Todd Spear & Katie Emerson Return: Nutrition21 at Summit West 2023
In February of 2023, NutraIngredients-USA held the Sports & Active Nutrition Summit USA in San Diego, CA. This three-day event features expert presentations, panel discussions, and networking opportunities for everyone in the active nutrition industry.
Colloquially referred to as just “Summit” to industry insiders, this has become one of the most high-powered networking events in the industry. It’s filled with both business leaders and nutritional science experts, providing a perfect cross-section for PricePlow’s followers.
We maintained tradition by recording another podcast with the Nutrition21 team — Todd Spear (Sports Nutrition Category Leader) and Katie Emerson (Manager of Scientific Affairs) — a sponsor of PricePlow and the Summit.
This is a follow-up to a previous PricePlow Podcast episode (#075) from SupplySide West 2022, and continues the conversation forward. Katie tells us about the presentation she delivered, and the team dives into hot industry topics and Nutriton21’s well-known dietary supplement ingredients like Nitrosigine, nooLVL, Chromax, and Velositol.
You can watch on YouTube below, or listen on your favorite podcast app in our audio feeds:
0:00 – Introduction
This podcast features Ben as the sole host, coming in from the Sports and Active Nutrition Summit in San Diego, CA, hosted by our friends at NutraIngredients-USA. Ben introduces return guests Todd Spear and Katie Emerson of Nutrition21, a sponsor of PricePlow’s that develops novel ingredients like Nitrosigine and nooLVL.
Katie gave a presentation at the conference, and is looking forward to sharing some notes with PricePlow Nation. The crew decides to “wing” this podcast – and talks about how they can sometimes do the same in parts of a presentation, given that they know the topic.
1:45 – Katie Emerson’s Presentation for Nutrition21 at Summit West
In Katie’s presentations, she tries to go “50/50”:
- 50% nutrition / ingredient science
- 50% market and industry trends
This helps everyone understand what’s going on in the industry in general. People liked Nutrition21’s recent Koffee with Katie webinar series, much because of this — and because it wasn’t a sales pitch. Katie’s not on the sales team and stays closer to the scientific aspects of the nutritional ingredient space.
Some things that Katie covered at Summit in 2022:
- “Sports Nutrition” is changing to “Active Nutrition”
- Demographics: eSports / collegiate Athletes / everyday gym goers / more intense CrossFitters
This year, Katie had more statements that addressed the industry – lots of discussion on quality and overall formulations for their demographics.
4:30 – Leading industry ingredients using the “gold standard”
Katie’s presentation explained why Nutrition21 does what they do, and how they meet the gold standard:
- Quality testing
- Preclinical / in-vitro studies
- Safety / toxicology screenings
- Efficacy studies – the science needs to be replicable
You can’t just have one study! Nutrition21’s customer isn’t the consumer, so their focus is on helping brands succeed – that’s their main touch point. (It’s obviously nice that consumers know who they are at this point, though.)
6:00 – Todd’s supporting formulation
When companies are formulating with Nutrition21’s ingredients, one great benefit is that they have access to Todd’s incredible wisdom and network of connections (aside: Todd knows literally everybody in this industry). Formulation support isn’t a contracted service from Nutrition21, but Todd’s going to make sure you’re going to succeed with their products.
Many different brands can utilize these ingredients for slightly different purposes. The overall function is blood flow, focus, pump, etc… and this can appeal to a very broad variety of people. So the question becomes what you combine it with to differentiate.
8:15 – PreRace – Do Endurance athletes want pump?
Looking at different use cases, Ben flashes back to our coverage of First Endurance PreRace 2.0, wondering if endurance athletes wanted extra pump from Nitrosigine. Todd quips that as a cyclist, it isn’t necessarily about pump, but blood flow. Even if some types of athletes don’t want a “pump”, they do want better blood flow and oxygen delivery.
9:00 – The shift from sports nutrition to active nutrition and lifestyle
Todd’s been at Nutrition21 for 10 years. A decade ago, you were very much chasing “bodybuilder brands”. Some brands figured it out early, capturing bigger demographics. But the tipping point was really Ghost’s rise. They hit the broader population really well.
Now you’re seeing large, multinational companies entering the active nutrition space in a more authentic and serious way than you have in the past. Previously, you’d see a few pre-workouts in grocery stores, for instance, but they were made by large companies that didn’t care about efficacy. That’s no longer the case – the products from large corporations need to work.
Everyone’s using protein powder, even Todd’s mom – it wasn’t like that a while back. It’s a good privilege to be in this industry and a great sign for those inside.
11:30 – ProSupps Hyde at Walmart – Mass consumer (FDM)
It’s great to see these ingredients go far and wide. If going into mass consumer (FDM = Food/Drug/Mass), companies have to do it intelligently to make the profit margins required. One that we recently covered was the new ProSupps Hyde that did it with Nitrosigine, a solid hit of caffeine, and OG yohimbe.
Most consumers, if blindfolded, wouldn’t notice the difference between this and some other products – so if that’s the case, get the product to more consumers. Walmart customers are generally price-conscious and have lower disposable income than someone buying a product at, say, Lifetime Gym.
So when Hyde used 1.5 grams of Nitrosigine, that has the equivalent of 8 grams of citrulline malate, and that’s a big deal saving room, weight, space, and cost at a place like Walmart.
14:30 – It all started with less efficacious products…
A decade ago, you had far less efficacious products. Then we started getting bigger scoop sizes with fully-dosed pre-workouts. Now it’s leveling back out – you don’t always need a 30+ gram scoop with overlapping mechanisms, but you do need some level of efficacy to succeed. This leads us into Katie’s tabletop discussion:
15:45 – Interest in Mechanisms of Action
Katie’s tabletop discussion was to discuss the Nutrition21 ingredients’ mechanisms of action, and she was excited to see how much people really cared. This isn’t surprising since Summit West has a lot of intelligent people who are credentialed and are there to learn more about ingredients.
Katie asks, “Are you throwing the kitchen sink at it or are you being thoughtful?”
18:00 – Formulating for the 5 million
While the PricePlow community loves the kitchen sink, everyone has different spending thresholds. There are only so many people who understand and want total kitchen sink, but there are millions who take pre-workout in general. Both audiences need to be reached.
21:45 – Velositol on Howard Stern
A NutriSystem commercial on the Howard Stern Show featured Velositol (Nutrition21’s protein-boosting ingredient) and he actually mentioned the ingredient by name! Todd jokes that you’d never have expected that.
Todd’s been more consistent with protein, and thus more consistent with his Velositol. When taking it consistently, he’s feeling a great difference with his weight loss goals. Katie notes that Velositol does contain chromium, and Chromax has a lot of weight loss claims.
Ben talks about Glaxon Protos Whey, in its interesting attempts to mimic the human milk experience. It also includes Velositol – just like many of the premium protein powders do. Velositol has had better staying power than other “protein boosting” ingredients.
25:00 – Todd’s N=1 Experiment with Velositol
The key thing Todd’s protein consumption seemed to help was reduction in soreness, so Todd tested protein without Velositol, and swears he noticed a better difference when using it. He had been stuck for a while and is very happy with his recent results.
Getting back to Glaxon Protos Whey, Ben’s noticed that he only needs 25 grams of it, whereas he used to need 50 grams. He’s definitely getting more out of less. Velositol is fitting in very well with both the macronutrient and micronutrient needs of users.
30:00 – Chromax: The Chromium Workhorse
Chromium is listed in the minerals, which means that it may not be added to the active ingredients – a lot of consumers miss that because they’re skipping right down to the active ingredients. Chromax has a ton of research, and it’s not all from Nutrition21 (see our deep-dive chromium picolinate article).
Meanwhile, Velositol has led to actual end points, such as the research on improved performance like vertical jump power and height (see our article titled Velositol Increases Exercise Performance: New University Study Published).
Katie points out that even Nitrosigine doesn’t have performance measures, but definitely should. It’s tough to measure “talent”, but good researchers can design studies that demonstrate good improvements. The Velositol study had a strength and conditioning coach – but the support was applied to the control group as well.
33:00 – The Placebo Effect
The crew jokes about the placebo effect, because some studies do show some incredible gains in the placebo group – especially when you have proper training and coaching as well.
Ben brings up the age old PricePlow debate with synthetic caffeine vs. natural caffeine, and how Glaxon showed that it was mostly placebo effect. Many were even duped by maltodextrin as a placebo! You would think that users would feel the difference between caffeine and placebo but even there, many didn’t. Point being, placebo/nocebo effect is strong.[1-3]
Katie discusses how people simply perform better when they know they’re being monitored, and Todd quips that macro tracking often works because it changes behavior. Flashing back to our podcast with Dr. Ralf Jaeger, he mentioned that people train harder in a group. The same goes for adhering to a personal trainer.
40:45 – What is an “average person” for a study anymore?
10 years ago, we wanted trained, young athletes. But that’s not always the user now!
Todd notes that there’s a surprisingly high amount of people at the Olympia and Arnold that are out of shape. If they’re at these events, they’re most likely training. So maybe we should be gearing more research towards them.
Ben personally loves that people are studying trained athletes — it’s harder to move the needle for them — but the average person in the gym probably squats about 185 pounds and deadlifts maybe two plates.
One of Katie’s jobs is to create science that translates to the population – and the obesity epidemic has definitely made things worse. Can you be “healthy obese” is a very big conversation – it’s a touchy subject – but the sad fact is, that’s a large amount of our consumers. It’s tough to define health – BMI is wildly outdated for anyone who trains, blood markers can be masked, etc.
Ben’s proud to say that he’s beaten sleep apnea this past year!
49:00 – Katie’s presentation: products that cross categories
Katie’s been interested in products that span multiple categories. Post workout used to be just protein, now there’s far more. Pre-workouts now have some extra vitamins. You can add Nutrition21’s Lustriva to collagen products.
51:00 – Lustriva (skin care ingredient)
PricePlow’s never covered Nutrition21’s skin care ingredient, Lustriva, so Ben asks about it. It’s obviously not in sports / active nutrition, but it of course relates to wanting to look better. So sports brands should have a hair and skin care product.
Ghost Glow is a great example of a successful product. Brands might as well keep their consumers and formulate to their demographic.
Similarly, skin care brands should also have a protein powder — if people care about their looks, there’s a great chance that they are hitting the gym too!
56:00 – Closing up and general conversation
The conversation moves around from addiction to travel to work on airplanes and everything else. They then close down, but you can follow Nutrition21 on Instagram: @Nutrition21_LLC.
You can also sign up with PricePlow on our Nutrition21 news page or in the widget below to stay tuned to more great articles, videos, research studies, and formulas involving the company: