Meal replacements. It’s an arm of the food industry that has exploded in the last few years. As more & more of us are on-the-go or trying to maximize office productivity, quick & easy nutrition climb higher in demand. The problem is, most of these products are not exactly what we’d call “healthy”.
Connor Young is the founder and CEO of Ample, an up-and-coming leader in science-based meal replacement drinks. With formulations consisting of whole-food ingredients, Ample creates specific products targeting ketogenic, vegetarian, and standard diet lifestyles.
While incredibly convenient, a meal in a bottle is perhaps the poster child of "processed food". Processed food, often associated with unhealthy snacks, has almost become a hush word for the health-conscious. Connor surfaces the notion that there's a spectrum between unprocessed and processed, and that processing food isn't inherently a bad thing. An example of this is the pea protein in Ample: By processing the peas, they are able to remove problematic lectins.
As a long-time health & fitness proponent, Connor has fascinating insight into what constitutes an optimal meal replacement.
To a certain degree, everything is processed. You cooking your steak is processed. You cutting up an apple is technically processed. So ultimately, it's figuring out for each individual ingredient, what is the ideal state? Then, how do we get close to that state?
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Connor, thanks for coming on to the program.
Geoff, so thankful to be here, and I appreciate you having me on.
So we probably met now three, four years ago now at a WeWork in San Francisco when we were both just starting off on our companies. So HVMN was known as Nootrobox at the time. And I think we were a little bit ahead of you at the time. Maybe we had three, four employees. And this young dynamic man, Connor Young came into the WeWork and was very fit talking about changing nutrition. And fast forward three, four years and now that company is Ample. So very cool to see this journey.
Yeah, been fun also to see how not only you guys have, we both have evolved throughout that time. But also how the entire industry has evolved throughout that time. It's been really fascinating to see.
Maybe we should start with just painting the landscape of what nutrition, what health and wellness seem like as an industry and as a community three, four years, years ago.
Sure. I'm 30 years old right now. I graduated from college probably around eight years ago. I started a CrossFit gym, and that was in Nashville, Tennessee. So I did this crossfit gym, and then was like, "This is really cool and exciting," but also it's not scalable. I want to see how could you scale that? But I also wanted to see what the deal was with the medical industry, because obviously where we are from a health perspective I thought was one of the biggest challenges of our generation. How do we get people healthier? So that's what I set out to do, which is to just be in the business of health. Sold medical devices for a couple of years for Johnson & Johnson. But I realized that it was very reactive. From an industry, we weren't really trying to solve people's problems. We were trying to sell them expensive band aids.
So came out to San Francisco and started physical therapy patient engagement platform. And so that was around the time when actually another competitor came out. As I was starting this other company, realized most of my friends had this issue with eating healthfully. And they were like, "Well okay, you can tell me how to eat and that's fine, but I actually don't have the time to actually be able to do that on a routine basis." So although knowing what to do is important, really being able to have the tools, that's probably just as important. So they were like, "Hey, can you make something for me? Can you basically make a really quick meal, but that's also healthy?" And that's when I was like, "All right, fine, I'll give it a try." So this concept of Ample was effectively thrust upon me from my friends, which is actually in hindsight a fantastic way to start a business, when the demand was already inherent.
But the where where I was coming from and the reason why I was not happy with the industry at the time was because it felt like the vast majority of the food industry, especially the health food industry, was not actually health food. It was more just health marketing. It was starting first from a marketing perspective saying, "Hey, here's what we're currently able to do with our cost structure of having to get X or Y margins. And how do we do the minimum viable change to our product such that we can market it?" And so I said well, that's backwards. It feels like yes, that would have worked maybe 15 years ago. But now, we're in an age where people really do care about what they're eating. With the advent of the internet, but with effectively nutrition influencers being the way they are and being so powerful, you actually have a large audience of people who really does know the details.
I think the science is also accelerating.
I think the epidemiological data, the biochemical physiology data is really just showing that some of the assumptions that we had 15, 20, 30 years ago when we were creating the food pyramid. 50, 100 years ago. Yeah. That stuff is outdated. So I agree with you. I think there's just a big push. I'm just thinking when you're saying that health marketing versus actual healthy food, this reminds me of Gatorade. Their big innovation was organic Gatorade. So okay, you have sugar in your Gatorade product and now you're going to put organic sugar in there. And what is the difference between organic glucose and not organically glucose? It's still the same molecule.
Exactly. And then you're going to come up with a really cool, innovative word for salt. You're going to call it electrolytes. I could get my big old Morton's thing of salts, and it will cost me $3. That's 1/1000th of the price of a Gatorade. Yeah I mean I just kind of was like, the market and the industry in terms of consumer education as well as the knowledge were both ready for us to create this. And what I soon found was that the food science was not far behind. It still needed some work, which is what we've done. Both of our companies have worked on, but neither of our companies could have existed five years ago I think with the actual food technology the way it is.
You're absolutely right. You couldn't make a ketone ester at the current price without some of the recent developments in terms of how do you synthesize something in a very pure way. So curious for broader food industry, what do you think are some of those catalysts?
Well first of all, in our specific case. The big innovation that has needed to happen is the ability to powderize fats with less sugar or carbohydrates attached to them. So for those who are not educated on how the food production of fats happen, which is probably 99% of people rightfully so. But it's that fat in general is liquid at room temperature. And so the way that you actually get it into a powder is they effectively atomize it, and spray it onto a carbohydrate. So imagine a perfume bottle that would be an atomizer. So this perfume bottle is what they spray really teeny micro-droplets onto a field of carbohydrates. And then they allow the two of those to combine just physically, not chemically. And then they drop to the bottom. And that's effectively your powder.
The problem is until only a few years ago, the industry standard was to do that on corn maltodextrin, which is a relatively cheap corn oil. Sorry, it's a corn carbohydrates. And it inherently means that for every one gram of fat, you have one gram of carbohydrates. So if you're trying to create something that's like keto for instance, it's inherently impossible. So what we've done is worked with our contract manufacturer as well as our suppliers to ... and our food science team has worked with their food science teams to make, I guess you could say a powder that either has less carbohydrates attached to it, or has a different substrate. Is either fiber, which is effectively zero net carbs. Or protein, which is completely different altogether.
So it's that type of innovation that has happened that's really allowed us to have effectively a meal in a bottle that's had low carbs. And specifically, it means that the carbs that are in Ample are exclusively the carbs that we want to be an Ample. Not just the the "filler" that people talk about being in many products. So that's from our perspective, I think the biggest thing that has happened.
That's something that we've been thinking a lot about as well in terms of the carriers for fat. Your saturated fats, which are basically solid. That's like lard. You have unsaturated fats, which are oils oils. How do you carry that? You're not going to necessarily want to put oil into these Ample bottles necessarily. How do you carry that? And if you can put it on a substrate that's low glycemic index, like a fiber. That's a very smart solution.
You had asked a separate question as well. You said what has happened in the industry that has gotten us to this point? And I'd love to touch base on that.
Yeah, let's talk about that.
So I'm assuming that anyone listening to your podcast is in their own way an influencer. They have either their own followings or frankly they're just the excited person in their own personal friend group who knows all this stuff about nutrition-
Yeah, with our listeners, I think that's actually true. People that are listening to our podcasts, which is sizable, but it's not like a Joe Rogan, everyone listening to it. You've got to be the top decile percentage person in your friend group that's interested in health, performance, metabolism, nutrition.
Exactly. Exactly. And so what's interesting is that 20 years ago, all of the information that we got about nutrition and health was basically top down. Was either from the doctor, from the American Medical Association or American Diabetes Association. Or from our doctors who's effectively getting it from the same source. Or it's from the government in terms of school from a food pyramid. Or finally, from our teaching. Like school, which is effectively the same thing. Sorry. And then otherwise advertising from big food or cereal companies, which is basically telling you the only thing that you're hearing. But of course now with the internet, that's not the case anymore. You can have someone like yourself, or Mark Sisson, or Dave Asprey, or Robb Wolf, or whoever talk about nutrition in a way that's relatively unbiased. In a way that is more of a bottom up approach.
And I think that the big thing that's happening right now is the food industry is really interesting. Because as opposed to any other CPG business, there's on a yearly basis something like 17% of the market share from large food companies is getting snapped up by small food companies. And small food companies like ourselves are actually taking this market share because we're actually listening to the influencers and to the community. So because these are the people who now, they have more power than ever. So I think that this is not only exciting for us because we're, as Wayne Gretzky would say, we're skating to where the puck is going. But it's also really exciting because it means that people like listeners have a lot more power and influence over where the food companies are going. I would really not underestimate your own power if you're listening to this, because the Campbell's, the Kellogg's, the Pepsis of the world, 100% are listening. And they have to change. And if they don't, they're going to die.
Yeah. You look at Kraft Heinz, their stock just tanked recently because of essentially speaking towards that same macro trend. Customers are shying away, moving away from these processed foods that aren't giving you diabetes, metabolic syndrome, all this stuff. And looking at products, foods that are better for them. So what do you think are the pillars of what traditional CPG is doing wrong, and what companies like yours, or what influencers, or what scientists are really gravitating towards? I think on our podcast we've talked a lot about low carb or reducing refined carbohydrate intake, potentially looking at time restricted feeding fasting and strategies. Looking at different forms of fat, maybe avoiding polyunsaturated fatty acids first for monounsaturated or other forms of fat. I'm curious to hear from your perspective, what do you think are some of these big changes or big trends that you're focused on as you look at evolving and creating better foods?
You touched on basically most of the things that I think about. I think about it from a mechanistic perspective. First I say what are a few of the things that really drive human biology? We think gut microbiome, we think inflammation, and hormone response. So glycemic or insulin response. And effectively if you can start from that bottoms up approach that you know from a fundamental biology or biological perspective, those are things that although they're still being science that's done, we can be pretty confident that those mechanisms are going to effectively drive the health of an organism, of human beings. So then we say, "Okay, what helps out gut microbiome? What helps out reducing inflammation?" And honestly, I think that until we address those things that you've just mentioned, I think that we don't even really need to look all that much further.
So lowering our refined carbohydrates. I would say a couple things. One is, and I'm less confident on this point, so I just want to say that as a caveat. What's interesting to me is to see the digestion of carbohydrates and fat together versus carbohydrates or fat on its own. Because it seems like from some of the data that I've seen is that having carbohydrates is not necessarily bad. It's just that our bodies aren't very well adapted at actually metabolizing them at the same time as they metabolize fat. You think about when would you ever actually have fat and carbohydrates in the same food in nature. And most of those foods are not actually ... they don't really exist in the same form.
So I think okay, not necessarily demonizing carbs entirely. But to say hey, if we're going to have fat in it, let's not have carbohydrates. Now I will say of course that it's probably the case that having a lower carbohydrate diet in general is going to be better for us, specifically because we have seen what having the opposite has done to us in the form of diabetes and metabolic health, and everything like that.
I think oftentimes in the low carb community, you can go zero carb maximalist. Don't avoid carbs at all specific costs. And I think the rational, science and evidence driven person that will say, "Look, carbohydrates have their role. If you're looking to do a specific sport application or specific application, you're trying to win 100 meter race or lift a lot of weights, you probably want some sugar in your system for maximum performance." I think most scientists, people that are sensible would agree just pounding a bunch of sugar, probably not optimal. And I think that's an interesting observation around the uniqueness of the standard western diet where it is high carb and high fat at the same time, which is very uniquely ... I like to say it's almost uniquely engineered to destroy your metabolism.
There's this interesting, I forget who it was. I think it was The Lancet who a few months ago came out with this study or this large claim that said effectively low carbohydrate diets are killing us. That was effectively their claim. And what was interesting, I was actually talking to Robb Wolf about this. And we were chatting about the fact that they created this u-shaped curve that said, "Best best life expectancy is in a moderate range." But they extrapolated a curve beyond the data. So in fact, they actually had no studies that actually talked about specifically a ketogenic diet. Which is really interesting. They had the basically the lowest carbohydrate diet that they included into the study was something 30% of your calories. So it's like how do you actually make that claim if you're not even studying it? They were just extrapolating it, which is a bummer.
But I think also coming back to the individuality of people is really important as well. So for instance, one of the key tenants of Ample was, "Hey, I truly believe that it's likely the case that low carbohydrates in general are probably better for most people. But should you be exclusively keto? Do you need to be? I don't know." For instance, I can actually still maintain a state of ketosis while having something like 75 grams of carbs a day.
And this is heavy workout or are you just ambiently-
Probably with the working out. But even on days that I don't work out, it still tends to be the case. I guess I'm just lucky like that.
Yeah, no. There is definitely variation. I think that's one of the main reasons why people want to build muscle. You have better glucose sinks.
So if you take sugar, it gets sucked into your muscles.
Yeah, exactly. So I think to get back to your question, to reiterate your points on what's wrong with how most food companies are doing it? I would say yes, not actually making a commitment to lower sugar. I think the jury is still out about sugar alcohols. Personally, we don't use it in Ample, just because some people have had some digestive distress. I think it's probably fine, but ultimately we don't really want to risk it and frankly we can have a good taste without it. So why put it in there?
Then to have I would say a spectrum of on the process versus unprocessed side, try to be on the unprocessed side. And once again, this is a spectrum. To a certain degree, everything is processed. You cooking your steak is processed. You cutting up an apple is technically processed. So ultimately, it's figuring out for each individual ingredient, what is the ideal state? And then how do we get close to that perspective? So I think that's the second point. Then I think that the third, like you had mentioned, is there's a decent amount of evidence on the negative effects of polyunsaturated Omega-6's. So if we can get away from those, then frankly I think we can have a really great starting point.
So those are the three main tenants as you're looking at formulating food?
Yes. I think in general. Obviously Ample has a specific use case. And so we're like, "Hey, how do we make an entire meal out of this?" So we then say we have to have fiber as well. We also have to have a sufficient amount of protein. And carbs can vary, but we also want to have a sufficient amount of fat. And then finally, we want to be able to nourish the gut microbiome. We want to have, as we have mentioned with the fiber comes prebiotics. But we also want to have a probiotic content as well. So that's where those combination, the combination of those specific ingredients-
Yeah, let's dive into the macros and the gut microbiome. I think that's interesting. But before doing that, I think it might be remiss not to ask maybe a hard question. But I think you mentioned the spectrum of processed or unprocessed.
So obviously, this is somewhat processed.
Right? You don't see these drawing in the field, or they're running around. So what is your philosophy on okay, there's some convenience factor obviously here. How do you think about it? I think that is one of the critiques with the processed food industry, and I think that's something that obviously we have to answer questions about at HVMN as well. Curious to hear your perspective. Obviously there's some processing, and I think you make a good argument that almost every single food that we all consume is processed some level. I think you have some folks arguing, "Okay, let's only go towards food in the most natural form as possible." How do we reconcile that notion?
I think on one side of the spectrum, processed looks like ... I'm going to just going to give an example, like a gummy bear or honestly a pretzel, or something like that. What's kind of ironic is ours is a meal replacement. It's a powder in a bottle. You put water in it, you shake it up and drink. And so some people look at that and they're like, "Well this isn't food." But then they look at a chip and say, "Well, that is food." Which is really interesting because that's effectively more processed, because they effectively start with the same powder that we do, and then they do more processing to actually get it into a chip format or a pretzel format, a cereal format or whatever.
So of course, having it be the reconstitution and back into a solid phase, I think that's one level beyond where we really want to go. I would say that for us, what we've tried to do is I think from the perspective of our oils. I don't know if you have a different perspective on this. But one thing that I've tried to do is we stay towards non-GMO. And the reason why is not because I think the GMOs are bad. And frankly, I think that there's a big case for GMOs saving the future. However, I do think though that the vast majority of the reasons why GMOs right now are being used is not to actually feed more people, but it's effectively as an excuse to just douse them with more pesticide.
Right. It's a yield economic question more than a health necessarily question.
Exactly. So that's a big thing. So I don't want to get too bogged down in that specific question, but we're saying, okay. Until more evidence comes out saying definitively totally fine for you. And also, frankly I don't want to support a company like like Monsanto or something like that. And at this moment, that's one of the big things for us. I think another thing for us is to, in terms of the oils that we use. We try to stick towards cold press or effectively things that have less of a heating or denaturation standpoint. Same with our proteins. So grass fed collagen, grass fed whey, we tend to, and making sure that it's relatively un-denatured. So that's an important part for us. But I will say as well, there are times when processing is important. So for instance, we have pea protein. Many people are like, "Well Connor, peas have lectins." It's true. Peas do have lectins when they are unprocessed.
And what is the meaning of lectins, why they're bad or why people have some concern with them?
Okay, there's good lectins and there's bad lectins. But effectively, a lectin, it's a part carbohydrate, part protein. And effectively what they can do is they can latch onto the enterocytes, which is effectively the lining of your gut. And they can pull off or rip off these enterocytes and do damage to them. In a similar way that some people worry about gluten. So effectively, lectins can be harmful for people because they'll do damage to the enterocytes and potentially cause or be related to some autoimmunity issues. So once again, those specific lectins, they're not all lectins. Our bodies make lectins as well, so they're not across the board bad. But people think okay, so lectins are in peas and a lot of other legumes. What we've done as a society, or I guess by just the nature of 10,000 years or so of agriculture, what we've done is effectively been soaking beans.
Yeah. You soak them, and then you heat them up. So it would actually be almost deadly to have red kidney beans raw. The amount of lectins is toxic to the human body.
I remember that as a kid. Right? It's like don't chew these beans.
That is funny. I never thought about it-
Your grandma probably didn't know about the lectins or whatever.
Yeah. I didn't think about it from a biochemist level. But I think I remember, these beans are like rocks.
Yeah. They do taste terrible, and you can't really digest them. So I think that's one of the things where you have to realize which is some processing is undesirable. Some processing is literally necessary or you'll die. We obviously invented fire a long time ago, and we processed food by cooking it. So I think that there's, it's a fine balance. And I hope that we're doing it well. But once again, if someone has an issue with how we're doing it, I would be happy to have that dialogue because once again we can always improve. We will always improve.
Yeah. I think processed and unprocessed is maybe the wrong dimension to really look at. It's maybe orthogonal to what exactly is being input into the system and how it affects your metabolism, or how does it affect your physiology. Right? 'Cause I think it's if you have things that are processed, but these are reasonable things that are good substitutes for your body, then it's not necessarily a bad thing. Is it something a chemical, or something that comes from a living organism, is that inherently better than the other? Everything's just a molecule floating around. I think the problem is when you have processed, and there have adulterants, or rancidification, or oxidation, that's where the process is really bad.
Right. You have a trans fat, which is a fat that does not exist in nature. And that is processed thing that makes it more sustainable to be shelf stable. That is bad. But if it's processed, but it's smartly process where it's actually very, very clean for your body to burn. That's reasonable. So I think maybe one way to change a dialogue is not get overly focused on the process to unprocessed, but actually think about it from a feeling perspective of how your body processes it. How it actually breaks it down.
I agree. And I think that there's a book called Antifragile by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, and I think it's a fantastic way to think about it. In his book what he talks about is effectively, there are natural things and then unnatural things. It's not necessarily that the unnatural things are inherently bad. It's simply that they need to be validated first. They need a longer period of time to prove themselves. We know for instance, that we've been eating brussels sprouts for a really long period of time. So that seems like a relatively validated way that if you eat brussels sprouts, you're probably going to be okay. But if you were to take all the molecules and re-constitute it into a brussels sprout imitation. It's plausible that it could be fine. In fact, it could be better, but it just needs more validation. So I think that's really where we need to get to.
Yeah. I would concede that, likely that something that's more natural has a higher probability of being more easily digestible, for exAmple.
But that doesn't constrain everything that's processed is just bad for you. I think that's overly strict. So one thing that I think might be helpful to look at specific in the meal replacement industry is that people have drank shakes for 20, 30 years. In Silicon Valley, Soylent has been a bit of a phenomenon. I think we know, I'm sure you know some of the people there. I'm friends with Rob Rhinehart, the founder there. What do you think that they don't have rights or how are you thinking about it differently from Ample, that changes the meal replacement game?
I don't want to come in and bash any of our competitors here. To a certain degree, everyone is doing something right otherwise they wouldn't be in business in the first place. Where Ample, I feel where we want to really shine is, as we talked about with this naturalness of the ingredients, we want to be a little bit more towards the naturalness side of things. In terms of having grass fed, if we're going to have an animal product, have it be grass fed. If we're going to have plant products, let it be non GMO. And if we're going to get vitamins, let's primarily get those from the actual foods themselves rather than the synthetic vitamins and minerals. I think what's important for us as well is we have goals and intentions for the product. So for instance, we have a ketogenic version. So our 400 calorie version has just three net grams of carbs per every 400 calories, with no sugar alcohols.
So that is intended for aspecific use case. It's, "Hey, I'm trying to eat a low carbohydrate diet." So effectively, how do I do that with high quality ingredients, and really, really quick time? I only have 30 seconds or a minute to actually prepare or consumed this thing. And I need to also constrain my carbohydrates. So that's where we thrive. I think that we're going after people who really do know that their health is very important to them. They're willing to pay a little bit more. Because our product is more expensive than Soylent. It is more expensive than Ensure. I don't think it'll ever get as expensive as those products. But we're really confident in the quality of our ingredients as well as the targeted macronutrient ratios that we're going for. As well as the additional probiotic nature that helps for the gut microbiome as well. So I think that's where we're trying to set ourselves apart.
Yeah. Cool. So let's talk about the macro. So I think we probably unpacked the good amount about fat. One thing that I think we just touched upon, maybe to wrap up the idea on fat is that you use a high oleic oil. And can you help unpack that for the audience?
So oleic acid is a monounsaturated fatty acid. Its name is actually derived, I don't know which came first, the chicken or the egg here. But it's the most predominant one in olive oil. So the names are coming from the same root there. So generally considered a very healthy monounsaturated fat. And so traditionally, what has happened is the sunflower seed has been relatively low oleic. It's been way higher in polyunsaturated Omega-6 fatty acids. So what has happened though is that there's a couple of suppliers out there who actually want to be able to provide a higher oleic type of option. And so rather than using GMO modification, what they've done is they've just done selective breeding over time, in the same way that effectively all breeds of dogs are different through selective breeding.
So they've selectively bred higher and higher amounts of oleic or high oleic acid, to the point where it's actually now higher oleic than olive oil and also macadamia nut oil. In terms of being, it's almost ... I don't want to quote the exact number, but it's a very small amount of polyunsaturated Omega-6 because by definition, over 85% oleic acid. Which is really exciting for us because it means that by still having it effectively be this natural form in the sense that it's just selective breeding, we're able to have that same macronutrient profile that we're looking for, without having the detrimental inflammatory responses that Omega-6's generally have.
So basically, you find a natural way that has selected ... you dog bread your way to high oleic content oil, which is interesting. That's very cool. So we talked a lot about fats. How about your choices in protein? You mentioned you're looking at grass fed whey. Maybe help unpack for the audience here, what were some of the considerations that people should think about in general around their protein sources? Any specific idea around grass fed? Is that more marketing speak? Is there some actual benefit from the grass fed components? What are your thoughts that are on the amino acid protein side of the world?
One thing that we think about related to protein decisions are what's called a PDCAAS score. Are you familiar with that term?
Well, let's explain to the audience.
So PDCAAS, it's protein derived amino acid composition, or something like that. Or score. So effectively what it is, it's a number from 1 to 100 of how complete a protein is. So something with 100 like whey, protein, or eggs, or actually soy as well has a score of 100 in a sense that they're not deficient in any of the nine essential amino acids. So we have exactly nine essential amino acids. We have somewhere in the order of 22, 23 or so amino acids that generally are found in foods. So we don't necessarily need them, but they are beneficial.
Right. And the distinciton is that essentials are things that you must consume exogenously, where non-essentials, your body can produce endogenously.
Exactly. You have to have them because your body can't create them. And by the way, there are essential proteins ... sorry, there are essential amino acids. There are essential fats or fatty acids. There are no essential carbohydrates. Which is usually one of the arguments why people are like, "You just have to go keto." I think it's a little bit specious of an argument. But I get the point. So regardless on the amino acid profiles side of things, what we try to do is to say let's have ... so grass fed whey has a very high PDCAAS score, very high in branch chain amino acids as well. So especially if people are trying to work out and have that fast recovery, that's the primary protein in our Ample original, and also our Ample K. So there's that.
In Ample original, we also have grass fed Collagen, which is well known to be very helpful for bone and joint health, and skin health as well. So the last protein that we have in Ample original is pea protein. So why pea protein? So one is that it does not have lectins. And the second thing is that as I was talking about before, how do we get a product that has relatively low fats ... or sorry, relatively low carbohydrates but still has the fat? Well, what we've actually been able to do is actually have our fat sprayed on that pea protein, which allows us to get our net carbs down, which is really, really interesting.
So the pea protein is almost like a carrier for fat. So you get double bang.
Exactly. So that's product one. We also have egg white protein as well in our Ample K as well, which also has a PDCAAS score of one. And then the problem though is that some people have issues with either animal protein in general, are either vegan or vegetarian. Or like myself, they actually have a little bit of trouble either with the casein or the lactose in grass fed whey. So that's we have Ample V, which is our plant based version. Which effectively combines the amino acids of pea protein as well as rice protein to have a combined PDCAAS of one. So individually, they're incomplete. But when you combine them together, the deficiencies in one make up for the deficiencies in the other. So that's kind of how we're able to have this complete protein in Ample, in Ample V. Which is pretty exciting.
I want to follow up and make sure we cover the grass fed component. Typically, people talk about the grass fed component versus the grain fed, more from a fatty acid ratio. Curious from a protein selection, was that a consideration or is it more of a quality issue where typically, grass-fed cows are probably raised in a more high quality environment? Curious to get your thoughts around that, one. And then two, I want to add a second ... we'll answer that first. I have a second question related to some of the concerns around soy protein, which could be interesting.
Totally. So a couple of things. I totally agree that the vast majority of the issues around grass fed are around the amino acid composition. I would also say that it's not just the composition, but it's very well documented that the quality of a grain fed animal's life is just pretty darn bad. And effectively, if you have a lot of toxic stuff that you're ingesting, your body has to store it in fat. If it's fat soluble. If it's water soluble, your body can just pee it out. But if it's fat soluble, it has a stored in fat. So that's why I don't really trust the grain fed fat, because there's a very high likelihood that there's a lot of crap in there that I don't really want to eat.
Do you try to avoid grain fed cows versus grass fed cows in terms of steaks? You try to carry that into-
So if I'm actually eating out and I know it's grain fed, I'll probably have the leaner cut rather than the fattier cut.
Fair enough. Okay.
Yeah. And honestly, there's a bajillion other ways I can get my fat, so I'm not really worried about that side of side of things. So I would say that that's one consideration. But fair enough. The quality of the protein, the fact is I simply don't know. But as I had mentioned before about the processing where I'm saying that the the Nassim Nicholas Taleb argument that natural might just require a little bit longer to be validated. Or sorry, unnatural might require longer to be validated. I just don't yet know what really are the negative ramifications of a grain fed animal. We know that they just die much quicker than grass fed. We know that there's toxic stuff in the fat. So for me, although there hasn't to the best of my knowledge ever been proven that there's anything bad with the protein, I'd rather just stay on the safe side. So I can't say anything. It could just be marketing. It could just be me staying on the safe side. But I would say for that reason as well as just the pure animal ethic and welfare, I simply want to put my dollars as a food company into the thing that I think is going to be more sustainable for the long term.
Fair enough. I think that's very reasonable. One of the I would say critiques or popular topics of conversation in food consumption is soy, soy beans, and potential estrogenic precursors of consuming too much soy. So I think one of the things I think that seemed pretty apparent is that you have ... in a lot of meal replacement type products like a Soylent or an Ensure, a lot higher ratios. They highlight soy oil pretty predominantly. Curious to get your thoughts around that. So my understanding of the literature is that there is some small but not insignificant increases in estrogen production as you uptake and ramp up increases in soy. Was that one of the main considerations of why you avoided soy in your products? Any other considerations? I think on the other hand, soy is a fairly complete protein as you mentioned. So that's the trade-off for soy, Tofu. I think if you are a vegetarian or a vegan, a good source of protein. And I think a lot of the vegan restaurants, you have a lot of tofu chickens, tofu turkeys. It can be very yummy. But should be concerned about the estrogenic properties. What was your consideration there when you avoided soy?
Yeah, a couple of reasons. One is I've read very similar research, which is effectively there's a relatively mild, probably not super consequential impact in terms of estrogen. But once again, we're just in this sense going to be staying on the better safe than sorry type of idea. So if it does have a potential negative impact, I'd rather not wait five, or 10, or 15 years until the data comes out and says, "Hey, it actually did have a negative impact. And oh by the way, all your customers are worse off because of it." I never really want to have that be in hindsight where we were. So I think you know that for number one. Number two though is 99% of soy is GMO, and so it's very difficult to get actually non-GMO soy.
So in fact, the funny thing is, and I've always thought this is silly. And once again, not against GMO inherently, I just want it to be studied really well. But what I was a little bit disappointed with is in 1997, we started introducing GMO soy into the agriculture, a system in the US. And now, it's around 99%. But that was more than 20 years ago. And it's something, and I could be off by about a year or two, but it was something like 2015 when we finally decoded the actual genetics of soy, which is really interesting that you'd put it out and make it completely ubiquitous in the food supply 20 years before you'd actually understand what its genes are. So to me, that's just a little bit ... I'm happy for innovation, I just want to go a little bit slower when it comes to our own bodies. And also considering that we can't take back these decisions. Once it's out in the food supply, it's out for good. The agricultural system in the US has now changed for good, and there's nothing we can do about it.
So that's why I'm a little bit more on that side of things because there's no undo button. So I think those are the real two ingredients, or the two ... sure, ingredients that made up that decision. Of course, we did have to contend with the fact that as you had mentioned, it's complete. It also tastes pretty good. And from a food science perspective, it's really easy to work with. It's really cheap. And sorry, one of the last aspect of it is from a fundamental perspective, I don't believe that corn, soy, and wheat should have government subsidies. I think that that's actually one of the biggest reasons why consumers now are unhealthy, is because for the last however many years, decades, we've been subsidizing these huge commodity crops. Beats as well and sugarcane.
And so because of that, it's artificially lowering the price of these things, increasing the supply and basically making it so easy for large food companies to come around and have really high margins on food products that are unhealthy. So I don't want to put more dollars into a commodity crop that I feel like is inherently not ... I don't think that's either right from a moral perspective. And I don't think it's healthy for us in the long run.
Yeah. I think that's a good argument for why subsidies have a lot of second order effects that are unpredictable, right? It's like okay, you're subsidizing corn, which might be good for the Iowan farmers who are farming corn. But then you think of high fructose corn syrup, and how that's everywhere in our food supply now, because you have so much corn. Okay, well this is going to be cheaper than any other source of sugar. Okay. I don't think any of the policy decision makers they were like, "All right, let's make this high fructose corn syrup and pump it everywhere." It's just hard to predict.
Yeah, no one knew. And also no one, I would very much believe that there's no evil players in this food industry. I think one thing that's unfortunate is that we get this, both we get fear mongering, but we also get righteous like anger towards either large food companies, or the government, or the medical system. I could understand how I might be perceived like that. No one's ill intentioned in this. Zero people, at least in my personal experience, I've never talked to any of the executives at Pepsi, or Kellogg, or whatever who just think to themselves, "Yeah, I really want to make people unhealthy."
It's just, we've created a system that we didn't understand. Now we're living with the consequences. And fortunately or unfortunately, the system exists now and perpetuates itself. Pepsi to not go out of business, still has to sell Pepsi Coke, or Pepsi soft drinks. So it's actively trying to move away, but takes time. So I think it's really important to understand what's wrong, but not blame or put too much blame or unnecessary hate on individuals for this.
I think that's fair. I think you don't necessarily need to overly demonized. But it is important to raise your voices and try to vote with your dollars per se, into buying and supporting businesses or products that you believe in. So it's like on one hand, let's not create a lynch mob necessarily. But it is important to choose to support vocally and through dollars, to make sure you help the companies that you believe in. We covered protein. Let's talk about carbohydrates. So we talked about a keto version of Ample, which has lower carbs. But you have the original version and a vegetarian or vegan version?
Yeah. It's both vegan and vegetarian. Yes.
Which I presume have carb content. So what are your considerations there? Let's talk about the trade offs between different forms of carbohydrates.
Sure. All of them actually have a relatively low amount of carbohydrates. And I usually quote the 400 calorie meals just because that's more common than the 600 calorie meals in terms of purchasing. But there's around 11 or 12 net grams of carbs per 400 calorie for the Ample Original, and also Ample V, our plant based one. There's three net grams for the Ample K. So what we decided for ... we actually changed, we were able to phase out our tapioca. So tapioca dextrin is one of those things that in my mind, it's better than corn maltodextrin as a carrier of fat. We had tapioca dextrin originally. But now that we've been able to improve our processing and our process for actually making these fats, we've been able to have that ... that's been taken off the label, which is fantastic.
Then the thing that we've replaced it with is some oat flour. So the oats, whole grain oats we felt were relatively low glycemic but still provide relatively good carbohydrates and are pretty clean there. They're gluten free as well. And then one thing that we also have is we have sweet potato. So we have sweet potato in Ample, will actually in both Ample V and Ample original. So those are quite prevalent in a decent amount of B vitamins and A vitamins as well. And they add a little bit of a flavor to it, which is fun. You probably can't pick it out, but it definitely adds to the flavor.
Got it. So you're looking at lower glycaemic carbohydrate sources, and looking at sweet potatoes then to be a little bit more starchy or a little bit more complex, than a simple tapioca syrup or something.
Okay. Got it. Cool. That seems very reasonable. And then the last component, which I think is interesting, is the gut microbiome. And obviously, that's been I would say in conjunction with keto fasting, probably a third, fourth biggest macro trend of interest in the community of nutrition. It sounds like you've been thoughtful about the prebiotic, probiotic components of that. So can we talk about some of the considerations in Ample that you thought about as you're making it?
Yeah, so I started a CrossFit gym eight years ago or so. And during our level one training program, their analogy for us for exercise is the black box. And they were like, "You know what? Metabolism is freaking complex. We really don't know exactly what the hell goes on in the human body to make this thing work. What we do know is that we have an input, which is the stress that we put on our body during the workout. We have a black box, it goes into the black box, and then we have the output, which is we get stronger, we get faster, we get more resilient. Our immune system gets better. We get more healthier. All all of these above." Right?
And so effectively I think right now it seems as if there's a black box in the gut microbiome space, which is to say that we know, I think the only thing that we're relatively confident is that greater diversity of a gut microbiome is generally beneficial. The amount of species that you have is probably a good thing. However, what I think is generally happening with the probiotic space is we're relatively ignorant of the mechanisms of how they work, but simply that they work. So the current thinking that I'm aware of, and someone of course can correct me of course if I'm wrong. But is that effectively, probiotics are a transient species. And they're effectively a flagship species. So the best analogy that we have for this is let's say the savanna. You have a lion. There's actually a relatively few amount of lions in the savanna for a given population of zebras, and giraffes, and everything else. Plants, wildlife, whatever.
But a single pack of lion, a single pride of lions can make a massive difference on the composition. If you didn't have those, the entire ecosystem would be totally screwed because the gazelle would just run amuck. They would eat everything. And then all of a sudden there would be desolation because there's no more food for ... there's no more plants. So we have a few of these flagship species in environments. So the popular thought is that although these are transient species that once you stop using them, they go out of your system within about seven days or so. On average, they generally tend to solve for gut microbiome diversity. And they generally tend to do things like improve digestive function in the sense that how we actually metabolize our food in the sense that we potentially get more vitamins out of the food that we do consume. And then secondly, they seem to reduce symptoms of gastric distress like IBS symptoms, or flatulence, or really whatever else that people are having.
So ultimately, I think that's the working model. And that's how, the working model that we use to describe what we put into Ample. So some of the best strains, or I guess the best genuses were the lactobacillus and also the bifidobacterium genus. What we also though had to do is select for strains that were actually relatively resilient to acid. Because as you know, Ample is in a powder. It's not actually encapsulated into a pill, like most probiotics on. So what you need to do is to have it resistant to heat, and also resistant to acid because your acid in your stomach can get to something like 1 pH.
Is it going to die in the bottle, is it going to die in your stomach? You've got to be careful about that.
Yeah exactly. So we've selected strains that are inherently very tough. They're very robust, and have been shown in clinical studies to be able to get down to that type of pH, without being completely killed off. And the other thing that I will mention is that yes, there will be probiotics that actually die off. One thing that we do and other manufacturers who are trying to do this ethically, is effectively understate the amount of probiotics that are actually in the-
Overdose more, so you make the claim if they die.
Exactly, exactly. 'Cause we know that over the average self life of Ample on the shelf, a certain percent of them will die. So by the average time that someone consumes the bottle, here's generally where it will be. One of the last strain that's interesting here is a spore forming back to a bacteria called bacillus coagulans. And this has actually been pretty well studied as well in terms of having positive effects on both gut microbiome diversity as well as protein absorption. And also, just reducing gastric distress.
The interesting thing about bacillus coagulans is that because its spore forming, effectively means that it's got itself in a shell. It's almost like a seed pod. It doesn't open until it's in the correct spot in your intestines to proliferate. So that's what keeps it from dying.
I think the point that you note was that these are transient organisms, right? If you are fasting for a week, your microbiome's going to look very different from before the fast. If you go on a carnivore diet, it's going to shift the microbiome. If you're eating Ample, you're getting another microbiome. So it is interesting, I think very dynamic space, literally dynamic. This things change.
It can even change in a matter of a few hours after a meal. So I think because it's so dynamic. It's funny when you talk, and I'm sure you've talked to PhDs and researchers in this gut microbiome space, almost none of them is actually willing to make a claim or make a definitive statement about stuff. Because they're like, "Further research is necessary." And I totally get it. But it's like there's so much that we don't know yet. But it's really exciting to see that that is such a big, sometime in the next 10 years I'm guessing that the amount of research and knowledge that we have is just going to be fantastic about that space.
What other things have you been looking at or incorporating in your life personally? Obviously you funded a crossfit gym, so I'm sure physical exercise is an important part of your lifestyle. Anything else that's interesting that for folks that might be more bio hackery that are listening, right now I'm wearing the glucose monitor so I can scan my blood sugar ambiently right now. Any of those fun things that you're playing around with, or you keep it pretty simple?
100%, and we can call them a bio hack because I think that they are 100% a bio hack. But I would say that they don't get put into that category. So there's a few, I think that there's a few things that I do on a daily basis that are completely essential. They are actually three things. One is I meditate everyday for an hour a day. I also do improv comedy once a week. And I think that that's actually fantastic for just incorporating play and having this open awareness, and also to just get completely out of your ego and out of your comfort zone. And it's fantastic. And then last thing is actually I only lift a couple of times a week. Nowadays, I feel like I'm able to be relatively fit even with just that because of, I think my body's just used to being in a relatively fit state. So the other days, I actually do dance, I do hip hop dance. And the two of those, so improv and dance are phenomenal. They're just so fun.
And you can look at them from a fun perspective. And I think a lot of times people are like, "Well, I don't do that." Over optimizing for efficiency and everything. I think that the human brain is wired to play. We play as kids. We play until we have all these stress hormones building up. But it's one of the best, I think antidotes to living a super cortisol late in life. So not only is it fantastic for learning a new skill, reducing stress. But it's also in terms of neuroplasticity, of being able to with your improv, to literally be able to think on the fly and be completely present in the moment. It's just a phenomenal skill to learn.
I think there's a product conversation of something that I've been thinking a lot about is that modern life, modernity is obviously improved longevity, overall life expectancy, except for in the last couple of years in America. But I don't know if people are happier. Right? I think it's like we have more money. Our standard of living is better than ever, right? All of us if we have a running toilet and you have a place of sleep. You're not homeless, which is not a given in this day and age in America, especially in San Francisco where there's a lot of homeless people. But we're living the lifestyle of kings in the 1400s, right? We have running water, we have warm water. We have lights, we can read at night.
But it's not clear that people are happy. And I think a lot of it goes back to play. I think a lot of people just are clocking in nine to five and then have their same routine after work, happy hour. It just becomes this passing of time. You're subsisting to stay alive, rather than actually playing, exploring, thinking of new novel things. I think it's actually nice to hear that you've incorporated this by learning I guess hip hop dance. Maybe you've been dancing for a long time-
I have not. I suck at it. It's fantastic. I'm so bad. But it's great to be-
It's refreshing to hear. It's very cool.
I was really good at CrossFit, but I was like, I'm not learning enough anymore. It's not like I'm trying to learn to muscle up for the first time or whatever. And if you are, it's fantastic. It's a cool experience. But you also need to have this challenge. And for me, just doing better and lifting more was not the challenge that I wanted. And so it was like all right, I'll turn that back down. I'm still doing it, but just less of it. But then what's a challenge that puts me out of my comfort zone and actually forces me to have courage on a daily basis? I think that having that authenticity and the courage is really, really difficult. And I incorporate that on the improv side of things socially. And then also on the dance side of things as well. So to me, they're phenomenal and I'm really excited. And I only just started both of them a few months ago, and it's been fantastic.
That's cool. I think a lot of the people on our program are rural champions, or olympians, people just focusing on perfecting their craft. I guess that that might not necessarily be translatable, or even practical for people like myself. I'm not going to be a gold medalist olympian in anything, but I'm very interested in maximizing my health span, lifespan, and productivity of being what I want to be world class in. So is it reasonable then for folks that want to use exercise or their hobbies as a way to empower their primary craft? Should one, be more explorative in terms of pushing their comfort zones? Get a learning component into your extracurriculars as well.
Yeah, exactly. You could be a world-class, olympian level CEO. So that's one of those things where that's probably your main focus. So how do you have the other aspects of your life serve that, without ... one thing I love about improv is that it doesn't really take any additional practice. The practice and the product are the exact same thing. Same thing with dance, you just do it and that is your practice. And it's also what's fun. Whereas what I found is I could never really get into guitar. Because although I loved it, the practice was not the same as the product. My practice was doing scales over and over, which is monotonous as hell and just not exciting to me. So that to me is ... I wanted to solve for something that I don't have to really, unless I'm doing it in that moment, I don't have to think about it. I don't have to over optimize. I don't have to plan. I'm just there. Which allows me to be a lot more present.
Yeah. And I think that's good to reflect on, I think it's like you're present in the moment. I think when you're improving, you're probably thinking about the scene. What clever line you're going to say next.
You're actually not even thinking that. You're literally whatever the hell comes up, is what comes up. And it's funny because you actively try to not even think 10 seconds ahead, or not even think 10 seconds behind. Which is so hard to do. Because we're so programmed to be on a timescale. But the funny thing is whenever we're actually in the zone, we're never thinking on a timescale. We're only ever in the present moment.
Which also I think goes back to meditation, mindfulness. Obviously when a lot of people think about meditation, they think about how to be present, how to be in the moment. An hour a day when you wake up.
So I'd love to talk about this. This is honestly man, this is my passion these days. This is, I would say more so my passion than even Ample is, is to figure out how the hell my brain works, which is so fascinating. I've done a lot of meditation. First of all, I did this thing called the Finder's Course, which is a fantastic thing. Guy named Jeffery Martin. He basically interviewed about 1,000 enlightened people. People who you just knew they were enlightened. From any, either they were Christian, they were zen, they were Buddhist. Doesn't matter. They were just regular people. But then he figured out how they got there. So turns out that there's 16 or 15 different meditations, types of meditation that got them to that point. It doesn't really matter if you're actually looking to be enlightened or whatever, or whatever the hell that means. But just to have more presence, to have less stress, to be more happy, to be more loving and patient, and all that stuff.
So I did this. It was fantastic. It cost about $2,000, and it was about two and a half years ago. It was the best $2,000 I ever spent. So you meditate an hour a day, and you do a different meditation every week. So by the end of the 16 week period, you have a sense for what are the meditations that you're good at. Sorry, not good at, but what work for you. So there's transcendental meditation, there's focusing on your breath, all these things. One of the things though that you think about is they're all effectively awareness meditations. And what that means is the end goal is that you're devoid of thought. That you're completely in the present. If you're to close your eyes, you're only seeing a black screen on the other side of your eyelids. And there's nothing going on, and that's when crazy stuff happens. Or nothing happens and it doesn't really matter. But that's effectively the goal. So that's one form of meditation. We also think about meditation from the perspective of visualization. There's a lot of people who part of their meditation exists as a visualizing the future. A future state of the world, or their life, or whatever. Or them accomplishing their goals that they want. And that is a form of meditation.
There's some woo woo stuff around this is attracting like the law of attraction and everything like that. I honestly am open minded enough to say, you know what? Sure, why not? I don't understand the universe. I'm not going to pretend that I know everything. If that works, fantastic. At the very least, it's a really good way to at least envision how your day, how your life is going to be. And actually pull yourself towards that, and have the positive emotions that move in that direction. But one thing that I've always been disappointed with is what the hell happens when you actually have really negative emotions. You can be really aware, and you can be really positive. But it's all going to be bullshit, if you're actually feeling sad, or you're actually feeling really stressed. So the first part of my meditation every day is I basically let every possible negative emotion that I have felt in the last however much time. I have all of that, and I just let it come up. And it's usually pretty bad. Because sometimes it could be something in the last day. Sometimes it could be something that happened seven years ago that still, it just came up from me. But it turns out it's triggering, because otherwise why would it have come up?
So what I do is I actually find myself, and I allow it to be there. Because this is a safe space where I can let these bad emotions be there, or negative, or whatever you want to call them. I let it come up. I just douse it with compassion, and I douse myself. If it's hard to disidentify with the emotion, then I imagine a little kid in me that's having this negative emotion. Because that helps separate me from the negative emotion. I say okay, well this kid is having to anger because it's a very normal reason why this kid would have the anger.
Yeah, it's interesting. So are these emotions something that you regret, because you messed up and you made a mistake? This emotions where some other person in the world's screwed you over. Are you compassionate to all of that? You're compassionate to yourself. When you made that mistake, you're compassionate to the person that's threatening or attacking you. You're compassionate towards the rock in the road that made you trip. You're just compassionate to everything.
Either compassion, or forgiveness, which is the same side. It's like a flip side of the same coin. And I think it's also to to a certain degree, acceptance/faith. You don't have to be religious to have the word faith. It can just be like, "Look, this is going to work out. However it works out, it's going to work out." So you can say well that's either acceptance, or that's faith or whatever. So if you can get to that perspective, if you can actively put compassion in the field. And it sounds weird, but literally surround your negative emotion. You can even visualize this. Surrounding whatever your negative emotion is. Maybe that's a ball. Maybe that's this little kid.
Surround it with the compassionate or the positive emotion, and let it be there. Sometimes it might not dissipate for awhile, but other times it does. So what's actually funny is that I can identify where in my body I feel these negative emotions. And so for me, anger comes here in my solar plexus. Sadness comes in my gut area. Some sort of betrayals sometimes comes around my heart area, or some sort of desire also comes there too. So I let all these things go. I don't let them go in a passive sense, but I actually move through them.
So desire like jealousy.
You're like, "Okay, I wish I had a nice car. I wish I had that person's success."
Yeah. Or, "Hey Ample, I wish we had done better. I really need to do X amount of revenue next month or next quarter." And to say it's cool to act, and to do that, and to work towards that. But to have detachment to that isn't actually necessarily.
Right. So you have compassion around it where it's like you try as hard as you can...but I have faith, I have acceptance that the outcome's going to be the outcome. I cannot control it necessarily.
Exactly. I think we were talking about right before this meeting, I've been listening to that. I just read it for the third time. But for a relatively type A person, I think it's really nice to have that little zen attitude to it. But so for me, what I do is I go through this process. And I know it's hard for someone who's never even stepped into the meditation world for me to talk about all these emotions when most people are like, "Shit, I only have two emotions. I'm either pissed off from not pissed off." There are people like that who don't really have the emotional ability yet to identify with them. That's fine. But I've found that it's very, very helpful. If negative emotions don't come up, if I'm just like, "Yeah, I'm good today," which sometimes happens. Then that's cool.
I can immediately go towards the the open awareness or the positive stuff. And hey, you know what? If in the course of my positivity, if all of a sudden I'm thinking in the back of my head I've got doubt. Like no, I can't ever do that. I can't be this such and such person. Then it's like I've got some resistance coming up. I identified a medium, I'm like great. I have you negative emotion. Now I'm going to just douse you and smother you and compassion yet again, and you're going to die. And it's really fun, man. It's honestly the most fun part of my day.
That's wild. And do you have a timer for the hour, or is this pretty organic?
It's pretty organic.
You kind of just know. I wake up, I'm going to go into my meditation area and think through some of these things. And then when you're done, go on with your day. Do you have an alarm that goes off and it's an hour?
So it's generally an hour. Sometimes it's a little bit more if I'm dealing with some pretty heavy stuff. In the last five months or so, I've dealt with a lot of stuff from my middle school and high school era type of ... you can call it trauma, whatever you want to call it. But I've dealt with a lot of stuff that I didn't realize were triggers for me in the now. So sometimes those come up and I'm like, "All right, great. We're going to deal with them." I think the having a rough scaffold for how it's going to go and then letting my intuition play off after that.
But I think the one thing that has come out of this and which is really, really important. I don't think it's trivial at all, is that what's come out of this is a totally all pervasive sense of strength and empowerment that I can deal with anything. Because ultimately, no matter what happens, there's a certain subset of emotions. There's shame, there's guilt, there's fear, there's apathy, there's depression, there's sadness, there's anger, there's desire, there's whatever else. There's a handful of them. If you know how to deal with those emotions, no matter what the hell comes up in your life, they're going to just go through those same trigger points. And if you can just deal with that, it doesn't really matter what happens in your life and you're going to be fine no matter what.
It's pretty fucking awesome.
Yeah. Like essentially all possible negative things, you understand how to deal with it.
I literally feel as if I'm this video game character. Some would say-
It's a type of enemy. You figure out the strategy to beat them.
Exactly. And then by beating them, you level up. Then you're like great, I'm not going to let that type of enemy beat me again because now I used to be level 12, now I'm level 13. And that was a level 12 bus. But now I'm better.
Cool to hear that you essentially have almost done self therapy and given yourself a lot more confidence, awareness.
So first of all, I do have a therapist and I go to her every Tuesday. It's Tuesday, so I'm going to see her tonight. It's going to be fantastic. But I would say that a lot of people go to ... first of all, therapy is very stigmatized even now, and especially for males, even now. So definitely not a bad thing no matter what.
I mean, you're talking about pretty openly. Yeah.
Yeah. I am. I don't think a lot of people would. But I would say that certain times, you're going to get stuck. There's a couple of emotions right now that I've identified and I'm getting stuck. But it's like all right, great. What's the user manual for the level 12 bus on this particular thing? I go to her and be like, "Yo, I'm struggling with this one." But the difference that's between where I'm coming from and where I think most people come from in terms of their therapy sessions is one, they're not doing the work in the middle of the week.
I'm doing an hour's worth of work every morning. So I have seven hours under my belt of working with this stuff before I talk to this therapist. And then it's like that's practice, where I'm actually working with. But I think the second part of it is you only talk to a therapist or someone when you're really in a bad state and you're like, "Oh man, I'm really unhappy." Well that's like going to a doctor only for emergency rooms. It's like you can do that, but what's the preventative side of things? Wouldn't you just want to be really fricking happy with your life? Wouldn't you really like ... because there really is no limit to the amount of happiness that you can have. You just got to work through it. And although you're talking about people are not like as happy as they could be, I think it's probably because they're completely okay with being sub happy.
Or they're not thinking about it. That's something in their control. I think-
That's a good point.
I think part of it's we have so much distraction available at any given point. Our smart phones, you get your Facebook, your Instagram, you just distract yourself. And I think that might be part of it. You never process anything anymore. You're just completely reactive to what's on your phone.
You're both reactive. And also, the problem is this is hard shit. Although I say it's a fun part of my day, it's fun because I'm open to the challenge. But it's like a workout where it's like you feel accomplished after you're done. But it's going to be painful in the time and you're like, "Wow, I'm actually going to have to face my demons here." And there might be some doors in my subconscious mind that I've literally never opened for years. What are those doors that I'm going to have to come in and do? And it's much easier to just push them off and say I don't really need to deal with them. I'm just going to put it aside. But I think for me, I really want to take ownership of all of my emotions in my entire life. So it's like all right, great. Now I've gotten into the habit of facing these demons every day.
Yeah. I'm hopeful that the discourse around internal work changes. Because I feel like it's only been within the last two, three years where this has been discussed in a more serious form. Where I think five, 10 years ago, you'd been like, "Dude, you're on some eastern oriental ... you're trying to be some Buddhist monk or something." Now I think the some of the evidence is building up, and I think more and more serious people are looking at it as a serious inquiry. I think this is not to say that it's good or bad. I think 100 years ago if it's like hey, you're going to a box to like do muscle ups. Why is that person doing that now? And now, exercising and working out is very, very sensible. Yeah. And maybe it's a time with mental, that mental-
I'm really hoping someone, I'm glad that we're having this conversation. I'm really thankful actually that you're giving me the time to talk about this. Because this as I mentioned, I'm really, really passionate about it. And I think that it's one of the biggest things that is missing in our society. Especially because it's like sure, you could be a Buddhist monk like you're talking about. But also, why do I want to do this? Yes, I want to be happy, but I also want to be a freaking successful CEO. I can't do that if I don't have my emotions under control.
I think that there's a big difference between running on autopilot and really truly facing each day as if I'm owning it. So I just realized like wow, there were certain times in Ample's past where I was-
I was reactive, and I was also running on autopilot, almost not really excited about stuff. And I'm like, "Well, that's got to change. How do I get that to change?" But instead of blaming it, instead of being like, "Oh crap, my life is screwed now because what I thought was my passion is no longer my passion." I'm like all right, maybe I got some stuff underneath all of this. Because if there is resistance, it's probably because there's some emotional thing behind it. So let's dive into that and figure it out.
I think this could be its own specific podcast. We'll probably want to have a deeper conversation around some of our internal explorations there.
Oh man, I'd be so excited.
But I want to just almost wrap up. I think we're going a little bit long here, is that I like to ask one, we've got to learn about what's upcoming next for the world in Ample. But also one final question I like to ask is from more of a scientific lens, if you had infinite resources, and subjects, and capacity, what kind of clinical researcher or study would you like to see run? Whether that's Ample related or not Ample related. And then the second part would be what's new, what's big in 2019 for Ample?
Does it have to be nutrition related?
Okay, great. So I love nutrition obviously. But I would do a, I don't exactly have the study yet in my mind completely identified. But it'd be something related to productivity and ability for someone to really truly work with their emotions. I think if we could tie the lens, or tie the dot, or connect the dots between actual work productivity and psychological wellbeing. In a really, really definitive way. I think-
That's a no brainer. Everyone would do it.
Everyone would do it, and every company would see how useful and beneficial it is. What's hard for me and for everyone is therapy costs money, all these things cost money. And there are certain things that they're just prohibitive to the average person. I would want to reduce that barrier for everyone, because it's just been so instrumental for me in my life that I think that that would be really impactful. So if I had unlimited resources, I would do that. Yeah. And then of course, your second question or your first question, what's new with me, or what's new with Ample. We actually just finished up an equity crowdfunding campaign where we had over 1,200 people invest in Ample the company for about $800,000, which is really exciting.
Yeah, thanks. It was one of the most successful campaigns in equity crowdfunding history, which is really exciting. So that's what we just finished up. I've just started my own podcast, which we're fiddling with the name here a little bit. So at some point, I would love to have you on as a guest.
And then from a product level, right now we have Ample Original, we have Ample V which is our plant based, and we have Ample K. In less than two months or so, and I don't know when this podcast will come out. We're going to have a bulk version of all of our products come out. So it'll just be a bag with basically 6,000 calories. So that's 15, 400 calorie meals. So that's really exciting. And then shortly after that, we're going to be launching chocolate flavors of all of our products, which is really exciting. Bulk packaging and flavors have been the two highest demand things from our consumers, so we're excited to get those out to people in the next few months.
Cool. So how do people fall along for Ample news? I guess you've got Twitter, you've got Facebook. What are the channels, what are the shoutouts?
Yeah. So first of all, firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to email. Of course, just go to amplemeal.com to check out the website, and check out the product. We're available on Amazon as well. Just Amazon search Ample on there. And then we're on Instagram @amplemeal. We're at Twitter @amplemeal. Then we're at /amplemeal for Facebook. So we got all those things.
All right. Cool. Thanks so much for taking the time to chat. It was a great conversation.
Yeah, appreciate it.
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