What does it mean to be a 'clean label' sports nutrition brand? Too Fit co-founder shares his thoughts

By Adi Menayang

- Last updated on GMT

What does it mean to be a 'clean label' sports nutrition brand? Too Fit co-founder shares his thoughts

Related tags Sports nutrition Clean label

Too Fit co-founder Joshua Uptmore talks about what it means to be a ‘clean label’ sports nutrition brand, and why he doesn’t want proprietary blends in his products.

It’s a brand owner’s prerogative to keep the formula of his or her product a secret. Many companies or entrepreneurs that use proprietary blends often argue that it is an important step to keep their formula from competitors and copycats.

For Uptmore, protecting his Too Fit​ formula isn’t as important as telling his product’s buyers exactly what they are consuming. “To me, it’s more important that consumers trust what they’re putting in their body,”​ he told NutraIngredients-USA.

“If you read our supplements facts panel from top-down, every ingredient is listed with exactly how much of each ingredient is in there, so a consumer can really see ‘I’m taking this ingredient, and I’m getting this much out of it.’”

Rooted in paleo

The company soft launched in 2015 at a local Crossfit gym in Texas, where the company is based. Uptmore and his co-founder Jake Huddelston started the company because they thought the category lacked quality products and was prone to actors conducting business with shady practices, they told us in an interview in 2016​.

In its early years, the company associated with the paleo crowd, directly targeting adherents of the diet at consumer trade shows and sporting events geared towards them.

Since then, the company has come up with new branding and package design, evoking typologies from the outdoors and natural channel.

Coming up with new branding and other serving sizes (single-serve packets, for instance) helped the company grow and enter major retailers.

Too Fit Single Serve
After launching with tubs of supplements, Too Fit launched single-serve packets, which the company says makes it a perfect fit for merchandising at cash registers.

One of the company’s main accounts is Whole Foods Markets in Texas and neighboring states as well as independent retailers and gyms across the nation. “Outside of that, we haven’t really pushed for a big distribution plan,” ​Uptmore said. “We didn’t want to grow too fast, we really wanted to build the brand and the voice online. Now that we’re in Whole Foods, we’re working on building that relationship and expanding there.”

As for Paleo positioning, “It’s still definitely a positioning just given that paleo is very much associated with clean label,” ​Uptmore explained. “We find that paleo is still doing really well, and there are other things that have come up since then that are trending a bit higher such as keto. But paleo in general, though we’re not isolating that crowd, it’s part of our core foundation.”

Too Fit Guys
Co-founders Jake Huddelston and Joshua Uptmore.

What goes into a Too Fit supplement?

Just like the size of its team, Too Fit’s portfolio has remained relatively lean with only two products in its three years of existence. It has one pre-workout powder, and one post-workout powder.  Each comes in one flavor.

The pre-workout contains several branded ingredients such as Creatine Magnapower, Setria L-glutathione, Cognizin, Carnosyn, Peak O2 mushroom blend, and more.

“Most pre-workouts are associated with caffeine and energy,” ​he said. “But we wanted to formulate this product to truly have a positive impact on the user’s health and performance ​[by] creating real cellular ATP energy rather than that stimulation effect from caffeine,” ​he said.

For its post-workout, Too Fit delivers grass-fed whey protein along with curcumin, tart cherry, collagen peptides, and pea starch, among other things, in a vanilla cinnamon-flavored powder. “The recovery product was built around the idea of, yes you need protein after a workout, a lot of people need carbs after a workout, but there wasn’t really a super clean option all in one scoop,” ​he said.

“Our manufacturer calls our scoops a ‘gravy boat,’ it has 65 grams,” ​he said. “But it can really be a meal replacement. Protein is important but it’s just one macro, that’s why it has the full balance.”

The company doesn’t use any artificial ingredients across the board—colors, flavors, preservatives, agent, or gum agents (“The gums that we do use are organically derived,”​ he added).

Getting noticed by CPG giant PepsiCo

Too Fit is one of several supplements companies that are part of PepsiCo’s inaugural Greenhouse Nutrition incubator.

“I was lying in bed at 11 PM on a Tuesday, just googling different things because we have, in the months prior, started exploring a new round of funding,” ​he recalled. “I was searching for ‘nutrition incubator,’ ‘food incubator,’ and I came across PepsiCo’s.”

He bookmarked it because the deadline was just three days later, and submitted his application 10 minutes before the deadline. Upon learning his company was selected, Uptmore said he looks forward to the mentoring aspect and learning from experts at a CPG giant like PepsiCo.

Uptmore said that sports nutrition and ‘mainstream’ food and beverage categories are blurring. “Fitness is becoming much more a part of a lifestyle for the general consumer,” ​he said. “Supplement products are much more about the healthy lifestyle and fitness space instead of just for bodybuilders or just for people who are ill.”

Interested in Sports Nutrition?


The inaugural NutraIngredients-USA Sports Nutrition Summit​, in association with the International Society of Sports Nutrition, will bring together leading scientists, brands and retailers, market analysts, and innovators in a unique, market-leading face-to-face event. 

The key themes of this event include: 

- The “size of the prize”
- The power and importance of social media
- Positioning and differentiation
- Sports nutrition and the military - product use survey data and enhancing the performance of Warfighters
- The State of the Science: Sports, fitness and exercise Nutrition
- Sports Nutrition products and Elite Athletes 
- Alphabet soup: Everything brands need to know about GMPs, NDIs, AERs, DASCA, SARMs…
- Bacterial boosts – The microbiome and sports
- Personalization and the digital revolution
- Nootropics & sports nutrition

Register now to make sure you are there!

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