July 1, 2015
Sports nutrition is one of the big bad three categories of supplements (right up there with weight management and sexual performance) under fire for using ingredients that are either adulterated or are pharmaceutical analogs. So what happens when a brand staking its value proposition on unquestionable quality and the built-in authority of the practitioner space enters the category?
That’s a question that might be answered by Thorne Research’s new partnership with EXOS Performance Nutrition, a move that could both shake up the distribution channel and offer validated sports supplements to a wider audience.
“EXOS shares our values and vision to change what people expect from supplements by elevating the standard of quality and efficacy in the industry,” says Paul Jacobson, CEO of Thorne Research. “We look forward to providing a high-quality product line that’s free of banned ingredients and helps people reach their health and performance goals.
Standards and certifications
EXOS Performance Nutrition is produced in an NSF International GMP registered facility. Products are undergoing testing to become NSF Certified for Sport, which vouchsafes quality and ensures products are free of more than 200 banned substances. That certification is recognized by the likes of the NFL, MLB and PGA.
“EXOS could not have a better, clinically proven partner than Thorne,” says Amanda Carlson-Phillips, VP of Nutrition and Research at EXOS. “The ability to offer the highest quality, purest solutions to elite athletes, corporations and the military alike is unparalleled in this industry.”
The plan is to expand its distribution network by using “affiliates”–personal trainers, strength and condition coaches and other credentialed performance professions on the front lines of sports performance. Once approved by EXOS, affiliates receive a 20 percent commission on products sold.
Illustrating the company’s reach into the elite athlete ranks, 13 of the 32 first-round draft picks into the National Football League are supported by EXOS. Other athletic clients include the United States and German national soccer teams, Olympic medalists, and other professional athletes in baseball, tennis, golf, basketball and hockey. The supplements are also sold on military bases, and an Accelerated Return to Duty program is dedicated to supporting wounded and injured military personnel through training, physical therapy and nutrition. After HBO’s “Real Sports” report called out the use of allegedly dangerous sports
supplements in the military and a pair of senators proposed regulating sports supplement sales on military bases, the Thorne Research gravitas could be an important differentiator.
“We’re here to upgrade lives,” said Mark Verstegen, founder and president of EXOS. “We’ve been known for our ability to design and deliver performance game plans for elite athletes, but now we’re progressing the intelligence behind human performance wherever necessary. This rebrand unites our vertical markets.”
Thorne Research has been making supplements for medical practitioners since 1984 and today has more than 400 SKUs. EXOS, formerly named Athletes’ Performance, was founded in 1999.
The synergy between the two companies relies upon EXOS’ market reach along with Thorne’s expertise with quality, formulations, and GMP manufacturing. The brand change started in June of 2014 to unify the existing Athletes’ Performance and Core Performance brands.
“Thorne’s partnership with EXOS allows it to focus and build upon its reputation as having the most hypo-allergenic and researched formulations in the market today,” says Carlson-Phillips.
The partnership is aimed at creating three distinct product categories, what it calls Foundation, Boost and Restore. Product formulations are already on the market.
The Foundation lineup includes vitamins, minerals, fish oil, probiotics and other nutrients that provide baseline nutrition levels of high-quality ingredients.
The commitment to quality formulations is evident in the Thorne EXOS AM/PM Complex multivitamin, part of the Foundation line. Designed to be taken in both the morning and evening, the formulation supports energy by day and relaxation and recovery at night. Among the functional ingredient choices formulators chose, the AM/PM Complex contains the more expensive – and better absorbed – methylcobalamin form of vitamin B12; chelated minerals, which are the superior format to enhance absorption; more magnesium than calcium, which savvy formulators are now doing to turn the old 2:1 calcium:magnesium ratio around; vitamin K2 to go with vitamin K1, which address bone and cardiovascular health; and phospholipids to increase the absorption of curcumin and green tea, which are used to address inflammation and oxidative stress. All in all, an impressive formulation.
Boost is aimed at the athletic set. Boost includes SKUs containing single-nutrient selections for athletes, such as arginine and carnitine. The Catalyte Isotonic powder contains the suite of minerals along with an efficacious 3-gram dose of D-ribose, a favored glucose originally used for cardiovascular patients and now for Olympic athletes the world over. (By comparison, the ribose dose in the Endurance SKU of Vitaminwater weighs in at a label-candy-only 250 mg.)
Restore is comprised of powder tubs containing protein, amino acids, and curcumin designed for exercise recovery.
“People are looking for solutions to improve their lives through upgrading nutrition and movement in many channels, often outside of the traditional health care channel,” says Carlson-Phillips. “Therefore, we want to be able to meet people where they are to ensure they have all the tools necessary to achieve their goals.”
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