
Ryan: Right. So – and he and the chief scientist are Harvard, MIT people. I mean, they’re really, really intelligent people. And, you know, I guess drop a hint for you guys listening. We actually are talking with them next week to line up a podcast with them so we’ll have them on, we’ll be able to dive a little bit deeper into that and bring you all of the information there on bathing, showering and covering yourself in bacteria.
Roy: Yeah, I’m interested in a little bit more about that science as well. You know, I know it’s supposed to be killing the ammonia so that you don’t get the smell. Um, but, you know, what else is it doing? How does it really keep your skin clean? And I think they have a shampoo, too, right?
Ryan: They have a shampoo and a cleanser. I think your description was perfect, it’s the anti-soap soap.
Roy: Right. Well that’s – yeah, it’s super cool. And it’s good to see things like that come up because rather than just a standard cold-brew coffee or beef jerky or nut butter, there was all kinds of nut butters there. It’s like wow, these guys are doing something super innovative and they’re getting some press and traction and this is what’s cool to see at events like this.
Ryan: Yeah, you’re right. Those – the booths that were different, that were doing things that nobody else was doing, those were really cool. There’s another one along that line, FATCO, formally FATFACE, they’ve just recently changed their name. But that’s another nose to tail use of the animal where they’re taking the tallow, creating skin care, beauty or hygiene products that are chemical free, made from animals. You know, nobody else there was doing that.
Roy: Right. Simple product and it works, right? You’ve been using that.
Ryan: Yeah. That’s what I use for deodorant. It’s called Stank Stop. [laughs] It’s awesome! And they’ve got a whole line. They’ve got lip balms and, you know, face moisturizers. That’s another podcast that we may actually try to set up and bring people because we talked about that with Andy on our podcast. Where – if our listeners go – if you just go into your bathroom and you look at the ingredients on the products that you put on your skin every single day. I mean, your skin’s your largest organ and you’re smearing chemicals onto it that are getting absorbed into your body every single day. So, I think in the world of biohacking, most areas are kind of exhausted or covered. And I think skin care and products like that is an area that is overlooked by a lot of people.
Roy: I think you’re right. I think there’s a lot of room for our industry to grow there. And I like Andy Hnilo’s concept is he wouldn’t put it on his skin if he wouldn’t eat it, right?
Roy: And that’s a cool way to think about it. And I think we’ll see more products coming in that direction. And from a dietary supplement company like us, it’s interesting that minerals in particular are best absorbed transdermally. That’s why float tanks are so effective with the epsom salt. And so, I’ve been experimenting a little bit with magnesium oil and creams and seeing if we could fit them into the product line. And some interesting things we could do there. So, that’s – it’s an area of research that I wanna keep looking into.
Ryan: Yeah, especially with the magtein that’s in our MagTech is as bio-available as it is, as powerful as it is. I mean, that’s one that if we can increase the absorption you can – you’d see even more benefit.
Roy: Right, right. So, we’re gonna keep looking into that.
Ryan: Alright. What other ideas spark you or did you come away with saying: ‘Hey, we should look into this, we should do this’?
Roy: Well, I was talking to a lot of suppliers. You know, we have great suppliers in place for, for example, our krill oil and a lot of our minerals and some of our herbs. But always talking to new suppliers and kind of getting their angle and why they think their product is different or unique. And a lot of times, you know, we don’t learn anything new but it’s – it’s just good to get that perspective and it’s – it’s interesting um, how some manufacturers will position their product different than another manufacturer but it’s actually a very similar thing. Or there’s this whole debate, and particularly with medicinal mushrooms, functional mushrooms, which I’ve been doing some research into recently: chaga and reishi, lion’s mane, cordyceps. There’s this debate going on between the extracts and the whole concentrate supplements. So, you have this supplement that’s made from the entire mushroom that’s milled down into a dietary supplement. It’s kind of a whole spectrum complete supplement. And then on the other side they have these supplements that are very exact extracts that are going after a certain active component in that mushroom. And those folks are saying, you know, that’s how you get a really – a lot of effect out of this product. Whereas the other folks are saying it’s not a full-spectrum, mushrooms have all these synergistic ingredients and you need all of them working in conjunction and you’re gonna have more of a full body effect. So, it’s interesting to look at the research, which there really isn’t that much research in the mushroom world, and then trying to make those thoughts for yourself. Okay, which one is more effective? Or perhaps it needs to be a mix of both to really get what you’re really going after.
Ryan: Yeah. So, for you guys listening, if you’re not aware of how Natural Stacks operates, Abelard is a product creator and so is Roy. And you’re kind of hearing Roy’s thought process of how our products are created and you see the thought and the research that goes into them. And I think that’s one of the reasons that we’re able to bring to market products that we’re so proud of. You know, so Roy, I know that weighing that mushroom decision was a big part of your weekend. And I mean, it just – it almost sounds like there’s a civil war in the mushroom world, you know. You’ve got these 2 sides and both are adamant about, you know, their stance being the correct one. I mean, how do you – how do you decide this one’s right and, you know, this is, you know, if we wanted to make a mushroom product this is the side that we would choose?
Roy: Sure, and I haven’t decided yet. And I – we are looking into creating some mushroom products. And – and it’s something that I’ll be looking at really closely. I think – I think the most important thing that was a takeaway is that we want an organic product, especially for mushrooms. A lot of the stuff coming from China has shown high levels of metal toxicity and absolutely that’s something that we don’t even wanna question. We want to make sure this stuff is from the source and from the get-go, you know, it’s a fungus so it has to be grown in a very controlled setting to get exactly the properties of that particular fungus without any interference. So, that was the biggest takeaway is that we’re looking for a U.S.A grown, organic product. And then, in terms of the extract versus the whole spectrum supplement, that’s something that I’m still looking at and it might differ between product. ‘Cause they’re extracting down to a certain active component and perhaps, in certain products, if we’re going for a certain effect we may want more of that whereas in another product, if it’s like an immunity product, it might be more important to have the full spectrum. Or in certain cases, maybe a combination of both. So that’s something that we’re playing with.
Ryan: Alright, right. It’s exciting. I know I can’t wait. I’m sure our listeners are looking forward to it. We’ve already had quite a few comments, people are anxiously awaiting. So, –
Roy: Yeah, there’s some interesting – interesting things in the mushroom world that aren’t available with typical herbs, vitamins or minerals.
Roy: And – and it’s gonna be fun to explore in that space, for sure.
Ryan: Definitely. Now, you mentioned cold-brew earlier. There was a lot of coffee at the expo. We got to try a couple of new ones and a couple of old favorites. I was really pumped that we got to run into Caveman Coffee crew. I’ve had some interaction with them before but we’ve never met in person. That was cool. Those guys are amazing, they’re awesome. We had a blast hanging out with them.
Roy: Yeah, definitely very authentic guys. And they’re very passionate about their coffee. And their coffee tastes great. But what was – what was cool to me was their yerba matte. They’re coming out with this new yerba matte and they had it on a tap and I think they’re putting it into cans. But, completely pure product, no sugar or any additives or anything like that. Just – but the taste they’re able to get out of that was – was outstanding.
Ryan: Yeah, and I think we may be able to get them on the show at a future time as well to have them talk about it when it launches. But I believe that it was a nitro, their nitro coffee has been a big hit and the nitro that they add in the tap gives the coffee and now the tea just a thicker mouth feel without having to add anything else. They had a hibiscus tea that was awesome as well.
Roy: Yeah, exactly. It was almost foamy and it seemed a little thicker than just normal tea. And it – but yeah, it tastes great. And I think Keith was saying that he got the main idea from Tim Ferriss who we know is very adamant about yerba matte being his favorite drink and favorite cognitive booster. And it’s, you know, it is a very defined effect, completely different from coffee or green tea, even. And that’s something that I want to start experimenting more with.
Ryan: Yeah, he actually – he had me inspired to do the same. I’m drinking coffee today but I – Keith is – he said that he’s been drinking yerba matte in the mornings instead of coffee. And he said for about a week it was kind of a cumulative effect through that first week. And, you know, after that he said: ‘Man, this is it. This is what I want to do.’ So, it –
Roy: Yeah, it’s interesting.
Ryan: Yeah, it’s just really cool to hear different people’s different morning routines and what works and, you know, how they kinda get into the zone. Before we get off of the coffee topic, we made a stop to the Bulletproof cafe.
Roy: We did, yes.
Ryan: So Bulletproof is a brand that has always been, you know, good to us, we’ve been good to them and really enjoy their coffee as well so we had to see the mecca, see the shop. It was really cool to see what Dave has been able to create there. Tons of, you know, like-minded people hanging out. And I know I can say that if I lived close to one I’d be there every day.
Roy: Yeah, it was really cool to see. And you’re right, it was busy and you could tell it was very healthy people there. But the space he created is very nice. And I think the process of ordering, it’s all very comfortable. They bring the food out to you, you know, it’s not – there’s not much clutter going on. And – and the way that – you can tell there’s a lot of focus on the food and how they cook it and where it’s sourced. And the menu isn’t very complicated, there’s maybe 10 things on there but, yeah. You and I tried as many as we could. I think we ordered 7 or 8 things to try it all out and it was all great.
Ryan: It was. The food was excellent.
Roy: In particular the ice cream, the Get Some Ice Cream that they’ve put together was quite a bit better than I had expected, actually.
Ryan: Yeah, it was – it was really cool. I guess I was shocked to see it in – it was almost like when you walk into a 7-11 and the Slurpee machine is spinning around. Instead of being horizontal, theirs was vertical. But that ice cream was just churning the whole time and it was, you know, smooth, creamy. I mean, it tasted like real ice cream. I never would have known that it was, like, a healthy recipe.
Roy: Yeah, it was hard not to order, I think it was only 11am when we were there but we got to start off with a little ice cream.
Ryan: Yeah we had to. And, let’s see what – they had all kinds of breakfasts and protein bowls, you know, it was –
Roy: Steak, salmon.
Ryan: Yeah, it was almost like if you’ve read the Bulletproof Diet book or the Bulletproof recipe book, it was just, you know, imagine being able to order anything out of there and have it prepared and handed to you.
Roy: Right. And – and even just a cup of bone broth, you know, you can order that.
Roy: Yeah, very cool to see. And I think he’s working on opening a couple other stores which should be great. It’s impressive what he’s done with this brand and it’s something that we look up to.
Ryan: For sure. Another guy that we got to run into again who has done a lot with his brand in the Paleo world is Mark Sisson.
Roy: Right. Great guy. I love Mark. He’s very authentic and he’ll shoot it to you straight. Certain products or other products that he does or does not like. And he’s been doing really well with his – his mayo, his avocado oil based mayo product. And now he has 3 or 4 different flavors. And that’s a cool product. I have some in my fridge that I use with artichokes. And it really tastes just like mayo, or if not better. And I know he’s doing really well off that. And I saw that he’s expanding into some new products, just released a protein bar base with collagen. And what I thought was interesting that rather than just using, like, cashews or almonds like other companies he added, actually, peanuts or pumpkin seeds. Which was cool. And it actually tastes pretty good.
Ryan: Yeah, that was a good bar. And, you know, my hope for that is that it can do for the bar world what his mayo did, you know, in that kind of, market.
Roy: It’s a tougher world, you know, there’s a lot of bars out there.
Ryan: It’s definitely more saturated than the healthy mayo.
Roy: Yeah. But – but like we said, you know, hopefully these trends continue and that those things get out there more.
Ryan: Yeah, I will second that. So, let’s –
Roy: And then the tiger nuts, too.
Roy: We saw the tiger nuts were there.
Roy: Which were super cool. And if you guys aren’t familiar, it’s those – it’s a weed plant that’s grown in Africa and the Middle East. And it’s a tuber so it’s grown underneath the ground and there’s these tiny little – I wouldn’t call it a nut.
Ryan: They look like nuts but they’re actually tubers. They’re shriveled, like a dried raisin but hard. They have that shriveled raisin look but they’re hard.
Roy: They don’t look very attractive but they actually taste pretty good, I’d say. I wouldn’t say great. And they now have a new version that has a lot of the peel taken off which is a little bit less chewy and more approachable, I’d say.
Ryan: The –
Roy: But that’s a cool product and very high in resistant starch.
Ryan: Yeah. It’s a – it’s about 50% resistant starch.
Roy: Yeah, that’s super high. I think even um, you know, our banana flour we use is about 30-40% max. So to have something that potent in a resistant starch in a small little punch like that is awesome.
Ryan: I’ve been taking those, they’re very portable and I’ve actually been taking them, like, the weather’s starting to break and we’ve been hiking a lot lately. So I just throw those into a Ziploc bag and put it in my pocket and I just eat those and some nuts while I’m hiking.
Roy: Yeah, good source of energy, too, fat and some sugars in there.
Roy: I – I’ve kind of always dreamt of putting together an ultimate trail mix. And I’d like to put a few tiger nuts in there.
Ryan: What other ingredients would go in Roy’s Ultimate Trail Mix?
Roy: I’m still working on it daily, basically. But I like macadamias.
Roy: And I’d probably throw a couple of Bulletproof’s truffle espresso beans in there.
Ryan: Yes, those are amazing.
Roy: Those are great. And, I think, 3 or 4, maybe 5 just high-quality ingredients like that. But a mix, right, so you have this resistant starch content, you have this great fat from macadamias and some chocolate and things like that. Maybe someday.
Ryan: Could be Natural Snacks.
Roy: Natural Snacks, coming up next. [laughs]
Ryan: So, before we shift gears into Q&A, I wanna just pause, kinda do a public service announcement, tell you guys listening. Make sure you head over to naturalstacks.com to see the video version of this, get the show notes. We’ll have links to all of the brands that we’re talking about, any of the studies or anything else that we mention going forward in the Q&A. That’s a great place to drop your questions if you wanna get your question answered by me on a show or by Roy and I on a future Q&A if that’s the way we decide to go forward with this. And if you haven’t already done so, please go to iTunes, leave us a 5* review, let us know how much you like the show. We’ve got a couple of new ones that we wanna read. Um, so here’s one from [unclear 00:31:29]: ‘Yep, hands down best podcast out there. Super easy to follow, soothing in the ears. Everything is broken down so you can understand. The topics are freakin’ awesome, keep up the good work.’ He says: ‘Yep, subscribe, it’s that good. Great podcast, very informative. The guests are awesome. Here’s another one from cousin [unclear 00:31:48], that’s a cool name: ‘Love the diversity of guests. Information you can use and the latest in biohacking and nootropics. Love Natural Stacks and love this podcast.’ So thank you guys. Make sure you head over and let us know, leave us a review. That’s how we know what you like, what to do more of. And we can make this, you know, the podcast that is your go-to resource.
Roy: That’s the goal. And recently we’ve seen a lot of questions come in so I wanted to get with Ryan on the podcast and help answer some of those and hopefully if that’s a format you guys like we’ll continue that.
Ryan: So, for you guys listening, in our small, tight-knit team we know Roy is an incredible cook and this is a perfect question for Roy to answer. So, we’ve been asked about cooking methods, reducing carcinogens and advanced glycation end products that can occur with overcooking meat or cooking at high temperatures. So, we’re gonna let chef, master chef Roy take that one and give us some advice.
Roy: Yeah, you’re not so bad a chef yourself. Some broiling techniques and everything else I saw last weekend. Um, well I love to barbecue and I like just being outside and getting some of that smell, some of the smoke. But as you know that the high heat, when you’re putting that meat on the grill, can cause some carcinogens. And it’s something that – that we’re conscious of and always trying to reduce that in any way we can. So, the first thing is just not to overcook the meat and, you know, you get a little bit of that barbecue char but not too much. And try to, you know, keep the meat as intact as possible without flaming it. But there are some interesting things you can do and seasonings and spices you can use to really mitigate the negative effects of a high heat cooking like barbecuing and my favorite is rosemary. And if you – if you look around and do the research there’s actually some very substantial research showing that rosemary, which contains rosmarinic acid, can greatly reduce the amount of carcinogens created from cooking at a high temperature. And it’s been shown that the higher concentration of rosemary, the rosmarinic acid, the greater reduction of that. And in some cases, up to 90%. So, almost completely eliminates the harm of cooking at a high heat if you’re using a lot of rosemary or getting a lot of that rosmarinic acid in there. And there’s also been some marinades combining garlic and onion. That’s been shown to be a similar effect, I don’t think quite as strong as rosemary. But some things that I like to do, personally, is either make a marinade and use a lot of rosemary and garlic and onions and turmeric, which is – other antioxidants help as well. And let it marinade for a long time. Or, the other way I like to do it is to make a dry rub with Himalayan salt and what I’ll do is I’ll take the rosemary leaves off the sprig and dice it up super fine and mix it in with some salt and some other spices. I like to use a little cayenne and really rub [unclear 00:35:19] – deep into the meat. And you almost get this layer of, you know, rosemary and salt on the outside that protects it even further and creates a great little crust and flavor for the meat, obviously.
Ryan: Alright, you guys listening have no idea what kind of secret you just heard. Because we’ve been bugging Roy for 2 years to explain to us his secret dry rub. And I’m not sure that was 100% of the ingredients but –
Roy: That was like 80%. I don’t –
Ryan: You guys got more than anybody has ever heard!
Roy: Yeah, no it’s – it’s great and I highly recommend it. And even if you’re doing something delicate, like a filet mignon, a small little fillet of steak, you can just put the whole rosemary sprig on the bottom underneath the steak where it would be on the grill and it helps infuse that rosemary into the steak and it also helps with the lower – significantly lowers the carcinogens that we’ve been talking about. Something else interesting about rosemary is – is that rosmarinic acid helps slow the breakdown of GABA. So, it keeps a higher, elevated amount of GABA in your brain which has calming properties and maybe that’s why it just naturally smells so good. And it just seems like a great nutrient to use and to – to use especially in something like this when you’re helping reduce some damage.
Ryan: Alright, you said the magic word: GABA. So, on behalf of all of the questions that have been sent in, do we have an ETA for GABA Brain Food?
Roy: Yeah, I looked through the questions. I think that was half of the questions. When’s GABA coming out? GABA Brain Food will be out really soon. I’ll say about 6 [unclear 00:37:12], if not less. So, it’s – it’s in the works, it’s already in production. We already have the final formula. We won’t share all of that yet. But it’s – it’s coming out soon and we’re really excited about it. People that have been playing with the other brain food products, dopamine and serotonin are anxious to get their hands on this one and really get a more full spectrum on what they can do with tinkering with their neurotransmitters.
Ryan: So you just – you already mentioned one of the ingredients, the rosmarinic acid.
Roy: Okay, well there you go. That is one of the ingredients, yes.
Ryan: And that helps GABA stay in our system longer, right?
Roy: Right, it’s – it slows the breakdown of GABA. So this formula, which is simple yet also very all-inclusive, has ingredients to promote the production of GABA, to slow the breakdown of GABA and then also help the absorption of GABA to get into the blood-brain barrier. Which, in general, if you look into our whole line of dietary supplements, we’re always looking at what’s out there and what are the most effective nutrients and what are the effects that we’re trying to get? But then how do we make this product better? And how do we improve upon what’s already on the market? Because there are products out there but – but we’re always looking to make something more effective. How do you make it better? And normally the one thing that is the problem with anything out there already is absorption. So, that’s really a focus of ours is how do make this nutrient better absorbed? How do you get it into your system, into your brain more effectively so that you can experience the full benefits of a product? So, you know, our magnesium – we’re using magnesium threonate which has been shown to get to the brain in other highly bio-available types of magnesium. For our creatine we’re using nutrients to help get the creatine into the system. With our E3 we add coconut oil because that’s synergistic and it’s fat-soluble to help get it into your system. Really all of our products are built that way.
Ryan: Yeah. And speaking of products that are on the market that may be able to be improved upon, here’s another question from somebody looking – they took the Braverman test and found that they were deficient in serotonin and GABA. They’re using our Serotonin Brain Food and because our GABA’s not out they’re using phenibut right now. So, they wanted to get our thoughts on phenibut and I know that you can speak clearly and well on that.
Roy: Yeah, well phenibut – it’s very powerful. It’s a chemical form of GABA that’s been modified to allow it to cross the blood-brain barrier. So it’s very effective and it’s very powerful. And it works, definitely. But because it’s – it’s almost forcing it into your blood-brain barrier into a non-natural – in a non-natural way, it does have some side effects. And it really shouldn’t be taken more than a couple times a week. There are some, kind of, horror stories out there. If people take it really frequently they have withdrawal symptoms and, you know, can’t sleep and can’t focus and they just need this thing. And it’s – it’s really – it’s almost addictive. You know, alcohol increases GABA and phenibut, I’d say, is – is almost like having 4 drinks [laughs]. And it’s not something to be played with. And it’s not something that you should be taking every day. You know, it’s designed to get across the blood-brain barrier, which is something we talked about, but there are other interesting ways to help GABA get across the blood-brain barrier. One of those ways is by increasing nitric oxide and there are several studies to support this. So, there are natural nutrients out there that can help increase nitric o- could help the absorption of the GABA. That’s something that you’ll see in our stack as well.
Ryan: Yeah, and we’ll probably have Abelard on the show in a couple of weeks when GABA is released to talk all about that metabolic pathway for GABA as well as the formula and all the ingredients.
Roy: Exactly. And all of our brain food products and all of our products in general are designed to be able to take every day. So, we’re sticking with the natural vitamin and mineral precursors, backing that up with functional herbs that can promote the natural production of GABA or slow the breakdown of GABA or whatever the thing is that we’re trying to increase. So, these are the natural building blocks. We’re not skipping any metabolic steps. We’re not forcing your brain into a state. We’re providing all the nutrients it needs to naturally get there. So, it’s – it’s not gonna be as powerful or as potent as phenibut but it definitely has a defined effect which you can feel and you can take it every day safely.
Ryan: That was gonna be – that is one of our next questions is, you know, can we take the brain foods every day? Are they designed to be taken every day?
Roy: Yes, exactly.
Ryan: Perfect. So, when GABA does come out, how would it fit in with the rest of the brain food line? When would we use it?
Roy: Well, each product is, kind of, a tool on the tool belt. And – that you can use in a different situation. So, GABA itself is an inhibitory neurotransmitter. So, it actually reduces the amount of stimulation that a neurotransmitter can be. It reduces the excitement and it slows the transmission between the neurotransmitters so it’s relaxing. It has a very calming effect. And, for me, I would take it in the afternoon or evening when I’m trying to unwind. Reduce anxiety, so you can kind of have more clear thoughts. And for me it almost makes you more empathetic and able to focus on some deeper thoughts rather than some more, I’d say, top-level, you know, everyday things. It allows you to kind of get deeper and focus more on your feelings. It sounds a little ‘woo-woo’ but it’s true. And it also helps with, like, awkward social situations. It kind of –
Ryan: Like 4 drinks of alcohol [laughs].
Roy: Exactly! Exactly. And if you’re going to meet someone for the first time or in a situation at work, maybe when you’re having a meeting with a bunch of colleagues that may not be your best friends, taking some GABA can really help ease that situation and help you act more naturally and almost ease the communication between people because you’re in this calm, relaxed state. So, those are the situations I would take it is if you’re doing some public speaking or going to an awkward situation or trying to just, in general, reduce some anxiety at work. Or at the same time if you’re just trying to unwind it can really help. Later in the evening, too, with sleep. I’ve been experimenting a bit with that, taking it later in the night to really get some deeper – fall asleep faster and then be able to stay asleep in a deep state.
Ryan: GABA has always helped me pass out and sleep like a baby.
Roy: Yeah. Yeah, I think –
Ryan: And that’s – that’s with a formula that doesn’t cross the blood-brain barrier. I mean, that was just, you know, GABA from the vitamin store off the shelf years ago.
Roy: Right, no it really does help with sleep and getting asleep. But at the same time it doesn’t knock you out. You know, it’s not like taking a bunch of melatonin or something. You can take it during the day just fine and you’re not gonna all of the sudden feel like you’re gonna wanna take a nap. But, again, it relaxes you into that state where you can easily fall asleep if you wanted to.
Ryan: Alright. So, I know I’m excited, I know a lot of people are excited to see this one come out. So, we already talked a little bit about some mushrooms. I’ve got 2 questions left here at the end. Do you see anything – any other questions that we haven’t covered?
Roy: Um, no. Go for it! Shoot!
Ryan: Alright. Well, people wanna know your daily routine. Your stacks, your regimen, what you do and why. So from the time you wake up to the time you go to bed. Take us through the –
Roy: A long time.
Ryan: Take us through a day in Roy’s life.
Roy: There’s a lot of stuff going on, man. I don’t know if we have time. Recently I’ve been mixing it up a bit and trying to – trying to get away from the same consistency every day. So, I used to first thing hang upside-down every day. And now I’m kind of switching that up. Sometimes I’ll do that in the afternoon or sometimes in the morning I’ll try to get more outside time. And, I think just keeping it random, keeping it fresh is good for idea flow and – and just being more in the present. So, I think with any routine it’s great to re-evaluate every couple months and maybe mix it up but always – you always know you can do that and go back to this state where you know this creates an optimal situation for you. But then keep pushing, keep experimenting and, you know, seeing if you can improve upon that. So that’s – that’s really important. I’ve also been – at the same time I’ve been kind of working on more structure. So I’ve been blocking out times in my calendar a week or 2 in advance and it will just be like a random time, like Wednesday afternoon is Roy’s study time. And I have several hours where it’s just okay, that’s my personal time. I’m not going to work during that time, I’m gonna read or I’m gonna learn something new or I’m gonna go on a walk. And then it’s almost – it forces yourself to do that, you know. I get so busy and caught up that – and you forget about taking some time back to really relax and maybe read or learn something new. But it’s on your calendar and you see it there. And maybe it won’t happen at that time because you are busy, but then you can push it to a later time or push it to the next day and it’s still on your calendar and you’re still going to get something done in that space. So, I’ve been playing with that, having more structure and planning things ahead a little bit. Another thing that I’ve been doing more recently, now that the weather’s turning a bit, is I’ve been doing really long walks in the woods. And I’m talking, like, 2 hours. So, just going with my wife or my dog or both or – or by myself. Usually early afternoon. So, after I’ve done a lot of the main work for the day. I got the day-to-day stuff taken care of. I’ll try to step back and go on a long walk. And I’ve found that I’m – by the time I get back I have all kinds of ideas that I’m ready to implement and it’s – it just feels great. So that’s something that I’ve really been enjoying recently. In the evening, to unwind, I’ve been playing with GABA, which has been great. But also raw honey. And shout-out to Seth Roberts whose no longer with us, one of the pinnacle biohackers out there, has done a lot of research with raw honey and I’ve been looking at his blog recently. What I’ve been doing is taking some goat yogurt and mixing in prebiotic, our product Prebiotic+. And the taste is great just right there. But then I’ll add a full tablespoon of raw honey to that and mix it up. And that’s – that’s been my recent night time cocktail. And it – it really puts me to sleep pretty well. So honey raises your blood glucose, your brain needs this glucose to function. Sleep is a very complex thing in your brain and if you don’t have enough glucose at night you can disrupt your sleep. And there’s a bunch of studies that prove this. And especially if you’re a pretty low-carb person in general and you’re not consuming many carbs during the day, if you get that little hit of carbs at night, especially in a natural form like raw honey, it really does activate this effect. Have you played around with that at all?
Ryan: Yeah, actually when Dave Asprey started talking about it a couple of years ago as his night time thing I played around with it. I’ve gotten away from it when I started doing the prebiotic. I have not mixed the 2 together, which would be an interesting experiment. I think the biggest anecdotal evidence I have with it is there was a diabetic patient who was a member of the gym and I was helping him pretty intensely with his nutrition and we actually – he was at the point where his doctor was about to put him on insulin injections. And I said, you know, look beg him for 3 months and we’ll turn this thing around. And we got him to the point where eventually he was, you know, no diabetes medication at all, blood sugar was, you know, always in the normal range, A1C was down, you know, in the sixes which was great. But in that transition period when he was experiencing lower blood sugar – lower blood sugar levels through the changes he was making um, the medicine was almost like, you know, a sledgehammer when you needed, you know, a tap. And he was bottoming out at night. He’d wake up in the middle of the night with his blood sugar in the forties. You know, I’m not in the position to say: ‘Hey stop taking your medicine.’ But, you know, look you need to talk to your doctor and tell him that this is what’s going on. But in that intermediate time, we had him take honey at night right before he went to bed. And he could sleep through the night without waking up. So, he’d wake up, you know, more rested and he never had those blood sugar crashes. So, you know, he wasn’t hooked up to any machines, we don’t have the science but we know that, you know, he didn’t crash, he didn’t, you know, have any adverse effects and it actually helped him kinda bridge that gap from, you know, really, really high blood sugar, really high levels of insulin medication, you know, to nothing and controlling diabetes on his own through diet and exercise.
Roy: That’s awesome.
Ryan: Yeah. So, honey at night’s a good thing.
Roy: Yeah! Try it out. Try it out.
Roy: And a lot of people are, especially in our space where people are ketogenic and people are Paleo and really reducing carbs. Honey could be kind of a scary thing, you know. What, I’m just gonna consume all this sugar at night? Um, but it’s actually – it’s pretty powerful and it’s not like you’re just gonna start packing on pounds ’cause you have a little bit of honey at night.
Ryan: Yeah, I think that’s – that’s one of the things that has been an interesting lesson over the last couple of years. The more I’ve gotten into biohacking, the more my thoughts have shifted in the world of nutrition and fitness is that, you know, there was a time where, you know, when I was all about body-building or macros or – I would have had that same response: ‘Oh, you want me to eat a teaspoon of honey? Like, no way!’ And especially at night, right before I go to bed. But I think now I think we realize – and especially in this space we realize that real health and, you know, real fitness is, you know, you can have a little bit of honey and if it’s gonna help you sleep, we know the benefits of sleeping better. And if your body’s gonna go haywire from a teaspoon of honey, there’s probably a larger underlying problem with your metabolism.
Roy: Right, right. And I feel like we are kinda in this Renaissance era – era of health where there’s a lot more studies coming out and there’s a lot more people doing the research and – and expressing their research online and what they’ve found with that research. So, is it John Kief- ?
Ryan: Yeah, Kiefer.
Roy: Kiefer that has the carb backloading concept that he really has been talking about and there’s a lot of studies to back that up. It’s a really interesting time to try to cipher through all the research, really.
Roy: And everyone’s kinda saying a slightly different thing and figuring out what’s best for you. It’s fun stuff.
Ryan: Yeah, I’m glad you mentioned Kiefer, he’s one of my favorites. And I think that the science that he presents in carb backloading is some of the most compelling and interesting science in how to structure your days and set up your, I guess, your nutrition plan and template. I think, personally, I follow a – if you lay that and Bulletproof diet as a Venn diagram kinda where they intersect is where I live.
Roy: Sure, sure. I feel like I kinda – I do that as well. And I maybe also throw in a little Tim Ferriss low-carb and a trifecta diagram there. ‘Cause I’ll eat some beans and legumes and some more slow carbohydrates. But again, in the evening where I’m using that carb backloading concept.
Ryan: Absolutely. So, before we let you go, Roy, you have to answer the question that all of our guests answer. Not that you’re a guest, but – and I know we said we wouldn’t do this as if I were interviewing you. But you’re here. We need your top 3 tips to live optimal.
Roy: I feel like I’ve already given 10! [laughs] I’d say number 1: get outside and go for a long walk. Really that’s been pretty amazing for me. And the – this body that we live in is designed to walk. And, you know, that’s why we’re on 2 legs and it just feels natural and – and I’ll go on a walk just in the neighborhood on the road and I get burned out pretty quick and, like, my knees will start to hurt or I’ll just – I’m ready to go home. But when I get on – into the woods, I can really go for much farther. I don’t really have any aches and pains. It’s just my mind is in a better state. But that’s something that just – even if you aren’t on a road go ahead and walk for a while, for an hour, you know, and see how you feel afterwards. It’s pretty cool. I think a lot of people have done that, but – nothing ground-breaking there. But go out for a walk.
Ryan: I like it, I like it. It’s simple but it’s profound. I’ve definitely been doing that a lot more and I will agree and second everything that you just said.
Roy: Do you have a time of day that you prefer to do that?
Ryan: I think it varies. I think what you said earlier about not being in a routine is a very big thing. I think – I know we’ve talked about your lifting and exercise protocol before. I know you lift less frequently than I do. If I’m going to lift, like on a day like today I will lift shortly after we record this but I probably won’t walk. I may walk later in the day for a shorter one. But on a day where I don’t lift I typically will work most of the day and I find that I start to go stir-crazy without that break to move. ‘Cause like you said, I mean, we’re designed to move. So, I would either set it up to where I – I get up and walk first thing that morning or very much like you said, you get up, bang out the stuff that needs immediate attention, kinda get through that first wave and then take a break, walk, recharge, clear your mind, let those new ideas come in and then you come in ready to implement for kinda that second phase. ‘Cause that’s another thing that I don’t think we’re – we’re not naturally designed, if you will, to work, you know, that 8-5.
Ryan: That’s not how our – our biology doesn’t suit or fit that. So, to kinda break that up and work in bursts you can be more productive and, you know, in a better mood when you are working.
Roy: And also, I’ve found that segmenting my work so – so in the morning and early afternoon I’ll focus on kind of the more day-to-day stuff, what needs to get done. What are my main goals for the day? And I’ll try to tackle those. And in the afternoon I tend to work on more long-term projects. So that’s writing or researching or – or bigger projects in general that require almost more of a creative brain. Almost more a relaxed state. You can’t really get there if you’re kinda worked up trying to get things done for the day.
Roy: So that helps quite a bit, too, is – so you have these things you wanna do today but how can I structure them in your day to be the most effective at doing that?
Ryan: Yeah, that’s a good point about, like, the creative work and you have to have the clutter gone in order to make these – come up with new ideas and make connections or to do new stuff. So, whatever works for you as an individual, you need to find that process and be able to be clutter-free in your mind. And I’m sure you can vouch for, you know, those bursts of ideas or ‘a-ha’ moments. They come all the time and at random times and usually when you’re least expecting or wanting them to come through.
Roy: Yeah. Okay, so here’s my next tip is: I always have a yellow pad. Yellow pad here. Pretty old school. But I’ll write stuff down throughout the day. So, I’ll have my to-do list that – I don’t put a ordered to-do list first. So I can – able to use my day in a flexible manner, it’s not like I have to do this one first and this one second. Here’s things I wanna do and I do ’em when it feels right. But having this paper allows you just to off-load your ideas when they come quickly and easily. And then you can always refer back. And if you’re – if you don’t carry around a yellow pad like I do just use your phone. You know, drop it in the notes or whatever you use to take notes. But being able to quickly off-load the information allows you to get to the next step and focus on the bigger picture of things. So that’s really important.
Ryan: That’s funny. I use a yellow legal pad as well for my to-do list. It’s out of reach or I’d hold it up. And I do the note on my phone for more of, like, this thing just popped into my head I can usually voice speak it into the phone and then it syncs to my computer and, you know, I’ve got – I’ve got so many notes that, you know, and then when you’re ready to do that if it’s an e-mail or if it’s a blog or an article, whatever it is, it’s there. You can copy and paste it wherever you need it and just build out on that idea.
Roy: Yeah, I use that, too, my phone, when I don’t have my pad. And I prefer to write down things. I feel like I’m learning it again and I’m memorizing it. And also having a notebook by my bed because sometimes when I’m trying to relax I’ll all of the sudden have these ideas and I can’t relax until I get them out of my head and I’ve – okay, I’ll worry about that tomorrow but at least I don’t have to remember to worry about it tomorrow.
Ryan: Right, right. Absolutely.
Roy: So, that’s a good time to have a notepad.
Ryan: Yeah. Alright, so notes or notepad, walk outside. One more.
Roy: One more. Alright, you’re really pushing today. Um, one more. I’d say just try something new. Switch up your routine. And if that’s don’t drink coffee for a day or – or, you know, spend more time outside or try raw honey at night, whatever it is, a different workout routine, hanging upside down. Try doing some stretching. I think most people just don’t stretch. And for me it’s – it’s kind of something that I do every day to just loosen up my body and feel like I don’t have these blocks and energy spots where my knee’s tight and my back’s tight. And just being loose helps everything else. I don’t – is that a point?
Ryan: I like –
Roy: Try something new.
Ryan: Yeah, try something new. I like it, I like it. And you make a good point about being tight, you know. If we can’t move the way we’re designed to, you know, that’s kind of the foundation on which everything else is built, especially physical performance. You know, if you wanna run fast or jump high that’s the performance expression of, you know, those foundations and, you know, we can’t do that if we don’t have, you know, if you can’t do a body-weight spot you’re certainly not gonna squat 500 lbs., so –
Roy: Yeah. Well, it depends on how much you weigh, Ryan. [laughs]
Ryan: Well, that’s true. True. Alright, Roy, this has been great. We’re gonna let you go ’cause you probably have other things to do, our listeners have – you guys have certainly gotten a lot of information today. So, please, if you guys have thoughts or feedback on this format for the podcast let us know. Leave us a comment. However you consume the podcast, whether it’s iTunes, the blog, YouTube videos, whatever it is, let us know your thoughts and we will – like I said earlier – we’ll tailor this to make this a – the ultimate resource for you, to the best of our ability.
Mark Sisson is a leader in the health and fitness community.
Mark is the bestselling author of The Primal Blueprint and one of the leading voices of the Evolutionary Health Movement – also referred to as the Primal and Paleo movements.
His blog, MarksDailyApple.com, has paved the way for Primal enthusiasts to challenge conventional wisdom’s diet and exercise principles and take personal responsibility for their health and well-being.
Mark’s efforts to promote primal living extend to a line of nutritional supplements, a book publishing company, a Primal Kitchen line with healthy mayonnaise, salad dressing, meal replacement and energy bar, and a burgeoning Primal Kitchen fast casual restaurant chain. (Use code: NATURALSTACKS to save 10% on all things Primal)
A former elite endurance athlete, with a 2:18 marathon and a 4th place Hawaii Ironman finish, Mark’s new book Primal Endurance applies the primal eating and lifestyle principles to the challenge of endurance training—helping athletes overcome the common conditions of burnout and carbohydrate dependency.
All of which, we discuss in depth with Mark on this edition of the Optimal Performance Podcast.
What You’ll Learn From Mark Sisson on this episode of the OPP:
H. A. Majid, P. W. Emery, K. Whelan. Faecal microbiota and short-chain fatty acids in patients receiving enteral nutrition with standard or fructo-oligosaccharides and fibre-enriched formulas. Journal Human Nutrition & Diet. 2011 June; 24(3): 260–268.
Abumaria, N. Effects of elevation of brain magnesium on fear conditioning, fear extinction, and synaptic plasticity in the infralimbic prefrontal cortex and lateral amygdala. The Journal of Neuroscience. 2011 Oct 19;31(42):14871-81.
Hollick, MF. Vitamin D: evolutionary, physiological and health perspectives. Curr Drug Targets. 2011 Jan;12(1):4-18.
Volek, Jeff. Creatine Supplementation Enhances Muscular Performance During High-Intensity Resistance Exercise. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. Volume 97, Issue 7, July 1997, Pages 765–770
Yano, Jessica M. et al. Indigenous Bacteria from the Gut Microbiota Regulate Host Serotonin Biosynthesis. Cell, Volume 161, Issue 2, 264 – 276
From his daybreak nature hikes, to bow hunting Elk on the EPIC Bison ranch in Colorado, to swimming with dolphins in Hawaii, this co-founder of EPIC Provisions is doing his part to inspire and help millions of people every day.
A few years ago, Taylor and his wife Katie, the other co-founder of EPIC, found themselves need of a food source that could sustain them – no, replenish, nuerish and rejuvenate them – for even more EPIC performance and adventure.
As accomplished triathletes looking for a performance edge, they converted from vegetarians, switched to an ancestral approach to nutrition (and living), created their fast-growing jerky company and have helped push the grass-fed food and farming movements onto the verge of a full-scale revolution.
Their start-up EPIC Provisions, was recently purchased by General Mills and as Taylor says, all eyes are on EPIC and General Mills, anxiously awaiting the outcome of this monumental “experiment” as Taylor calls it.
Can tiny little EPIC be the catalyst for the change in farming and food that we’ve been waiting for?
According to Taylor, the answer is yes. I believe him – in part because I want to see that change – but I also think he’s onto something.
Enjoy this episode of the Optimal Performance Podcast and let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
Here’s what you’ll learn from EPIC co-founder Taylor Collins on this episode of the Optimal Performance Podcast:
How the co-founders of EPIC Provisions go on EPIC vacations to Hawaii and other outdoor adventures
How this adventurer and business owner “hacks” his morning and workouts for optimal physical and mental performance
Book recommendations and the scientific connection between exercise and the brain, and the ancestral approach to a holistic lifestyle
From vegetarian triathletes to meat-eating, adventure-seeking, agricultural and food industry revolutionaries (game changers?)
What your blood type can tell you about your ancestry, the food you should eat, even the job you should have
Whole Foods told Taylor and Katie “no, this is a bad idea”…they did it anyway, and now Whole Foods is a major distributor of EPIC Provisions
How passion can trump experience
EPIC’s initiatives to change the destructive, resource-depleting industrial farming practices into sustainable – even restorative – farms that provide higher quality foods and a “net positive” for the environment
“The Whole Animal Initiative” and how less waste can lead to better futures for ranchers and meat producers
Why our ancestors preferred organ meats and actually threw the muscle cuts to their dogs
EPIC was bought-out by General Mills…what does this marriage between “big food” and the small grass-fed industry mean for the future of our movement?
Accelerating the positive impact on the planet; creating oppurtunities for team/ranchers/manufacturers; and producing revenue – the monumental holy trinity that EPIC is striving for in order to prove that these methods can be reproduced to revolutionize the food and farming industries
CILTEP to help you think faster, focus better, and memorize more!
We want to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment below and continue the conversation.
Changing the Food and Farming Industries with EPIC Co-Founder Taylor Collins
Ryan: You are listening to the Optimal Performance Podcast sponsored by Natural Stacks. If you’re into biohacking, performance or getting more out of life, this is the show for you! To learn more about building optimal performance into your life, check out naturalstacks.com.
Alright, happy Thursday all you optimal performers! I’m your host Ryan Munsey. Welcome to another episode of the Optimal Performance Podcast. I wanna welcome in today’s guest, Mr. Taylor Collins, co-founder of EPIC Provisions. Taylor, hello!
Taylor: Hey man, how are you doing?
Ryan: Great, great. So, first of all, the EPIC bars, they are appropriately named. Jerky sticks filled with grass-fed meat, no B.S. If you guys haven’t been exposed to this yet – I’m sure a lot of our listeners are aware of EPIC. But Taylor, thank you personally for creating these. And thanks for being here with us today, this is gonna be a cool episode.
Taylor: Sure, man. Yeah, thanks for having me. And happy to help you get some nourishing animal protein in your diet and also be here.
Ryan: Yeah. So, we’ll go through a little bit of housekeeping first guys. As always, go to naturalstacks.com so that you can see the video version of this podcast and get the show notes, links and resources. I’m sure Taylor is gonna drop a lot of knowledge on us. We’ll have links to everything that he talks about so you guys can just click and further dig into whatever we talk about. Also, if you haven’t done so, make sure that while you’re on the site you sign up for our VIP list and you can stay up to date with all of the information and happenings that are going on in our world. Make sure you share the Optimal Performance Podcast with anybody that you know who would enjoy or benefit from what we’re talking about. So, with that said, let’s get right into this. Taylor and I have already been talking a little bit before we hit record about our love for hunting. So, I wish we recorded some of that. Maybe we’ll touch on that later on if we have time, Taylor. But you just got back from Hawaii, man. What – what does the co-founder of EPIC Provisions do on vacation in Hawaii?
Taylor: [laughs] Um, so – so my wife is my – the other half of the co-founder and so we’re in a pretty – I mean, I’m probably the luckiest guy because I get to a) create a bad ass business with my lover but also she’s pretty epic and she does cool things. And so, we kind of kid around but when we go on vacation it very much is like a boot camp. And more than anything it’s our excuse to be outside as much as we possibly can and to probably do, like, 2 a day, 3 a day workouts and just get completely shredded to where when it’s time to come home, I mean, we’re exhausted. So, we did just tons of, like, open ocean swimming, some surfing, hiked some huge mountains, we rented bicycles and rode across the island. So, I mean, there was never a dull moment. Very little lounging and relaxing, like, truly Hawaiian style.
Ryan: That is so cool. That sounds like the perfect vacation. What – what kind of travel hacks or tips can you share with us? I’m sure somebody like you who has a – if nothing else, you had a backpack loaded down with EPIC bars.
Taylor: Yeah, man. I mean [laughs], for us it – yeah, we always have – probably, you know, it’s gonna be your best opportunity and best bet to bring some of your staples and your favorites. And so, like, for me, because we are pushing it so hard and honestly working out pretty vigorously when we’re on vacation. I mean, definitely wanna have some kind of grass-fed meat in my diet so I am gonna bring, like, some jerky snacks or some EPIC bars. But then, for me, too, lately I’ve been hitting the gym pretty hard and so we continue always to do that on vacation. So, you know, I’ll always bring some collagen or some whey or some Natural Stacks combo where you can just put it in a little plastic bag. I mean, in all honestly, you know, like now doing it there’s – I just wanna make sure that I get the protein that I need and I love, still I love butter coffees every morning. And so, I can find butter, I can find coffee, you know. Hit or miss on MCT Oil but, like, yeah, just come collagen, whey protein. Bam, dump it in there. It’s good stuff.
Ryan: I’m sure they have some coffee and coconuts in Hawaii.
Taylor: [laughs] Totally! Yeah.
Ryan: So, yeah, you mentioned butter coffee. What other, like, morning routines do you have whether it’s at home or on the road? I mean, you’re active, you’re into fitness. Obviously as a business owner you’ve gotta be mentally sharp. What kinds of things are you doing to kinda get yourself into that best state for performance? Whether it’s at home or on the road.
Taylor: Yeah, man. Every morning in Austin, my wife and I will wake up and we’ll either go on, like an hour run in the Greenbelt. So, we have this really beautiful natural preserve right outside of our – our house. And so, really, immersing ourselves in nature, kinda trying to do it when the sun’s coming up. So, like, you’re running – and I run with my dog and so it’s like this really awesome primal connection where it’s very low light and so you’re kind of – really it enhances your other senses. So, your sense of – your vision is, like, really dialing in and just your general awareness and your proprioception, your body awareness has to be like heightened or you’re gonna sprain your ankle. And to do that and to see, like, the sun come up and feel the warmth on your skin and really get to experience, like, the transition from night today, being outside, being a part of that really inspires me and helps me get really creative towards the day and focused on the things I wanna accomplish. And then, you know, after that it really comes down to I’ll either do a butter coffee or I’ll – I make bone broth quite a bit. And so, you know, I’ll boil bones usually once a week. Monster pots. And then I’ll just make killer soups out of it. And so, you know, I’ll heat something up like that. A soup as well. And – and then start my day. And then, you know, go super hard, feel really great and focused, really sustained energy. Honestly, like, I don’t have to eat again ’til 1 or 2 o’clock and really productive mornings.
Ryan: Awesome, awesome. Now, as you mentioned some of that – the running where your sentence – senses have to be heightened. I just read ‘Go Wild’ by John Ratey. I don’t know if you’ve – have you read that book?
Ryan: He’s a phenomenal researcher and writer and he wrote another book, ‘Spark’, that is – it was actually his first book and the most recent one was ‘Go Wild’. So, for you guys listening, those are 2 great books to check out. But ‘Spark’ talks about the connection between exercise and the brain. And then in ‘Go Wild’ they talk about, basically, getting back to a lot of ancestral patterns whether it’s through exercise, mindfulness or diet. But they talk a lot about – very much like you said – the comparison of running or being outdoors in a state where you have to have all of your senses at full awareness compared to being able to get on a treadmill and just check out. And there’s a lot of research going into it showing that it increases neurogenesis and that with – there have actually been some studies where a couple of schools had a zero period experimental class and in this zero period they had the kids do intense exercise and they found that these children did that and then went into their school day and that they performed significantly better in school after starting their day with exercise. Especially exercise that, you know, engaged all their senses like you’re talking about. So, it’s really cool that, I mean, you kinda stumbled onto that just by being connected to your body and nature and figured it out. Like hey, this is what works.
Taylor: Yeah, man. It’s a trance. It’s a trance state where you just have a heightened sense of awareness. And honestly, I’d say like, some of my greatest accomplishments, some of my greatest ideas, greatest problem-solving has happened being in that exact state. Just being one with nature, being very grounded, being very inspired by my surroundings and just having this mindfulness that I can’t achieve anywhere else.
Ryan: Well, and this is a perfect segue to go right into talking about EPIC. I mean, you guys – you – basically, the story is you were tired of – you guys lived this epic and adventurous life that you’ve just kind of described to us. You got tired of, you know, all these high sugar or fruit-filled bars and you wanted something that was, you know, more meat based. Tell us about the beginnings of EPIC.
Taylor: Yeah, man. I mean, it’s been a – it’s been a journey and it’s been a saga. And I think – I think that’s how life should be. I think you should always try to grow and to learn and always evolve and develop over time because, I mean, if you’re not you’re a) really boring, you’re just not really diversified. You don’t really understand that much holistically about the world. And so, we, for a really long time my wife and I were vegetarians and we thought that’s how athletes were optimized. And we were both training for Ironman races, Ultra Trail races, so a lot of like really high level endurance sports. And conventional wisdom, I mean, I was in an exercise sports science program, I was a physical therapist. I went to graduate school. And so, along my entire educational training, you know, was like these diets that were low in fat, high in carbohydrates, those were what athletes, you know, optimized on. So, we thought we were doing the right thing and we did it for a really long time and our bodies were just getting shredded and we never really reached. We always felt like we were missing something. And um, so, you know, as we got more and more serious about sports, Katie actually won a really big Ironman race in Wisconsin and qualified for the Kona, which is the world championship Ironman. And it was at that point where her body just completely, like, all the nuts and bolts and all like the duct tape that we’re throwing on her to just like try to piece her together completely crumbled. And um, a big disaster. And so, we – we just, again, like took this opportunity to learn and to pivot and to grow. And it was certainly outside of our comfort zone but definitely just did a whole 180-degree pivot on our diet and it was the best decision we ever made. And so, we started introducing, like, high-quality fats, you know, grass-fed animal meats and really eliminating sugars, carbs, really, kind of conventional, you know processed sports performance. And it was game changing, we could never go back. And so we – we now are like we had – we basically had, like, this whole vegetarian culture that we’d created that we just flipped the switch overnight and started eating meat and we had to find a product that could really like satiate that hunger that we had and this fuel that really helped our bodies perform and thrive. And so, that was the genesis of creating EPIC. And I mean, when we were really conceptualizing this we’d go out on big, like, 100-mile bike rides and we’d bring, like, a pound of bacon each. Where normally we’d maybe like slam, I don’t know, 10 sugar goo, like goo gel carbohydrate gels –
Taylor: – on this ride. And just drink some, like, nasty, sludgy, like carbohydrate mixture in our water bottles. But, you know, like we would say okay, this – obviously, like, eating this way makes us feel good for recovery, it makes us feel good just like when we’re focusing and thinking and creating and doing business. But, like, does this actually work for us when we’re performing and competing? And so we started experimenting there and again it was just next level. And so, really inspired to create something that just athletes, people on the go, people who are mindful about ingredients could put in their bag and just really like kick ass and feel good about it.
Ryan: Yeah. You guys have an amazing product and I love it. And like I said earlier thank you guys for doing it. As you talk about that transition, though, what were some of the resources that you guys used to educate yourselves on how to make that transition that maybe you could share with our listeners and if somebody wanted either just more information, you know, for pleasure’s sake. Or just to look into resources for knowledge to make that switch themselves.
Taylor: Sure. Yeah, the very first book that kind of introduced us more to a primal diet was called ‘Eat Right for Your Blood Type’ and it’s by a guy named D’Adamo. And, essentially, you know, he says um: ‘Hey, look at the evolution of our species. Every time there’s a dramatic shift in diet, that represents a change in blood type throughout history.’ And so, whereas like our – the original blood type is O, like O positive, O negative and that’s when our ancestors were, like, strictly eating a hunter gatherer diet. And then when things started shifting and we started introducing agriculture, that’s when, like, the blood shifted from an O to an A. And then, B – the shift – like, B got introduced into the pool whenever our ancestors started, you know, like domesticating animals and doing things like drinking milk, making cheese, consuming a lot of dairy. And so, and then, like, the latest evolution is AB which is kind of like this weird genetic mutation that no one can really understand. And it’s just like really kind of fucked up. Like it’s – it’s like a mutt. And so the assumption is it’s introduced with a lot of the shitty food that we’re eating now as a culture. And so – so Katie and I thought this was really fascinating. Other cultures around the world believe in this. Like in certain Asian countries when they’re hiring for certain positions, like in big companies, if it’s a management role they’ll say: ‘Hey, you need to be this type of blood type’ –
Taylor: – because there’s – yeah, certain characteristics that are represented and accurate within this – with these people. And there’s other countries where um, you know, like if people are dating or looking for a life partner they will actually look for compatibility with blood type. And so there’s some – so there’s some truth to this in Western society, Western culture really knows nothing about it. But, so we – we actually had our blood tested and when I was reading this book it was saying all these characteristics of O type blood and it was talking about, like, your preference or your affinity for exercise and kind of like these people tend to be a little bit more into explosive exercise, competitive. Whereas like, A blood type tends to be more into like namaste, yoga, like, water aerobics. And they all have different characteristics and then they have personality characteristics. And we were reading this and Katie and I were just like: ‘Shit, if we are not O, like I’m gonna be really pissed because this is like-’
Ryan: [laughs] That means you have to take up yoga.
Taylor: Yeah. It’s like I’m not taking yoga, I – like, for me, it doesn’t work.
Taylor: It’s just, I’ve tried it. And so we both went to blood bank and donated blood. And we were both O positive and so that was kind of a little bit of a fist pump and, like, let’s go hard and let’s just try out this theory, this idea of eating a certain way that’s consistent with our blood and our genetics and that was a phenomenal intro to primal eating.
Ryan: Awesome, awesome. Well, that’s a cool resource. Thank you for sharing that one. And I’m actually – I’m trying to peek around the corner. I have a bookshelf over here and I – my mom actually bought me that book for a gift. And I haven’t read it [laughs]. I’m sorry, mom!
Taylor: You’re gonna love it.
Taylor: It’s really interesting.
Ryan: So, I have to dig in to that one. But –
Taylor: Yeah. There’s something really interesting about it. Do you know your blood type?
Ryan: I don’t! And I think that’s why I didn’t read the book. I was like I don’t wanna read the book if I don’t know which one of these I am.
Taylor: Most people – most people don’t know their blood type before this which is also pretty strange. But I think one of the most fun things to do as you’re reading this book – just make a list of all your close friends and your family members and – and honestly. So, like, we wrote down probably 15 of our closest friends and family members and reading this book we wrote, like, we took educated guesses on their blood type based on this book. And I think we had like an 80% success rate. Which is pretty crazy.
Ryan: That is awesome.
Taylor: So that’s pretty fun.
Ryan: Yeah, that’s really cool. And I just wanna go back to, for our listeners, I realize a lot of people do enjoy yoga. I like it, I love the mobility aspect. That was just kind of a joke ’cause I could tell Taylor was not a huge fan. You didn’t – you didn’t wanna be – you didn’t want to have to switch your modality of your favorite exercise.
Taylor: Totally. And yeah, I agree, man. You can’t – like, no one lifestyle or diet is cookie cutter and yeah, yoga has a very special place in many people’s lives.
Ryan: And I’m actually a huge fan of Bikram yoga. That’s my favorite way to meditate. I like it to – to kinda decompress from all of the intense and heavy lifting that I do. So, just throw that one out there.
Taylor: No, yeah. Yogi’s, you guys are way more popular than, probably like the endurance ultra runners in this community of ours. We’re way more outcast than you guys.
Ryan: So, Taylor, what kind of hurdles did you guys face when you began with EPIC that maybe you didn’t expect to see or face?
Taylor: Yeah. I think one of the biggest learning opportunities that we try to continue to integrate into our business and our lives is when you have an idea you need to make sure the idea’s polished up before you start pitching it. And the real application of this was we, you know, all of our, kind of, mentors in life, people who has always been there for Katie and I – we’ve always been entrepreneurs – and all these people when we were reaching out telling them about the idea, everyone said: ‘That’s the worst thing I’ve ever heard. Don’t do it, that’s stupid.’ We actually went to Whole Foods because it’s – the global office is based in Austin so it’s right down the street. And we told their buying team about this product that was gonna change the world and it’s gonna be called EPIC and it was this meat bar and they said: ‘That’s disgusting, don’t do it. Like, whatever you do, don’t do that. We’re not taking it.’ And so, like, the lesson learned there and the challenge was, like, if you’re creating something, like, when you’re presenting it I’d say it’s really important to present it in a form that people can connect and get behind. And so for us that’s with branding – I think a lot of other companies the branding, your messaging, your consumer-facing front is more important than anything else. So like, when we actually developed the package for the very first time and handed over the product to Whole Foods and buyers and our mentors, that’s when things clicked and people said: ‘Yeah, this is killer, this is bad ass, this is gonna change things.’ And so, you know, I – I think that’s really important and I’d encourage a lot of entrepreneurs and creative thinkers to really integrate that into your life somehow.
Ryan: I think – I would highlight, too, the fact that, you know, you guys were flat out told by somebody quite influential: ‘Hey, don’t do this.’ And you did it anyway. ‘Cause you believed in it and it was what you wanted to do and now look at it.
Taylor: Totally! Yeah, yeah. Huge point, man. And I tell entrepreneurs that all the time. There’s no one repeatable path to business. Just like in life there’s no, like, one single repeatable path to optimizing your life. There’s a lot variability and I think at the end of the day you need to rely on your instinct and you need to really get a – you need to be able to like listen to your gut and understand how to do that. And when you can, it’s next level. You’re unstoppable.
Ryan: That is – I – that’s just so cool. I had no idea that that many people would have told you up front like: ‘Hey, we don’t think this is a good idea.’ What other lessons have you guys learned through creating this company and building it to what it is now?
Taylor: Yeah. Um, man, I think um, I think surrounding yourself by people that are in line with what you’re doing and see the mission, the value and they get behind it is way more important than surrounding yourself with people who are quote-unquote industry experts or hey, this guy has been doing it for 20 years. This guy helped build this company and they just exited for X amount of money. Like, those people are, honestly, like in my experience overrated and kind of full of themselves. But like, we have really learned to identify and spot people who are passionate and who are just so into the greater purpose and mission of the brand. And those are the people that I think are really impactful and can really separate you from competition or really just help inspire you to continue to just drive forward, push the envelope and try to be the best version of yourself. So, that’s been a huge one for us.
Ryan: Alright, very cool. So, let’s – let’s kinda take that and let’s talk about something that I know you and I are both passionate about. You already mentioned agriculture a little while ago. So, let’s talk about farming and some su- if I can get that word out – some sustainability stuff, ethics. I know you guys control – you guys have your own ranch where most of your meat comes from, right? So, talk to us about that side of EPIC.
Taylor: Yeah so um, we – we actually – we don’t have our own ranch yet. So, that’s something that we’ve been working on for the past 3 months. And um, we’re really trying to get this conveniently located ranch property, ideally 30 minutes outside of Austin, Texas where it can serve as an educational center. Something that brings in buyers, decision-makers, even consumers. So, people can actually come connect with the land and see things very holistically. And again, like, what we do is we’re very particular on the sources of our animal protein. And so, we’d like for our ranchers to think about things holistically. We get way more excited if one of our producers – are – consider themselves, like, a grass farmer than a bison rancher or a beef rancher because they’re really focusing in on where everything begins which is the land and the quality of the land and the health of the land. Because that’s really the only way to create healthy f- healthy animals. And then healthy animals create healthy food. But without that healthy land element, just can’t really do a good job nailing the second 2. So, I mean, for us, we’ve really worked hard to dispel this myth. There’s so many, like, myths in the world and these are things that we’re all learning and growing. But like, one of the most prevalent ones is that agriculture, especially meat production, is not sustainable, it can’t feed the world. Even more so there’s people that will argue to the death that it’s destructive and degenerative, causing pollution, contributing to climate change and carbon CO2 emissions through methane and other gases. And you just really have to question that. And so, for us we work in a context that’s holistic and so, this is some educational training provided by a guy named Allan Savory. But essentially, when you manage herds of animals consistent with how these herds of animals have evolved over millions of years, you can actually regenerate, restore, heal the earth, heal the grasslands and this is just fantastic for sequestering carbon, retaining water – so being super drought resistant – having really great microorganisms living in the soil, creating tons of biodiversity for native species and migratory species. And so, it’s really like, through this, through putting animals on grass where they’re intended to and where they belong, can we really create these amazing ecosystems that can actually help, you know, reverse climate change and do a lot of really good things positive for the planet.
Ryan: I love that answer. I think – so, when you’re talking – what you’re describing, this kind of utopia, is more of a what we call polyculture and that’s the way nature was always designed to be. And a lot of the – the talk of methane emissions, you know, the water issues, those are all coming from places where you’re seeing monocultures and farming practices that have been kind of pioneered through efficiency models for kind of what we call conventional farming. That’s the part that’s not sustainable, that’s the part that’s gonna cause issues for the environment, you know. Is that correct?
Taylor: Yeah, absolutely. We’re talking about, like, industrialized agriculture and high-intensity agriculture where you’re relying on tons of external inputs. So, you know, like, you’re bringing in feed from across the planet to feed your cows and maybe, like, the rainforest was mowed down so that people could plant fucking corn there. And so, like, there’s no question that that’s totally inefficient, obviously destructive, very short-sighted. And you know, like, then you’re introducing fertilizers and pesticides and, like, this system is totally broken and jacked and no one’s debating that. But the conversation really is this isn’t the only system so –
Taylor: – let’s focus on an alternative that’s actually – it’s not even sustainable. Like, let’s question the word sustainable. Let’s use words like regenerative, restorative, healing, because we can actually create a net positive –
Taylor: – and that’s what we should be really shooting for and, you know, that’s like a really amazing opportunity to use animals to do that.
Ryan: Yeah, so, for people listening, how can they get involved or how can they start to do their part to help, kind of, make that wave get bigger and move forward?
Taylor: Yeah. Great question. I mean, there’s tons of ranchers out there that kind of have this heightened mindfulness and operate in a holistic context. And, I mean, for us, you know, you should just kind of search your local, you know, farmer’s markets, ask people how they raise their animals. But if there ever is a doubt you know, be happy to share some of our favorite ranchers but there’s a really big – probably the largest farm in the United States that’s doing this is called White Oak Pastures and they’re in Southern Georgia. And they ship all over the world. And they’re actually gonna be at PaleoFx this year. But these guys – yeah, I mean, talking about, like you said, multi-species pastures. These guys have 12 different species of animals all interacting in the same pasture. So, they’re like replicating the Serengeti plains of Africa and it’s just incredible. It’s the most – I mean, the ecosystem there is unlike anything I’ve ever seen in my life. So –
Ryan: That’s cool!
Taylor: Yeah, finding people like that, supporting them.
Ryan: Yeah. So, I guess, be conscious of where you spend your dollar. You know, every dollar that you spend in the store, one way or the other is a vote, right.
Taylor: Totally! Yeah, 100%. Yeah, you – I mean, with the meat that you purchase, you essentially are raising animals because you’re influencing, you’re casting a vote for what kind of livestock system you wanna support. And – and this is kind of a discrepancy. So, if you’re vegetarian and you say like: ‘It’s unethical’, or vegan: ‘I don’t wanna support – I don’t wanna support this system’, so you’re opting out, you’re not voting. But it is important to vote ’cause that’s the only way you can make a change. Because if you don’t vote there’s still gonna be, like, conventional, high-intensity industrial agriculture versus, like, polyculture, holistic management. And, like, stepping out, not voting for either, you just like missed this opportunity to make an impact and influence people. And so – so yeah, vote with your dollars.
Ryan: Another thing that you guys are starting to be champions of is the nose to tail movement. And that’s another thing that we’re seeing a lot of in the Paleo world, too. Can you explain that for our listeners?
Taylor: Yeah! A big effort of EPIC this year, 2016, is what we’re calling the Whole Animal Initiative. And so, the genesis of this was um, we’re having conversations with our producers and we’re saying: ‘Hey, we want you to grow your herd. We want you to um, you know, like we want you to have 10,000 bison in this pasture. Like, why do you only have 800?’ And a lot of these ranchers are saying: ‘Well, you know, traditionally this is how the meat industry works.’ A jerky company will come in and they’ll say: ‘I wanna buy -‘ like eye around for some products. So, they’ll take, you know, like 4-8% of the entire animal by weight. And those economics – the rancher’s still at a lot of risk to grow the herd. And so, we’ve been able to – to come up with this program where we can say now like: ‘Hey, Mr. Rancher, we want you to have 10,000 bison in that pasture and we’ll commit to buying all 10,000 of those bison because we’re gonna find a way to use every piece of it.’ And so, that’s – that’s really powerful. I mean, that’s industry making impact and changing land and changing animal welfare standards. And – and so, that’s really exciting. So, right now, I mean like with our beef we’re using upwards of, like, 80-90% of the entire animal through the entire line of products that we make.
Ryan: That’s amazing! That’s amazing.
Ryan: And some of these new products. You’ve got the bone broth on the market, you have the – the beef tallow, right? And that’s part of the animal fat line?
Taylor: Totally! Yeah. The animal fats are being rendered for traditional cooking oils. And then, like you said, all the bones are being, you know, slow-cooked for broths. And then we’re even using some of the organ meats to make jerky with the organ meats and then the other cuts of the animals we’ll make our bars with and our jerky bites. And then – we even like at Expo West this year, at some of our trade shows we’ll actually take some of the hides from the animals and we’ll make lanyards or wallets or other things and kind of give them out to some of our customers.
Ryan: I tried the beef – the grass-fed beef liver jerky at BodyHacking Convention and it’s great.
Ryan: Yeah, that was – I was so excited to see it and I was so excited that it tastes great.
Taylor: Cool. Yeah, good. I’m glad you tried it.
Ryan: That’s gonna be my new way to consume liver. It’s the least – it’s the least offensive way I’ve ever found.
Taylor: Yeah, it – and that was the goal, man. I mean, it’s like a – everyone knows: hey, I should be eating more liver. It’s nutritionally just incredible. But it’s challenging a) to find good liver and to prepare it and b) most people don’t like the way it tastes when you cook it at home. So, we really wanted to create this product, you know, like a little kid, it could be packed in their school lunch and they wouldn’t freak out. ‘Cause that’s kind of, like, my wife. She eats 3 or 4 bags of that a week but she will not touch liver if I cook it at home. So go figure.
Ryan: What’s the best way to cook liver if we’re gonna cook it at home?
Taylor: I mean, I – I just like stuff um, –
Ryan: You just like the gamey stuff?
Taylor: Yeah, I mean, I’ll just eat it. I just eat it. But for me, I think, I’d say for most people who are getting into it maybe for the first time, you should probably like a) try to make a pâté recipe or b) like, bread it in some kind of like coconut flour or almond flour and then fry it. It’s kind of cheating because, I mean, it’s like friend chicken or something. It’s – obviously, that makes it taste really delicious.
Taylor: But do it.
Ryan: I – I gotta ask now that you just mentioned the pâté. The last time I was in Austin I got to eat at Dai Due – I think I’m saying that correctly.
Ryan: And they had an amazing liver mousse.
Ryan: That’s gotta be one of your favorite restaurants down there.
Taylor: [laughs] Yeah, that place is awesome. Yeah, I’ve had some great like pork jowls and other really cool, like beef heart and some other really awesome organ meats there.
Ryan: So, that’s a really cool restaurant that’s doing things very similar to you guys where it’s, you know, high-quality meats, animals that are grass-fed, pasture-raised and then it’s, you know, using the entire animal.
Ryan: Not just, like, the muscle cuts.
Taylor: Totally. Yeah, and it’s interesting like when you say the muscle cuts but just really to like think back at ancestral eating and how we evolved as a species. Like, our ancestors, when they’d hunt an elk and they’d kill it they would go like right on into the organ meats. Like, they’d cut it open, eat the organ meats right there and then they’d crack open the bones and like eat the marrow. And um, and they’d leave, like, these prize super lean muscle cuts that modern culture loves. It’s just like, feed ’em to the dogs or like leave ’em for the other scavenger animals.
Taylor: So, there’s something to that. There’s something to eating more holistically, eating more of the animal. Or at least expanding that ’cause I think we’re missing some of the most nutrient-rich parts sometimes.
Ryan: Yeah. So now, I guess, going forward with you guys, you guys just had some amazing news recently. You can correct me on the phrasing if you want but I guess you were acquired, purchased by General Mills?
Taylor: Correct! Yeah.
Ryan: So, that’s awesome. And, I mean, to me it’s – as a consumer and as somebody who has followed you guys from the first time I saw an EPIC bar, I think it’s amazing to see that big food is acknowledging the demand for all the things that we’ve talked about in the last 30 minutes. And – and I guess the other side of that is – I don’t wanna say a concern because, I mean, I see how passionate you are and I know that, you know, you’ll continue to try to use them as a platform to push this forward. So, I guess – that’s what I think I would like to hear and our listeners wanna hear is, you know, how – what have you heard from big food in terms of, you know, moving forward with this and how can you guys use that larger platform to, you know, help spread this message?
Taylor: Yeah, for sure. I mean, what happened with EPIC being acquired by General Mills, which is an enormous company, is um, it really is revolutionary and it shouldn’t be taken for granted because this is a really monumental stance a big food company took to invest in such a small company, and a mission-driven company. And even what we’ve seen in the past 3 months, I mean, EPIC is continuing to operate completely autonomously out of Austin, Texas. No one from General Mills is telling us how to run our business. Obviously, they wanna help out ’cause they’re really excited in –
Taylor: But really, the challenge is sometimes blocking that and using the – accessing the resources we want, but also keeping away the things that we don’t need or we don’t want. And so, kind of going back to the concept of, you know, like voting with your dollars and supporting what kind of livestock system, what kind of ranchers do you wanna support. I mean, the same thing is happening here because there’s this really exciting opportunity where – it’s bound to happen where, like, a company like EPIC or another really mission-driven company maybe Natural Stacks or something else, like, it’s gonna happen one day. But like, really what’s gonna happen now is everyone in the entire food industry, from all these mega-corporations are watching this experiment. And if things work out positively and for us we’re measuring that by a) we’re accelerating our positive impact on the planet, b) we’re creating really awesome economic opportunities, growing our team, partnering with ranchers, partnering with co-packers in small towns. Like, that’s really, really positive. And then there’s also a revenue component of that because without the revenue component we can’t have any impact. Like, we’re just, we’re not creating, we’re not converting quickly enough.
Taylor: But if we can do all these things and retain our culture and retain our values and our same operating philosophies, then this is monumental ’cause other big food companies are gonna start operating this way. Like, people will be less likely to develop, like 5 more shitty Pop-Tart flavors that no one cares about and creating, like, this shitty commercial for Fruit Roll-Ups that like cost this company like 10 million dollars to create. And this is, like, real money that they can reinvest and people, entrepreneurs, destructive thinkers that can really actually create change, positive change. And then also, I mean, General Mills is trying to learn a lot from us. So, I think next week they’re sending their director of culture down here. We’ve had multiple meetings with, like, higher ups in the organization; the president, the CEO. And people are really, really respecting how we operate culturally and really trying to learn from that, implement it. And the intention really is, like, hey you need to, at the end of the day, like, if you don’t adapt with the changing times and how consumers are changing and how they want food then, you know, they’re all gonna be extinct. And so, really the only option is to purchase young, mission-driven companies because if General Mills tried to make EPIC, EPIC rip-off. Like, no one would have – it would have been just totally bull shit.
Taylor: It’s – and so that’s really the only option right now.
Ryan: Yeah, I think you nailed that. I mean, the people who are that attracted to your mission and your brand would see right through, you know, somebody trying to create a knock-off, you know, if the values and the commitment weren’t there the way it is for you guys.
Taylor: Right, yeah. 100%. Um, so, I mean, you know, we’re really excited. We’ve already been able to increase – like, create some really positive things that we’ve never been able to accomplish like converting ranchers. We’ve already, in the last 3 months, like doubled the supply chain of grass-fed bison in the United States by basically pre-committing, prepaying animals to take their animals. Where we, Epic, before, we never could have afforded to do that. But this is a really awesome resource.
Ryan: That is really cool. I’m really happy to hear that. That’s so awesome. Now, before we came on you told me that you guys just – you have some new wild game flavors and lines coming out. And you guys did something truly epic, you went and with a bow killed the first elk to become part of the – the elk bars.
Taylor: Yeah, man. That was an adventure of a lifetime. But it honestly started, like, at our EPIC HQ in Austin, write like 1 thing they want to do before they die on the wall. And that’s kind of generic, like people do that, but we actually, like, make people do this shit. Like, check this off in 1 year. Like, not before you’re dead but in 12 months. And so, our director of ops Kirk Blanchard who was our first hire, you know, like 3 years ago he wrote: bow-hunt a monster elk in Colorado. And so, like, shit let’s do it! So, we’re kicking off this brand new wild game line, so we’re making wild boar product, venison, salmon and then a very limited run elk product. And so, we went out to Colorado. We actually went out on one of our bison ranches for 6 days and hiked, I mean, we had to have hiked over 100 miles all along the continental divide. And, you know, it really came down to the freaking last 2 hours of daylight.
Ryan: Oh God, on the last day.
Taylor: On day 6! And we’re just like: ‘Shit!’ Like the pressure’s on. We had – we brought out a really amazing film crew to document the hunt to harvest adventure. And, I mean, I don’t wanna spill the ending but, I’m smiling. [laughs] We got it. So yeah, that video is gonna come out this week. But it’s gonna be pretty legit. It’s beautiful.
Ryan: So where will we – where will we be able to see that video?
Taylor: Yeah, it’s gonna be Field and Stream online. They’re pretty –
Taylor: Yeah, pretty cool outdoor website. They’re gonna – they’re gonna show it first but it’s also gonna be on our website through our social media this week as well.
Ryan: Okay, awesome. Taylor, I think I could sit here and talk to you all day long. I’m sure that you have a business to go run. We appreciate your time. Before we let you go, couple of questions for you. Number 1, aside from the video, where can our listeners get more about – learn more about you guys, get the bars, stock up on all EPIC provisions?
Taylor: Sure, man! You can go to epicbar.com and really get dialed in. We have a lot of cool, like, limited small batch stuff there, special products that you can purchase there or, you know, like most people go to Thrive or Amazon or Barefoot Provisions. Places like that are great resources as well.
Ryan: Okay. Barefoot Provisions also carries Natural Stacks products. So, I’m gonna say go to Barefoot Provisions.
Taylor: And Barefoot Provisions will ship your shit to Canada. What?
Ryan: Yeah! Those guys are awesome, we love ’em.
Taylor: Yeah, they’re legit. I sho- I bought 400 dollars’ worth of stuff on Barefoot Provisions last week. [laughs] It’s ridiculous.
Ryan: So, you guys listening, we’ll have links to the book, all the websites, everything that we talked about go to naturalstacks.com you’ll be able to – under the blog tab – you’ll be able to see the video version of this podcast with Taylor. Taylor, before we let you go, all of our guests have to answer this question: your top 3 tips to live optimal or live epic.
Taylor: Man, I mean, we – we kinda touched on it so I’m not gonna be too repetitive and redundant. But number 1, most important is listen to your gut, follow your instincts. Like, tap into that. Trust your heart. Because no one knows better than yourself. Number 2 would be um, I think just diet. Nutrition is so ridiculously key. It’s been a catalyst for myself being healthy and well and performing at my gym and on the trails and racing. But also just, like you said, in business it carries over, it’s very holistic, it helps me focus. So, I mean, for me, primal diet works incredibly well. And then I’d say number 3 is gonna be to find the love of your life if you’re interested in that and make sure that that person is gonna, like, inspire you every day and really challenge you to become the best person you can be. So, done.
Ryan: Awesome, awesome. Taylor, this has been a blast. And I’m looking forward to catching up with you guys in person in a couple of weeks. We got, what, 2 months to PaleoFx?