Fitness + Health + Wisdom + Wealth

LyfeFuel Founder : Chris Manderino


Guest: Chris Manderino

Release Date: 5/13/2024

Welcome to Trulyfit the online fitness marketplace connecting pros and clients through unique fitness business software.  

Steve Washuta : Welcome to Trulyfit. Welcome to the Trulyfit podcast where we interview experts in fitness and health to expand our wisdom and wealth. I’m your host, Steve Washuta. Co Founder of Trulyfit and author of Fitness Business 101.  

Steve Washuta : On today’s episode I have on Chris man to Reno, who is a former NFL fullback and now the founder of life fuel. What is like fuel while they’re a supplement company, specifically a plant based whole food supplement company. No soy no dairy vegan friendly made with real whole food ingredients or ethically sourced ingredients sustainable, non GMO, and yes, 100% plant based.  

Steve Washuta : Today, we’re going to be talking about some of the lightfield products. But in addition to that, we talked about Chris’s career in the NFL and what he learned what Chris learned at working alongside bariatric physicians in that space. And in addition to that, what he has learned from a business standpoint, having a supplement company, what can you pass on to others who are thinking about maybe starting a supplement company or really any business?  

Steve Washuta :  There’s certainly valuable lessons to be learned here. It was a great conversation, we talked about everything from science to business to football. With no further ado, here’s Chris, Chris, welcome to the truly fit podcast when you give my listeners and audience a little background on who you are, and what you do day to day in the health and fitness industry.  

Chris Manderino :    Steve, great to be here. So excited to be a guest on the podcast. So my name is Chris Manderino. I’m the co founder at Lyfefuel. Lyfefuel is a complete nutrition company rooted in plant based whole foods. Previous experience was as a professional NFL athlete, and then firsthand experience on kind of the medical side of nutrition working in geriatrics.  

Chris Manderino :  And for those who aren’t familiar, that’s weight loss surgery and medical weight management before deciding to take the entrepreneurial route and blame both that combined, I guess experience as a professional athlete, and then in the business side and medical side of nutrition to create what we’ve done at lightfield.  

Steve Washuta : What did you learn in bariatric that maybe helped you whether it was starting your career or making decisions based upon your company?  

Chris Manderino :  Oh, ton a ton. So I think you know, in bariatric, it’s obviously a pretty unique patient population, but a growing problem, the epidemic, really in the Western world, just people really struggling with obesity, and you know, the people that coming in for weight loss surgery, depending on the type of surgery, it’s really kind of the the last, you know, resort for many of them, they tried a bunch of different diets and just couldn’t get that to work for whatever reason.  

Chris Manderino :  And so, very ATTREX surgery was really kind of a tool that altered the anatomy really controlled and restricted amount of food one could eat. And that was simply the catalyst to reverse some of those chronic illnesses, really, and get the weight off. However, what I learned is when you know patients, regardless of whether they lost weight or not.  

Chris Manderino :  Those that took their nutrition really seriously and had adequate amounts of protein and all the micronutrients had way better outcomes, it looked a lot healthier, the type of weight they lost was, you know, more fat focused and not lean muscle wasting and those types of things versus those who didn’t take you know, their nutrition seriously. Although they had lost weight, they looked quite sickly, you know, hair loss, just you know, sagging skin, just you could see it in their eyes in their face the color of everything because they were undernourished.  

Chris Manderino : And so, you know, when you change the anatomy, and when you have, you know, that type of restricted eating, it becomes a lot more difficult to get, you know, all the nourishment you need from food alone. And so that supplementing and complementing their their regular diet with the proper targeted nutritional supplements was a key to their success. And it was during that time where I saw, you know, much broader problem, I guess, existing in American society where we’re not getting the same nutrition from foods that we once were.  

Chris Manderino :   And so you have this problem of not not necessarily nutritional deficiency, although that does affect, you know, certain subsets of the population is nutrition insufficiency. And it’s kind of like this silent thing where your body’s taking, you know, key nutrients from where it can get it just to kind of survive, essentially.  

Chris Manderino :   And Bruce Ames has an interesting theory around this topic. It’s called the nutritional triage theory of aging, which posits when you’re depleted are insufficient and essential vitamins and minerals. Basically, you’re sacrificing long term health for short term survival.  

Steve Washuta :   Yeah, they talk a lot about that. Now in the recent studies, people always argue about how much protein should you have, right, what percentage of your diet should be protein, and now they’re showing a lot of longevity studies, because that’s what people are focused on now.  

Steve Washuta :   Right? It’s not just manatees longevity, that shows Yeah, you can have a certain number of what you consider adequate amount of protein. And that might make you build muscle and look better. But as far as longevity is concerned, that’s not always the best thing for you to have a diet that’s extremely rich in protein.  

Chris Manderino :   I think there’s a balance, right, there’s balance to everything, and it really comes down to your goals as well. So if you’re, you know, a bodybuilder and you’re trying to compete, you know, at a high level, then you know, your protein needs are very, gonna be very different than the average person.  

Chris Manderino :   So, I think, depending on your physical fitness, and kind of what you’re trying to optimize for those protein intakes, you know, vary, but I think, you know, the role of protein in the diet is, is really paramount. It is, you know, I’ve been, what it boils down to is the structural building blocks of, you know, the lean muscle and the satiety factor, right, when you really build your meal around protein, not to over consume protein, but really around protein, you know.  

Chris Manderino :   That will keep you full for longer, it’s going to help mitigate against, you know, sticking out less desirable foods, because you’re, you know, have all these other cravings and stuff like that. So, you know, protein is obviously essential, but I think we overestimate know, maybe the amount of protein we might need, depending on, you know, if we’re assuming physically active, or if we’re just living a sedentary lifestyle where we’re not getting much physical activity, then you probably don’t need as much.  

Steve Washuta :   Sure, yeah. And you know, in the social media age, most people take their advice from people who don’t actually live similar lives to them. So there’s a guy who is on all sorts of illicit drugs, who weighs 280 pounds, with 7%, body fat, who, of course, he’s telling you that he’s eating 290 grams of protein a day, that doesn’t mean you the 170 pound guy, who’s an accountant who’s sitting at his desk, and maybe works out three times a week also needs to eat 280 grams of protein.  

Chris Manderino :   Yeah, exactly, yeah. And that’s gonna put undue stress on, you know, some of the essential organs, kidneys, and all that just trying to break down and process all that protein. At the end of the day, it really comes down to what you can actually absorb and utilize. So it’s not just the absolute number of protein, but it’s the quality of that protein. And that goes for any food or nutrient as well, right.  

Chris Manderino : So that’s where they have different ways to measure protein quality and protein digestibility. The kind of gold standard for that for a long time was the PT Cass score, which is now evolved, and you got the DeVos score, or whatever, that is kind of a marker of, okay, based off, you know, these proteins and how they get absorbed and digested. This is like the utilization of that.  

Chris Manderino :   And so there is, you know, certain you can get into different things on this, but there’s like, also the leucine threshold, right? What amount of Leucine do you need per meal, essentially, to maintain muscle protein synthesis versus going into muscle protein breakdown. And again, that goes back to the BCA breakdown of the foods and the types of proteins and the digestibility of all that.

Steve Washuta : You know, there’s a lot of arguments now. And I guess you would call like, the biological value of certain proteins, and how they’re digested, there was a documentary that was out recently, sort of promoting more vegan based dietary habits that was saying, you know.  

Steve Washuta : It’s kind of antiquated the process that they were using beforehand, and now that we’re able to maybe assess lower this is beyond my my scope, but in the duodenum or something, they were able to find that. No, we actually there were digesting vegan proteins to the same extent of the biological value of some of the other proteins where we didn’t think that was the case.  

Chris Manderino :   Yeah, yeah. And there’s more studies coming out, especially now that, you know, alternative proteins, plant based proteins are kind of, you know, more actively sought out by consumer base.  

Chris Manderino :   Now, there’s more funding more research going into, you know, the biological value of this versus animal based proteins, a lot of that is looking at, you know, the effects of like, you know, pea and rice protein versus a whey based protein and the impact of like, muscle building over certain trial duration, and some of those studies show that there’s not really a primary difference between the two.  

Chris Manderino :   And you know, even you know, with plant based diets exclusively, the knock against plant based proteins has always been, for the most part, they’re incomplete sources of protein but Think that’s looking at things through a very narrow lens, assuming somebody is going to eat a single food all day, right? While you eat his pizza, right. And that’s the only way that you get your protein.  

Chris Manderino :   But you know, there’s there’s protein and vegetables, it’s protein, you’re getting it from a myriad of different sources in your body knows what to do with all those different sources. And you saw you don’t see, protein deficiency exists, you know, at all anymore, right? It’s very, very, very, very rare. 

Steve Washuta : That’s a great argument. It’s like saying, Well, you know, water doesn’t have all the nutrients you need, while you’re gonna drink water. It’s a well, because this is a puzzle, and you’re not doing this in a vacuum, I’m not only allowed to have a vegan protein shake, right, I can also eat other things throughout the day. So.   Steve Washuta   So if people do have a really weird argument, they compare one to one without looking at, we’re looking at the full spectrum of food that you would eat in a day. We’re not just comparing one to one.  

Chris Manderino :   Yeah, that’s, you know, you look at something like the Krebs cycle, or metabolic process or any of these things. I mean, they’re incredibly complex, right? And to try to distill, you know, what we down into these like singular like very simplistic things.  

Chris Manderino : It’s kind of silly and naive when you think about all the different chemical and enzymatic processes that is happening when you ingest, you know, you consume anything, you know, the body is like working its magic to know how to utilize all that. And serve us in the best possible way. 

Steve Washuta : Yeah, not to mention, we’re also biodiverse. You know, I would imagine, maybe you know more about this than I do. But if I’m an Alaskan Inuit, and for six generations, my family has been eating nothing. But let’s say meat and fish, and I haven’t had a lot of vegetables, maybe it’s harder for me to process these things, because now my gut biome has been developed genetically, you know, epigenetically, through the years to now digest this other kind of food.  

Steve Washuta : Whereas in someone else who grew up in more of a grassy area where they had more access to fruits and vegetation, their gut biome might be different. Absolutely.  

Chris Manderino :   And that’s a whole concept of bio individuality. And so to look at anything in a vacuum, and try to present one diet as being, you know, the optimal diet is just foolish. You have to look at and have one experimentation and understanding what your personal needs and goals are, you know, socio economics, genetics, gut microbiome, ancestry, you know, there’s so many different cofactors and tastes and preferences and all that and enjoyability of the food and stuff that you’re consuming at the end of the day, right, and the social aspect.  

Chris Manderino : So there’s, you know, all these different things that oftentimes get failed to take into consideration when just looking at, you know, dietary theory, vegan versus keto, and all this stuff. While great, you know, from kind of, I guess, study standpoint, not necessarily transfers, transferable always to the individual, that’s where you have to really fine tune things and figure out what your body uniquely needs. 

Steve Washuta : Yeah, well said. And to add to that, or maybe put a bow on this, you know, we had a physician who was dual board certified in interventional radiology, and obesity medicine. And he figured out a way to use the integrated interventional radiology through bariatric so basically singe the hunger nerve, right? To, to cauterize it for lack of a better term.  

Steve Washuta : And that’s great, that’s a great start. But like you said, afterwards, we still need the right nutrients, right, it’s not just about helping on the front end to make sure people are eating less, they still need to know what to eat, and they need to eat the proper things to make sure that their body is functioning correctly.  

Steve Washuta : And that’s a that’s a whole different side of medicine, right? That’s not really what’s touched on, we usually just do the first intervention, and then we leave it on the patient to figure out their own way. And a lot of times, that doesn’t happen, right? That’s why there’s so many of these surgeries that fail, so to speak.  

Chris Manderino :   Yeah, it’s, I think, we often overlook the quality of food and get too consumed by macronutrients or calories, or some of these other tangents, but if we just got back to kind of eating a more ancestral diet, you know, in an ideal world, we would all grow and raise all our own food, right, we would know exactly the inputs and outputs of that.  

Chris Manderino :   Obviously, we’re not going to spray that full of pesticides and chemicals and feed it, you know, unnatural things. Unfortunately, that’s not the food system that we have today, right? So you really have to be an advocate for your own health and seek out sources of fuel that align with whatever it is you’re trying to achieve.  

Chris Manderino :   It’s really if you can focus on the quality aspect ask 10 questions, you know, to your farmer to your you know, grocer or wherever you’re getting your food, then you’re gonna get closer to the outcome that you’re seeking. But if you’re just fixated on calories in calories out, you know, am I hitting my macro targets, you’re overlooking a much more important criteria when making choices around food and that is what is the quality of nature, what is the nutrient density of this what’s not in it?  

Chris Manderino : What’s What was it fed, how was it raised, you know those types of things. And the body has an amazing ability when when fed with the proper, like high quality, nutrient fuel sources to partition that as it as it needs to your satiety, you know, you’re gonna feel full, because if you ate 1000 calories of sweet potatoes versus 1000 calories of Doritos, you’d be tasked to try to get through those 1000 calories of sweet potatoes, but you might, you know, jam through the Doritos and want another 1000 or 2000 calories after it so that the qualitative and nutrient aspects of food really does matter.  

Steve Washuta : Let’s step away from the science and go to the marketing and development for a second, I’m assuming this you can tell me if I’m wrong, that having bars is a nightmare. Powder seems relatively easy, right? It’s a powder, most of them taste good, and that they have a flavor, whatever it is chocolate fudge, double chocolate, vanilla.   

Steve Washuta : I’ve had all the powders in the world majority of them taste well, especially for somebody who’s been having them for a long period of time, you kind of understand the texture. Protein Bars are also very different, right? The taste profiles, the textures, and more often than not, they’re not very good. It’s harder to me to make one. On top of that you also have to have individual packaging. Why did you decide to do to go this route? And tell me about the differences between making that and a powder?  

Chris Manderino :   Yeah, so you know, starting a bar was No, I guess, easy fee. And I’m certainly happy that it’s not like our core focus, due to some of the constraints and challenges that you expressed, I mean, margins or bars are quite small, you got to sell a ton of them to really make it a viable business. So it’s really a complementary product, it’s been good for us to just find another way for people to get the essential nutrients they need.  

Chris Manderino :   And it can convenient on the go format. So when you don’t have time to even make a shake, which sounds crazy, but you know, it takes maybe 60 seconds to two minutes, you know that that portable format that you can travel with and on the go and still get that full spectrum of vitamins and minerals was an interesting way to accomplish that.  

Chris Manderino :   Plus, I think in terms of just getting an instant response and showcasing the brand, what it’s about the way that we develop the bars being 100% Real Food base, every single one of our micronutrients is something that you can grow in your own backyard in your garden, that to us became quite interesting and compelling, because that’s the road that we’re going down. Now, with the reformulation of our hero product, the essential shakes.  

Chris Manderino : So that’s really kind of our core value prop is to be 100% Real Food Nutrition. And there’s less than 1% of nutrition supplement companies out there that that are doing that. And you can say that in the way that we’re doing it the comprehensive nature of the products. And so that’s innovation that exists today that didn’t exist when first started, the bars was kind of an easier route for us to go do that.  

Chris Manderino : Also, this tidy factor, we use a superfood in there plus really high fiber to kind of help really do what a bar should do, which is kind of curb hunger between meals, right? It’s not really intended to be female. But when you’re in a pinch, you’re on the go, you just need something to satiate you a bar is a great way of doing that. As long as it’s not loaded with a bunch of crap, which candidly, a lot of bars are, you know, they’re just candy bars and six in disguise, at the end of the day.  

Chris Manderino :   So we feel like we did some some special things with the bar, obviously, you know, getting it to taste great. And all that was was challenging. And now you know, shorter shelf life than what we have in powders. That’s something that we’re kind of trying to figure out as well right being a newer product, trying to establish sales velocity, you’ve got, you know, much shorter shelf life and so trying to ramp it up.  

Chris Manderino : It’s all kind of challenging and then not kind of running into like wasted inventory and trying to offload this stuff. If you’ve kind of haven’t sold quite as quickly as you thought you did. You would when you’ve run those bars. So way more challenging for sure. But again, that’s where like we go out of stock on a bar last have a financial impact for us and going out of stock on arco products which are really the powder formulations.  

Steve Washuta   Yeah, I’m not sure if you guys are in stores. You can tell me that after this. But I will say when I’m inside of a store, whatever it is, it could be something like Target or something like a GNC. My eyes are always because they’re usually at that mid shelf level are drawn to protein bars, whereas in the powders are not right because most people are not going to those stores for that. So those are on the top shelf.  

Steve Washuta :   I’ve never even looked at there because when I buy my powders, I buy them online. I already have a brand that I know like and trust and I’m buying them through online but bars that’s not the case because I want to try something novel here and there.  

Steve Washuta   So I go to the store and maybe this is just anecdotal but I assume this is how It works because that’s what they sell them individually to in stores, not just in boxes where they can go to the store and go, I’ve never tried this one, this looks good. Let me look at the back of this, oh, it has all natural ingredients, boom, I grab it. So I do think there is an advantage from like a branding perspective to have a bar?  

Chris Manderino : Absolutely. I think, you know, at some point, we’ll look at exploring retail further. I mean, that’s really the key trying to grow. Like, if you’re just trying to start a bar company without a retail presence, I think it’s almost impossible, like extremely, extremely challenging. One, it’s very competitive. And so like the online space is, is tough, but even retail, you know, to stand out on shelf, it’s challenging.  

Chris Manderino :   But I think that is where oftentimes that first experience happens, you know, somebody grabs one bar, two bars, whatever, it’s new, it’s novel, they’d like it, now they’re coming back. And so retail right now is we don’t, you know, it’s not something that we’ve pursued, we actually pulled out of, you know, retail, when we dabbled in it early on in our customer lifecycle, we’ll revisit you with the right opportunities, the right you know, organic retailers and try to do that stage by stage.  

Chris Manderino :   But I think that like the pop up displays, and just kind of point of purchase, you know, checkout, like, that’s definitely a huge opportunity. And, you know, maybe there’s a different way to think about retail, maybe its integration with boutique fitness and stuff, which we’ve done a little bit of, and then you’re kind of honing in on that direct, you know, target demographic to then have that exponential kind of first impact with the brand.  

Chris Manderino : And then maybe recurring purchases come online, because right, right now, we just sell full box bars online, does it make sense for us economically to break those down into, you know, individual buyers to sell? Because just the cost of shipping alone would destroy any margin on him?  

Steve Washuta : Yeah. Well, staying on that topic, convince a listener who wants to start a supplement company to not do it? Or to do it, what would you say?  

Chris Manderino : Depends, I would really think about what is the unique problem that you’re trying to solve? What is the value proposition of the product or products that you’re you’re looking to bring the market, I think in the supplement industry, there’s a bunch of white label a private label, just nice to meet you stuff out there.  

Chris Manderino :   So you know, even in the protein space, like, you know, I never sought out to start a, you know, protein powder, or creative protein powder, you know, to me, that’s kind of a waste of money for consumers, for the most part, and a waste of time, from a business objective. Because you’re literally taking a commodity throwing in your bags and putting, you know, a bunch of like marketing in on it.  

Chris Manderino : Whereas, you know, what we’ve done, we really look at nutrition in a more comprehensive way, the same thing, that when you bite into an apple, you’re not just getting a single nutrient, but you’re getting a whole host of different vitamins, minerals, nutrients in that Apple itself. And so we wanted to develop that in a line of convenient, functional foods that people can, you know, really integrate into their, their daily routine.  

Chris Manderino : So, you know, I think there’s plenty of opportunity in the space, but you really have to dig deeper now and really understand, you know, where those opportunities are, where there’s kind of a niche where others are kind of not paying attention to and try to develop a hero product around that.  

Chris Manderino :   But I think the days of, you know, trying to be like the NOW Foods or, you know, these companies that sell, you know, 200 plus different skews, I don’t think the consumers really looking for that, I think it’s, you know, definitely a reductionist approach to nutrition, as opposed to a holistic approach to nutrition.  

Chris Manderino : And, you know, you can get a lot more bang for your buck with a complete nutrition source, like what we’ve created, like fuel that still uses, you know, high level size to, you know, pinpoint these specific levels of key vitamins, minerals, nutrients that are largely lacking or missing in, in modern diet. And then you’ve got that therapeutic side where it’s like, okay, I want to focus on longevity.  

Chris Manderino :   Okay, well, what are the like proven things out there that can maybe help with longevity? And maybe that’s what it is. But yeah, private label supplements definitely don’t recommend unless you just got like a boatload of money. And you can just blow it out in the water on a marketing standpoint, because then it’s just like, you’re forcing yourself into existence. And you’ve got the I guess, the money to be able to do that.  

Steve Washuta :   We might have buried the lede a little bit. So I want to go back to what you used to do prior to owning this company. You were a collegiate football player and then you went to the NFL as a fullback. That’s correct. Yeah, that’s correct. And I imagine at that point in your life, you’re eating anything and everything to keep on weight and to keep on muscle because you don’t look like you’re 250 pounds now which you probably have to be as a fullback or close to it.  

Steve Washuta : So, tell me, tell me now I’m gonna give you a scenario. Right, a hypothetical here. I love hypotheticals. If you were working with let’s, let’s not even say NFL, let’s say, a collegiate team, and you had to sort of, you know, audit what they were doing food wise, nutrition wise, how do you think you could potentially help them?  

Steve Washuta : What would be your guidance on? Now I know, there’s a huge difference between what a fullback and a cornerback and an offensive guard should eat and should do, but what do they may be missing as far as nutrients are concerned? And dietary habits?  

Chris Manderino :   That’s a great question. I’d like to think that it’s evolved since I’ve played but there wasn’t a lot of guidance. At the time, right, you had, you know, maybe a dietician that would you know, help you kind of create a meal plan, if you saw it out, or, you know, if you were somebody that you know, really needed to gain weight or lose weight, you could kind of, you know, get some assistance, but again, it was kind of, you know, macros calories, eat these types of things, and fairly surface level.  

Chris Manderino :   And so now at the collegiate level, and certainly the professional level, I think, a very interesting thing to do, would be able to combine, you know, in depth diagnostic testing to better cater a nutritional GamePlan for the individual athlete. So that’s taking into consideration, you know, their micronutrient status, where they’re at now understanding, you know, if they’re depleted any of these, you know, essential vitamins and minerals, making sure they’re getting adequate amounts of that through predominantly diet.  

Chris Manderino :   So it would be focused around foods that are higher in those specific nutrient gaps, and then ensuring that, you know, that is complementary to their training, load, and whatever the their physical goals in terms of strength, body mass, and those types of things are unbeatable to track that effectively, over time, the same way that you’re tracking, you know, your increases in your squat, and your bench and all that, right, this needs to be more interconnected.  

Chris Manderino :   Whereas, you know, it’s still, at least from my experience, nutrition is still kind of secondary to everything else that you’re doing as an athlete. So I would just, you know, make that switch to put more at the forefront, and get, you know, whoever those key decision makers makers are the coaches or just the athletes themselves to understand that trician can actually be this competitive advantage, if you really take it, take it seriously.  

Chris Manderino :   And I know, you know, again, based off my experience, it’s really not, you know, you have a lot of guys that are still eating, you know, McDonald’s and fun, right, they’re still performing at a really high level. But you can’t help to ask the question, well, what if? What if we tried? What if you were more dialed in? Are you leaving something on the table?  

Chris Manderino :   As an athlete based off all the science that we have around nutrition? Are you able to recover faster? Right? That’s huge. So you know, you don’t really know until you’ve kind of gotten into kind of the individual what they’re doing on a daily basis, and then have the buy in from coaching staff and the players themselves.  

Chris Manderino : Okay, yeah, I want to seek this out. And at the professional level, you definitely see it a lot more, you know, guys that go on to have, you know, 20 year careers, these guys are dialed in with their nutrition, that it’s just matter of fact, at that point, and often gets overlooked when you’re much younger at the collegiate age, because you can get away with a lot more.  

Steve Washuta : Well, I think the key is, it’s not just the age, it’s the fact that you’re only in college for three or four years. And that what a lot of these nutritional components are what we call an economics, lagging indicators, meaning you, you’re doing things now that don’t actually have a deleterious effect to you now, but that doesn’t mean it’s not going to down the road.  

Steve Washuta : Right. So Chad, Ochocinco Marshawn Lynch talk about eating three bags of Skittles before the game right? I think DK Metcalf still does. Yeah, okay, I get that. But you guys are young, and you’re at the your prime of your life, that doesn’t mean that’s going to help you when you’re 34. And that doesn’t mean it’s going to help you get to 34 and still be a professional athlete.  

Steve Washuta : So I think that’s, that’s really the problem is that if you it’s not this instantaneous benefit, always that you’re going to see nutrition people go oh, I took vitamins like I don’t feel any energy. That’s what I’ve climbed. The energy from these vitamins.  

Steve Washuta : Like that’s not the purpose, you know, energy is is and vitamins are not. Those aren’t synonyms, like calories and energy are synonyms in the nutrition world. Right. So they people don’t understand that. These are lagging benefits or lagging indicators. Sometimes you have to stay the course to see the benefits.  

Chris Manderino :   Absolutely. I think, you know, even beyond the game itself, right? So you’re eating in a certain way while you’re in the sport, right? You’re trying to you know, pack on pounds pack on muscle, but you know those habits that you develop up at that point in time, especially in those collegiate years, high school years, those carry forward throughout life.  

Chris Manderino :   And so that I think is even more important to think about because I have, you know, a lot of guys that I played with that still eat, like, you know, we’re sitting around, you know, like we’re training two days, you know, just hammering the weights. And that was like our full time job, right. And because it didn’t change or alter those habits, which are really tough to break, when you’ve done something for so long to change.  

Chris Manderino :   And now seek out the education information about what you should do. Now for longevity, it’s tough to make that switch. And so you know, if you can have those habits earlier on, this is going to carry forward with you long after you’re done playing, and then help you maintain a normal body weight, or get back to a normal body weight, and, you know, mitigate a lot of the inflammatory nature of some of those foods and just life in general. So I think it’s really important to think about it from you know, a long term longevity perspective, instead of just like, you know, that short shelf life of being an athlete,  

Steve Washuta : staying on your career and training, I’ve actually talked to other collegiate fullbacks before never an NFL fullback, but certainly people who are high level athletes in all different sports. And you will hear some of them say, they actually hate lifting now, because it was a punishment, right to wake up 5am  

Steve Washuta :   Every day, and have to sometimes be tortured, basically lift into your puking, right, you’re, you’re pushed to your limits, you built sort of a negative affiliation with the lifting, do you feel that have you sort of maybe also have a more well rounded approach and you’re not just doing you know, traditional lifting that you would assume a fullback is and that you’re doing mobility work and stretching and things of that nature now? 

Chris Manderino : Yeah, it’s,   it’s definitely evolved in phases like, I’m 41 years old now. And so I’m definitely not training at the same level that I was when I was playing in the NFL. But there was a chapter when I was done playing NFL that I was still kind of doing a lot of the workouts in a similar fashion, especially from the weight based side, I got into CrossFit for a while, and I really enjoyed kind of the competitive nature, it really was that outlet for me if, you know, finding that during that post athletic career, however, that started to take a toll on my body, and they just beat me down, right.  

Chris Manderino :   And so, you know, I think mobility, as a result started to suffer, you just, you know, all the injuries that I had incurred from playing football, everything becomes a lot more painful. And so it, you know, I came to that realization that okay, maybe CrossFit is no longer the best modality for me, from a day to day training standpoint, what can I do to adapt this.  

Chris Manderino :   And so even today, I still use like, I think having a program, having a plan is really important. And kind of the progressive nature of weight training and resistance training is really it’s just fundamental, if you want to, you know, experience gains, but it doesn’t need to mean I’m squatting 400 plus pounds on a Monday morning, right.  

Chris Manderino   So there’s definitely more focused effort on flexibility, mobility, the time spent on training, it’s way more efficient, you know, might have an hour ish a day to get that done. But for me, it’s just, it’s so important to my daily routine, because it helps, you know, keep stress under control. It’s a nice, you know, mental outlet, it serves me in so many other ways beyond just the physical aspect of it.  

Chris Manderino :   And it’s a good balance to everything I experienced in day as an entrepreneur, the ups and downs of that, and just having that time for myself to be able to kind of continue to work on my health work on my body. And, you know, and listen, you know, and just be in tune with what’s going on and being able to step take a step back, because I’m not training for you. To hit linebackers in the mouth, you know, twice a day all day long. So, yeah, yeah.  

Steve Washuta : And I agree, it’s great to have a plan. And it’s also great to deviate from that plan. If you’re not feeling great, right. So you go in, you’ve done your dynamic warmup. Maybe you had a plan written out for the day, and you’re like, you know what, my shoulders cranky, most of this plan involves a lot of pushing exercises. I’m not going to do that today. I’m just gonna go on a two mile jog and call it call it quits.  

Steve Washuta :   And then tomorrow, I’ll maybe reassess to see if I can go through this plan. I think that’s important. And not everyone can do that, especially if they come from a background like you did, where things were maybe a little bit more structured, and they’re used to just pushing themselves and going, Well, my coach, my coach wouldn’t allow me to deviate.  

Steve Washuta : We had a plan in place. We had a three o’clock practice. I had to, you know, do the Oklahoma drill. So I’m gonna go do the Oklahoma drill. So it’s good that you’re able to sort of step back and reassess and understand that that’s that you don’t have to do it that way anymore.  

Chris Manderino : It’s not easy. It’s definitely not easy because there’s Still that voice in your head that’s like, you know, come on, you’ve got to do this, it’s on the paper, you know, you gotta finish. But, you know, having not listening to my body, I’ve definitely hurt myself. And so the setbacks of those injuries, you know, put you back, you know, an extra week 234, sometimes worse, right?  

Chris Manderino :   So having done that enough times, now it’s like, okay, just listen to the other side and say, Okay, if you’re not feeling it, there’s no harm in, you know, taking a step back, you know, really getting into the day, focusing on something else, just focus on mobility or whatever. Because, again, unless you’re training for something, and even if you are injury, and the, you know, time you lose, as a result of that injury is like way worse than squeezing out an extra rep or two and the, you know, small gains that you might get as a result of that.  

Steve Washuta : Yeah, I think even in sports now, there’s this misguided notion that there is no line of diminishing returns, like, oh, I can just keep working at strength strength. It’s like no, no, not only is the risk for injury now greater we’ve, which is, you know, we’ve seen more injuries now than we ever have before.  

Steve Washuta :   And yet, we’re supposed to have more orthopedist, and more people who understand kinesiology and the body and nutrition and health, why are we seeing more injuries? Well, people are pushing their bodies to such extremes. And they’re almost like, too muscular. Sometimes you see these NFL athletes just see these wide receivers, Mike? Well, you can’t, of course, of course, you have this, this hamstring injury, like look at your legs.  

Steve Washuta : They’re almost there. They’re too they’re too built up for your particular position and what you’re doing all the time. So I do think there will be eventually this more Tom Brady approach, kind of reverting back to saying like, Okay, well, I want longevity for my career. And I need to do a little bit more feeling out and, and focus on my diet and not focus so much on just pushing it to the absolute limit.  

Steve Washuta :   But that comes from people who maybe like you down the road, who get who they they asked you they ask people like me to come in and say, Can you audit this program? Like, what exactly are we doing wrong here? Because they’ve been doing the same thing.  

Steve Washuta : Since 1985. Really, right, they’re having change, right, they’re still going in, they still have the same squat racks, they still have the same goals that, you know, the programs have not changed that much. And I hope they do develop over the years, both for the players sake for their long term health and wellness, so they’re not crippled to 50. And, and for performance sake, because I think the performance will actually become better.  

Chris Manderino : I agree. 100%. And I would say similar to how nutrition is really an afterthought, or secondary, I think mobility and flexibility has also been that way from a strength and conditioning side of things. You know, there’s always okay, make sure we hit you know, the way it’s heavy.  

Chris Manderino :   And if we have time to stretch before after, like, that’s a bonus, you know, but it really comes down to, especially in athletics, like what is the force, right, that you’re generating. And that requires, yes, it’s strength, but it also requires the mobility and flexibility to ensure that muscle is able to explode and use that full range of motion and all that.  

Chris Manderino :   So if you only have one, if you’re just super buff and muscular, you know, but you don’t have that mobility and flexibility, then the application of you know, that muscle is reduced. Right. So you definitely need to find more of a balance between the two sides.  

Chris Manderino :   And I agree, I think some of that should and maybe it starts as a trickle down where you know, the guys that have seen what Brady did and all that. It started in NFL and then kind of makes it way down into the college ranks and that event, yeah, earlier on. 

Steve Washuta :   Yeah, And like we talked about before with the individuality, the biodiversity of food, the same thing goes for I compare everything to football, but sort of a crude analogy is like a cornerback needs different things than an offensive guard.  

Steve Washuta :   Right? Maybe the offensive guard can spend way more time bench pressing, because that’s, that’s a means to which he has to dominate. But the quarterback, that’s not necessarily the case. Right? So if he’s spending all of his time, benching, and worrying about, you know, his his ability to strengthen his shoulders and chest, he’s not spending that time on being able to whatever have better footwork.  

Steve Washuta : So thanks. Yeah, so what do you want to spend your time on? And that’s and I think that’s that’s really the problem and again, that goes that falls into the food world to what is your goal? Yeah, this work for this person, but do they have the same exact goals as you and the same exact body type as you do?  

Steve Washuta : And I think people overlook that now let’s go back to your your your supplements, your key supplements. What exactly do you feel like you guys have that the other competitor brands do not have? Whether that is particular nutrients, the amount of the nutrients or maybe just synergistically how they work?  

Chris Manderino : Yes, so our hero products is the essentials nutrition shake, it falls into that foundational nutrition meal replacement shake category. But what we did differently with that product is we really looked at what are the key vitamins and minerals that are largely lacking or missing in modern diets?  

Chris Manderino : And what are the science base levels of those nutrients that we all need to have that functional baseline essentially, for example, vitamin d3 plus k two, we’ve got more d3 k two, I mean, most products in our category, either don’t use d3, or k two at all, they use inferior sources using D two, and they don’t use k two at all.  

Chris Manderino :   But that’s so critical for ensuring that calcium gets out of the arteries and goes into the bones, where, where it belongs. And vitamin d3 works more like a hormone in the body than it does an actual vitamin. It’s involved in so many different processes and all that. So to not have d3 and que tu in a quote unquote, complete nutritional formulation.  

Chris Manderino :   You’re just overlooking the science, right? So some products in our space that your listeners might be familiar with something like an ag one, or Chava or huel. Ag one, you know, it’s got, you know, a very comparable vitamin and mineral mix to what we have, but there’s no protein and there’s no d3 Ketu, you’ve got to take that as a separate product. You know, a lot of the meal replacement shakes, they kind of you know, we check the box on the amount of nutrients.  

Chris Manderino :   Okay, we’ve got 10 to 20% across the board 21 Different micronutrients, but didn’t look at, you know, the different levels of what you’re probably already getting enough of through diet alone, and which ones were more at risk of not getting through our food sources due to the changing nature of the foods, the loss of nutrient density of the soil in which foods are grown, and those types of things.  

Chris Manderino :   And so that’s where, yes, to your point, all three of those things are specific nutrients that we have that others don’t the synergistic nature of those products. Again, one of our closest competitors has 600 milligrams with calcium in their products alongside, you know, a lot of these other kind of, you know, things that look great on paper.  

Chris Manderino :   But the reality is, without much calcium in a product, it forces out the absorption of some of these other key vitamins and minerals. And so these things do need to work synergistically. And it’s not just okay, more of everything is better, even though that’s usually the American mentality more is always better. That’s not the case, when it comes to nutrition better is better, more targeted, is what you need. And that’s where, you know, our formulations really stand out.  

Chris Manderino :   Plus, we don’t put a lot of like simple carbohydrates and other unnecessary fluff or fillers and carbs are not an essential nutrient. And so therefore, we just focused on really the nutrient density. What we’re doing in an updated formulation is we’re leaning into being 100% Real Whole Foods, similar to what I mentioned, that we’ve already done in our bars, and will be one of the only products that I’m aware of that can say and do that and still have this therapeutic levels of a lot of those essential vitamins and minerals, exclusively sourced from from real Whole Foods.  

Chris Manderino :   And so that’s going to increase the absorption bioavailability of all that it’s going to be more in line with what our natural our bodies crave and what they need, versus synthetic vitamins and minerals, which are chemically created and allowed usually start with sources that might shock a lot of people like petroleum and coal tar and, you know, just a lot of the weird stuff that exists in the supplement space that consumers are not necessarily privy to.  

Chris Manderino :   But our guess is that, you know, people who are, you know, taking a proactive approach to health will start to ask these questions around supplements, you know, we’re asking these questions now. Okay, where’s my food coming from? How’s it grown? What’s in it? You know, what’s in? You know, I’m avoiding Cetyl.  

Chris Manderino : It’s these types of things. I think the next big question asked is, are my supplements made? Where these ingredients come in from? What’s the difference between synthetic, you know, B 12. And, you know, methylated, B 12. And you’ve got some thought leaders that are now starting to lead the charge on that. And, you know, that’s where we’re going as a company and will be really kind of forward facing in that regard, as well. To bring all that to the consumers who really demand the best for their bodies. 

Steve Washuta : Yeah, it sounds like you’re really hitting every angle, you’re hitting the, okay, we don’t just have 10% of every vitamin, because that doesn’t make any sense. We need to see what people are deficient in. Maybe you get enough of this. We have less than 10%. Maybe you don’t get enough of this. So we have 18%. Right, that makes sense.  

Steve Washuta : You’re making sure that you don’t have too much of things that could that maybe have the same uptake transport channels, right if too. There’s too much calcium here that’s blocking the magnesium from getting in what the hell’s the point of taking all the calcium and then you also have the other final end of the spectrum to say, well, how we develop these we don’t have we’re not using all these synthetic chemicals.  

Steve Washuta : And we’re putting them in weird labs and places. We don’t know what’s going on with the sort of the QA process, and you know, we have an ability to do that. And I think like you said that people are going to be paying for supplements down the road and at least often right on a weekly, monthly yearly for the rest of their life basis are people who you would think are looking in to those particular thanks. 

Chris Manderino :   Yeah, we see that with our customer base, you know, we get those questions all the time, you know, people, they’re late avid label readers, they’re, they’re understanding that distinction, the reason why we use 500, micrograms of methylene, beet 12, versus just cyano, cobalamin, you know, all these different nuances. And so I think that more informed population is, is finding a way to life fuel.  

Chris Manderino : Whereas, you know, mass market, you know, maybe it’s not right, because they don’t understand, you know, yet the value that these little intricacies really do make. And again, it’s all about what you absorb what you absorb at the cellular level. And that’s where seeking out these higher quality sources of nutrients, has a major impact over long term.  

Chris Manderino :   That’s really I mean, you said, you know, vitamin doesn’t equate to energy however, like when it gets into the cellar, when you’re you improve the metabolic process and nutrients being a foundational element of that your energy levels will naturally improve without dependence on caffeine and those types of things.  

Chris Manderino :   When you when you’re robbing the mitochondria, essentially, of, you know, the core nutrients it needs, it’s not going to function as it as it should. And so the currency of that is really increased energy by fixing some of those processes. 

Steve Washuta :   I think the word is spreading to, you know, in my community and more of the fitness base community, we’re not support, it’s a fine line with personal trainers can and can’t do with their clients, right? As far as like, Hey, should we touch on diet stuff? It’s not actually illegal insofar as it could be in certain states.  

Steve Washuta :   But insofar as we’re not allowed to give information to them, but it is found it is frowned upon by a lot of let’s say, the certifications, yet everyone does it. You know, there is no, if your constituents  

Chris Manderino :   It is , yeah, it’s kind of silly, right, because, you know, people are seeking out your, your guidance and your expertise. And, again, I think, you know, it’s kind of should be something that as a trainer, you see some of this knowledge out, and you can, you know, at least be a sounding board for your clientele, to help them make more informed choices.  

Chris Manderino :   Right. I think, you know, if you don’t do that, you know, same way, you know, if you want to see, I don’t know, I think the problem with the food system, right, like, you’ve got a whole system, the health care that has nothing to do with diet and diet, it has nothing to do with health, it’s just disconnected.  

Chris Manderino : And so when people are coming to kind of a personal trainer, or you know, the local gym owner, I think they’re looking for additional advice, because most people don’t really have any clue. And that’s why they’re kind of going to people in the first place to help them with these problems.  

Chris Manderino :   So, but to make a specific recommendation, that’s where you have to kind of tread lightly, obviously, because you don’t know the exact nuances, I guess that’s going on in the individual without the diagnostics and those types of things.  

Steve Washuta :   It’s true. But you know, I consider this a wild problem. Another wild problem would be like, someone came up to me and said, Hey, Steve, should I get married? But this isn’t, there’s no universal truth to this answer. It’s going to depend right on the person, there’s gonna be a lot of information that I should give to this person in order for them to maybe understand this.  

Steve Washuta :   But if they trust me, in my information, I should be allowed to tell them my thoughts on said, Should you get married? should I should I take? Should I take Christmas supplement like, well, you know, whatever, whatever that thing is. So I do think we we should have the leeway because we care about our clients, long term health and wellness, to tell them things.  

Steve Washuta : And one thing that has been really talked about in our community now is the active form of vitamins. Right? That wasn’t talked about even three years ago. 10 years ago, certainly not. People did not know the difference. They go go take a multivitamin.  

Steve Washuta : Go take a multivitamin. Now everyone’s going, Oh, look on the back of it’s almost like the cool thing to do. It’s like, yeah, look at this, look at look what I know that you don’t know, look on the back of your vitamin, does it have the active version or the non active version, throw those vitamins out?  

Steve Washuta : So I do think is there’s sort of a groundswell for people in my community who were also talking about this, which then in turn helps people in your community, which is really the same community, people who care about health and wellness of the general public. 

Chris Manderino : Absolutely. You know, and we were kind of positioned this way. But it took a longer time for it to get into kind of the general consumer discourse, but now you’re seeing that just, you know, a lot. Again, the health IQ, the nutritional IQ of people continue to ratchet upward.  

Chris Manderino : And so, as I said, yeah, a lot of people are really looking for that and seeking us out because of that, and what we’re doing on that front, and we’re going to continue to push the envelope on that we’ve learned a ton In our nine years of being in business, and now I’ve been working on this new formulation, for almost three years to integrate a lot of that, because trying to do it through real food sources is not easy.  

Chris Manderino : But yet, we found a way to unlock that and do that, which I’m excited to finally launch at some point later this year. And I’ve got this crazy database of all of our direct competitors. And it’s a spreadsheet of every single vitamin, mineral and nutrient where it comes from. And I can confidently say that, you know, with our new formulation, and arguably now, we are the cleanest, most complete solution to daily nutrition, Nothing else comes close.  

Steve Washuta :   Should you release that document?  

Chris Manderino :   I’d be happy to. Yeah, I mean, we’ve got nothing to hide. And this is all public information, right? It’s just looking at, you know, their nutritional supplement facts and, you know, digging into and being knowledgeable about the sources and being able to kind of see, okay, when we combine these elements, we are able to achieve X result. 

Steve Washuta :   So it is interesting, though, how a little bit of this is always luck. So if you were somebody in 1988, who was promoting, I don’t know, organic bananas, no one’s listening to you really at the time, right? Or not, not that many people, right, you have a neat, you have a niche audience and whatever, you know, Santa Barbara, California, but they’re not listening to you in Nebraska.  

Steve Washuta : And in Texas, I can promise you that. So there’s just it’s, you come around at the right time. And then now you have a lot of people, right, the Gary Becker’s of the world, and all these people, some, some people are charlatans, and some people actually know what we’re talking about.  

Steve Washuta :   But everyone’s talking about active vitamins now and why one vitamin isn’t the next vitamin, and you should really pay the extra money to get the better version of supplements. And sometimes it’s just, you know, by by luck of whatever is in the current culture and climate that things can ignite.  

Chris Manderino : Yeah, not even coming around at the right time, just staying around for long enough. So you know, where that does start to come around. You know, it’s something not related, but like, you look at the Stanley water bottle, right? That company has been around forever. And all of a sudden, you know, for whatever reason, this thing goes viral and their business skyrockets as a result.  

Chris Manderino : So, yeah, I think, and when you have really sound, I guess, business principles and the core values, like in, I guess, a longer term horizon for, you know, business, then it allows you, I guess, to get luckier, if you will, over time, because there’s just more opportunity as the, you know, narrative kind of evolves and grows and changes.  

Steve Washuta :   Yeah, I forgot the exact saying, but you know, luck is just people doing very good work for a long period of time until they get to, right, it’s not, it’s not actually luck. It’s just, it’s the inevitability of whenever you’re gonna get found out. Chris, this was great information, let all my listeners know where they can find more about you and more about like fuel.  

Chris Manderino :   Yeah, best place is through a website that’s just like You know, we’ve got an Instagram as well. That’s where people choose to engage. I personally am not a very active user of social media. I’m more focused on business and living life.  

Chris Manderino : Outside of digital means, but yeah, all the information we try to, you know, have all that on a website, we’ve got a transformation program, which is really a holistic approach to wellness and beyond like the physical products, anybody who’s looking to make meaningful change.  

Chris Manderino :   Kind of forego standard American diet, learn more about, you know, these core pillars of wellness and get started on that also includes the physical products that we make, and that’s really the best place for people to start their journey with us.  

Steve Washuta :   My guest today has been Chris Manderino a light fuel. Thank you so much for joining The Trulyfit Podcast.  

Chris Manderino :   Steve, thanks so much. Hope your listeners enjoyed the show. Thanks  

Steve Washuta: Thanks for joining us on the Trulyfit podcast. Please subscribe, rate, and review on your listening platform. Feel free to email us as we’d love to hear from you.

Thanks again!





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