Frequently Asked Questions

General

How and why was Skratch Labs created?

Skratch Labs has its roots in two key ideas that form the pillars for who we are today.

The first idea is that food and drink is better when it’s made from scratch.

When Dr. Allen Lim, our founder, was working as a coach and sport scientist on the Pro-Cycling Tour, the single biggest complaint that athletes had was that conventional sports nutrition left a bad taste in their mouths and an even worse feeling in their guts. It’s a problem that’s not limited to world-class athletes, but an issue that almost anyone who has consumed highly processed sports drinks, bars, chews, or gels, under the guise of performance, has ironically experienced. To remedy this problem, Dr. Lim, began literally making the food and drink he gave to riders, in races like the Tour de France, from scratch. He started blending a simple sports drink with less sugar, more sodium, and real fruit to keep athletes better hydrated. At the same time, he prepared delicious recipes like savory rice cakes, parmesan potatoes, and freshly baked cookie bars to fuel his team. While it may not have always been easy or convenient, this return to real food and drink was based on evidence based problem solving – on relentless experimentation and critical feedback from some of the best athletes in the world.

The second pillar for us at Skratch Labs is the belief that no matter where you find yourself in life, it’s never too late to start from scratch.

When we first started Skratch Labs, we just wanted to help people solve problems. But doing so, meant we had to solve a lot of our own problems, both personally and professionally. We literally had to start our lives over from scratch – a new beginning that is very much our own American Dream. Fortunately, the same problem solving skills that we used to create our products, allowed us to learn quickly. We pulled ourselves up from our bootstraps and got to work, adapting through creative innovation. It’s this innovation and the basic belief that we can transform for the better that forms the basis of our mission. A mission to provide people, regardless of where they find themselves, with the inspiration, life skills, and products so that they can take better care of themselves and their families through real nutrition created for a lifetime of physical activity.

For more info see the about us page

Can I visit and/or purchase product at your office?

Yes! Come on down to our office-slash-retail store and see where the magic happens. OK, maybe not magic, but you can see where the Skratch Team spends most of our time every day. We’re open M-F 9-5 at least, but we’re also a young growing company so we’re here early and/or late on a lot of days as well. Feel free to give us a call (1-800-735-8904) and check. Find us here.

Where is the "Lab" in Skratch Labs?

There isn’t a lab in the traditional sense. In fact, you’ll probably see Dr. Allen Lim, our founder, in his lab coat less frequently these days than you’ll see him in an apron. The 'lab' is ultimately an ode to evidence based problem solving or the good ol’ scientific method. Through careful experimentation and blunt feedback from world-class athletes we developed our products while striving for better performance on the playing field.

Although many of our innovations never actually happened in a lab, for us science and its application isn’t about a place, it’s about a frame of mind that we can take anywhere. With that in mind, realize that you are your own laboratory. Although, we believe that when all is said and done that you’ll have the same great experience with our products that the athletes who helped us develop them did, that’s ultimately for you to discover and test. You are the lab.

Are Skratch Labs products Kosher?

Yes! Well, almost all of them are. Our drink mixes and cookie mix are all certified by The Scroll K - Vaad Hakashurs of Denver. Our Fruit Drops are manufactured off-site and as such we aren’t able to ensure Kosher certification.

Are Skratch Labs products ever on sale?

We do love to party. A sale makes for a great party doesn't it? A couple times a year we like to celebrate-- once on our birthday during the Super Bowl. Yep, football is cool. And once in the fall just to fan the dying flames from your summer adventures once more.

Does Skratch Labs have a sponsorship program?

You know it! We definitely appreciate exceptional folks, and that doesn’t mean results! If you’re cool, we’re cool. Please check out our team and individual applications for perspective.

IMPORTANT: These programs run the calendar year and have a cap on number of participants. Please sign up for the newsletter (at the bottom of our home page) to get updates on the program and when it opens up for the next year, or just shoot us a note at info@skratchlabs.com. Hint: We usually make the announcement in the fall with the hope of getting everyone plugged in by the first of the year.

Science

The first ingredient is sugar- what’s up with that?

There is a lot of controversy about sugar in our diet. While, we don’t disagree that excess sugar or excess anything for that matter is bad for us, we do believe that the role that sugar plays in health and performance is about context. In the context of an active lifestyle and more specifically during prolonged or very intense exercise, sugar can be critical to helping to maintain one’s blood sugar, to keeping oneself fueled, and along with sodium can significantly improve the transport of water into the body. For more please see Hydration Science and Practice

The bottom line is that consuming an excess of sugar isn’t good for you if you’re not active. But, if you’re working hard and sweating, a bit of sugar will improve your performance significantly.

So if you're not sweating and working hard, don't use our Exercise Hydration Drink Mix - that word “Exercise” is in there for a reason. But if you are sweating you need to put back both the water and the electrolytes you’re losing and can best do that with a drink that contains a little bit of sugar and plenty of sodium.

Can I just drink water?

Yes, of course. Water is fine if the activity is short, the temperature is moderate and sweat rates are low. But remember that sweat isn’t just water, it’s also made up of electrolytes, especially salt or sodium chloride, which makes up about 90% of the electrolytes we lose. Of these electrolytes, it’s the loss of sodium that can potentially hurt our performance the most. Thus, if you’re just drinking water, you’re not putting back everything you’re losing.

In fact, if you’re just drinking water and relying on your thirst, it’s unlikely that you’re even putting back all of the water you’re losing. Although, this may negatively impact performance in the long term, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing in the short term because losing water is actually one of a few mechanisms the body has to protect the concentration of sodium in our bloodstream. This is because one signal for thirst is an increase in the sodium concentration of blood – something that happens as we sweat and lose fluid from our body. Since thirst is in part driven by sodium concentration and because some sodium is lost in sweat, in theory, it doesn’t take as much water to quench one’s thirst as was lost. This under-drinking protects us because if we drink only water beyond thirst, we might run the risk of diluting our blood’s sodium concentration – a situation called hyponatremia and that can lead to a number of negative performance and health consequences. So, while drinking plain water may be fine in theory, make sure not to drink beyond thirst, even if that means you’re losing water weight that may eventually impair your ability to perform at your best.

Of course, this scenario can be avoided the closer one gets to replacing both the water and sodium lost in one’s sweat. In fact, even if you’re not exactly matching the sodium lost in your sweat, during prolonged exercise in the heat at moderate to heavy sweat rates there is no situation where drinking water alone is better than a sports drink that contains a little bit of sugar and plenty of sodium like our Exercise Hydration Mix.

Ultimately, your sweat contains a lot of sodium, (500-2000mg per liter). Using a drink that doesn't contain sodium while the body is losing sodium can throw off our thirst mechanism and keep us from replacing all of the water we are losing. More importantly, sodium plays a critical role in almost every cell function, so keeping it in balance along with water is key to our performance. Thus, a drink with a sodium content similar to what you lose in sweat along with a little bit of sugar to help transport water and help maintain blood sugar levels is always better than water alone during strenuous exercise in the heat. You have to replace everything you’re losing, not just the water.

Why do I cramp? How do I stop cramping?

Exercise associated cramps occur primarily because of muscle fatigue. More specifically, it’s when very small muscle fibers called intrafusal fibers that give our nervous system feedback about the length of our muscles fatigue that errant signals can be sent to the spine causing a reflex response that sparks an uncontrollable cramp.

While, people often talk about dehydration or an electrolyte imbalance as the root cause of a cramp, that’s not exactly right. In and of itself, dehydration or an electrolyte disturbance, won’t cause a cramp. That said, dehydration and electrolyte imbalances can contribute to fatigue. So the bigger issue here isn’t merely the cramp, it’s how to delay fatigue.

Proper training, acclimating or acclimatizing to one’s environment, staying cool in the heat, proper fuel, and staying well hydrated can all help delay fatigue.

Finally, because an exercise associated cramp is ultimately a spinal reflex gone wrong, there’s some evidence that initiating another spinal reflex above the nerve root causing the cramp can turn off or short circuit the cramp. One good reflex for this is something called the oropharyngeal reflex that causes your face to pucker up when you drink a few ounces of pickle juice or something really sour. While results are mixed, it can’t hurt to try keeping some pickle juice in a small flask for your next big event.

Everyone knows they can die of dehydration. But how much can performance really suffer after just small losses of fluids?

The prevailing thought is that as little as a 2% loss of body fluids can significantly affect aerobic performance. There are over 28 published studies demonstrating decrements in performance that show dehydration in the range of 2 to 4% of total body weight can impair performance anywhere from 7 to 44% when measured as time to exhaustion, work done, or peak exercise performance.

Like most things in science, however, there’s also evidence that shows that the body can withstand a significant amount of dehydration without an impairment to performance. Furthermore, in practice, many athletes competing in real world conditions can maintain a high level of performance even with a significant loss of body fluid (up to 10% loss).

In Dr. Lim’s experience while working on the Pro-Cycling Tour, he found that if he could teach athletes to listen to thirst and not lose more than 3% of their body weight, they were able to maintain a relatively high level of performance. He also found that the closer athletes came to replacing both the sodium and the water that they lost during exercise the easier it was for them to maintain body weight when drinking according to thirst.

For a great reference on this topic take a look at: Sawka, M. N., & Noakes, T. D. (2007). Does dehydration impair exercise performance? Med Sci Sports Exerc, 39(8), 1209-1217.

Hydration

What are the ingredients in Skratch Labs Drink Mix?

Each of our four hydration formulas has ingredients specific to its function and because we use only real fruit for flavoring each flavor has slightly different ingredients and Nutrition Facts Panel.

Daily Electrolyte Mix: Lemons + Limes // Raspberries

Exercise Hydration Mix: Lemons + Limes // Oranges // Raspberries // Pineapples // Matcha Green Tea + Lemons // Apples + Cinnamon

Rescue Hydration Mix: Lemons + Limes

Hyper Hydration Mix: Mangos

What does Skratch Labs drink mix taste like?

Better yet, what doesn't it taste like? It isn't overly-sweet, it doesn't linger in your mouth after drinking it all day, and uses only real freeze-dried fruits to make it taste like the fruit in the bowl on your counter.

Are the hydration products safe for children?

Yes! Our Daily Electrolyte Mix, Exercise Hydration Mix, and our Rescue Hydration Mix are all great for kids. All of our hydration products have less sugar than comparable drinks and are only flavored with real fruit. They have none of the excess ingredients like preservatives, emulsifiers, coloring agents, or flavoring agents.

Daily Electrolyte Mix is a great alternative to fruit juice to keep your kids sugar intake in check. It contains only a 2% concentration (2 grams of sugar per 100 ml) of sugar, significantly lower than the 10-12% concentration found in sodas or fruit juices. With the highest amount of freeze dried fruit of any of our products and the lowest sodium concentration, our Daily Electrolyte Mix is perfect for anytime you or your kids want more than just water.

Exercise Hydration, like with adults, is perfect for making sure they stay hydrated for activities like dance class, gymnastics, soccer, skiing, or bike riding!

Finally, our Rescue Hydration Mix was designed specifically with kids in mind for when they are sick with diarrhea or severely dehydrated. Based on the World Health Organization’s recommendations for oral rehydration salts, used to rapidly rehydrate those who are sick, our Rescue Hydration Mix is an excellent alternative to popular pediatric drinks. Rescue Hydration Mix contains all of the sodium, potassium, and zinc kids (and adults) need when they are feeling under the weather without any of the extraneous flavoring agents, artificial sweeteners, coloring agents, preservatives, or emulsifiers.

How much Exercise Hydration Mix should I be drinking?

That is a tough question to answer because everyone is different. The right amount depends on not only the conditions (think temperature and humidity) and length and intensity (how long, how hard, how far) but also on the individual. One to two 500mL servings per hour is a good starting point and then experiment to see what works best for you. One way to check if you’re drinking enough is to weigh yourself before and after a workout. If you’re losing more than a 3% loss in total body weight, your performance may be suffering and you probably need to drink more. That said, it’s important to listen to your body and to your thirst. Drinking beyond your thirst isn’t a good idea as that may lead you to inadvertently dilute out your body’s proper sodium concentration. If you feel like you’re listening to thirst but still losing a lot of water weight, try adding more sodium to your drink. Beyond our Exercise Hydration Mix (720 mg Na per Liter) we also have our Rescue Hydration Mix (1500 mg Na per Liter), and our Hyper Hydration Mix (3500 mg Na per Liter) to help you get some extra sodium in.

How long will the drink mix stay fresh? How do I need to store drink mix? Mine is clumping!

Because Skratch doesn’t have any preservatives of any kind, our drink mix needs a little bit of TLC. Dry drink mix should be stored in a cool, dry place either in its zip top bag or in any other airtight glass or plastic container. Extreme heat and direct sunlight are like Kryptonite for Skratch, so don't keep it in your car or your tent in the middle of the Sahara. Once added to water, a good rule of thumb is to treat it like fruit juice. After mixing, it is ideal to drink it within the day and can be drunk warm without lessening its efficacy. If mixed and then kept in the fridge it will stay good for up to a week. You will know when you have let it hang around in your bottle too long, it will smell a little bit funky and your inner voice will tell you "don't drink that". Listen to your inner voice.

If your drink mix is clumping because you haven't worked out in awhile that is because the real freeze-dried fruit contained within really likes water. Humidity loves our Skratch if it isn't getting scooped all the time. If you can see the ocean from your computer right now best practice would be to transfer your drink mix to a mason jar or some Tupperware, or a good ziploc as soon as you open it. Better yet, just shoot us a message (info@skratchlabs.com) or give us a call (1 800 735 8904) we can get you sorted out.

I lost my scoop!

Not to worry, here is a conversion using everyday kitchen measuring spoons:

Exercise Hydration Mix: Add 1.75TBS to 16oz (500mL) of water. If you have a small scale, that will work as well if you remember that a single serving for 500ml equals 24 grams.

Daily Electrolyte Mix: Add 1.0TBS to 16oz (500mL) of water. If you have a small scale, that will work as well if you remember that a single serving for 500ml equals 13 grams.

Why doesn’t the drink mix always dissolve completely?

Because we use actual fruit for flavor instead of chemicals that taste like fruit. Any "floating stuff" you may see in your bottle is small bits of fruit pulp. Sometimes a trace amount of the electrolyte salts in Skratch may hang around the bottom of your bottle too, but just give it a little shake before taking a swig and drink up. They're good for you.

If you prefer a clear beverage try the Lemons and Limes. If you like a small amount of real fruit pulp/seed try the Raspberries or Pineapples.

How much caffeine is in a serving of Matcha + Lemons Exercise Hydration?

About 16 mg of naturally occurring caffeine from the Matcha tea per 16 fl oz. For comparison, an 8 oz cup of coffee has 70-100 mg of caffeine.

Do the drink mixes contain Wheat/Gluten/Soy/Dairy/Nuts?

No, Skratch Labs Exercise, Daily, Rescue, and Hyper Drink mixes are all completely free of wheat, gluten, soy, dairy, and nuts.

Are Skratch Labs drink mixes Kosher?

Yes! All Skratch Labs drink mixes are Kosher approved by The Scroll K - Vaad Hakashurs of Denver

Food

Does the Endurance Recovery Mix contain Wheat/Gluten/Soy/Nuts?

No, Skratch Labs Endurance Recovery Mix is completely free of wheat, gluten, soy, and nuts.

Is the Endurance Recovery Mix non-GMO and Kosher?

Yes!

Why Use Skratch Labs’ Endurance Recovery Mix over any other products?

We’re all individuals, so we don’t and can’t assume that our Endurance Recovery Mix is the best or only option for optimizing your recovery, especially compared to a delicious meal made from scratch. More importantly, the role that nutrition plays in the recovery process isn’t just about calories and the ratio of macronutrients like carbohydrate, fat, and protein. It’s mostly about timing (i.e., eating immediately post-exercise) and about having something you actually want to eat or drink a lot of, which is ultimately about individual preference and mood. With that in mind, we didn’t compromise on taste when creating our Endurance Recovery Mix and from what our palettes and our customers tell us, we don’t know of another recovery drink that tastes as delicious as ours. Except for maybe a cold glass of chocolate milk. But, compared to chocolate milk, which is as close to an ideal recovery drink, we think we’ve done better with a more optimal carbohydrate to protein ratio (ERM at 5:1 vs. CM at 3:1) for replenishing glycogen, less fat, and none of the funky ingredients like artificial flavoring agents, vegetable gums, cocoa processed with alkali, carrageenan, and coloring agents that are typically found in chocolate milk. In creating our Endurance Recovery Mix, we were able to balance rational science with hedonism in a convenient take anywhere mix that only needs water to work and taste great. Thinking and feeling aren’t mutually exclusive in our world. Make both part of yours.

Why do we use milk in the Endurance Recovery Mix?

We use milk primarily as a protein source. Milk protein which is made up of whey protein and casein protein is a complete protein containing all of the essential amino acids needed for human growth and function. In fact, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations recently recommended a new standard for assessing protein quality - the Digestible Indispensable Amino Acid Score. Using this standard, complete milk protein is amongst the highest quality protein for humans, scoring higher than either whey protein alone, casein protein alone, or any vegetable protein source. While many companies, deconstruct milk protein, complete milk protein is clearly superior, containing a ratio of whey and casein protein designed by nature and optimal for humans.

In addition to protein, using a combination of whole milk and non-fat milk also allows us to control the fat content of the drink, helping to improve taste and also providing fat which is a critical macronutrient.

I lost my Endurance Recovery Mix Scoop!

No worries, simply use your standard US measuring cups. Add 1/3 cup of dry mix to enough water to make 12fl oz and shake (don't stir).

Why does the Endurance Recovery Mix contain sugar?

Our Endurance Recovery Mix contains a lot of sugar (36 g total carbohydrate / 33 g sugar) because the primary purpose of this product is to refuel athletes immediately after exercise by stimulating the re-synthesis of stored carbohydrate (i.e., sugar) or glycogen in muscle. In the context of post-exercise recovery, this process is improved by using simple sugars with a high glycemic index which rapidly increases blood sugar and insulin. That rapid rise in blood sugar helps to fast track fuel back into muscle while insulin which is one of the most anabolic hormones produced by the body helps the body to regenerate and rebuild. Out of the context of post-exercise recovery, this product isn’t recommended. It’s important to realize that what may be performance enhancing in the context of endurance training may be very bad for us in the context of a sedentary lifestyle.

How long will the Endurance Recovery Mix last once prepared?

The same food safety advice for the preparation and use of powdered milk and infant formula also apply to our Endurance Recovery Mix. Based on the CDC’s recommendations for the safe use of infant formula make sure to:
Use your Endurance Recovery Mix within 2 hours of preparation.
Refrigerate your prepared Endurance Recovery Mix immediately after preparation if you do not plan to drink it within 2 hours and drink within 24 hours of refrigeration.
Use common sense when handling any food including our Endurance Recovery Mix. This means, preparing foods in a hygienic environment, using sterile containers and water, and preparing food only after washing hands with soap and hot water.
Throw it out, if in doubt.

How much caffeine is in the Coffee flavored Endurance Recovery Mix?

45 mg per 50g (12 fl oz prepared) serving. About half of what a typical 8 fl oz cup of coffee contains.

What are the Feed Zone Cookbooks?

The short answer is they are all full of super yummy deliciousness with recipes that are both easy to make and good for you.

The slightly longer answer is that all three are written by Skratch Labs’ very own Dr. Allen Lim and Chef Biju Thomas after the athletes they cooked for and helped teach cook started asking them for the recipes they used. They wanted the book to be a reference for them so that they would have one of the essential life skills they needed to take better care of themselves – cooking. But, they also knew that if they could write a simple and practical book for the athletes they worked with – many of whom were very young and living on their own for the very first time – they could help a lot of people who had the same questions and concerns about performance and nutrition. For us, the answers to those questions start in the kitchen, not in a textbook or sterile laboratory, so the Feed Zone Cookbook series was our way of motivating others to get in the kitchen and take action.

The first cookbook in the series is the Feed Zone Cookbook. It takes athletes through a complete day of eating. From breakfast, portable ride food, recovery food, dinner, and even a little bit of dessert.

People were so interested in the “portables” section of the Feed Zone Cookbook, that our second book – Feed Zone Portables – focused on just that. It begins with an in depth introduction on the science and practice of fueling while on the go, making a strong case for solid foods for fuel and less caloric drinks for hydration. Feed Zone Portables is filled with a wide variety of simple, delicious, and effective recipes to give athletes alternatives for dry energy bars.

Finally, Feed Zone Table brings the focus back to dinner with a specific emphasis on family style meals. Despite of or perhaps because of all of the science written about optimal nutrition, it’s sometimes hard to remember that optimal nutrition doesn’t happen in a bubble. It actually happens when we share food with those who matter to us. Feed Zone Table takes the stand that social fuel is just as important as chemical fuel and was written so athletes remembered to include those they love in their pursuit to be better.

Do the three cookbooks contain any vegetarian or gluten free recipes?

All three books offer many vegetarian or gluten free options as well as many more that can be easily converted.

Here are a few that we have posted on our blog that you can test right now: GF Chicken Pad Thai // Spicy kimchi and soft-tofu soup // Crispy rice omelet // BLT stuffed avocados // GF Hearty cinnamon + almond pancakes // GF banana waffle sandwiches // GF chocolate and sea salt sticky bites // Vegan cookie recipes

Why are my Rice Cakes falling apart?

Making rice cakes is like baking a good apple pie, it may take you a couple tries to be successful. There are a few essentials: use white sticky sushi or calrose rice as it has a high starch content. (Brown rice will not work for rice cakes, don't even bother trying). Moist rice is the ticket to a good firm rice cake. Use a rice cooker to prepare your rice, it cooks more evenly and keeps rice moister than the stovetop method. If the recipe is for a savory cake and calls for soy sauce or liquid aminos, be very liberal with those ingredients. The protein in the soy/aminos binds with the starch in the rice to form the delicious glue that holds the cake together. Also, don't be afraid to put some muscle into pressing the rice mixture down firmly into your pan. Finally, make sure you mix all of your wet ingredients together and form the rice cakes while the rice is still piping hot, fresh out of the rice cooker. Cool or cold rice won’t absorb additional ingredients and won’t stick together very well. Of all the tips stated above, it’s the hot rice part that we find people mess up the most.

How long will Rice Cakes/Portables last, all day, in the heat, in my pocket?

Depending on the additional ingredients used to make your rice cakes, the general rule of thumb we use is about 3 hours in the pocket after wrapped. In pro races, rice cakes are typically wrapped and kept chilled in a cooler, so getting through a 5 to 7-hour event isn’t normally a problem because the rice cakes themselves aren’t typically in a rider’s pocket for more than an hour or two before they’re eaten.

To maximize the safety of your rice cakes, here are a couple of tips. First, wrap your rice cakes well in a parchment foil like Skratch paper immediately after you finish making them and keep them in a Ziploc bag to help keep them from drying out. Second, after making and wrapping your rice cakes get them in a refrigerator as soon as you can to cool them down and to keep them cool. Don’t just leave them out, especially if it’s going to be a while before you use them. Third, if you’re concerned about extending longevity use shelf stable ingredients to season and make your rice cakes. Our favorite is our Rice Cake flavored with maple syrup, braggs aminos (gluten free soy alternative), rice vinegar, and a little bit of olive oil with almond butter and crispy bacon (if you like) sandwiched in the middle. All of these ingredients are shelf stable and the salt, acidity, and fat help to keep the rice cake a little more stable than recipes with non-shelf stable ingredients.

Finally, use common sense. Don’t try and be a hero here. If you have any perishable food in your pockets for an extended period of time, throw it out and eat something fresh or shelf stable. No need to take any unnecessary risks out there. If you need a fresh Portable with a longer shelf life check out our Cookie Mix.

What should I wrap my Cookies and Portables in?

Skratch Paper: Skratch Paper has the strength of parchment paper and the shape holding qualities of aluminum foil. It’s perfect for wrapping and protecting food while still being easy to open when you’re on the go.

International

I live outside the USA can you ship to me?

Yes! We can ship individual orders to basically anywhere in the world!

How much does shipping cost?

Shipping costs vary a lot based upon the contents of your cart and the destination country. The price you are quoted is the DHL or UPS International rate which is the best rate we can get. We understand the shipping costs aren't cheap but know that it will be easy to track, and it will get there real fast! And, we don’t add on any handling fees, the cost you see is what they are charging us.

I just got my order and I have an extra invoice from the carrier, what’s up with that?

Those papers are likely import duties or tariffs that can be imposed on food products at the discretion of the importing country. Those duties are separate from Skratch Labs shipping charges and are your responsibility to pay! Sorry.

Does Skratch Labs have any International distributors?

Yes! Slowly but surely we are getting our products on shelves across the oceans. Below please find links to all of our current international partners:

Canada

Australia and New Zealand

UK and Ireland

South Korea

Mexico

Panama

South Africa