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The only completely custom sports nutrition company has made its website more user-friendly and informative so you can make your own drink mix.
Infinit Nutrition got its start when Michael Folan, a long-time triathlete and Ironman racer, saw a need to simplify nutrition for endurance athletes. “There are a lot of products out there,” he says, with every company having its own “system” of products that work together. “It’s difficult to manage as system when you’re training—or racing especially because everybody’s IQ drops by about 40 points as soon as you start to race.”
Folan wanted to make a sports drink that eliminates the need for thinking (as well as gels and bars) by making drinks that are completely custom. The reason Infinit’s products work for long-course athletes is the company’s focus on osmolality, which is essentially making sure the drink is a certain density so that it absorbs correctly and passes through your system easily, the same kind of technology hospitals use when preparing IV solutions. Other companies who’ve focused on osmolality in their drinks have been Gatorade since the 1970s and ’80s, and—more recently—Allen Lim of Skratch Labs and Stacy Sims of Osmo Nutrition.
“When athletes are using a system, they’re drinking and they’re eating a bar and chews and gels, you end up with mayonnaise in your gut,” Folan says. “With what we do … you can put most everything in your bottle, make it taste how you want, and drink it while you ride your bike. And I think it’s that simplicity that really attracts people to what we do.” It’s that inability to mess up a system that has helped Infinit attract loyal fans, specifically Ironman athletes and duration cyclists.
To help those customers dial in the perfect drink for them and their training and racing goals, Infinit just updated its website to provide a more user-friendly system and build in more information, including FAQ’s and informational videos on topics such as osmolality, how to conduct a sweat rate test and how to create a nutrition plan. The new website is now also compatible with a tablet and can function on a smart phone. “This is a big upgrade for us,” Folan says.
To create a custom drink, users start with the Quick Start Survey, which has questions that coordinate to each ingredient in the drink. For example, to determine the amount of carbohydrate to put into the drink, the questionnaire asks how long your primary races are, whether you train for speed or duration, whether you work out till exhaustion and how often you experience nausea or GI issues. The other ingredients that you can customize are calories, electrolytes, protein, amino acids and caffeine. Next to each question are explanations for how the question is relevant to making a sports drink, and next to each ingredient are videos explaining why the drink has that ingredient and how it works.
In addition, you can choose the flavor and strength of the flavor—Infinit now offers pink lemonade, mocha, chocolate, salted caramel and grape in addition to the previous orange, fruit punch and lemon-lime flavors. “When we formulate, we really do things differently for guys than women,” he says. “We don’t just put it in a pink package and call it women’s. Women have more taste buds than guys do physiologically, which is weird but true, so when guys taste things they taste them totally different than women. Women pick up salt flavors way more than men do … so we dial back the salt for women.”
If the explanatory videos in the survey or on Infinit TV don’t answer your questions, the website also has a live chat feature with two operators who can answer your questions immediately online. For the operators, Folan usually hires students working on their sports nutrition graduate degrees at the University of Cincinnati or Xavier University, so they’re athletes with nutrition backgrounds. If you’re really uncomfortable making your own mix or you have a lot of questions, you can set up an appointment for a free personalized health consultation. “So you really need absolutely no nutritional background or knowledge,” Folan says.
Another option for making a drink is to start with a preset formula (which are sorted by sport, gender and by need, i.e., gluten-free or meal replacement), and then adjust the ingredients. Every drink is made by hand—nothing is outsourced. If you’re not satisfied with your drink for any reason, Infinit has an unconditional money-back guarantee. “It doesn’t happen very often because we’re really good at getting people set up, and once they’re set up, they’re happy as a clam,” Folan says. That’s also why Infinit has such a devoted fan base of customers—“Once we get customers, we don’t lose customers.”
Infinit also now has premade formulas sold in almost 150 retailers, but even with the success of Infinit in retail stores, the customized drinks aren’t going anywhere. “If I really wanted to be simple, I’d just make a bunch of GoFar and put it in bike stores,” he says. “But I think what we offer is very unique, and it differentiates us from anybody else. It’s definitely more work and it’s harder, but it’s very satisfying because I feel like in a lot of ways we were the first company to talk about osmolality. … I really do think that the company has changed the market more than if I had just come out with a jug of something and put it on shelves. … I find that personally enriching.”