A few years ago, while working as a sport scientist and coach for a professional cycling team, I started making my own training food and sports drink from scratch for the cyclists I worked with because too many of the pre-packaged sports bars and drinks that were marketed or given to them were laden with artificial ingredients and literally making them sick to their stomach.
Instead of just accepting this as the norm, I decided to try a back to basics approach and began traveling around the world from hotel to hotel with a rice cooker and an electric frying pan so I could make the athletes I coached fresh food each morning at grueling events like the Tour de France.
I also started diluting their sports drinks to lower the sugar concentration while adding back extra salt and electrolytes to replace what was actually being lost in their sweat. Eventually, I started making a “secret drink mix” in my kitchen using a recipe with less sugar, more sodium, and no artificial sweeteners, flavors, or colors, with a simple and clean taste created by using real fruit.
Instead of making an “orange” drink, I made a drink with real oranges. Instead of making sweet syrupy bars, I made savory cakes with sushi rice. And it worked. The athletes stopped complaining about feeling sick, bloated, and nasty from the synthetic gut rot that normally plagued them. Most importantly, with better hydration and better fuel they started feeling and performing better.
But making drink mixes in my kitchen or assuming the role of a short order cook in cramped hotel rooms across the world only solved part of the problem. The bigger issue was teaching athletes fundamental life skills so that they could take better care of themselves all the time.
To start addressing some of those issues, I teamed up with Chef Biju Thomas and we wrote a cookbook called “The Feed Zone” to teach our riders how to cook fresh simple meals for themselves using real wholesome ingredients.
At the same time, word of our Secret Drink Mix was spreading fast and it was clear that the demand for our all natural drink mix and cookbook extended far beyond cyclists or endurance athletes. Racecar drivers, rock climbers, concerned parents, Peace Corps workers, and normal active individuals looking for healthy food and drink alternatives were buying our product and hungry for more knowledge and ideas.
To meet that demand, I’ve put together a team of close friends and we decided to let the secret out by opening a little shop in Boulder, Colorado called Skratch Labs. Our mission is simple – to develop and sell food and drink products based on real world science and practice that taste great, that are made from real ingredients, and that optimize performance for both sport and life. Most importantly, we intend to educate and to continue to learn and grow ourselves – to help our customers improve and thrive as they help us to do the same. We know we have a lot of work to do to fulfill this mission and we are the first to acknowledge that we are a work in progress – that things won’t always be perfect. But there’s no better time to start than now.
Thanks for supporting our small and independently owned business as we work to support you and your active lifestyle.
Allen Lim, PhD