Hi, I’m Craig, one of Team Kitchen’s co-founders.
I’m also a road cyclist, which I came to via swimming, waterpolo, surfing, skiing…and a need to always have some kind of sport in my life - yup, that's me in the photo.
But road cycling is where Clean Fuel and Team Kitchen begins.
My go-to fuel for rides used to be bars, chews and sports drinks. I didn’t think too much about it. It was just fuel and it did the job.
That changed when I did a Whole30. My wife (and co-founder), Renee had been doing them regularly for years, and this time I decided to join her.
If you’re not familiar with Whole30, it meant that, for 30 days I had to cut grains, artificial additives and added sugar from my diet. That’s not even the Cliffs Notes, there’s much more to it than that, but the point is that I had to find alternatives to the nutrition products I had always used.
After doing some research, I landed on mashed potato and apple sauce in a ziplock bag. Sometimes I’d use sweet potato instead. By cutting the corner of the bag off, I could squeeze it out like a gel, so it was easy to eat on the bike.
By changing what I was eating and drinking on the bikes, right away I noticed some changes. I felt better on my rides. I had more energy, and its delivery felt more steady and consistent. The upset stomach I finished most rides with went away. Also, my home made energy snacks actually tasted pretty good.
The downside? Making my own was time consuming, and I was busy at work. Once Whole30 was done, I went back to what I’d been using before.
The differences surprised me.
The chews and bars were really hard to eat; dry and tough, which I’d never noticed or thought to question. I felt worse on my rides than I had with my home made snacks; I just didn’t have the same spark. The upset stomach returned. I also started reading up on ingredients in some of them. Many were artificial and/or highly processed.
After realizing I was better off without the nutrition products I’d always used, I decided to change what I fueled my rides with.
I went looking for products that were closer to what I’d been making myself. It didn’t have to be the same; but it did have to include only natural ingredients, with nothing artificial, and not too processed. It had to be easy to eat on the bike, and I wanted it to taste good.
When I couldn’t find anything that met those criteria, I decided to keep making my own. The time involved was worth it for how much better I felt on my rides, and after them. The only change I made was to add some oatmeal recipes (oats are off the menu for Whole30).
Credit for the product idea that became Clean Fuel goes to Renee.
After watching me make my own snacks for a few weeks…and probably hearing me complain about it for the same length of time…one day she said “you know…I’m pretty sure there are other athletes are looking for the same kind of clean energy snack you are. Why don’t you put what you’re making into baby food pouches and sell them?”
Long story short, that’s what we did. We made the product I’d been looking for, but hadn’t been able to find.
P.S. This isn’t a sponsored endorsement for Whole30, nor is it an endorsement for us by them. I’m just someone who tried it and found it helpful, after being introduced to it by someone much smarter than me ;)
P.P.S. Our first flavor of Clean Fuel is not Whole30 compliant.