By Courtney Denham, CEO

This year has been an exciting one at Wilderness Athlete, and we plan on finishing it strong. Over the next 4 months, we’ll be releasing 11 new products and 3 brand new product lines. If you’ve perused the Wilderness Athlete Journal before this, you know what one of them is already.

We’ve been testing this product and perfecting the formulation for almost a year now, and we’re so excited to announce our Wilderness Athlete Paleo(ish) product line.

I want to cover some of the important qualities of this new line.

WHAT IS PALEO(ish)?

Well, it’s our attempt at being clever. You can read a longer explanation in my first journal entry about Paleo, here. Long story short: “Real Paleo” principles don’t leave room for supplementation. Our caveman ancestors didn’t have Wilderness Athlete, Blender Bottles and processed foods. We assume that they killed an animal, cooked it on a fire and consumed it as quickly as they could. They didn’t grind it up into powder and flavor it with cocoa. So technically, supplements aren’t Paleo. That’s why these are kind-of Paleo… Almost Paleo… Trying to be Paleo… Paleo(ish).

Sweeteners – We recently had a customer at a Spartan Race ask us for a completely unflavored hydration. While his heart was in the right place, he has no idea just how important good flavoring is. If you don’t want to take my word for it, go ahead and order some unflavored BCAAs from Bulk Supplements and let me know how much you enjoy your drink.

All jokes aside, we wanted to formulate products that were as close to “Paleo” as we could get, while still being as tasty as the rest of our product line.

In the new Hydrate & Recover, we removed the added fructose and sucralose and instead relied on the natural sweetness of the pineapple extract in the flavor. You’ll notice that this product is far less sweet than other versions of Hydrate & Recover. So if you’ve got a sweet tooth, it might not be for you! And that’s okay, we won’t be offended. (And spoiler alert, we have something deliciously sweet coming out in November).

In the protein, we decided to use Stevia to sweeten the product. We were very cautious to not over-sweeten though, instead relying on the naturally occurring goodness in the vanilla and cocoa flavors. If you’re not familiar with Stevia (i.e. you live somewhere that hasn’t been taken over by Whole Foods, hipsters, and blog-moms… good for you by the way, can I come visit?) it is a plant whose extract is incredibly sweet. So a teeny-tiny bit of Stevia goes a long way.

Gluten Free – All Wilderness Athlete products are gluten free and have been since the beginning of our company, 13 years ago. We were gluten free before it was cool. We were gluten free before hipsters had even learned the word! Why? We want our products to be useful for as many Wilderness Athletes as possible. Whether your gluten-intolerant or just choose to stay away from it, our products fit your lifestyle.

Dairy-Free and Soy-Free – If you’re a Wilderness Athlete customer already, you know that we use both whey protein and soy protein in our other protein blends. However, similar to gluten, we understand that some customers have to avoid those products because of an allergy or just a lifestyle decision. We hope that these products fill a void in our product line for those people.

All-Beef (Grass Fed) Protein – We wish we could have used elk protein. Or maybe stag protein. That would have been pretty cool. But we had to stick with beef, mostly because no one is making elk protein yet. So while our average customer and I may prefer a Coues deer backstrap over a T-bone, we are confident you won’t taste the difference in our beef protein. You’re not going to taste meat at all actually, don’t worry, just cocoa or vanilla.

Okay, this is where I’ll insert my rant about the state of marketing in the nutrition and food industry. I recently consumed a meal replacement bar (hint, hint) on which the label read “All-beef protein from happy New Zealand cows” Really? Do people fall for that stuff? Or is it a joke that no one filled me in on?

I don’t know if the cows in our protein were happy. And they weren’t from New Zealand either. They were good old American cows and I can’t speak to their happiness. I’m not sure if they felt happy or sad about the prospect of being made into steaks and protein powder, but I can assume that they didn’t have any idea.

I grew up in hunting camp and only eating animals killed by my dad or brother. I shot an elk when I was 10 years old. I can guarantee I was the only girl in my squeaky-clean Arizona suburban elementary school who did that on Fall break. I didn’t eat a beef steak or hamburger until I was well into high school (might have been college now that I think about it).

Because of my upbringing, I feel grateful for every life that has ended to fill my body with the highest quality protein that money can’t buy. I’ve seen a lot of animals die. I’ve seen animals wounded and watched them take their last breath. There is nothing happy about that moment. There is something mournful, beautiful and profound, but not “happy”.

In my opinion, using rhetoric that applies feel-good human emotions to animals who become our food is an insult to your intelligence. You’re too smart to fall for that kind of trick (you’re obviously smart because you’re a Wilderness Athlete customer). You’ll notice this type of marketing more and more as the Paleo lifestyle becomes more mainstream. Marketers will find a way to soften the idea of eating animals to those who feel squeamish when faced with the realities of life and death, sacrifice, and what it means to be at the top of the food chain.

We made this protein to fill a void in our product line. We didn’t make it to be trendy or hop on a bandwagon that we don’t believe in. I’ve spent the last 4 years soaking up everything I can about Paleo, Ketosis, High-Fat/Low-Carb lifestyles, intermittent fasting and other concepts that align with the idea of “Paleo”. But I also drink wine, make grilled-cheese on Sunday nights and eat Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked ice cream after a hard day.

We want to make products that will change your life. Products that will allow you to be the badass that you already are, but even stronger, faster, healthier and happier. We’re not going to lie to you about happy cows, or try and convince you of a fad lifestyle that we don’t believe in. We’re just going to keep giving you the tools you need to be a Wilderness Athlete. That’s it. Alright, rant has ended. Thank you for listening if you’re still with me. 

I want to make a clear point here – we want to make products for all the Wilderness Athletes out there. But that doesn’t mean that every product is for everyone. You don’t need Lean Life if you don’t have extra weight to lose. You don’t need Brute Force if you’re watching Netflix on the couch today.  You don’t need our Multi-Vitamin if you’re already… Gotcha! Everyone needs Multi-Vitamin.

If this new line fits into your lifestyle, we’re thrilled that we’ve found a good fit. If it doesn’t, that’s okay too. If you think there are other holes that we can fill in our product line, send me an email! We’re always looking for new ideas, and we know our customers are smarter than your average bear. My email address is Courtney@wildernessathlete.com and I’d love to hear from you.

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8 Responses

    • Courtney Denham

      Hi Thomas. So we’re currently working on a modified 28 Day Challenge that includes our Paleo line and focuses on low-carb. I’m going to be writing another article soon about my experience with fat loss this way. If we find a system that works, we’ll definitely turn it into a product package and help our customers through the process also. Stay tuned, we’ll have more information soon!

      Reply
  1. RR

    I understand the need to showcase the “beefy” and “back to nature” aspect of the Paleo line but, in my opinion, the packaging is too bland and plain. It wouldn’t stand out on the shelf in a good way. It’s comparable to oatmeal, you know it’s good for you but the visual doesn’t exactly make you want to spring out of bed to get to it in the morning. Hopefully, others won’t see it that way.

    Reply
    • Courtney Denham

      Hey RR,

      Thanks for the feedback. As you can assume, I definitely disagree with you! Luckily, we don’t sell these products on retail shelves. The only place to get them is at WildernessAthlete.com and Amazon (in the near future). While we do have a retail presence with some of our products, it has never been our preferred distribution method. We like selling directly to customers and in doing so, we get to make our own rules. That means we keep our ingredients high-quality, we get to market and display our products exactly how we want, and we get to be creative with packaging. Hopefully Wilderness Athletes out there will see past “bland” packaging to the product underneath. We’re all pretty dang proud of these, and they are proudly displayed in my office as we speak 🙂 Personally, the light blue and brown really match my decor… maybe that’s why we picked them! Thanks again for joining the conversation RR.

      Reply
  2. Matthew Borst

    Courtney, enjoyed the article. But 1st off sucrose is being found to be bad for you… So being fair why is it even used ? What is wrong with all natural sweetners ? I for one and my hunting partners can taste the nasty sweetners in hydrate n recovery. They leave a nasty after taste (all artificial sweeteners do). So anything natural is better. You do have the lowest “sugar” content of all I have seen. We as Americans are all hooked on sweetners ! Yes, I have my candy bar or ice cream on occasion too, but I do try to avoid it. Sweetners are nearly impossible to avoid. They are in everything and they are killing people. I’m willing to try this new hydrate n recovery. I’ve been in arguments (FB) with a “Ensure” rep over the corn syrup in that product. Finally a lab nutritionist stepped in and told them I was right ! Do you know that a serving or even 2 servings of Trix and many other “kids” cereals has LESS sugar than ensure and more vitamins !
    I’m no ripped guy, I’m 20 lbs over weight. Because I just like to eat food… But I can still climb those mountains after muleys n elk !
    Thanks, Matt Borst

    Reply
    • Courtney Denham

      Hey Matt,

      Thanks for the reply. We know the internet is full of research about Sucralose and other artificial sweeteners. YES there are studies that show artificial sweeteners can create an insulin response just like sugar. We know there are lots of folks out there just like you who want to avoid them. That’s why we created the Paleo line, so I hope you’ll give it a try.

      In all my years of talking to customers, I’ve never heard one describe Hydrate & Recover as “nasty” so I’m bummed to hear you think that! If it’s too sweet for you, I definitely suggest the Paleo H&R.

      We’re trying our best to create products for all types of Wilderness Athletes. In the future, we will be creating more and more products will all-natural sugar (like the pineapple fruit in H&R) and new substitute sweeteners like Stevia. Change can take time, especially when you’re serving thousands of customers who are accustomed to your products being a certain way. In the meantime, we hope you love these new products and are happy with an alternative!

      Thanks so much for joining the discussion.

      Reply

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