April 9, 2016
[3:05] Kimera Koffee
[6:24] Soylent – What it is and what it is not
[8:32] Ambronite – What’s in it?
[9:57] About Simo Suoheimo
[12:01] Nature and Wild Foraging in Finland
[15:12] How Ambronite came to be
[17:21] The Evolution of Ambronite to Powder Form
[20:20} Why use these ingredients for Ambronite?
[35:43] Ambronite and other healthy ingredients
[40:24] Ben’s Ambronite Concoction
[47:35] End of Podcast
Ben: Hey, it’s Ben Greenfield. I was in bed last night reading Men’s Journal Magazine and I came across a story about this cutting edge meal replacement called Soylent, and you’re actually going to learn a little bit why you may want to avoid that stuff like the plague in today’s podcast. But before we jump in to that, I wanna give a shout out and tell you about a few of today’s sponsors.
First of all, this podcast is brought to you by a company called Aloha which you can check out at aloha.com/ben. One of the things that Aloha makes that I’ve been experimenting with a little bit are these individual pouches of vanilla protein or chocolate protein, and this is clean pure stuff. It’s plant-based, it’s organic, dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free, GMO-free, and surprisingly, it does not actually taste like cardboard despite being free of all those things. Doesn’t have anything artificial. There aren’t fillers, additives, chemical flavors or colors or anything else that you might find in the average protein powder from say, GNC or Walmart or Super Supplements or wherever you happen to be getting your protein.
So protein is a known appetite satiator. Of course, it strengthens muscles and yes, I did just make up that word, satiator, and each pouch of the Aloha stuff has 18 grams of clean, real wholefood plant-based protein and about 150 calories. You get a free trial of it while supplies last which will probably not be long because billions of people around the globe listen to this podcast. It’s at aloha.com/ben, that’s aloha.com/ben and that’s where you can go to get your free trial of goodness from aloha.com.
But oh, there is much more goodness that you can get because this podcast is also brought to you by Nuts. Nuts.com is where I get my dried fruit, my chia seeds, my brazil nuts, my dried mangoes- yes, I actually do eat dried mangoes despite being one of those low carb guys, I do enjoy my tasty dried fruit every now and again. So right now, you get 4 free samples. You get to choose from over 50 different options. That’s a $15 value when you go to nuts.com/fitness. That’s nuts.com/fitness. This stuff ships quick. It arrives straight to your door. They have incredibly nutritious nuts that haven’t had the heck roasted out of them or had a bunch of sugars and vegetable oils added to them like the stuff you get from the bulk food section of your local average grocery store. So check ém out they’ve got like certified organic, certified gluten-free, sugar-free stuff, paleo friendly stuff and you get 4 free samples like I just told you with your order. That’s nuts.com/fitness. nuts.com/fitness.
This podcast is finally brought to you by yet another tasty product. High-altitude premium coffee. Now coffee as you know is not just coffee. I’ve actually been on the road for about the past week and I had to actually pull in to McDonald’s yesterday and the day before I went to a gas station. I got coffee at both those places and it was just nasty. They say McDonald’s has good coffee but I really don’t like it. Dunkin Donuts comes kinda close to something okay. But if you want really good coffee you gotta get stuff that’s grown at a high altitude that’s sourced from a single estate coffee plantation that has deep robust flavors and complex nutty flavors.
And that’s exactly what Kimera Koffee is. You can check it out at K-i-m-e-r-a K-o-f-f-e-e dot com. I make it in the French press; it tastes freaking amazing! But the cool thing is that unlike any coffee on the face of the planet, they’ve infused it with 725 milligrams of a proprietary and nootropic blend, that means your coffee has like smart drugs added to it. So you get a delicious bold cup of coffee that has things like DMAE, L-Theanine, taurine and alpha GPC and also tastes freaking fantastic. So you get 10% off this stuff. How? You go to kimerakoffee.com that’s k-i-m-e-r-a k-o-f-f-e-e dot com. kimerakoffee.com and use discount code Ben.
So check it all out and now on to today’s podcast about why Soylent is going to kill you and the solution.
In this episode of the Ben Greenfield fitness show:
“A lucuma is a fruit from the Peruvian Andes so it’s fruit that grows in South America. It has this light orange-ish type of fruit flesh. It’s very rich in iron, calcium, phosphorous and it also has a bit of a sweet taste. It’s a leafy green that grows up north pretty abundantly and its characteristics include a stinging sensation when you pick it up. But it’s also pretty amazing in terms of nutrient qualities. For us in ambronite it’s the main source of calcium. It’s also rich in Vitamins A, Vitamin C and K and it’s also very dark green.”
He’s an expert in human performance and nutrition, voted America’s top personal trainer and one of the globe’s most influential people in health and fitness. His show provides you with everything you need to optimize physical and mental performance. He is Ben Greenfield. “Power, speed, mobility, balance – whatever it is for you that’s the natural movement, get out there! When you look at all the studies done… studies that have shown the greatest efficacy…” All the information you need in one place, right here, right now, on the Ben Greenfield Fitness podcast.
Ben: Hey folks, its Ben Greenfield here and I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of this stuff called Soylent. Soylent. S-o-y-l-e-n-t but about 3 years ago it actually popped up in a blogpost entitled “Why I stopped eating food.” And in this post, this guy named Rob
Rhinehart introduced this special like space-agey meal replacement powder that he had formulated that he claimed among other things would allow you to be in peak mental and physical condition for less than two bucks a day, and it wouldn’t spoil for months and didn’t require refrigeration and would allow this full spectrum of nutrients to get mainlined into your blood stream without you even needing to ever poop.
So my eyebrows were a little bit raised when I heard about this stuff. And I started digging into it and sure enough this crazy formulation was revealed by a few different nutritionists, I’ll put some links to you in the show notes here later on, to have some serious issues including huge amounts of maltodextrin-based sugar, oxidized vegetable oils, soy lecithin, sucralose artificial sweeteners, rancid fish oil and a bunch of other issues.
So it’s kind of a bummer that that didn’t turn out to work out the whole Soylent thing. But at the same time as a guy who is a global traveler and a busy man and always kinda looking for better living through science, I’m still kind of intrigued with the concept of having something on hand, like in your bag or in your pantry or somewhere that could, if you need to deliver all your nutrients in just like one shot and could be easy to transport, and would cost maybe less than five bucks a serving and would be environmentally friendly and wouldn’t necessarily be like a McDonald’s cheeseburger that will actually sit in your pantry for years without degrading. Try it sometime, you’ll be amazed but would actually be healthy for you.
So recently, I posted to Instagram a photo of me completing this brutal Spartan Agoge- this 48 plus hour race in 38 degrees below zero and I mentioned that instead of using the standard military MRE’s, I was experimenting with this kinda soylent – esque, almost like a healthy version of soylent meal replacement called Ambronite. And Ambronite is something that I discovered when I was in Finland a few months ago speaking at a Biohacking Conference in Finland. So first of all, what’s in this stuff is oats, all the stuff is organic by the way, oats, coconut, lucuma, chlorella, bilberry, sea-buckthorn, brown rice protein, stinging nettle, rice bran, nutritional yeast, spinach, spirulina, almond flaxseed, apple, mineral salt, brazil nut and black currant.
So, I wanted to delve into meal replacement for you. Talk about how stuff like this is made, how it could sit on your shelf, if it’s healthy if it sits on your shelf, why it’s in powder form? Why stuff like this includes certain ingredients? What you can mix it with besides water and kinda everything that goes into creating something like a meal replacement powder, and whether or not you should even be drinking this kind of stuff.
So I decided to get the guy who helped invent this Ambronite stuff on the podcast. His name is Simo, and I’m not even gonna try to pronounce Simo’s last name because it’s Finnish and because I have yet to become fluent in Finnish. I’ll let him do that for you in a moment but he’s a pretty cool guy. I had plenty of time to hang out with him and even do some wild food foraging with him when I was over in Finland last year for the Biohackers Summit. Simo is an entrepreneur. He’s a foodie. He’s a crowd-funding jedi. Actually the Indigogo project for Ambronite set a new crowd-funding world record and he’s a self-described serial optimist. He’s a hiker. He’s a wild forager. He’s a speaker. He’s a global adventurer and really just a fun guy and I’m pleased and honored to have him on the show today. So Simo, welcome to the Ben Greenfield Fitness podcast.
Simo: Thank you, Ben. It’s amazing to be a part of this.
Ben: Yeah. I’m stoked to have you on the show. And by the way, how do you pronounce your last name just in case people wanna goggle-stalk you.
Simo: (laughs) My name is Simo Suoheimo. So S-u-o-h-e-i-m-o. Yes.
Ben: Suoheimo. Cool. And by the way, if you’re listening in I’ve got the show notes all up for everything Simo and I talked about over at bengreenfield fitness.com/ambronitepodcast. That’s ambronite, it’s a-m-b-r-o-n-i-t-e kinda just like it sounded like bengreenfieldfitness.com/ambronitepodcast. And by the way Simo, I think Ambronite sounds like some kind of like a rare geological formation or rock rather than a meal replacement.
Simo: (laughs) It does definitely have this type of a super mineral, super resource kind of thing into it.
Ben: Right. Like cryptonite. So anyways though, what I’m curious about first before we even talk about Ambronite and meal replacement powders and stuff. One of the things I was struck with while I was in Finland was how people seems so much more open to the idea of wild foraging and plant foods and wild plant extracts, and you were actually telling me an interesting story right before we start recording about how you just came back from a swimming, out in the sea and you guys do smoke saunas and this it seems like a very different environment over there. Why do you think that is? And also please do include your story about this ice swimming.
Simo: (giggles) Yeah. Totally. So (chuckles) as I was just telling you I just came back from a summer cottage in central Finland where we did 5 days of pretty intense ice swimming and saunas and just hiking at the forest and stuff, so I think all of that is pretty much ingrained in the Nordic mentality and in the culture and foraging, and the deep connection to nature are deeply rooted in us in the Nordics and in Finland. As a matter of fact, foraging is actually a public right, it’s even legally a part of the legal system that you can forage, you can fish all year round even on private lands. So it’s a very, very essential part of who we are.
Ben: That’s why that was really interesting when you and I were there down a park and we were picking nettles, and I think we were picking some buckthorn and we’re finding a bunch of things to take back to this dinner that we were gonna have for the biohackers summit later that night. But we’re just like literally walking through what seem like people’s backyards almost just grabbing things to eat growing straight out of the ground.
Simo: Yeah, that’s right! We found some good nettles, some mushrooms as well, some of the natural reserves in Finland are among the purest in the world and the parks and the natural reserves are pretty vast. So…
Ben: Yeah, and this ice swimming concept. We also did a little bit of that one when we’re over there and they heated rocks all night long and put them in this giant smoke sauna, and we basically I think we were with 20 other people, and modesty seems a bit of a different consideration in Finland than in the US but we all just men and women, we all just stripped down completely naked and we sat in the smoke sauna, and then we went and jumped into the icy Baltic Sea. Is that something special that we did or is that something you mentioned that you guys do quite a bit over there?
Simo: It was a special treat we did but it’s very commonplace here. I do it every week basically. It’s something that people truly cherish here, just combining sauna and swimming whatever the season.
Ben: Have you seen the longevity research on sauna use and the Finnish people?
Simo: I’ve seen some of it, yes.
Ben: Yeah, it’s really interesting; it shows that the Finnish-men, specifically, who do this sauna practice 4-5 times a week have a significant improvement in longevity, I mean like years. It’s really crazy.
Simo: Yeah, the hard benefits really seem to be there. Yeah.
Ben: Yeah. So how’d you get into nutrition? I mean, tell me the story about Ambronite and how this stuff came to be designed?
Simo: So initially we created Ambronite for ourselves, with me and a bunch of my friends who were living a very active lifestyle. Anything from climbing to marathons and combining that with a pretty busy schedule. We just got fed up with the supplements essentially as a means of solving healthy eating on the go and in a busy situation. So we started to look at the kitchens. We’re all foodies, we love to grate ingredients ranging from nuts to berries and herbs and we just started thinking like hey, maybe we could create a food of the future out of the stuff that we all really love. Real food ingredients that would fulfill the entire nutrition recommendation. And I’m a very, very passionate hiker and a nature lover myself. I’ve guided people on hikes above the Polar circle and done everything from Alpine climbing to self-supported ski expeditions and food has definitely played an essential part of that in optimizing performance. And that’s how it all started.
Ben: So with the creation of this I mean, obviously I’ve been out foraging with you, I know that you know your way around the forest pretty well when it comes to identifying and picking plants and stuff like that. Were you and your friends already at the point or we’re you just like taking a bunch of wild plants and some of these foods that you found in Finland and just like combining them in blenders and Ziploc bags and stuff like that and taking them out there with you on these expeditions?
Simo: We were, yes. I’ve been doing that ever since I was a kid. My grandparents used to take me out foraging ever since I was 5 or 6. So it’s definitely been.
Ben: That’s so cool.
Simo: (chuckles) It’s definitely been a big part of me growing up as well. So some of the earlier stuff that we used in these super food mixes in our drinkable meals were the berries that we would find here starting from bilberries and sea buckthorns and black currants, so those have definitely been a big part of the recipe ever since we began.
Ben: Well, me and I know a lot of our listeners get a little bit concerned when we see something in a bag that advertises itself as having all these superfoods in like a powder-based form; you always wonder whether what’s in there is actually what label says is in there and how the heck it can be healthy if it can sit in your shelf for a while. So how did you guys take all these plants and foods and actually figure out how to turn them into a powder? Was this like making a mess in your kitchen? Did you guys have to bring experts on board? I mean like, what was the actual evolution of the product?
Simo: That’s a great question. So essentially we chose powdering because of the superior versatility and the way that it can preserve the nutrients within. And we contacted some people up north who were working on turning bilberries into powders that are superiorly pure, and many of those companies and the farms who were already doing that had a pretty significant expertise in that sense. So we did find some experts to help us find good powder ingredients.
Ben: What’s a bilberry?
Simo: So bilberry’s essentially a wild blueberry but the main difference there is that the taste and the nutrient density and the orac values of antioxidants are simply through the roof compared to a traditional blueberry.
Simo: So the Latin name of the bilberry is vaccinium myrtillus which is different from the North American blueberry.
Ben: Okay got it. So you found experts there in Finland who already had been kinda like perfecting the process of taking bilberries and turning them into a powder?
Simo: Yes. And the same goes for different types of berries because many of these are so nutrient that they’re actually being used in medical research, and in the search for other useful compounds within so they had pretty long and good background in really preserving these wonders.
Ben: One of the ways that I’ve seen foods turned into powders before is like the pretty harsh heat drying process that tends to degrade or oxidize a lot of the nutrients. So how has powdering something like let’s say, a bilberry for example the process that they’re using in Finland like is that a heat oxidizing process, I mean how do you actually get a bilberry into a powder form that’s not gonna say like spoil on the shelf?
Simo: So the process that they use is not a heat oxidizing process. They don’t heat the berries above 42 Celsius centigrade; instead they can be for example spray dried through a very, very thin mesh which doesn’t heat up the bilberries at all. Instead they are dried in mid-air so to speak during this spray drying process.
Ben: Okay got it. And so you figured out how to use this process with a bunch of different foods. I’m curious though I mean, I obviously went through into the laundry list a little bit earlier in everything from coconut to chlorella to nettle. Why did you choose this specific range of foods that you chose to put in ambronite?
Simo: That’s a great question. So every single food that we used in ambronite plays a certain part in terms of either on the macro or the micro nutrient side. For example, the nuts that we use provide the fatty acid profile, the great fatty acids that we have. On the other hand, we have the herbs and the berries coming in on the micro nutrient side. So it was essentially a big process of understanding the different components and the bio availability of different grade ingredients that we could find in nature and combining that with the latest nutritional science and that’s kind of in a nutshell the method how we created the drinkable meal to be compete.
Ben: Gotcha. Now when a meal, when a powder like this has to sit on a shelf right, because I have ambronite I’ve obviously been using it, posted on Instagram multiple times, I’ve been throwing it down during hikes and during events like this Agoge. I’m curious compared to just like going out and say picking wild nettles or bilberries, putting it in a Ziploc bag and taking them out there with you and whatever, boiling water and making a meal with those. How much of the nutritional integrity is compromised when you actually turn something into a powder that’s able to sit on a shelf? I mean, how much do you actually lose? Because it just seems strange to me that you could be able to maintain everything that a food has to offer inside of a powder that can be shipped and that can you know sit in your pantry.
Simo: So the main threat there to the nutrients is obviously heating up. If the product is heated, we’re losing a lot, we’re seeing a lot of saturation in the fats and the big loss on the micronutrient side so instead we strive to heat treat as little as possible. And most of our ingredients are not heat treated at all. Instead, the powdering and the sealing and the hermetically sealed bag which is completely airtight and also has a special layer which prevents gas leakage is enough to ensure the purity of the products. Of course, over time for example the fatty acids do saturate a bit, so there is a bit of a loss over time but in creating ambronite we took that into account and that’s why we currently have very long shelf lives even though we don’t use any artificial preservatives in the product.
Ben: What’s the shelf life?
Simo: So right now it’s a shelf life of 1 year, 12 months. And we’re working that up to longer lengths in the future versions as well.
Ben: Okay gotcha. I wanna ask you a few questions about this stuff this too because I’ve noticed a few specific things that you’ve done with the ingredients. First of all, the coconut. I’m a big fan of coconut but I noticed that you guys source your coconuts from the Philippines, and I’m curious why you chose the Philippines in terms of where you’re getting the coconut source of this and whether the coconuts, if that’s like a powdered coconut fat, if you’re putting like a dried coconut water in there? Like why are the coconuts in there? Why are they sourced from where they’re sourced?
Simo: So when it comes to the ingredients that we use, we really want to know the source and are very transparent about that. So one of our sourcing partners who we know personally specialized in touring the world and getting to know the people who actually produced the ingredients that we also use in ambronite.
Ben: Dude, that’s the job this person has is to just travel around the world?
Simo: Exactly, it’s a big passion of his (laughs).
Ben: Sounds like a fun job (chuckles).
Simo: It totally is, he’s a really cool guy. He’s called Lassa and he’s not only travelling the world and getting to know the sources but really getting to know the people behind the products and getting to know their families and visiting them on a regular basis.
Ben: Did I meet him when I was over there in Finland?
Simo: I think you might have met him actually as part of the biohacking conference.
Ben: Yeah. I met so many people from ambronite there at the conference ‘çoz a lot of you guys like the house that I was living in it had some of your employees there, and it was actually crazy to attest to your guys physical activity, there were like gymnastic rings hanging from the ceiling and there were like Concept 2 rowing machines in the living room instead of couches. It was a relatively active household I felt right at home down to the sauna in the laundry room. But basically so this guy travels around the globe, he sources his ingredients but the coconuts why the Philippines when it comes to the coconuts?
Simo: So the coconuts of origin which was chosen by knowing the family and knowing the farm. It was chosen because Lassa had pretty long history of playing these different coconut sources off against each other and finding the good ones. And we essentially went with his expertise on this. So the stuff that we get from the Philippines and the coconuts, there are coconut flakes and we’ve also ran them through third party tests and notice that the coconuts that we managed to source from there are especially fresh and the freshness plays a big part in ambronite obviously because the shell stability has to be top notch and…
Simo: And that’s just identified as a high quality source that can provide us with the type of coconut we need.
Ben: That’s one thing that I’ve noticed because I’ve been ordering your stuff pretty much since I got back from Finland, and I noticed that sometimes the flavor profile seems to change a little bit. And I think the way that you explained that to me was that you guys are having to is that you switch up the sourcing of the ingredients or why is it that that flavor profile is changing a little bit from batch to batch?
Simo: So it’s caused by the fact that the actual food and the actual crops are different and they do have their own subtle differences. Much of it comes down to the fact that whenever we produce, we want to use the freshest ingredients available and that depending on the season the taste might also vary a bit. But of course, as with the newest batch which is from our new version 4 recipe, we also did add some of the arctic berries – some more arctic berries into the recipe for more of a berry twist.
Ben: What are arctic berries?
Simo: For example the bilberries that we use, we added a bit of those into the mix.
Ben: Okay. So it’s a berry that grows in like an Arctic region like Finland?
Simo: Yeah. Just like we talked. It’s one of the typical domestic berries that are used by everyone’s grandparents and for a millennium before that. But it’s also one of the most potent super foods in terms of their nutrient density. I mean, when it comes to the coconuts and the coconut flour, it does have a natural creaminess that it brings into the mix and of course, each of these ingredients tastes as the latest crop turns out, so those are definitely big factors when we use these ingredients.
Ben: One of the things that we did when I was over in Finland, I don’t know if you remember it at this dinner that we had at one of the houses, I don’t recall whether you were there or not but we had this deep, deep orange stuff, I think we mixed it with vodka actually and put it in a shot.
Ben: But it is dark, dark orange antioxidant rich stuff and Teemu, the guy who puts on this biohacking conferences around the world, and by the way, if you’re listening in I’ll put a link in the show notes but there’s one upcoming in Finland again, there’s another in London. Go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/ambronitepodcast, if you wanna check out these awesome biohacking conferences that Teemu puts on. But he has like dropper bottles and he has like these tinctures and he has little alcohols and stuff like that, he was making these shots and it was sea buckthorn I believe was the name of this stuff that he was putting into the shot glasses, and I noticed you guys have it all over Finland and also that it’s an ingredient in ambronite. What is it about sea buckthorn that makes it so special or make it like an ingredient that you’d include in ambronite or in a good shot?
Simo: So (laughs) the reason why it’s one of the ambronite ingredients and also part of the shot that you were just describing is the amazing Vitamin C content. So sea buckthorns are among the most Vitamin C rich berries and plants on the whole planet, so they’re especially valuable on that sense but also they do pack a punch when it comes to Omegas and the healthy fatty acids especially the Omega 7s.
Ben: Omega 7. You hear a lot of people talking about Omega 3 and Omega 6. What are Omega 7?
Simo: So Omega 7 is palmitoleic acid and it’s contained in sea buckthorns, in the seeds of the sea buckthorns. So even in the shot that was just described, whenever you make a smoothie or whenever you break the surface of the sea buckthorn, you can actually see that there is an oily part in the berry as well and it’s a pretty rare berry in the sense that it has both of these qualities, both the fatty acid richness as well as the Vitamin C content which is pretty epic.
Ben: Okay, got it. So you say you’ve got Omega 7, you’ve got huge amounts of Vitamin C. Anything else about this one?
Simo: Also a bit of Vitamin K.
Simo: Potassium, magnesium which help you get over the hangovers, so it should be part of any biohackers’ vodka blending kit.
Ben: That’s interesting. That’s a little bit rare to have a plant that’s rich in Vitamin K as you probably know typically it’s like fermented soybean like natto or a probiotic that you would get the Vitamin K from. That’s interesting. That’s kinda cool.
Simo: Exactly. It is and as you could also tell by tasting sea buckthorns that you’re definitely dealing with something very special when you give it a taste.
Ben: Yeah, the first one I tasted was right when I arrived in Finland I was walking along the coast there and there was like this little produce tents set up and they had all sorts of like wild plants that they brought down straight from the mountains and one of them was bilberry I tried a few and they’re yeah, incredibly tart but really unique taste. So that’s interesting and I think that’s cool that you guys included them in there. I just think it’s cool that a lot of these stuff is a powder of Finland because a lot of these stuff is straight from these Arctic regions that you’re surrounded by which it’s kinda cool, it gives you quite a bit of character and good flavor too.
Another substance that I wanted to ask you about that’s in there is lucuma. L-u-c-u-m-a. What is lucuma and why is that in there?
Simo: So a lucuma is a fruit from the Peruvian Andes. It’s a fruit that grows in South America. It has this light orange-ish type of fruit flesh. And it’s very rich in iron, calcium, phosphorous and it also has a bit of a sweet taste to it without being over sugary, so that’s one of the fruits that we included there also as a part of the taste profile in ambronite.
Ben: Okay. Got it. And then another one I wanted to ask you about and then what I’m gonna do is put a full list of ingredients in the show notes if people wanna explore a lot of this stuff which they probably already know about like everybody knows what brazil nuts and spinach are for example. But there was one other in there, I believe it was the stinging nettle. Can you tell me about that one?
Simo: Absolutely, as you remember we picked up some stinging nettles for the feast last time you were over here. It’s a leafy green that grows up north pretty abundantly and its characteristics include a stinging sensation when you pick it up. But it’s also pretty amazing in terms of nutrient qualities. For us in ambronite it’s the main source of calcium in the recipe. It’s also rich in Vitamins A, Vitamin C and K and it’s also very dark green as you can remember and has very distinct taste.
Simo: Much of that comes from the chlorophyll content that’s also one of its characteristics.
Ben: I think that’s really interesting for a couple of reasons. First of all, the stinging nettle, I remember one thing we did with it with all the stinging nettle that we picked as we were foraging there in Finland was and I’ve never done this before, but I’ve done it now with my kids ‘çoz we found wild nettle growing in the forest outside our house, now that I know how to identify it after coming back from Finland. We fry it and salt it. You can actually fry it in a little bit of olive oil for example and it’s crunchy like a kale chip and then you can add salt to it and it’s a wonderful flavor. But then the other thing that I think is interesting in terms of the nettle is a lot of times you’ll see this added to like hormonal balancing compounds, like a lot of testosterone enhancing supplements for men have this stinging nettle in it. Is that of the same variety?
Simo: I believe it can be the same variety as well. I think much of it comes down to the chlorophyll content although I’m not particularly sure why they added to many of these products as you mentioned.
Ben: Interesting because the chlorophyll, and this was research I believe Sayer Ji who runs a really good website about plant-based research, and I’ll link to it in the show notes. He released an article last year about how the chlorophyll content in blood stream, in human blood when combined with sunlight can actually assist with ATP production in the absence of calories. Meaning, if you have a high amount of chlorophyll in your blood stream you can actually produce ATP in a very similar manner as like a plant would use a chlorophyll-type of mechanism to produce energy. Super interesting. I think it’s one of the reasons why people who eat a lot of wild plants like this can still have lot of energy with at first glance what would appear to be a very low amount of calories.
Simo: I think that’s super interesting research and shedding light on why, it really does count whether or not your diet includes wild plants and foraged plants versus cultivated ones.
Ben: Yeah. Now one of the things that I do and I’ve talked about this on the podcast before as I do a lot of carbohydrate back loading or cyclic ketosis, cyclic carbohydrate diets where I’ll save the majority of my carbohydrates for the end of the day. And so I’ll generally eat more of a ketogenic fat-rich plant-based diet for the majority of the day, you know. Coconut milk and coconut oil, seeds, nuts, olives, olive oil, a little bit of fatty fish, things like that.
Ambronite is not ketogenic per se. It does have obviously, it has things like oats in it for example, a complex carbohydrate and you have like a whole grain brown rice in there and some other things that wouldn’t necessarily make this like a ketogenic, low carb supplement per se. But at the same time I’ve been using it again for my workouts, my competitions etcetera, and one of the things that I’ve been doing besides just mixing it with water is to add other components, like I’ll rip open a packet and I’ll dump it in a bowl like cereal, add just a little bit of water to make it almost like a paste and then I’ll throw in like a handful of frozen blueberries, and a handful of like almonds for some crunch or some dark cacao nibs, stuff like that. I know when I was walking around with you it seem like you were constantly just sipping it out of a water bottle. But I’m curious you know, for people who might get their hands on this stuff, what you found people are doing with it in addition to just mixing it with water. Like are there some other recipes that you found that your fans and your users are using this stuff for that you can share with the listeners?
Simo: Absolutely, people had been extremely creative with using the powder for their own recipes. Some of my own personal favorites include the avocado recipes that people use while blending with ambronite. As well as throwing in the blueberries as you mentioned. Bilberries definitely one of my big favorites. I use bilberries that I’ve hand-picked almost every day in some type of a smoothie. Also lingonberries is a big one when you want to bring up the flavor and add an extra boost especially for your mornings. Some of the other recipes that people share include for example adding apple juice before a workout because you can use the extra carbs before working out and having an ambronite. For example, while leaving your office enroute to an exercise. Of course honey is also a big one, cinnamon. People are doing all kinds of weird and delicious recipes out of it.
Ben: I like the avocado and that’s something I’ve been doing is avocado, a little bit of vanilla and cinnamon and then I use a dark cacao powder and then I put the ambronite in and mix that all up and it’s literally like chocolate pudding.
Now granted don’t laugh but I, like many of our listeners, I don’t eat a lot of carbohydrates in the morning. So I don’t have ambronite that often in the morning. But I will have that for dinner like what I just described. I would have like a chocolate avocado coconutty pudding for dinner made with ambronite. And for me like especially on a busy evening or an evening where maybe I wanna be working during dinner and just like eating something out of a spoon as I you know, catch up on emails or write a blogpost or something like that, I mean it works perfectly and it’s giving me pretty much everything except obviously there’s not meat in there, like this is completely vegan slash vegetarian but it’s still pretty much a full nutrition profile.
Simo: Oh definitely is. And even though it’s a vegan product, we really paid a lot of attention and the versatility and also in the sense that it can serve as any meal of the day because it is a full meal, as you know.
Ben: Yeah, I get called out for that sometimes by my wife when I have smoothies for dinner. But I do it. It works.
And that’s something else I wanted to ask you about. So it’s 500 calories in a packet but have you done, I mean did you guys just throw all these stuff together or did you specifically choose like a specific macro-nutrient ratio in terms of carb-protein-fat ratios.
Simo: We did choose a specific macro ratio. It’s about 32% fat, 24% protein and the rest from carbs. The reason we included a lot of the fats and protein there is obviously that they do serve a major satiety effect in the product as well as the amount of soluble and non-soluble fibers are also a big part of that. And the idea behind the product is indeed to be a full meal, and therefore we also included the carbs in there and didn’t want to create a ketogenic product but rather out of exceptional ingredients.
Ben: Yeah, it’s not very sweet though. There’s actually not any maltodextrin or I don’t even think you have Stevia or anything in there, do you?
Simo: We don’t. That’s definitely part of the philosophy that we also set out to create because we really wanted the product to taste of the great ingredients that we put in rather than making it into a triple glazed artificially flavored chocolate smoothie.
Simo: We’re really proud of the stuff that we have in there and we also want our customers and fans to taste them.
Ben: I actually, speaking of ketosis I have and like you mentioned the product is only 32% fat but I’ve been able to get into ketosis using it. And the way that I’ve done that for those biohackers out there who wanna (giggles) get cake and eat it too, is I’ve used exogenous ketones and a C8 form of medium chain triglycerides called brain octane. And I’ll put about 1-2 tablespoons of brain octane in with the ambronite, and then a spoonful of what are called beta-hydroxybutyrate salts which is like an exogenous ketone. For that one I use this stuff made by a company called Pruvit. P-r-u-v-i-t.
I’ll put a link for those of you listening in to an article I wrote. And then I tested my blood ketone values and I was actually able to get about 2.5 millimolar for blood ketone after consuming the ambronite and granted this was in the evening I’ve done an exercise session but by adding the C8 MCT’s and the ketones to the ambronite, I was able to actually consume the product and then also tap in to all the cognitive enhancing benefits of ketosis. So for those of you biohackers out there, feel free to jump in to the comments section for the show notes to this episode if you wanna chat a little bit more about that, but I’ll try and put a few helpful links for you and there’s another recipe for you too, Simo.
Simo: Massive! (laughs) I think that’s something that we get asked a lot and I’m glad you shared that, Ben because I think the main thing here is that we really wanted to keep the amount of fructose and the amount of sugars in ambronite to a minimum and yeah, I’m really glad you shared that point. I think that’s a great point for all the biohackers out there and the community as well.
Ben: Well it’s something that I like too because I simply do not really appreciate products that try to appeal to the Western pallet by making things far more sweet. I like that your guys – it’s almost a little bit kinda like, I guess nutty kinda like creamy nutty. I suppose that’s probably from the coconuts and the almonds, and stuff like that but it’s good stuff. I like it.
So in terms of how you guys work, from a food production and a business standpoint, what is it that influences you, I mean earlier in the podcast you mentioned you’re on your like your fourth, I think you said your fourth generation or your batch of ambronite.
Ben: What is it that you look at when you’re changing a flavor profiles, ingredients etcetera. What are you looking at and how are you effecting changes in the actual product as you go along?
Simo: So Ben we work with lots of cool people as you know, people from sailing the Atlantic Ocean races solo to climbing mountains and to anyone who’s working intensely on their own stuff like building company or what not, so we get a lot of feedback on the usability, on the taste, on a variety of different of things. So what we’re right now looking at is into improving the usability even more in terms of making the product easier to mix on the go.
So ambronite is mixed with some 5- 6 deciliters of water, so you don’t need any heating but the quality of the ingredients and their particle size has a major effect on the mouth feel as you know. So for example, that is one of the aspects that we’re looking at for future versions and some other things include of course the availability of the ingredients. That’s definitely a big one because we use very precious stuff in the product obviously and also want to make sure that we only use ingredients that we can provide sustainably and that the availability is there.
Ben: Got it. Cool. I love it. Are you guys gonna be at the next biohackers summit in Helsinki?
Simo: We’re definitely gonna be there.
Ben: Okay cool.
Simo: Hoping to see you there as well.
Ben: Yeah. What about the one in London?
Simo: Yeah. I’m personally going there as well.
Ben: You are? Okay, sweet. I’ll see you there and I’ll put a link in the show notes too for people and their pretty fun conferences like I mentioned, where you can taste plenty of good foods including this ambronite stuff.
Also for people listening in, you can get a 15% discount on ambronite. Two ways, you can just go to the show notes. To access this the article on chlorophyll I mentioned, the stuff about exogenous ketones, the biohackers conference, all that stuff. I’ll put links over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/ambronitepodcast that’s bengreenfieldfitness.com/ambronitepodcast. If you wanna check out that stuff and then you can also go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/ambronite, if you just wanna straight on to the website where you can get a discount on the stuff.
One last question for you, of course the most important question, Simo. Like I mentioned earlier, the word ambronite reminds me of some kind of a rock. What does ambronite mean? Why did you choose this title?
Simo: (laughs) So the name ambronite comes from Greek mythology. So the Greek a word ambrosia comes from the word meaning, the food or the nectar of the gods that the Greek gods enjoyed on the Mount Olympus for everlasting life. We thought of that myth and thought of bringing that back to everyday life of top performers in the form of amazing natural ingredients. That’s how the name got picked.
Ben: I like it. I like it a lot more than soylent too by the way.
Simo: (laughs) Yeah this one is ancient wisdom for modern day man.
Ben: I love it. Well, very cool. Simo, thanks for coming on the show and sharing this with folks.
And again if you’re listening in go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/ambronitepodcast if you wanna try some of this stuff for yourself. And also try and join us over in Finland or London if you get a chance.
So Simo, thanks for coming on man.
Simo: Thanks, Ben. Always a pleasure. Let’s do some ice swimming and foraging on our next adventure as well.
Ben: I’m all in. Let’s do it. So folks, this is Ben Greenfield and Simo from Ambronite signing out from bengreenfieldfitness.com. Have a healthy week.
You've been listening to the Ben Greenfield Fitness podcast. Go to bengreenfieldfitness.com for even more cutting-edge fitness and performance advice.
Ever heard of Soylent?
Three years ago, it popped up on a blog post entitled “Why I Stopped Eating Food“, and in it, author Rob Rinehart introduced a special meal replacement powder he had formulated that he claimed, among other things, would allow you to be in peak mental and physical condition for less than $2/day, would not spoil for months, does not require refrigeration, and would allow a full spectrum of nutrients to get mainlined into your bloodstream without you even needing to poop.
Needless to say, my eyebrow was raised when I first heard about the stuff.
And sure enough, the crazy, space-age formulation was later revealed to have some serious issues, including huge amounts of maltodextrin sugar, oxidized vegetable oils, huge amounts of soy lecithin, sucralose artificial sweetener, rancid fish oil and much more.
But at the same time, as a global traveler and busy man, I’m still intrigued with the concept of having something that delivers all your nutrients in one shot, is easy to transport, costs less than five bucks a serving and is environmentally friendly. And that was why, when I reported on what I used to fuel my body during the recent, brutal Spartan Agoge crucible, I mentioned that I was experimenting with a fast, drinkable (or eatable) meal replacement called “Ambronite“.
Here are the ingredients in Ambronite:
-organic brown rice protein
-organic stinging nettle
-organic rice bran
-organic brazil nut
Simo Suoheimo, is the co-founder of Ambronite, my guest on today’s podcast, and a guy I had plenty of time to hang out with when I was in Finland last year for the Biohackers Summit. He is an entrepreneur, foodie, crowdfunding jedi (Ambronite set a new crowdfunding world record for a food product IndieGoGo), and self-described “serial optimist”. He is an avid hiker, forager, speaker and avid global adventurer on a quest to unlimit life and help people exceed themselves.
During our discussion, you’ll discover:
-Simo’s weekly practice of “ice swimming” and why he does it…
-Why you can pick edible, wild foods just about anywhere in Finland…
-The one berry that has dozens of times the nutrient density of a blueberry…
-How to turn a food into a powder without oxidizing it or exposing it to harsh heat…
-How to make a meal replacement powder that can sit on a shelf, without compromising nutritional integrity…
-The reason that the flavor of a meal replacement powder might change from batch to batch…
-A berry that, unlike most fruits, contains high amounts of vitamin K…
-How to use Ambronite for ketosis…
-And much more!
Resources from this episode:
-The Biohacker’s Summit in Helsinki, Finland. Discover the latest in wearables, internet of things, digital health, and mobile apps to increase performance, be healthier, stay fit, and get more done. Learn about taking food, preparation, cooking, and eating to the next level with the latest science and kitchen chemistry. Even delve into implanted chips, gene therapy, bionic arms, biometric shirts, robotic assistants, and virtual reality. Two days with an amazing crowd and a closing party with upgraded DJs to talk about. Click here to get in now at a 40% discount.
Do you have questions, comments or feedback for Simu or I about Ambronite or anything else we discuss in this episode? Leave your thoughts below and one of us will reply! Finally below are the Ambronite ingredient details…
Oats (Avena sativa) are a great source of complex carbohydrates which help to maintain normal blood sugar and sustained-release energy. They are rich in minerals such as manganese, molybdenum, phosphorus and magnesium as well as several B-group vitamins. Unlike many other plants oats contain soluble fibres called β-glucans that slow down energy release during digestion. Oats also contain essential polyunsaturated omega fatty acids. We use oats that have been flattened, pre-cooked, dried and milled into a fine powder to ensure cold-water solubility and the bioavailability of nutrients. Our oats are grown in Finland.
Almonds (Prunus amygdalus) are a good source of vitamin E and have a good fatty acid profile of mono- and polyunsaturated essential fats. They also contain over 20g of protein per 100g as well as significant amounts of micronutrients like magnesium, calcium, copper, manganese, potassium and biotin. Besides almonds contain several non-vital but useful substances including polyphenols and phytosterols. Almonds are blanched before milling. The variety of almonds is Valencias and they come from organic producers in Spain.
Whole grain brown rice (Oryza sativa) is used as a source of protein. The protein is extracted from the bio-fermented and sprouted whole grain rice in low-temperatures using plant-based enzymes to sustain all natural micronutrients. Rice is grown on pure soil in Vietnam or Cambodia and the protein manufactured in modern facilities in China. Production is done using 100% natural processes without any nasty additives or pesticides. This brown rice protein has an excellent amino acid profile and up to 89% of protein. It contains eight out of nine essential amino acids and nine nonessential amino acids as well as a good amount of essential minerals such as iron.
Coconut (Cocos nucifera) is rich in minerals containing magnesium, potassium, zinc, iron and calcium. It also has trace amounts of several B vitamins. Because of the fibre-richness and low glycemic index coconut provides stable energy without sugar-crash. Besides nutrition coconut brings natural sweetness and creaminess to the recipe. The coconut flour we use comes from organic farmers in Philippines which is the largest coconut producer in the world after Indonesia and India.
Flaxseed is a functional food, and a rich source of fiber-related compounds called lignans. Lignans are unique polyphenols that possess hypoglycemic, hypolipidemic and powerful antioxidant properties. Flaxseeds are the number one source of omega-3 fatty acid, which is known to be important for human brain function. On average, 100 grams of flaxseed amount to 28 grams of fiber, 41 grams of fats and 20 grams of protein.
Lucuma (Pouteria lucuma) has significant amounts of B vitamins as well as iron, calcium and phosphorus. It also contains β-Carotene which is a pre-form of vitamin A. The low glycemic index makes lucuma a good source of stable energy from carbohydrates. Besides nutrition the fruit adds nice flavor the recipe. The fruit origins from the Peruvian andes and that also where we source our lucuma.
Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) is a particularly great source of calcium as well as many other micronutrients such as vitamins A, C and K. This rare herb is almost five times richer in calcium than regular milk. It also contains significant amount of chlorophyll which is a non-essential but beneficial phytonutrient also known as the green pigment found in plants. Nettle grows wild and takes very little to cultivate making it sustainable source of nutrition. It also adds mild herbal flavour to the recipe. We use nettle grown in Finland or Hungary depending on the availability.
Apple (Malus domestica) contains vitamin C and has high fiber content. Its peel is high in antioxidants, polyphenols and phytochemicals. We use an apple powder made from complete organic apples with peel, from US or Europe, depending on availability and quality. Being a minor compound in the recipe, its main role is taste, blending well to the oats with lucuma, adding a few grams of fructose to the carbohydrate profile.
Rice bran solubles or tocotrienols are the nutritional powerhouse of the rice (Oryza sativa) grain containing significant amounts of vitamin E. Tocotrienols are also rich in protein, B-group vitamins, and selenium as well as many non-essential but beneficial substances like coenzyme Q10, alpha lipoic acid, flavonoids and glutathione peroxidase. The powder is produced by the fermentation of whole grain rice grain located between the shell and the bran, which contains nearly all the nutrients in rice. Besides nutrition rice bran solubles bring natural creaminess to the recipe. Our rice bran powder is produced in the USA.
Chlorella (Chlorella pyrenoidosa) is a single-celled freshwater algae that is full of essential nutrients. The plant contains vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, C, E, and K. In addition chlorella contains vitamin D and B12. It also contains calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, phosphorus, iodine and other minerals as well as essential amino and fatty acids. Chlorella is richer in chlorophyll than any other plant and has been considered as a complete food by some nutritionists. We use special chlorella which cell walls have been cracked using a high-pressure jet spray to improve digestibility and nutrient bioavailability. Our chlorella is cultivated in the Inner-Mongolia border of China outside large cities. The area is known for its good water quality, sufficient sunlight, non-polluted air, and abundant natural alkaline resources. Chlorella is grown inside greenhouses in pools filled with pure water from the depths of 500 meter streaming from the surrounding mountains. These conditions enable cultivation of our high-quality chlorella containing only very low-amounts of heavy-metals and other toxins. To preserve precious micronutrients for your body, our chlorella is raw and dried in controlled temperatures to avoid exposure to heat above 45 °C (113 °F). It is certified organic by accredited Ecocert certification body.
Nutritional yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) is a great source of B-complex vitamins containing naturally seven out of eight essential B vitamins. It is also rich in essential minerals such as magnesium, calcium, zinc and iron. Nutritional yeast is made out the the same species of yeast used for brewing but it is carefully deactivated and dried to keep the nutritional richness and make it easily digestible for the body. Besides essential vitamins and minerals nutritional yeast contain glutamic acid which is a non-essential amino acid important for learning and memory. Nutritional yeast also adds gentle creamy-cheesy flavour to the recipe. Our nutritional yeast is produced in Finland or USA.
Mineral salt is a good source of potassium and iodine. It also contains healthy amount of sodium to maintain good mineral balance in the body. Potassium and sodium are electrolytes that maintain the fluid balance in the body and are important for the heart, muscles and brain to function properly. Besides the contribution of essential micronutrients salt underlines the natural flavour of other ingredients.
Brazil nuts (Bertholletia excelsa) are exceptionally rich in selenium and contains good amount of other nutrients like niacin (B3), vitamin E and magnesium as well as amino acids and multiple essential fatty acids. Besides essential nutrients they contain carotenoids, phytosterols and phytic acid which are known to be beneficial for health. Brazil nuts are native to South-American rainforest. Our Brazil nuts come from Bolivia which produces approximately half of the worlds harvest.
Bilberries (Vaccinium myrtillus) are exceptionally nutritious super berries that grow wild in Northern Europe. They are rich in vitamins A and C and contain traces of several B-complex vitamins as well as multiple essential minerals such as potassium, calcium and magnesium. In addition to essential nutrients bilberries are very rich in flavonoids and have two times the amount of antioxidants than blueberries and three times that of an apple measured ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) index. The antioxidants in wild berries have shown to be bioavailable for the human body. The bilberries we use have grown wild above Polar Circle in the northern Finland, hand-picked and carefully dried and powdered in low temperatures to preserve nutrients.
Spinach (Spinacia oleracea) contains high amounts of vitamins such as vitamin A, K and folate. It is also high in iron and calcium, but also non-essential substances such as antioxidants. Our spinach powder is made by drying and milling it in low temperatures. It is organic and raw and comes from organic farms in Germany.
Blackcurrant (Ribes nigrum) is an extremely good source of vitamin C containing up to four times more of it than oranges. It also contains traces of several B-group vitamins as well as minerals magnesium, manganese, iron and calcium. Like many berries blackcurrant also hold non-essential phytonutrient polyphenols and phytosterols. It is native to northern Europe and the berries grow in a shrub. Our blackcurrant berry powder is carefully manufactured in low temperatures in Finland.
Sea-buckthorns (Hippophae rhamnoides) are one of the richest plant based sources of vitamin C and can contains even five times more of it than oranges. These small orange superberries are also dense in potassium, magnesium, calcium and phosphorus as well as vitamin K. Besides they contain non-essential but beneficial omega-7 fatty acids (palmitoleic acid) and carotenoids. Our sea-buckthorns come from Finland or Estonia.
Spirulina (Arthrospira platensis) is a nutritional powerhouse full of essential nutrients. It contains up to 71g of protein per 100g including all nine essential amino acids as well as nine non-essential. Besides it is dense in micronutrients being a rich source of six B-complex vitamins, choline, and vitamins C, E and K as well as a number of essential trace minerals such as iron, magnesium and zinc. It is also loaded with non-essential substances like chlorophyll and antioxidants. We have carefully selected the most qualified organic producer in China. The spirulina in Ambronite is cultivated in the Inner-Mongolia border of China outside large cities. The area is known for its good water quality, sufficient sunlight, non-polluted air, and abundant natural alkaline resources. Spirulina is grown inside greenhouses in pools filled with pure water from the depths of 500 meter streaming from the surrounding mountains. These conditions enable cultivation of our high-quality spirulina containing only very low-amounts of heavy-metals and other toxins. To preserve precious micronutrients for your body, our spirulina is raw and dried in controlled temperatures to avoid exposure to heat above 45 °C (113 °F). It is certified organic by accredited Ecocert certification body.