May 10, 2017
[03:10] Reach Higher Nutrition
[07:22] About Connor Young
[10:42] How Ample Started Out
[23:03] Macronutrient Breakdown of Ample
[29:11] The Protein Blend
[35:27] Quick Commercial Break/GainsWave
[40:04] Mixing Ample
[42:45] The Carb Blend
[48:35] The Plant-Based Micronutrient Blend
[50:37] Ample's Sweeteners
[54:24] Ample's Packaging
[56:30] Vegetarian Versions
[59:14] The Cost of Ample
[1:00:00] The Fascinating Studies That are Being Done on Ample
[1:04:29] End of Podcast
Ben: Hey, it's Ben Greenfield, and I am sorry. No, I really am sorry because last week I released a podcast episode that was a parody of biohacking, and a parody of things like ketosis and our sometimes orthorexic approach to nutrition and fitness. And it turned out that the gentleman who I interviewed on that podcast episode, JP Sears, who has a whole areas of YouTube channel and is quite a funny gentleman, he's someone who I think many of my podcast listeners, possibly you, actually weren't familiar with. I made the erroneous assumption that just about everybody knew who this guy was and would kind of think it would be funny that I interviewed a dude who has got this very entertaining YouTube channel that allows us to all poke a little bit of fun of ourselves. But turns out that I wasted many folks' this time, and I understand that your time is valuable. I wasted a lot of people's time, specifically people who listened to much of that episode without realizing it was a joke, and got a little bit upset about the time that they had wasted listening in and also the fact that I did the whole thing but never actually led on the whole time that it was a joke.
Now in addition to that, that particular podcast episode was actually supposed to come out on April Fools' Day. And we recorded it, and it was something that we recorded later than our planned date and I decided that it was funny enough, to me at least, to where I decided to just push it out at a later date, and the whole thing just kind of wound up blowing up in my face. Even though if you listen to it in the context of it being a parody, it actually is pretty funny. I just should've told you maybe before you jumped in that it was a parody. So, anyways, I'm sorry. I don't want to drone out about it too long. And if you have no freaking clue what I'm talking about, you can go back and listen to that particular episode if you'd like to. If you want to listen to it, just go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/spiritual. That's bengreenfieldfitness.com/spiritual, if you too want to be offended.
So anyways, I promise you, I promise you from the bottom of my heart I won't anymore put out any kind of parody, jokey podcast unless I tell you at the very beginning of the podcast that the whole thing is a complete joke. And no, today's podcast is not a complete joke. It really is about this new brown powder that I use in my smoothies, which sounds like a really boring podcast episode. But it actually is, it was like the number one food campaign in IndieGoGo of all time. It freaking tastes good, and the dude that makes is a rock star. And I know him, I helped out with the product, and it's a pretty cool little deal. So you're going to like this one.
But before we jump in, speaking of things that are pretty cool little deals, there is this company that uses amino acids to replenish a lot of the neurotransmitters that do things like cause, or when they're deficient to do things like cause anxiety, and food cravings, and decreased energy, and brain fog. So what this company did is they developed what's called a brain blend and then also a sleep blend, and it's all based off of neurotransmitters like tryptophan, and GABA, and taurine, and glycine. Really interesting approach, these completely natural formulas for things like restful sleep and for things like decreasing food cravings, 'cause a lot of times that is due to neurotransmitter deficits. So this company is called Reach Higher Nutrition, and you can check them out at reachhighernutrition.com, and then they've got a code you can use to get 20% off your order 'cause you're special, 'cause you listen to this podcast. reachhighernutrition.com, and the code is Ben20 at reachhighernutrition.com. Just like it sounds like.
This podcast is also brought to you by one of the unique approaches, one of the most unique approaches to protein replenishment that exists. At least these days. Even though our caveman ancestors used to eat things like snails, and insects, and stuff like that all the time, we don't do it that much. But insects can pack up to three times the protein punch of beef and blow away even organ meat in terms of nutrient density. And they use, compared to like cows, if you look at something like crickets, 2,000 less land, 2,000 less water, they fart a lot less, so you got about 80 to 100 less greenhouse gases, and they can taste pretty well. Especially when you put them into a protein powder that's GMO free, gluten free, soy free, lactose free, with no added, sugars, colors, or artificial sweeteners. It that actually taste really good. If you never had an insect protein source, then you're missing out on something that can be very hypoallergenic and also very high in nutrients. This company called Crik makes a cricket protein powder, and you get 15% off of it, and it really does taste good. So here's how to do it: go to crik.me/bgfitness. That's crik.me, CRIK.me/bgfitness. Use code Ben to get 15% off of your first purchase from crik.me/bgfitness. Check it out. And now on to today's show with the inventor of Ample.
In this episode of The Ben Greenfield Fitness Show:
“If we can increase the amount of fibers that have been shown to increase microbiome biodiversity, and that is sort of the goal here.” “It turns out only 10 or 20% of the most fibers are absorbed by the small intestine. The rest of it, which is the 80 or 90%, reaches all the way to the large intestine.” “The biggest and most important thing is to have enough fiber, which also adds to satiety as well as just being a very, very important source for fuel and the gut microbiome.”
Ben: Hey, folks. It's Ben Greenfield. And this morning, I actually woke up and I took this strange looking brown powder, and a cup of ice, and I dumped my cup of ice into a blender, I dumped this powder over the ice, I put a little bit of my personal favorite way to blend a smoothie, a little bit of bone broth in there, and I blended it up. And this is a practice I've been following for days on which I don't have the time to go find a whole bunch of wild plants and put them into a blender. It's also something I've been doing quite a bit when I travel. I've been using this new superfood meal replacement powder. The name of this stuff is Ample. I've had a chance to try it a few times over the past year and a half or so as the inventor, a friend of mine who I know now from having hung out with him at two different Paleo f(x) conferences, he keeps sending this stuff to me to check out, to taste, to try, and I finally decided, because I've been using it so much, to actually get him on the podcast to ask some important questions about it. Because it turns out this was actually the number one food campaign of all time on IndieGoGo, this special meal replacement powder.
It's a super unique approach, and the inventor's name is Connor, Connor Young. He's with me on the show today, and basically Connor is a nutrition nerd, he's a fitness freak, he's a self-proclaimed biohacker, he's obsessed, possibly just as much as I am, with optimizing the human body. He's got a degree in biology, he co-founded a CrossFit gym over in Nashville, Tennessee, but then he eventually sold that CrossFit gym and started working in surgical care. During the time he was working in surgical care, he really got into a little bit more, kind of entrepreneurship physical therapy, food, and healthy food, and began to formulate this balanced meal replacement powder that is actually a very, very unique approach that we're going to delve into today. So everything that we talk about as you tune in, you can check out if you go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/amplepodcast, because that's the name of this meal replacement powder, it's Ample. bengreenfieldfitness.com/amplepodcast. If you want to get this stuff as you listen in, I'll also put a code for you. The code is “Greenfield”. That gets you a big fat 15% discount on Ample if you just go to amplemeal.com, or you go to the show notes at bengreenfieldfitness.com/amplepodcast. Alright, I'm going to shut up now. Connor, welcome to the show, dude.
Connor: Hey. Thanks so much, Ben. Appreciate it.
Ben: Hey, the last time that I saw you, you were wandering around Paleo f(x) and you had like a few random bottles full of this mysterious brown powder, and I know a lot happened leading up to that point, and a lot has happened since then, especially with you guys being the number one food campaign on IndieGoGo. So fill me in on the Ample story. How did this stuff actually come to be? Before we take a deep dive into the ingredients and everything.
Connor: Yeah, sure. Sounds good. And I will say, no, I definitely think that you are more nerdy about this than I am. So let's just get that straight off the bat. But I appreciate the complimentary…
Ben: That’s right baby. Nerdy and better looking.
Connor: (laughs) Well, alright, that one remains [0:10:59] ______, but…
Ben: It's radio. Nobody knows.
Connor: Exactly. We have no idea. So, like you said, I had started the CrossFit gym, had been into nutrition since basically I was 17, when I was playing tennis, and very, very early on got into kind of optimizing my own performance as well as that, trying to optimize my clients. Did the whole medical device thing for a while, realized, “Oh, no. We're not actually solving problems, we're and of putting expensive Band-Aids on people.” So quit that, came to San Francisco to run a physical therapy startup.
Ben: And if I could interject before you keep going, that's exactly what happened to me. Because I don't know if a lot of people know this, but my first job out of college was surgical sales. I worked for Biomed, and I lasted about five months at that job. It was to be my stepping stone into medicine. I had been accepted to a bunch of medical schools and was planning to go to medical school, and I wanted to work in the private sector and save up a little bit of money first. I took on that job and got a completely nasty taste in my mouth when it came to modern medicine, overpriced implants getting installed in people, unhappy doctors, unhealthy hospitals, and I kind of pivoted back into the fitness industry, and it sounds like you had kind of a similar experience.
Connor: This is the exact same thing that happened with me. Yeah, 100%. I was in the Cleveland Clinic and there is this world renowned heart surgeon, or like orthopedic surgeon who's and then taking out a person's knee and replacing it. I'm like, “Well, we're just replacing a knee. We're not actually solving a real problem. The real solution comes either on the physical therapy beforehand or the nutrition.” So I definitely wanted to do something that scaled a lot more than a CrossFit gym, but was in the health space. So yeah, went out to San Francisco and gave my first, well I guess second at this point, entrepreneurial, kind of muscles, all the workout with the physical therapy thing. And what's really interesting is I was in a 50 person hacker house. Basically an entrepreneurial house with…
Ben: What's a hacker house?
Connor: There's a lot of Silicon Valley startups these days and there's so many new, I guess, engineers who moved to the area. And so it's like almost a co-op where 50 people would all live together and basically just bounce ideas off each other. Most of them were starting companies of their own, a lot of them were software developers, and it was honestly an amazing opportunity to kind of get into the startup game, to understand how to grow a business quickly, and scalably, and everything like that. And so when I got there of course, I was sort of the resident health expert, and I still coach CrossFit on the side. And so people would always ask like, “Connor, how do I optimize my diet? How do I lose weight? How do I gain muscle?” All this other stuff. So I started teaching them how to cook, and then actually put, when that didn't kind of…
Ben: Wait. How'd you know how to cook?
Connor: Oh, I don't. I make only three things. But it's as much as I needed. So it's like Brussel sprouts, grass-fed beef, a little coconut oil. Sometimes mix up with broccoli. But honestly for them, even the thought of using a frying pan was just no, nasty.
Ben: Right. It sounds kind of like Tim Ferriss' 4-Hour Chef. Like all you really need to know what to make is scrambled eggs. And if you know that one thing, you can get by with about a million different versions of scrambled eggs and impress a lot of people.
Connor: Exactly. So they literally called it the Connor special to make eggs and Brussels sprouts. And luckily that caught on, but it wasn't helpful during their day-to-day lives. So a lot of these guys were really health conscious, and they were reading all of the things, and a lot of blogs, but unfortunately when you're in the middle of a busy day, or you just worked out, or you're on the go, you often don't have time to go grab a skillet and fry up some Brussel sprouts. So instead I developed a nutrition lecture series for these guys and tried to teach them how to eat and what to eat, rather than just teaching them to kind of cook. So the problem is at the time, there was a couple of these meal replacements that came out in the startup community and they were questionable at best, using a bunch of GMO corn maltodextrin, a lot of synthetic multi-vitamin mixes, and soy protein. And that kind of caught on as THE meal replacement, or the quick kind of convenient meal for Silicon Valley tech people. And so for me, from my CrossFit and paleo background, I was like, “That doesn't really fly.”
Ben: You mean meal replacement powders like Soylent type of stuff?
Connor: Yeah, but I didn't want to mention the name. You did! So…
Ben: I don't mind. I'll mention it.
Connor: Yeah. There we go.
Ben: I've written articles about Soylent. And I think a lot of people who are listening in probably know just a little bit about Soylent, but it probably was the most hyped up meal replacement powder of the past decade, I'd say. It's pretty popular stuff and it's also, based on the article, if you go to bengreenfieldfitness.com and do a search for “Soylent”, I've written about it. But it's pretty much just like soy protein, canola oil, sugar, and a whole bunch of really nasty stuff all thrown into like a powdered food.
Connor: Yeah, exactly. Well, the funny thing to me was that it was sort of geared as being, “Hey, this is your one meal and you no longer have to eat food on a regular basis. You can basically replace your entire diet.” And so that basically, like I had this negative visceral reaction to this. And a couple of my friends were doing this on a relatively routine basis. So one of my friends, it didn't sit well with him physically and he actually…
Ben: Wait, what didn't sit well with him physically?
Connor: The Soylent didn't actually.
Ben: Didn't feel well with a lot of people physically.
Connor: Yeah. He gained…
Ben: Liquid diarrhea.
Connor: He basically got small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, and so came to me saying, “Hey, Connor. Can you make something better? Basically I still need some sort of packaged food to just whenever, like in the middle of my day, if I'm traveling, whatever the case may be. But if it's Soylent's not good and if none of the other packaged foods around the industry are good, well then what is good?” And I honestly couldn't give him an answer. And at that point, when I realized that the food industry itself is actually concerned a lot more about seeming healthy than really being healthy, I was like, “Oh, (censored). This is a real problem.” And I think that in that case as well, a real opportunity. I mean if you can actually be the one food company that's more concerned about being healthy and not just seeming healthy, then I think it's a quantum leap in terms of the quality of the of the food that you're able to make.
Ben: Yeah. That's certainly one of the issues that you see with a lot of these meal replacement powders. I don't know what caused your friend small intestine bacterial overgrowth, which is essentially fed by a lot of these fermentable carbohydrates and a condition of overgrowth of bacteria where it's not supposed to be in the upper digestive tract, but you look at the Soylent label and maltodextrin, along with isomaltulose, two highly fermentable carbohydrates, are pretty much like at the top of the list right under the soy protein and the canola oil. So it's no surprise that he had SIBO, and likely I would imagine a little bit of inflammation as well from the soy and the canola oil.
Connor: Yup, definitely. And so with this kind of backdrop, I was like, “Alright, well I know I can make a much better thing, and it seems as if the world needs it so I should be the one to do it.” And so basically, just having done a lot of research over the last several years, about nine at the time, reading a couple hundred clinical journals and really having gotten into biology, I created effectively a idealized version that, at least, for our first product would be good for about 80% or 85% of the population to use on a routine basis. And of course I never wanted to replace real food. I mean obviously it's just absolutely essential. But for the one or two meals a day that people can't get those good calories and I think it's important to have something that can fill that gap.
Ben: Yeah. Certainly. And I mean like in some cases, it is a matter of time. In other cases, it's a matter of if you have something like small intestine bacterial overgrowth, or if you have some type of digestive inflammation and you're just like scratching your head about which of the hundred foods in your refrigerator you can't eat, sometimes it does come in handy to just be able to throw something in the blender and just mix it up, or toss 'em in a cup and just mix it up and know that it's at least satisfying your requirements if everything else is just a little bit too dizzying and intimidating for you to be able to figure out right off the bat. For me, that's not the case 'cause my wife is a complete foodie and makes meals all the time. But when I'm travelling and I need like a go-to, kind of like a hypoallergenic, we'll get into the ingredients here in a bit, but yeah, it can be pretty convenient compared to like airport food or the random meals you might encounter elsewhere.
Connor: Definitely. And especially for the person who, they're starting their journey into becoming a lot more health conscious but they're not all the way there yet, and for them the informational overload is too intense to kind of get schooled up on so quickly. It's that type of person who I want it to just be like, Alright, while you are schooling yourself up, here's kind of an easy solution where we've already done a lot of the thinking for you and can help you also think about how to optimize the rest of your diet as well. And so I basically got a bunch of these, I mean the thing started in this hacker house. Got a bunch of these ingredients, couple of them on Amazon, couple them I couldn't find on Amazon so I went directly to the ingredient suppliers themselves. It was unpalatable for the first three months. I didn't even eat it myself. But eventually it became good and I was able to verify the quality of the ingredients as well and got into an accelerator, which is one of these San Franciscan startup accelerators called 500 Startups and then eventually ran this IndieGoGo campaign as sort of a test to kind of validate the viability of the business and it was a lot more successful than I expected. In fact, there were there 45 people who bought lifetime supplies without even trying the product first for more than five grand, which was pretty intense to me. And I think at that time that I talked to you last time, in fact, the IndieGoGo campaign was going on the while we were at Paleo f(x) last year, and then fell a bit of investment and the kind of scaled up the products got also another great food scientist on board as well. She was actually the VP of R&D for Clif Bar, Pillsbury, and Target before Ample. And so we just launched in January and have been going ever since. So that kind of…
Ben: Let's delve into the nitty gritty. Let's start with the actual, I want to get into the actual ingredients, but first what's the macronutrient breakdown of this stuff? What's the protein, fat, carb percentage?
Connor: Sure. Yeah, so the calories from fat are about 52%, calories from net carb is about 21%, and the calories from protein around 27%.
Ben: Okay. Gotcha. And why do you choose that particular breakdown?
Connor: Sure. So in general, the goal here was to have a sufficient amount of healthy fats just for fuel and both saturated and monounsaturated fats. So there's a sufficient amount of coconut oil and macadamia nut, as well as chia seed oil as well, and then also a sufficient amount of protein. I expected that a lot of the customers are going to be both, some of them are going to be athletes, and regardless, having enough protein for satiety purposes is definitely a plus there. And then to have a low enough carbohydrate content where it's not necessarily in the ketogenic range. Well, I guess for some people it can be depending on their activity level. Actually for myself, I am able to maintain mild ketosis using an Ample, but certainly something that's not geared exclusively for ketosis but still has this low carb, low glycemic, and certainly low sugar type of content. And then also I think the biggest and most important thing is to have enough fiber, which also adds to satiety as well as just being a very, very important source for fueling the gut microbiome. And so that type of macronutrient breakdown seemed to be, from my research, to be an effective macronutrient breakdown. And then after having talked to a lot of, I've actually been working quite heavily with our mutual friend, Chris Masterjohn, who I know has been on the podcast of yours several times, and so having him as sort of the mentor from the food nutrition, science perspective has just been absolutely phenomenal.
Ben: Yeah. I want to ask you about that a little bit 'cause it sounds like you're doing like some clinical trials on this stuff too with him. But before we do that, that's pretty high fat percentage. What fat, like what's the lipid blend in this?
Connor: Sure. So it's coconut oil, macadamia nut oil, chia seed, and sunflower lecithin. And so the majority of it is the coconut and the macadamia nut, so the saturated and the monounsaturated fat.
Ben: Okay. Got it. And is there any particular reason you chose those as the lipid blend? Do those just mix well, taste well? Were you choosing this based on the stabilization of the fats under heat processing, or what was your reasoning on the lipid blend?
Connor: Totally. Well from the coconut oil's perspective, that was kind of self-evident. I mean coconut oil is just straight up great for you in terms of the MCTs. And the more difficult part was the monounsaturated oils because there's actually not a lot of good monounsaturated fats that taste good and also don't have a lot of omega-6 fatty acids. So if the goal was to target ideally like a 1:1 omega-3 to omega-6 ratio, I wanted to have something that was high in monounsaturated, low in omega-6s, but that leaves a few oils and cheap among them is olive oil, avocado oil, and macadamia nut oil. Macadamia nut taste by far the best, even though it is massively expensive. (chuckles) There's just not a lot of, you probably just don't see it all that often in these things. So the supply is relatively limited, coming from Australia or South Africa.
Connor: Yeah. So that's where the rationale for the fat blend came in. And then also as well, seeing if they're able to have a minimal amount of carbohydrates. So just to kind of give you guys a little bit of a food science lesson, I know that we often talk about just nutrition science but never do we kind of get a good sense of how things are processed, how they're made. And so it's what's interesting is that if you're going to put fats in a solid form, they have to effectively have a carrier. And an almost always, unfortunately, the carrier that most people use is GMO corn maltodextrin.
Ben: Oh, I gotcha.
Connor: Yeah. Which is the reason why you'll see all these things on food labels. And so 99% of the time, that's what they put in there. And it basically, you'll kind of spray the lipid almost like, imagine a perfume bottle. You spray the lipid on to this carbohydrate. And so what our goal tended to be was to say, “Alright. a) we want to have a minimal amount of carbohydrates in here. So we're targeting a 70/30 blend of lipids to carbohydrate. And then b) to have these carbs come from tapioca starch instead of, non-GMO tapioca instead of corn maltodextrin. And so, that was sort of the goal here from the food science perspective. And so, trying to negotiate with some of these larger suppliers tended to be an uphill battle and until we finally got good suppliers who were able to do this with all four of our lipids in the way that we wanted. And so that whole custom lipid blend was really one of the main things that I think we did amazingly well within Ample.
Ben: Gotcha. Okay. So you got this lipid blend and you've managed to make it stable with the coconut oil, macadamia nut oil, sunflower lecithin, and omega-3, chia seed extract, and that's how we're getting up to 50 to 60% fat in this stuff. And then you have a protein blend. Now the protein that have, it's a grass-fed whey, a hydrolyzed pea protein, and a grass-fed hydrolyzed collagen protein. Why'd you choose those three as the blends for the protein in this?
Connor: Sure. A couple reasons. So one, we want it have a PDCAAS of 1. And so that means is we wanted to have basically just a complete protein. So within your nine essential amino acids, there's basically a scale that people use to kind of determine how complete a particular protein is. So whey protein is one, and so is, let's say, eggs. So they are complete proteins, whereas other proteins like rice protein is actually, it's less than one, it's like .7 or something like that. And so what that means is that what you want is to have this PDCAAS of 1, which basically means that the protein that you are ingesting is both digestible and also has all of the amino acids that you need. So the whey a) has a PDCAAS of 1, b) because it's so abundant in cysteine, glycine, and glutamate, which are all three of the, basically the three amino acids required for glutathione, whey has actually been shown very dramatically to be able to increase glutathione after consumption of whey protein.
So obviously though we have a lot more than just the need for whey in our diet, and so for the same reason that you make things with bone broth is the same reason why we put collagen in, is for the glycine, the alanine, and the proline that comes from this collagen, which basically makes up elastin, which is the main component of our skin, and joints, and hair. And so that's where the whey and the collagen come in. Now what we also wanted was to have a diversity of proteins, and one ideally that was plant sourced. The other reason as well is that from a functional perspective, we needed Ample to be filling. So if it's not filling and if it's basically thin and it has a very flat viscosity so that you almost feel like you're tasting water, a lot of times people over consume or they have another bad food choice 10 minutes after they drank it. So we needed to increase the viscosity of Ample to the point where it was actually filling. And so what's interesting is that a couple of plant proteins do this very well: pea protein and rice protein. And so one of the reasons why is because they have a lot of hydrogen bonding points, and therefore basically binds to water. And in a similar way that that fiber does this, these proteins do as well.
And so we looked at a bunch of proteins, basically we narrowed it down to it to pea and rice, we actually used rice protein in our first version before switching over to pea in our second one. And the reason why we're using that one is because a) it was little bit more reliable from the sourcing perspective. Because to get non-GMO, really anything, at a high enough supply that's reliable and with low heavy metal content is actually quite a difficult thing to do. Now from the pea perspective though, we also wanted to make sure that it was very low in lectins because for the kind of hypoallergenic crowd, that can be sort of a concern.
Ben: Yeah. That was something I was interested in because, and I've been studying a book about this called “The Plant Paradox” where it goes into like peas, for example, and how they're not such a great idea because of the lectin content and how that can cause some disruption of cell wall integrity. So what's the difference from like a pea as a legume and a lentil, or a lectin that could potentially damage the gut wall and like a pea protein isolate. Like what happens to the lectins?
Connor: Yeah. Totally. Well first of all, let's kind of define lecterns a little bit for the listeners. So lectins themselves are proteins with basically a chain of carbohydrate on them. And so they bind to these sites along the gut lining and sometimes can disrupt the gut lining, also can cause some autoimmunity issues. Now there are many different types of lectin. So the body and itself also creates lectins. Not all of the lectins that we consume are bad, and not all of lectins in our bodies are bad, but certainly there's things like phytohemagglutinin and just agglutinin, which are the sort of negative or the bad of lectins that we're kind of solving against. And so those are generally in quite high quantities in raw uncooked peas, and so what the kind of manufacturing process, basically in the same way that you would do it when you're just at home, you soak lectins, or you soak peas, or beans, or anything like that, and then you also cook them. That basically denatures the lectins themselves to either get them out completely or to make sure that they're inert, or don't have any deleterious bodily effects.
And so in this case, basically what they do is they dry it first and then they put it in water. And so this water then allows it to be in sort of a solubilized, kind of an aqueous environment, and then they basically do a centrifuge. And the centrifuge basically spins really, really fast and sort of separates the leptins from the other proteins in the sense that, well the good thing about leptins is that because they have this is carbohydrate end to them, they can kind of separate from the regular proteins, which are more hydrophobic than are the leptins themselves. And so then you can kind of separate them out, and then also there's a low heat process for a long time afterwards that also, if there were any like lectins that did get it kind of taken as well with the regular protein, then they're able to be slightly denatured. But it's a relatively low temperature. I wish I could tell you the exact temperature and exactly how long, but I'm under a non-disclosure agreement unfortunately.
Ben: That's okay.
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[Continuation of the Podcast]
Ben: So basically you've gotten rid of the lectins, and then also why do you need to do pea along with, why do you need two different types of proteins?
Connor: Yeah. Well I mean I guess we have three. Like I was mentioning, so for the whey and the collagen, those are more for the glutathione as well as for the addition of glycine to create elastin. Now from the pea perspective, this actually increases the viscosity of Ample. And so it allows the thing to be a lot more viscous and a lot less flat because whey…
Ben: You mean like more thick when you mix it?
Connor: So it makes it a lot more thick, which is nice because then it gives the sense of fullness so that when people actually drink it, they're not just like starving again in another 10 minutes. Or they drink too much of it.
Ben: Right. Okay. And by the way, for those you listening in, I'll put the full label and everything with all these ingredients we're talking about over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/amplepodcast if you want to look at that. That was one thing I also want to ask you, Connor, regarding like the texture ‘cause I like my drinks and my shakes to be really thick. Like I literally like to eat 'em with a spoon. So when you mix this, 'cause a lot of times, if I have a blender, I just get a whole bunch of ice, and I put the whole bottle in ice, and then I blend it for like two minutes, and it tastes like chocolate ice cream.
Connor: That's awesome.
Ben: But if you want to make it as thick as possible, and let's say I'm traveling and I don't have a blender and I don't have ice, what's the best way to mix it to make it as thick as I can?
Connor: Sure. I'll first just describe the process of making Ample in general. So employ actually comes as powder in a bottle. And so it's basically a single serving bottle and it either comes in a 400 or 600 calorie version. And so, we designed it to be intensely convenient so that all you have to do is add water or milk to the bottle itself, and then you…
Ben: Screw that 400 calorie version, by the way. I'm a big ol' boy. I go straight for the 600 calorie.
Connor: I know. Yeah.
Ben: Or two 400 calories.
Connor: That is a good one. And so for me, what I do with it, and I'm with you, like I want viscous. And so there's a couple ways you can do it. One is just adding slightly less water to it. So you're going to add either water or milk. Oh by the way, adding milk to it instead, if you want to do almond milk, or if you don't have any lactose intolerance, then regular milk as well can be great to increase the viscosity. Also letting it sit for a little bit of time. So if you let it sit for, let's say, 10 or 15 minutes, what that allows for is that, like I was talking about with the pea protein as well as if we had rice protein still, it allows for these, well also from the fiber's perspective, there's soluble fiber in there and it allows all of the fiber and the protein to absorb water, and therefore make it a lot more thick. And so I would say that either reducing the amount of liquid, putting milk in, and then also letting it sit. Also if you have access to a refrigerator, if you're not on the go and you're just like chilling in your house or if you're at the office, put it in the refrigerator for 10, 15 minutes after you do it. It'll also kind of make…
Ben: Ah. It thickens if you get it cold, huh?
Connor: Oh, yeah. It does.
Ben: Okay. What if I just leave it and say let it sit in there for like 10, 15 minutes after I mix it? Does it get thicker that way, like a lot of shakes and stuff do?
Connor: Yeah, it does. Exactly. Just because of the fiber and the protein there, it absorbs the water there.
Ben: Okay. Got it. Now you also have this prebiotic, probiotic fiber blend. You talk about how Soylent, for example, gave your friend small intestine bacterial overgrowth. But a lot of people, when they consume fibers, fermentable things, probiotics, prebiotics, et cetera, like they also have issues with fermentation, for example. So this stuff doesn't give me the farts or anything like that, but I'm curious like why'd you choose the carbs, and the prebiotics, and the fibers that you chose for the carb, and the prebiotic, and the fiber blend that comes after the protein blend and the lipid blend on this label?
Connor: Totally. A couple reasons. The carbohydrate blend, the starch blend is quite simple. So tapioca for the reason I mentioned before with the fat, and then the additional carbohydrate that we have is organic sweet potato. Sweet potato just tends to be a very clean, relatively slow burning carbohydrate, and so that's the reason why we put it in there. And as far as the fiber itself, a couple kind of things that we are trying to sell for. One, of course, is that fiber itself increases B vitamin throughout. So it's going to pass all the way through your small intestine, well it's going to pass about, I was actually just talking to Dom D'Agostino about this, literally, it was on Monday. Two days ago, I was talking with him about fiber and how much of it is actually absorbed by the small intestine. And so it turns out about only 10 or 20% of most fibers are absorbed by the small intestine, the rest of it, which is the 80 or 90% reaches all the way to the large intestine.
And so in this case, so first of all why do we want it? One, it's to basically create this buterate, or the short chain triglycerides that you're enterocytes, or I guess you could say the large intestine cells, the cell lining itself. Basically it gives them food, and then also it creates B vitamins that are essential for that as well. So folates, B9, and then also B12. What's also important as well is to increase the microbiome diversity. And so what I was solving for here is that, and it has been shown that increasing gut microbiome diversity has been shown to have this anti-inflammatory environment, which is necessary for metabolic health. And so if we can do that, we can also control blood sugar levels as well. And so what we're going for is to have a diversity of fiber that has a, because one of the reasons why people end up getting things like SIBO or whatever is because they effectively have too much of one particular type of fiber, and so it's kind of like a monoculture where, if you think about the analogy of a rainforest to a crop land, a rainforest itself has thousands of different types of species of plant, and so it basically makes that environment a lot more robust. Whereas if you only have one, if you just have corn, if you just have a soy field, that field is actually a lot more susceptible to increasing pathogens or any sort of stochasticity. And so if we can increase the amount of fibers that have been shown to increase microbiome biodiversity, then that is sort of the goal here. And so we've done it in four ways, and because the kind of compounds or components of it that have shown to increase gut microbiome diversity are the soluble fiber, insoluble fiber, resistant starch, and then fructooligosaccharides.
Ben: So you need all four of those, the resistant starch, the fructooligosaccharides, and what'd you say? What were the other two?
Connor: Soluble and insoluble fiber.
Ben: Okay. So if you have all of those, that's how you would actually develop the right type of bacteria in the gut. And so what you're saying is when you have this probiotic blend, like you've got all these different probiotic strains, then you add the carb, the prebiotic, and the fiber blend, what you're trying to do is populate the digestive tract?
Connor: Exactly. Thank you for like mentioning the probiotics. I didn't get into that, but yes. Okay, so if we are trying to populate the, basically optimize gut microbiome diversity here and therefore reduce information and all the other aspects of just a healthy gut in general, we want to be able to formulate this prebiotic blend in conjunction with the probiotic blend. And so the resistance starch from green bananas, the acacia fiber, which is a fiber, and the psyllium husk as well, as well as the fructooligosaccharide, which is basically inulin. Those, in conjunction with the six strains of probiotics, tend to have sort of a symbiotic relationship in that they help proliferate a healthy gut microbiome.
Ben: Okay. So you chose those specific strains to, so if somebody has been on antibiotics, for example, they could actually use this to repopulate their microbiome using this blend of like resistant starches like the green banana, and then also the probiotics, the prebiotics, the inulin, everything else. So essentially what you're doing is you're restoring the population of the gut at the same time that you're adding the proteins and the lipids into the body?
Connor: Exactly. In fact, actually that's one of the, I was talking with Chris Kresser a couple of months ago and he's like, “Hey, I actually am very curious to use Ample as sort of a gut reset for some of my patients who do have some of these issues with,” they go on these very intense antibiotic treatments and they need to be able to recover from them quickly.
Ben: Okay. Cool. I like. It's an interesting twist. And my gut actually feels really good when I drink it, so I guess that says something. Nothing's exploded down there yet. You also have this kind of interesting, like a plant-based micronutrient blend where you add cocoa, or organic cocoa, organic wheat grass, organic barley grass, and organic chlorella. Why did you choose to add those into Ample?
Connor: Basically we're trying to go for micronutrients and antioxidants. Now at the same time as well, I don't want to oversell the fact, I think that, I'll step back here and say, “Okay, what the hell is the purpose of Ample?” What our goal over the next three, four, five years is to really optimize nutrition, as in to make the perfect meal. Well, as perfect as a packaged food could possibly get. And so this is likely going to result in a few different key products that kind of target different, either macronutrient ratios or sort of lifestyles or dietary restrictions. And so what I think we're at here is we've already optimized the macronutrient ratio for Ample, and I'm very happy with that. I think where we have some room to grow here is actually with the micronutrients. So I won't claim that we're exactly where we want to be in terms of the quantity of greens there, and so I just I can't stand not being transparent so I will say that we have them and they are amazing for B vitamins and antioxidants. But I'm still really excited to be able to kind of work with the formula over the next year or so to increase the amount of plant-based micronutrients in a very sustainable, but also good tasting way.
Ben: Okay. Got it. Makes sense. But there's still some micro greens in there, basically.
Connor: 100% Yeah, exactly. All of them are organic as well.
Ben: Gotcha. Okay. So the next one that you have in there, we talked about the probiotic blend, but then you've got certain ingredients that are just like added ingredients. And looks like the sweeteners that you've chosen, you've got dried honey, cinnamon, natural vanilla flavor, lemon juice, monk fruit, and stevia. What was your reasoning behind this particular blend of sweeteners?
Connor: Totally. So I will say I'm not an expert on food science, and I'm really glad that we have Julie, our food science person, who's been able to help like tremendously. Because I mean honestly if it wasn't for her, if we wanted to achieve the same level of sweetness and flavor in Ample, we would have had to double the sugar without her expertise. But luckily, we were able to get the sugar to just four grams per 400 calories. Just 4% of calories coming from sugar, I'm like insanely pleased with.
Ben: Yeah. That's really low.
Connor: Yeah, I know. It's super low and I'm really excited about that. So you mentioned cinnamon, cinnamon tends to give it a little bit of an, well a) it actually has one of the highest ORAC capacities of any supplement ever.
Ben: Cinnamon does? Really? In terms of antioxidants?
Connor: Oh, dude, it's insane! Yeah! Check it out. It has something like, well I don't want to make up numbers here, but if you if you Google just ORAC in general, O-R-A-C, and check out cinnamon, it's something like the fifth most of any ingredient ever. So that's awesome, as well as of course, it provides a little bit of taste to it. The vanilla, we wanted to make sure there was actual vanilla instead of, basically what they can do is you can create vanillin, which is basically out of wood, and it's kind of like this synthetic vanilla, but we wanted the actual stuff from Madagascar, which is basically one of the only places in the world to really get vanilla, real vanilla. And as for the sweeteners themselves, so what's interesting about the sweeteners is that you can kind of think about the sweetness from, I guess the best analogy that food scientists use is to compare it to music. We have low notes, middle notes, and high notes. And so when you're putting a sweetener blend together, if you were to just put sugar in, it's got a good taste to it it's and it's a full taste, but it's kind of just a normal, it doesn't add a lot to the flavor. So a lot of people have to add too much of it.
But what's interesting is that if you add monk fruit and stevia, monk fruit is sort of a mid-tone and stevia is a little bit like a high tone, if we're comparing it to this music analogy. And so the three of those actually end up being synergistic. And so it's sort of like one plus one plus one equals six, instead of three, which you'd expect, which is one of the main reasons why we're able to get the sugar so low is that we have this synergistic effect of the honey, the monk fruit, and the stevia. And by the way, the stevia and a monk fruit are actually super low to the point where the vast majority of people who say that they're either sensitive or just they don't like the taste of stevia, they love Ample, they can't even detect it because we don't really need that much of it. It sort of pulls more weight.
Ben: Okay. Cool. Yeah. I think the flavor tastes pretty good. I realize I'm sounding like a complete zealot and disciple of your product here, but honestly like so far I'm sold. It's clean, it's good. You've got protein blend, the lipid blend, this carb, prebiotic, and fiber blend, the plant-based blend, the probiotics, and then these other ingredients like the natural vanilla, and the cinnamon, and the stevia. One thing that concerned me though is the bottle's plastic. What's going on with that, man? Like why do you choose plastic, especially with like concerns about BPA, and leaching, and estrogens, and stuff like that.
Connor: Sure. So it is PET, which doesn't contain Bisphenol A. But I totally understand that the thoughts for like, let's say phthalates. And so what's interesting though is that when you, like phthalates themselves are I guess bad for someone if there's sort of an aqueous solution on the other side of it. So what's interesting is, okay, so think about like, how do I put this analogy. If you have a rock and then there's water next to this rock, the water itself does a lot better job of leaching ingredients or minerals out of this rock than would if you put a rock next to powder because powder itself is not liquid, it doesn't leach things out of it. And so one of the reasons why we have powder in this bottle, instead of just the straight up liquid itself is because that actually reduces the ability for, dramatically, like thousands of times more reduction in the potential for things to leach out of the bottle. And regardless, the bottle doesn't contain BPA. So that's kind of one of the reasons why we used the plastic in the way that we did. At the same time, I totally respect the need and the desire for people to conserve waste, and obviously it's 100% recyclable. But we are going to be, sometime down the line, introducing a bulk container as well that allows someone to basically just get a couple scoops of Ample and kind of titrate it as they will.
Ben: Okay. Got it. So plastic, probably if you want to be like super-duper safe, just do like I'm doing like dump it out into your glass cup, or your blender, or whatever when you blend it and don't necessarily mix it in the bottle?
Connor: Yeah. If you want to be super, super safe. Totally.
Ben: Alright. Makes sense. The other thing I want to ask you, a couple other things. First of all, what if someone's like vegetarian, or they're vegan, or they're lactose free, there's obviously a few things in here that they'd probably want to skip, like the whey protein obviously would be a big one. Any options there, or are they just pretty much screwed when it comes to this stuff?
Connor: They are not screwed. We do have actually two versions of Ample. There's Ample, the one that you have, and then we also the Ample X. And so Ample X, which is, actually in about a month, its name is going to be changed to Ample V. But, yeah, so Ample X right now is vegetarian, and basically it has a, the protein comes from organic brown rice. And then actually in a month from now, it'll come from organic brown rice and organic pea protein. And so those two things combined actually equal that PDCAAS of 1 that we were targeting. It's as if the deficiencies in one protein help the deficiencies in the other protein, and so they kind of balance out to be a complete protein. And so it's also, in about a month, at the end of June, we'll be releasing Ample V, which also doesn't have the honey, and instead just has another sugar, just a couple grams of it that vegan as well. So right now it's vegetarian, and in a month it'll be vegan, long story short.
Ben: Okay. Alright, cool. And by the way, for those of you interested, I think the discount that we're giving people for Greenfield, does that give them a discount on Ample X too when that comes out?
Connor: Well, Ample X is already out. And Ample V will be out in about a month. And so the discount is applicable to all of them. I will mention that our supply, like I was mentioning before, the supply on some of these really high quality organic proteins is limited, and so we may sell out of that relatively quick. If we do, we'll will go on back order and likely get other, basically more in the next month or so after that. So that is just one supply constraint. However, Ample original should have as much supply as we need.
Ben: Okay. Gotcha. So speaking of discounts and everything, like if you were to add this up in terms of the actual cost, 'cause you've been sending me some bottles admittedly, like full disclosure for the people listening in, I haven't been buying it 'cause Connor just sends me this stuff to like try, and I've even had a chance to like send it back and, I believe you made a couple of little flavor iterations based on my feedback.
Ben: But how much would it cost? Like per, I guess like per serving or per meal if I was just going to drink this as a meal?
Connor: Sure. So it depends on the volume of things. So basically the 400 calorie version goes for between $5 and 6.50 a meal. And then the 600 calorie goes between 6.50 and $8 a meal. If someone's getting, let's say, 30 a month, a lot of people just do this once a day, and then they subscribe, then it's somewhere in the low $6 and then low $5 on the 400 side.
Ben: Okay. Gotcha. Which knocks a little bit off, I guess, with the discount. But either way, it's cheaper than a meal of fast food, or about the same price.
Connor: It's a heck of a lot cheaper than that, yeah.
Ben: Also like the big elephant in the room, 'cause I haven't seen many meal replacement powders actually get studied, but you mention Chris Masterjohn, and I'm curious. What kind of study are you doing with him? Is it he that's actually overseeing the study of this thing?
Connor: Totally. Yeah. He's the principal investigator of it. I ‘m really excited to begin the study. In fact, in a relatively short amount of time, I can't give specifics for that, but we're going to be recruiting 102 study participants to see how one Ample per day for six weeks affects people's metabolic markers. And so Chris has been both amazing as a mentor as well as just being able to help design the study as well. And so basically what we're doing is we're going to be doing the full chemistry panel, a hematology panel, insulin, triglycerides, hba1c, hs-CRP, glutathione, body weight, BMI, waist circumference, and blood pressure, those are all of the aspects that people will, that we're studying. And so we're basically just trying to determine, oh and then one other thing is we're going to be giving people a uBiome test.
Ben: Oh, interesting.
Connor: Yeah. For gut microbiome diversity. And so we're very excited to determine the effect of Ample on markers of metabolic health, oxidative stress, and inflammation, as well to determine how Ample alters the intestinal microbiota. And so it'll be double blind, placebo controlled, all of this stuff. Well, it'll actually be a crossover study, because of course everyone's going to know that they're going to be consuming Ample, so what's the efficacious way of doing it is to say, “Well, how did it compare to before and after someone had it?” And it'll be split into two cohorts. So we've got an IRB approval for that, and so in a little bit of time when we, as soon as actually my next round of funding comes in, which is actually going to close in a very short amount of time, knock on wood, we'll get right on the study and I'm super excited to see the results.
Ben: Nice. I like it. Well, what I'm going to do is I'm going to put the discount code and a link to the nutrition label and everything else you need to know to learn more about this stuff, or to try it if you go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/amplepodcast. That's bengreenfieldfitness.com/amplepodcast. And I recommend, like grab a bottle, try it. And my favorite way to prepare it, just so you know, if you want chocolate ice cream, is you put it in a blender and just like blend it for like two minutes with a bunch of ice. Again, I've been using bone broth as my actual mixer just to add a little bit of extra collagen and extra goodness in there. So you could probably use coconut milk, or you could use bark tea, or any other little concoction, but that's the way I do it.
Ben: I love it, baby. Alright. Well, that's it folks. If you want to try this, again, the discount code is “Greenfield” if you go to amplemeal.com. Or you can just go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/amplepodcast for the show notes, the nutrition label, everything else. So Connor, thanks for coming on the show and sharing all this stuff with us, man.
Connor: Yeah, man. Thanks, Ben
Ben: Alright, folks. Well, I'm Ben Greenfield along with Connor Young from Ample signing out from Ben Greenfield Fitness. Have a healthy week.
I recently had a chance to taste a new superfood meal replacement powder called “Ample” (you can use code GREENFIELD for a big, fat 15% discount on everything but their “lifetime” supply option).
It was so tasty, and such an interesting approach to the burgeoning world of dime-a-dozen meal replacement powders (it actually was the #1 food campaign of all time on IndieGoGo) that I decided to get the inventor on a podcast to ask him about it. His name is Connor Young.
Connor is a nutrition nerd, fitness freak and self-proclaimed biohacker, obsessed with optimizing the human body. He graduated with a degree in biology and while studying, he found passion for CrossFit, leading him to co-found Shackle Island CrossFit in Nashville, Tennessee.
After selling Shackle Island and with continued interest in medicine, Connor joined Ethicon Endo-Surgery, Johnson & Johnson's surgery division. For two years, he advised surgeons on intra-operative device usage. After becoming jaded with the reactive nature of medicine, Connor left J&J to create a physical therapy start-up Koach, a platform that allowed PTs to more effectively engage patients in home exercises. This brought Connor to San Francisco, where he moved into an entrepreneurial “hacker house” with dozens others.
Connor was exposed to how easy it was for his well-intentioned but busy housemates to eat unhealthily. After conducting nutrition and cooking classes for his housemates, Connor formulated Ample as a balanced meal for those looking for optimal nutrition who refuse to sacrifice health for convenience. His vision for Ample is to strive for perfect nutrition through a scientifically grounded formula made from real foods.
Ample is pretty unique stuff, really. Here's the nutrition label:
It comes in a 400 calorie version, and also a 600 calorie version, as shown below:
And here's the macronutrient breakdown:
During my discussion with Connor, you'll discover:
-How Connor went from knowing how to cook only 3 things to become the inventor of a meal replacement powder…[10:35]
-The actual macronutrient breakdown of 50-60% fat, 20-30% protein and 10% carbohydrate in Ample…[22:55]
-How Connor figured out how to make Ample high-fat without actually having the fats oxidized…[25:27]
-The best way to mix Ample to make it as thick as possible…[31:00]
-The reasoning behind the carbohydrate, prebiotic, and fiber blend in Ample…[42:10]
-Why Connor chose to add the particular sweeteners that are in Ample, while still keeping sugar content extremely low…[50:15]
-Whether you need to be concerned about estrogens and plastics with the plastic bottle…[54:12]
-How you can get a special version Ample if you are vegetarian or vegan or lactose-free…[56:30]
-The fascinating studies that are being done on Ample…[60:00]
-And much more…
Resources from this episode:
-“Ample” (you can use code GREENFIELD for a big, fat 15% discount on everything except their lifetime subscription).
-The Plant Paradox book Ben mentions.