Monday, February 15, 2010

Interview > Redpoint Nutrition

Looking for a nutrition supplement that's tailored for rock climbing? Redpoint nutrition has been working on creating a nutritional supplements that specifically delivers performance-improving formulated for the demands of rock climbing. Here's an interview with Jason Hentrickson, founder of Redpoint Nutrition.

How long have Red Point Nutrition been around?
We started R&D on Crank Forearm Fuel in late 2007. We spent over a year working on the formula and we officially launched the company along with Crank in early 2009.

Where are you based?
We hover between Salt Lake City, UT and San Diego, CA.

Care to explain what Crank Forearm Fuel is?
Crank is a performance supplement - the best analogy I can give is that it's like an energy drink for your muscles. Without getting too geeky with the physiology and chemistry, it's safe to say that muscular fatigue is one of the primary limiters of climbing performance. We're often asked "how does it work on just your forearms?" and the answer is, it doesn't, necessarily. However, when climbing your forearms are typically the first thing to fatigue, and it's therefore your forearms where you see the greatest benefit. That said, we have people who use Crank for mountain biking, running, mixed martial arts training, and probably a bunch of other things we don't know about.

Specifically, Crank is a combination of ingredients that:
  1. buffer the accumulation of H+ (the acidic component of lactic acid) which are thought to be responsible for the burn or "pump" you feel when your muscles fatigue;
  2. Provide and help the body more efficiently produce energy used for muscular contractions,
  3. Speed recovery time between intense efforts.
What background do you have in sports nutrition?
I'm a guinea pig. I've been an athlete my whole life, but never a particularly gifted one. Back in the early '90s when I was in high school I started experimenting with supplements to help with my running. I carried that curiosity with me into climbing and found significant benefit in it but had a difficult time learning what were the best supplements for climbing. After injuring a finger in 2003 I was never really able to return to climbing without re-injuring it, so I started pursuing other sports, specifically triathlon, cycling and jiu jitsu. I quickly learned that these sports were incredibly advanced in both the supplements that were available and the knowledge that the athletes had about them. Everyone took supplements and everyone knew what worked and what didn't. There are, surprisingly, a lot of similarities between triathlon/cycling/jiu jitsu and climbing from an athletic performance perspective, specifically, the importance of strength-to-weight ratios and adequate recovery after long, hard training days. If you want the best climbing workout in the world, take up jiu jitsu. It's like climbing if the rock were to fight back.

I took what I felt were the right ingredients for the type of demand rock climbing produces and, along with Dr. Shannon O'Grady, a friend with a PhD in Digestive and Nutritional Physiology and who also happens to be an extraordinary athlete, we started formulating Crank along with an FDA approved laboratory in Utah. Dr. O'Grady did a fantastic job of researching the ingredients in Crank and making sure there was ample and compelling scientific research backing their effectiveness. For those that are interested, we've got links to a plethora of scientific research papers on our site that demonstrate the effectiveness of each individual ingredient in Crank. Everything in Crank has a purpose, and there's nothing in there that doesn't need to be.

The FDA... ah the silent gun ship of the drugs World. Is Crank FDA approved?
No. Nutritional Supplements are not regulated by the FDA, so you won't find *any* that are FDA approved. However, everything in our manufacturing process, which *is* regulated by the FDA, meets their stringent requirements.

We've been using it and it's something you have to use carefully, there's a lot of L-Taurine (1000mg) in there, is that what's making us a little jittery when we wolf down a pint of it?
No, actually, that's from the Green Tea Extract. While low in caffeine, Green Tea Extract does have a mild stimulant effect. It's not like caffeine but if you're not used to it, or you take too much Crank, you'll definitely feel it.

Compared to something like the colored bull products this gave us a buzz but nothing completely mental and there was no "come down" from drinking it. We found that drinking a little every now and then was a good idea and it helped to extended our sessions... was the drink designed to be a saner version of other sports drinks?
Well, not exactly. Most sports drinks are simply geared toward hydration and not specifically improving performance. Energy drinks are great for when you need to stay awake to drive all night or hit the club, but the don't do much for athletic performance. Crank is unique in that it's formulated specifically to improve athletic performance. It works best when you take it approximately 30 minutes before you start climbing. Basically, you want the ingredients in Crank to be available in your muscles by the time you start climbing and produce the first massive lactic acid dump. That said, there's definitely benefit in drinking it while climbing, especially on marathon days at the crag or gym. Taking a serving after a particularly long or hard training session also really helps with recovery if you're going to climb again the next day.

So what's the maximum amount of this stuff you should drink in a day?
The general answer is that you should limit your intake to 2 servings per day. For most folks, taking more would just be a waste of money. That said, I've personally taken far more than 2 servings in a day, but I feel a personal responsibility to test the outer boundaries of good judgement so our customers don't have to.

Actually reading the numbers on the back of the packet is kind of intimidating... why are all the Daily Values so high?
Crank contains large amount of the different B vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B8, B9, B11 and B12) which play an essential role in the production of energy by aiding in the use of proteins, carbs, and fats. One thing to keep in mind is that RDA guidelines are for normal folks, not athletes. The stuff we do to our bodies isn't normal and it's virtually impossible to get everything an athlete's body needs from a balanced diet. Unused Vitamin B just passes through you, and this is what's responsible for the bright yellow color of your urine when you take Crank or any other product that's high in Vitamin B.

The taste, Citrus flavor, isn't that bad... are there any other flavors out there?
We wanted Crank to have a subtle flavor, nothing overpowering and it's actually *really* good mixed with other drinks, like Gatorade or EFS products (a hydration product we carry in our online store). We don't have any other flavors. We also hear it's a good mixer with Vodka, but we wouldn't know...ahem.

Ok, let's address the pee issue. Chris' pee was super colored and smelt after using this product... where as other peoples pee wasn't so bad. We're guessing this is all the B vitamins being flushed and then the "asparagus effect" that's happening here?
The bright yellow color is the B vitamins. Some people's urine will smell a bit after ingesting large amounts of Vitamin B6, which is also found in high concentrations in asparagus. It's nothing harmful. In addition to it being incredibly important for performance and recovery, being well-hydrated will help a great deal with the smell.

You can't get this in Canada right now, any plans to get it in stores up here?
US only for now. Other countries have different laws on product labeling and nutritional supplements. We definitely plan to make it available world-wide in the future. We hear from people on a daily basis from around the world who're dying to try it.

What does the future hold for Redpoint Nutrition?
Our sole focus for the near-term is getting Crank in the hands of as many climbers as we can. We have something to prove - namely, that Crank works. We offer free samples through our website, so hit us up. Long term, we want to be the source for the best performance and nutritional supplements for climbers. There's a lot of crap out there. We know what works and that's all we sell.

We're a small business in every sense of the term. We're self-funded from our own bank accounts. I work a normal day job to finance our operations. Our ultimate goal is to provide something valuable to the climbing community. If we do that then everything else will take care of itself.

You also run, hows that going?
Yeah, that's a side project I do for fun. I'm a software developer by day and I'm always up to something. I just love the sport of climbing and I miss not being able to climb at the level I once did. Doing things like Climbing Shoe Review, and Redpoint Nutrition, allow me to stay involved the climbing community and hopefully give something back. Lot's of folks only take and never give. The world would be a better place if people did more giving.

We were thinking of running you out of town when we saw that site pop up, but now we've teamed up with you on it :) How is it running a user input site?
Haha, sorry! Yeah, having you guys act as Featured Reviewers is awesome. Your reviews are great and it really helps folks make informed decisions when buying what is arguably the most important piece of climbing equipment. Running the site is fun. Every once-in-a-while I see a blog post that's critical of what I'm trying to do, and that's discouraging, especially when all I'm trying to do is provide something climbers will find valuable. If anyone thinks a site like that makes money they're fooling themselves. Money is not the motivation, I just like tinkering on computers. Building something that folks find useful is rewarding.

Thanks for your time, anyone you want to thank before you go and make up some more climbing fuel?
Man, so many folks have helped us. First and foremost, my wife Cindy who runs the day-to-day operations. Dr. Shannon O'Grady for being an awesome scientist and friend, Boone Speed, Mike Call and Tommy Chandler for helping us in the early days, Steve Maisch for being a product-tester extraordinairre, Timy Fairfield, Brandy Proffit, Pat Goodman, Jessa Goebel, Senya Iaryguine, Zach Lerner and Gabor Szekely for being such awesome evangelists for Crank, all my friends for having my back, and last but not least, all the climbers out there who've given us a chance. All the time, energy, money and stress is worth it when someone emails us and says they can't believe how well Crank works.

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