October 18, 2023

#124: The Anti-supplement Supplement Company – Momentous CEO Jeff Byers (CrossFit Games 2023)

Hosted by Fran Racioppi

How much do you really know about the supplements you put in your body? Where do they come from? What do they actually do? What are they supposed to do? How much time have you spent understanding what will really enhance your performance? Jeff Byers spent a career in the NFL with access to the best performance coaching and products in the world; but something was missing from the market. A company that blended science with education and embraced the consumer’s perspective on their own needs. Born was Momentous; the anti-supplement, supplement company.  

Jeff joined Fran Racioppi and Jessie Graff from the US Army Fitness Truck at 2023 NOBULL CrossFit Games to share his vision for democratizing high performance by developing great products and treating consumers as partners in their own development. Jessie and Jeff show us the benefits of creatine, omega-3s, protein, BCAAs, carbs, fats and collagen in our daily routines while standing firm in the opinion that we should never take anything we can’t fully explain. 

Momentous has won 10 research grants from the Department of Defense and supplies over 200 professional and collegiate athletics teams. Fran and Jeff explain why human performance is the core of our national defense and why humans are our most important weapon system on the battlefield. Plus Jeff shares his keys to elite performance; attitude, effort and bone crushing consistency. 

Learn more about Momentous and read the transcript on The Jedburgh Podcast Website. Subscribe to us and follow @jedburghpodcast on all social media. Watch the full video version on YouTube

Listen to the podcast here

 

The Anti-supplement Supplement Company – Momentous CEO Jeff Byers (CrossFit Games 2023)

Jeff, welcome to The Jedburgh Podcast.Momentous CEO Jeff Byers on The Jedburgh Podcast with Fran Racioppi and Jessie Graff

Thanks for having me, Fran.

I have been waiting all weekend for this.

We’re going to have a lot of hype for this since I’m going to have to work up to it.

It’s a momentous occasion. It’s awesome to see you here at CrossFit Games 2023. Right before you got there, Jessie, Jeff and I met at Sandlot JAX and started talking about all the things he’s been doing, not only in the NFL but also, since he transitioned out into starting Momentous and working with the Army on a number of different performance-enhancing nutritional products. We said, “The next time we meet, we have to do something.” It just so happened that our mutual friend, Allison Brager, said, “You got to talk to Jeff Byers.” “I do have to talk to Jeff Byers,” and she connected us.

I have a funny story about that. I tend to be pretty suspicious when it comes to supplement companies. I talked to so many that are like, “It’s all-natural ingredients,” and they’ve got sucralose in it. I was reading your labels very carefully. I don’t know that much about sleep supplements, but I do know Major Allison Brager. I sent her a screenshot of your label and was like, “What do you think of this one?” She was like, “I’m on the advisory board. I helped create it.” I was like, “I can trust these guys.”

That was an easy layup for us. I wish it was always that easy.

Also, I saw you work with Andrew Huberman. I learned a lot from listening to him. That’s great to hear.

Dr. Huberman has been a big part of the business over the past few years as we think about how we bring products to the forefront, how do we wrap around education, etc. We can get into the story, but Dr. Huberman has done such a good job of bringing knowledge and education to the consumer. We’re passionate about democratizing high performance. How do we take what Andrew is doing, bring products to bear, actionable items, and provide solutions to consumers?

Also, make sure we’re trusted and doing it the right way. Andrew has been involved in our business when we think about product development and why we have what we have in our portfolio. We don’t need a portfolio of 200 products. We need a very curated approach to our portfolio. “Let’s think about what products we have and let’s guide consumers into the right products.”

I love not having 50 different supplements in my daily vitamin regime.Momentous CEO Jeff Byers on The Jedburgh Podcast with Fran Racioppi and Jessie Graff

There’s a lot out there.

Talk for a second about the vision behind the company. We’ll backtrack into your previous career, but we’ll start here. We’re at CrossFit Games 2023 and Momentous is everywhere across the whole venue. Talk about the vision behind the company and what the goal is.

We started the business in 2018. My cofounder and I, Erica Good, spun the business as an underlying entity out of a biotech company. We’re both early members of that biotech but we had this incredible product that was doing something that had never been done before. Early on, we started getting traction from the US government. We won a large government innovation contract around this product. We had this biotech and it just didn’t fit. We were working on pharmaceutical products and had this high-performance sports nutrition-ish product in there.

We took that and said, “Let’s create a company around it. Let’s create the next-generation high-performance company,” not knowing what that was going to become. Our first customers were Super Bowl champions, Tour de France winners, and marathon world record holders. The product is called PR Lotion. It’s nichey and great. This was the product that thrusts us at the forefront of high performance. We had two published clinical papers come out on this product. What it does is it helps regulate acidity in the muscle. It gives your body more sodium bicarbonate. Bicarb regulates acidity. When we work hard or long, our muscles get acidic. That acidity is called our lactic threshold.

We had a conversation with Chris Hinshaw.

Our body naturally uses bicarbonate. It’s hard to take orally because sodium bicarbonate is a buffer. Your stomach is acidic. When you mix a buffer with acid, think of a volcano in elementary school. Your stomach explodes. You do what I call the double dragon. It can go out on both ends very fast. This one thrusts us, and it was super early. It’s part of how we got to know Allison Brager. It’s through this innovation. Early on, we had a lot of people take chances, but it was at the tip of the pointy spear in terms of what we were doing. That thrusts us into some unique circles on who we were working with and why we’re working with them.

In my past career as an NFL athlete, what I saw there was you had great practitioners. You had the best dieticians in the world, the best strength staff, and the best trainers. You had access to the experts like Dr. Huberman or Allison Brager, and then you had the best products in the world. You had all that combined to do what’s best for me. What was best for Jeff at that time to achieve my goals? When I retired, it was like this black hole of chaos. What supplements do I take? I’m scared shitless of my brain health. I hit my head for a living. What do I do? Where do I find it?

It’s like, “Who makes good products?” There’s so much bro science where it’s almost pharmaceutical out there. It’s the quality of products that is important to me. I was confused and I’m very well-educated. This was my passion when I was playing. How do you combine that with what’s cutting edge? What are the experts saying and why? That was how we’ve positioned the company. Our vision is to democratize high performance. Take the knowledge and access to the best products in the world and give them to a consumer in a meaningful way. Give them what they need when they need it, and help tell them why.

Momentous CEO Jeff Byers on The Jedburgh Podcast with Fran Racioppi and Jessie Graff

That was our vision for Momentous. My co-founder and I acquired the Momentous brand from its underlying entity. They had a couple of sports nutrition products, and our vision was to blow it up and make the next great brand. We brought on Huberman, Kelly Starett, and a bunch of these incredible thought leaders to say, “Let’s design a very good and clean product portfolio.”

We certified all of our products by either Informed Sport, the NSF, or both. We sell to nearly 200 pro and college sports teams. We’ve won ten innovation contracts with the Department of Defense around clinical research and product iteration all around readiness and combat performance. How do we keep the men and women who serve this country at play and ready faster?

This is a new area for a lot of that. The US military hasn’t taken a big approach to nutrition or supplementation. In the past couple of years, they’ve locked that space in. That’s a little bit about Momentous. I’m excited about the CrossFit partnership. You had Don Faul on, but Don and where he is taking CrossFit is very similar to where I want to take Momentous.

How do we educate, inspire, and equip humans to be better humans? In its broadest form, that’s CrossFit and my mission. CrossFit has such a dedicated and loyal consumer, but still, we’re in this category that’s messy and confusing. As you said, I don’t trust very many or I don’t know what to trust or who to trust. What we hope to become is an anti-supplement supplement company.

Momentous CEO Jeff Byers on The Jedburgh Podcast with Fran Racioppi and Jessie Graff

We want to break through the BS. We want to start and talk with science and have the experts curate. I don’t believe experts live in my company. I believe we have smart people. Experts live at pro and college sports teams. They’re the practitioners. They’re the best people in the world. They live at universities doing clinical research like Dr. Huberman, Stacy Sims, and Andy Galpin. They’re also in the DOD like Allison Brager and other places in the SOF community where they’re pushing the limits when we think about health performance optimization.

They don’t live inside companies like mine. Our approach to products and product creation is to bring these people in. Let’s leverage them. Let’s put them at a round table and think about what we’re going to put in our products. More importantly, what are we going to put in our products, and what products should we have? Where do we need to do clinical research versus not? That’s been our approach. We try to be very different in this space and have a long way to come from an education perspective too, but CrossFit is a big part of that. It’s a huge platform for us to educate smart consumers. What I think is the most important is curious consumers because you can talk from a soapbox a lot, but if people aren’t curious, it doesn’t matter.

How do you keep it simple? You and Jessie talked about the complexity of the space. You could walk around the venue here and see so many different brands and companies who all have their own take, but how do you create a company in this space that keeps it simple for the consumer to understand what they need and go out and get it on a consistent basis?

Simple might be the wrong word. These consumers are smart. They don’t want simple. They want to know why. The first thing is, “If you don’t know why you take it, you shouldn’t be taking it. If you can’t tell me in five words why you take any product, don’t take it.” It’s wrong. I don’t think it’s simple. It’s all about education and getting people the right products for them. For example, the number one thing in my life is cognitive longevity. I am scared that I hit my head for way too long and that I’m going to have more neurological issues later on.

Momentous CEO Jeff Byers on The Jedburgh Podcast with Fran Racioppi and Jessie Graff

I start everything that I do with, “Is this good for my brain? Is this good for my long-term brain health?” That’s the number one thing I do. Everything else is secondary, tertiary, etc., down the list but brain health and cognitive function are number one. Also, Omega 3, creatine, turmeric, and vitamin. It’s a hard stop. There are 1,300 published clinical trials of creatine in TBI. It’s 5 grams a day of creatine. Everybody thinks of creatine. I played pro football and college football. Creatine was muscle builder. It has neuroprotective, neural longevity, and return-to-play or return-to-duty capabilities as well as post-concussive events. It’s very well-researched and very well-studied, but very misunderstood by this consumer.

The consumer doesn’t need it simple. They need to have people tell them what it is in a thoughtful way. Huberman isn’t a top-five podcast in the world because he makes things simple. It’s because he explains things eloquently and why people can care about them. It makes it easy for people to understand. There’s nothing simple about our human bodies. On a tangent, it’s speaking to the consumer like they’re educated and curious. They are telling it in a way that relates back to them and their why.

Momentous CEO Jeff Byers on The Jedburgh Podcast with Fran Racioppi and Jessie Graff

Probably every one of us has had family connections or something related to traumatic brain injury or Alzheimer’s, dementia, and neurodegenerative diseases. Creatine has incredible data behind it. You could talk to Allison Bragger about it, and it’s a do-no-harm type of thing. We know what Creatine is. It’s a major energy source for the brain and the muscles. There are no long-term negative benefits of creatine.

It’s one of those things that when you talk to the top leaders in the space, every consumer should be taking creatine and high doses of omegas. Every human being believe that. Those things are not sexy. They’re not highly differentiated but consumers are getting into proprietary formulas and stimulant-based things, which are great. We have some of that, but it’s not, “Go back to the basics and clearly explain the hierarchy of need and the impact that it’s going to have.”

How much creatine should you be taking a day?

For long-term cognitive health, it’s about 5 grams. It’s one scoop. I will say this. Creatine monohydrate is creatine monohydrate. There’s not that much of a difference between creatine monohydrates across brains. Realistically, almost none. Is it certified? What is actually in it? Has it been cross-contaminated? Those are important things, but creatine monohydrate is basic, and it costs nothing. For a 90-day serving, we charge $36-something. It’s $0.30-some a day at full price. We all buy bottles of water that are more expensive than that every single day.

Doesn’t creatine cause you to hold a little more water weight?

It can, but the 5-gram dose a day is enough. When you think about creatine and the water retention aspect, it is all about this loading phase. We, as athletes, might remember taking creatine for bulk or to gain lean muscle mass. You do these big loading phases where you can take 30 or 40 grams a day, and that super saturates and loads your body. It loads your muscles, and then your muscles start pulling in weight. Five grams a day doesn’t have massive water retention challenges.

If you’re doing it for strength gain, aren’t you supposed to take it specifically right before and right after the strength workout?

Yes. There’s data to support that but it is the big loading phase too. You need to make sure your stores and your muscles are topped. That’s creatine for muscle load. We’re talking about creatine for general health, and we have consumers that use it for both.

Can it multitask though?Momentous CEO Jeff Byers on The Jedburgh Podcast with Fran Racioppi and Jessie Graff

One hundred percent.

If I want it for brain health and to also work on my lean muscle mass, should I time it to do it right before the workout?

Yes.

It will then serve for both theoretically. Five grams a day isn’t going to make me heavier for the strength-to-weight ratio and all that. It’s good to know. Omega 3s are the other big one for brain health.

Our brain is made up of fat, essentially, and DHA and EPA are very important. Those are the two main power hitters in Omega 3s. Here’s the thing. Creatine monohydrate is creatine monohydrate. The difference of Omega 3 is it’s very fast in the market. From the brands you get in the big boxes to the uber premium, it matters and it’s impactful. You can look at an Omega 3 and you’re like, “This has got a gram of fish oil in it,” but it only has 200 milligrams of EPA and DHA combined. It has 800 milligrams of fish oil, which is just fish oil and is not EPA or DHA.

Those things are so important. For us, we have a 1.6-gram Omega 3 dose. It’s 800 milligrams of each and that dose is what’s so critical when you think about cognitive performance. When you look at what some SOF units are using from the dietician’s perspective or professional teams for brain health, it’s even higher than that. They’re taking more than that recommended dose, but for us, where the fish caught and what type of fish in the food chain is important because fish carry a lot of heavy metals. We test all of our fish for heavy metals, and a lot of brands don’t. We use wild-caught small fish, typically, Alaskan pollock, which carry, historically, very low amounts of heavy metals. Nobody wants heavy metals, but those are things that aren’t talked about.

One of the things that I thought was so interesting about fish oils is the ratios that you ideally want between Omega 3 and Omega 6s. If I remember correctly, people in America have a high ratio of too many Omega 6s and Omega 3s.

They don’t have any challenges in Omega 6. Unless you’re eating salmon 4 or 5 times a week and a big serving, you aren’t getting enough of your Omega 3s. I wished I ate salmon every time but I don’t have enough money to afford it either. That’s why Omega 3s are such a critical supplementation because it’s hard to get them in our general diets and it’s not practical.

Whole foods first always, but in the diets we live in, we’re on the road at the CrossFit games. It’s not practical to always get what your body needs in this world, but also in the right doses at the right times. That’s where dietary supplements can come in and be very effective, but you don’t need everything. You still need to eat healthy meals and train hard. You need to find out what dietary supplements or sports nutrition products are most important for you and for your goals.Momentous CEO Jeff Byers on The Jedburgh Podcast with Fran Racioppi and Jessie Graff

Omega 3s can help with brain healing. Do they also prevent long-term Alzheimer’s?

There is interesting data around that. For those of you who are reading, you can go on deep rabbit holes on Omega 3s, brain health, long-term brain health, and creating long-term brain health. Go to PubMed if you want to explore the dark depths of research.

In any case, by getting 1 to 3 grams of Omega 3s, I am improving my brain health.

It’s one of those things. We know Omega 3s are important for children’s brain development. We don’t make a kid’s Omega 3, but there are great kids Omega 3s out there. Omega 3 is a critical building block in our brain. It’s important for us to understand these things and not be afraid to think about and ask questions about why, when, and what’s good versus what’s bad.

I’ve heard that BCAA is a trend and we don’t need BCAA supplements, but I assume that’s just if you are eating optimally and getting them all from your diet.

BCAA is interesting. We have EAA, which is an Essential Amino Acid, which contains the four branched chains as well. It’s a more holistic profile, which is found to be more important. Think about it. What’s better than EAAs? It’s drinking a protein shake and having whey proteins but the great thing about essential amino acids as you think about it is they’re great for lean muscle mass and metabolic health. They don’t have the same caloric content that whey protein would. It’s way easier to sip on throughout the day, much lighter, etc. The gold standard is whey protein. After a workout, you shouldn’t be taking essential aminos. You should be taking a whole form of protein that has all of the essential aminos in it like whey protein or well-balanced plant protein. That’s important.

Dr. Huberman talks about using aminos in a fasted state. If you are hardcore, they do break a fast truly. Huberman says he’ll take it on a fasted state and they don’t break his fast as a way to get some protein or something in your body before you train how they can be used in that sense. It’s an interesting use case or if you’re on a time-restricted feeding schedule. You fast for twelve hours a day or something, getting your protein content in is hard.

EEAs amount to a smaller amount of protein when you take them, but you can sip them throughout the day. They’re not as heavy. It’s easier to up your protein content if you are in time-restricted or a big thing for essential amino acids is those people who don’t eat meat because plants don’t have full amino acid profiles. If you buy a single source plant protein, it doesn’t have a complete amino acid profile, therefore, it’s not a building block. Your body is not going to use that effectively to build muscles. All plant proteins have to be a combo to be able to complete a complete amino acid profile to be the building blocks your body needs for muscle.

We should probably say it because I don’t think we’ve said it yet. What do amino acids do in the body? They’re building blocks.

Amino acids are building blocks. All proteins are built up of amino acids. Peptides are built up of amino acids. They’re essentially the breakdown of proteins. They build everything, all of the major functions, etc. There is a lot of talk about peptides going on in the world, but peptides are long strands of amino acids. Whey protein is long strands of amino acids. Every protein has a little bit different strand like collagen. Collagen is a peptide, but it’s a protein and it’s a certain strand of amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of our tissues.

When I eat a protein source, I’m eating long chains of amino acids, and then those chains of amino acids break down and repair all the muscles I’ve broken down in a workout.

The timing of protein, we’re getting smarter on that. Timing of protein is not as critical as one is thinking, but what we’re finding out is it’s much more about, “Are you taking enough protein throughout the day? Are you meeting your protein intake?” That’s all becoming more important. When you think about the gold standard in protein, it’s whey protein and it’s not casein. It’s the gold standard. It’s the most easily readily available protein source in the body. It’s very easy for the body to use and break down.

Casein is a slower-absorbing protein. Plant is pretty hard for your body to digest in turn, but it’s faster than eating a steak on that. I think that’s what’s important when you think about digesting. Do you want protein available immediately? The best is to get it through a whey source. If you need to increase your protein intake, eat protein like meat, nuts, or whatever it may be.

If I have a whey intolerance, what amino acids am I likely missing out on or going to have a little more difficulty?Momentous CEO Jeff Byers on The Jedburgh Podcast with Fran Racioppi and Jessie Graff

There is a lot. Do you still eat meat?

I do.

You don’t have as big of a challenge with that because you get that whole thing. You’re getting it. I assume you are taking protein through liquid protein or a protein shake every once in a while.

Here and there. I eat a lot of protein bars.

You’re most likely a blend of plant protein in those, so you should be fine. The real big thing is if you’re only eating pea protein, you’re not going to have a complete amino acid profile. You’re not missing out on any by not having whey. It’s just that whey is the most readily available post-workout. It is easily digested and bioavailable very quickly.

It doesn’t necessarily need to be your goal post-workout. If you’re eating a protein bar, it slowly digests over time, too. Drinking a whey protein shake and having a bar is not a direct substitute. It’s not like you need to add anything. You’re doing just fine, I would say. I wouldn’t stress about missing anything on the amino acid profile in your diet. If you are eating a selection of meats, you’re totally fine. I would not stress about losing any aminos.

I don’t stress about it, but I do wonder if you were vegan, what amino acids are they typically missing out on that they need to supplement with?

That is a good question. I don’t know the direct answer to that. What I do know is different plants carry different amino acid profiles.

You have to be very particular, and that’s per meal, right?

Most likely, yeah. It’s per plant source.

I know if you eat an excess of carbs, your body can store it as fat. If you eat an excess of fat, you can store it as fat, but if you eat an excess of protein, your body has to use it when you eat it, right?

Our body will turn all excess fuel into fat. That’s why your body needs to have the right intake of protein to build muscle throughout the day and spread out. It’s not an all-or-nothing proposition on that because our body does not store protein to do. Collagen is a great example. Collagen peptides are compelling data. There’s still a lot of work to come out, but there is compelling data around connective tissue health but it has to be present in your body when you’re training to have an effect on your connective tissue health. It’s not like, “I took my collagen five days ago. I’m good because my body has it.” You don’t store protein.

If I want to have about 100 grams of protein a day and I have 100 grams of protein for breakfast, if I work out at dinner, I don’t have that protein sitting there to use anymore.

You’re going to have trouble pooping first.

That’s a lot. I don’t think I could eat 100 grams of protein at breakfast. I’m giving you an extreme hypothetical example.

I don’t know how long your body would hold onto that to be effective. The body digests food over periods of time, clearly. It probably depends upon what type of protein. An animal source can take a very long time to break down, or is it dairy, which can be absorbed very fast? I don’t know the answer.

The main point is you spread throughout the day because your body won’t store it and hold on. If you don’t have it available, then it starts breaking down your existing muscle.

When your muscles are trying to recover from hard training days or just life in general, amino acids and protein are the building blocks of our body. Our brain, muscles, connective tissue, joints, and skin need protein.

If I don’t have a meal with me and just finished a hard workout, I know I need to have protein to replenish. Collagen works as a protein, right?

Yeah. Collagen is a unique strand of amino acids. Collagen is a peptide and a protein. It will work but think about protein for your muscles. If you look at your calf and you’re going to train, your calf uses protein and your Achilles uses collagen. It’s a different set of amino acids, but whole protein can make up collagen a bit. However, collagen is a unique strand or peptide, and it’s the building block of connective tissue in our body, like the joints, ligaments, tendons, hair, skin, and nails. That’s what collagen peptides are. Whole-form proteins like whey or steak, which has collagen in it too, are for your muscles. You can think about the difference of that.

I hadn’t thought about that.Momentous CEO Jeff Byers on The Jedburgh Podcast with Fran Racioppi and Jessie Graff

Do you take collagen?

I do.

When do you take collagen?

In my pre-workout, I drink routine, and throughout the workout.

Do you take collagen with caffeine?

It depends on how soon I start my workout after my coffee. It’s not mixed into the same drink but I usually will be finishing my coffee when I start my workout.

Collagen is super interesting because the data is compelling on collagen, but young. There’s a researcher out of UC Davis called Keith Baar. We’re working with Keith Baar on a DOD contract. It’s all around connective tissue health. He’s one of the foremost researchers on collagen and connective tissue health in the country and in the world. However, we won a DOD innovation contract around collagen shot. It’s an innovative form factor to take collagen. Part of the reason why this was impactful is the data coming out that says you need to have collagen in your body 30 to 60 minutes before you train, and caffeine inhibits collagen synthesis. The collagen industry was made by mixing collagen with coffee.

When you think about it, it’s habitual. Collagen mixes very well in warm beverages. It’s pretty much flavorless but that was many years ago. New data coming out is compelling that there’s some evidence that you shouldn’t be having it with caffeine because it inhibits it. However, in the whole 30 to 60 minutes of pre-workout, you need collagen in your bloodstream while you’re loading your joints. The reason is when you think about your joints, ligaments, and tendons you have very little blood flow. By the time they get the blood flow, AKA get nutrients delivered to them is when you’re in a loaded phase or a loaded state training or even walking around. There’s a bunch of misinformation or not an understanding around collagen.

Collagen is a multi-billion-dollar market, but almost nobody understands it to be optimal for connective tissue health. You need to take it pre-loading and you should take it with caffeine. This is a unique form factor of how you give your collagen in an easy way before you train. It’s because as we know, creating long-term impacts in your body doesn’t happen in a day, a week, or a month. They are habitual. Bone-crushing consistency creates results. Supplementation is like diet, nutrition, and exercise. Taking collagen for a month is great. Taking collagen consistently over the years, research suggests it will have positive impacts on your connective tissue. The other thing about collagen is it has to have vitamin C in it.

Collagen is a multi-billion-dollar market, but almost nobody understands it really to be optimal for connective tissue health. Share on X

It has to do with the synthesis, digestion, and delivery. It’s interesting thing that people don’t think that a lot of the collagen products in the market have vitamin C in them. They do because it’s well-known now. This was partially funded by the Department of Defense. How do you take this? Before you train at a convenient time to maximize its impact.

We took this with Keith Barr on what’s called the Phase 2 Small Business Innovation research grant. It’s where we’re trying to develop a new connective tissue health product that uses collagen and something else combined to enhance connective tissue health. We are doing clinical research on it at UC Davis. It’s all around how we reduce connective tissue injuries in the Department of Defense. That’s combat readiness because the down days, due to musculoskeletal injuries, cost billions of dollars a year.

Momentous CEO Jeff Byers on The Jedburgh Podcast with Fran Racioppi and Jessie Graff

It’s the most common injury. We’re talking about humans as a weapon system. The Army has a lot of stuff. The military has a lot of stuff. We see planes flying over. We see tanks, and we’re like, “That’s what wins our nation’s battles,” but what wins our nation’s battles are people. Humans were able to operate for a long period of time. Historically, what we saw over the last years with the global war on terror was a tremendous amount of our nation’s service members being affected by continuous strain. There’s a term that’s been put around it. It’s the operator syndrome. The operator syndrome has a physical nature.

A lot of it is a mental and emotional nature but when your body is going through repeated strain, as an NFL player, you talk about being hit in the head. Being hit in the head on a football play and standing under a 120-millimeter main gun on an Abrams tank when it fires are relatively the same precautions that are going to happen in your head. When that happens over and over again, blasting doors, whether it be in training or combat, has an effect that compounds over time. Your work with the DOD is focused on trying to get the humans back to the center. Keep them operational and ready but in a proactive state. Everything we’ve done has been reactionary.

That was what sports were many years ago. When you think about how elite sports have transitioned, you have an athletic trainer and a med staff. You ice and steam. You have to tape up your ankle if it hurts.

However, don’t come to see me until it hurts.

There was nothing about how we think about preventative or prophylactic care. How do we think about training load and doing the right types of training load? How do we think about the right nutrition, the right mental state, and giving people the right tools? Now, professional organizations and even the Army with the H2F Program are starting to see that.

They’re putting dieticians on base. They’re putting strength coaches on base. They’re doing these things. They’re catching up. When you think about longevity, it doesn’t happen at the point of injury. Longevity happens at the point of entrance into the service. Longevity happens for an athlete at the start of your career. You don’t start longevity when you’re hurt. If you do that, you’re already late. You’re already hurt and broken.

Momentous CEO Jeff Byers on The Jedburgh Podcast with Fran Racioppi and Jessie Graff

It’s a way harder battle to do that then than it was previous. It is a change in mindset. Our medical system as a whole is changing mindsets. The people here are not thinking about medicine only when you’re sick or hurt. They’re thinking about medicine and how they live. Medicine is my health. They’re thinking about how I train, perform, and sleep. That is preventative medicine in the very core thing. Our society and communities are changing. Not the society as a whole, but we’re starting to change that for sure, and it’s impactful.

You’ve been working very closely in DC advocating on the Hill for a lot of these legislative changes. Talk about some of the work that you’re doing there.

I’ve been honored to meet a lot of people like yourself and a lot of high-up commanders, generals, etc. We had all this institutional inertia. We’ve won ten government contracts and these have all been supported by units and experts in the space. We haven’t won because we haven’t been able to democratize high performance or deliver massive solutions to the government because there’s this thing called bureaucracy.

Things move slowly, and that’s okay but somebody told me, “You have the support here. The Hill is ultimately who gives orders.” You need to change how people think about these things to open up the aperture. They’re like, “You have this incredible access. Use that access to the experts, the Hubermans of the world, and the pro and college teams to go advocate.” He was like, “You got to play the game if you want change to happen.”

This game has been played for hundreds of years. Play the game and you can make a big difference. If you truly want to democratize high performance, you don’t do it by talking to like-minded people. You do it by convincing other people. You go educate, inform, inspire, and equip. What we’ve done in DC is we’re doing four round tables with an independent think tank around the Department of Defense.

If you truly want to democratize high performance, you don't do it talking to like-minded people. You do it by convincing other people. You go educate and inform and inspire and equip. Share on X

Our first challenge was on musculoskeletal injuries. The second one was on traumatic brain injury. The third will be on women’s health. The fourth is going to be on general combat readiness and performance. In that, we have also been asked to come brief the Congress on these topics. I had the honor of doing the Congressional Hill briefing on traumatic brain injury. What we did was we brought in the experts from pro and college sports and in science to talk about what’s happening in pro and college sports.

Also, what’s happening in the very elite tip of the pointy spear DOD Special Forces around brain health? What are they doing from a supplementation perspective? What are they learning? What are they seeing? How are they objectively saying this is working or not? It was powerful to have people and operators share their stories. To have pro athletes that are pro bowlers share their stories about traumatic brain injury, and then have the leading scientists and practitioners come and say, “This is what we’re doing and this is where it’s going.”Momentous CEO Jeff Byers on The Jedburgh Podcast with Fran Racioppi and Jessie Graff

Also, have people who have been in the SOF community and say, “These are our challenges.” We know omegas and creatine are effective, but we have a challenge buying them. We cannot buy them. They don’t go, “Med check, Can I get them?” They’re not a food item. Where do they fall? Human as a weapon system doesn’t have a color of money. A doctor can buy omegas, but you got it prescribed. Food service can buy milk.

That’s not the same thing as this category that we live in. It’s how you inspire and say, “We need to change how we think about this category.” Part of the challenge is there’s so much BS. There’s so much snake oil and so many charlatans in this space. We got bro science of bro science. We have so far pharmaceutical-type things. It’s high-quality products, but they’re almost sterile, and to inspire and equip consumers and people, you can’t be sterile and bro science.

You have to have passion and a why. You got to make the best damn products in the world. To me, there is a massive highway to drive down that we have that we can be a brand, have passion, stand up for what we believe in, go promote and advocate, and we can make the best products in the world and back them up. Why can’t we do that? That’s being the anti-supplement supplement company, in my opinion. That’s my vision. We’re not there yet. We have a long way. I’ve kissed toads. We have some warts, but we’re continuing to try to get better at hard conversations.

To inspire and equip consumers and people, you have to have passion and you have to have a “why” and you have to make the best products in the world. Share on X

People like Alison Brager make us better because she challenges us. She’s like, “Why did you do this? This doesn’t make sense. Have you seen this new research coming out? You should look at this.” It’s incredibly impactful to have those people thinking about us because we are a vector to health. We aren’t going to be in a lab doing research, but we want to fund and support that. We want to help bring that to market so that we can democratize high performance. We’ve gone down a rabbit hole of supplements.

That’s okay. Jessie has been very excited about this one. I wanted her to run with it because it’s important. As you said, “How do you educate?” You talk about being in Capitol Hill and talking to congressmen and senior leaders. The only way that they’re going to get to a point to understand it, make a concrete change, and have a bias to action is we sit in front of the US Army. We partner with the US Army because, at the end of the day, what does the Army do? We take action. We develop leaders who are action-oriented in the absence of all of the solutions and information. We take the most information that we know, make a plan, and then execute it with precision, but be able to adjust.

You have to educate people to be able to think. What we’ve done over the years and systemically, especially in this space around performance and human as a weapon system, is we’ve defaulted to that reactive nature that you talked about. With that reactive nature comes closed-mindedness and a lack of further educating yourself. Why would I have to educate myself as the commander of a Special Forces unit when all I do when somebody comes in and says, “I don’t feel well?” I say, “You have two choices. If you have a head problem, go talk to the shrink. If you have a physical problem, go talk to the dock. Come back to me when you feel good.”

That’s not the answer because if we have commanders who are thought leaders in this space as well as their jobs, then we can truly empower and inspire those under us to be the best they can be. That’s what we’re there and trying to do. I want to ask you a question about being a business owner because you had to transition from an elite athlete. Now, you have to run a business. What are some of the lessons you take from your experience playing in the NFL? I won’t hold it against you that you played at Denver as a Patriots fan, but that’s fine.

I played for Denver for like a hot second. I also got fired from Denver. I got cut. Elite sports are very humbling. It’s a very similar culture to the Special Forces. It’s brother and sisterhood. The bar is incredibly high. They speak a very similar language and it’s performed. At the end of the day, results matter. However, the most important thing in transitioning from being a pro athlete to a CEO/business owner, the number one thing is resiliency.

You get punched in the face. You get knocked down. People root against you. Shit is hard and you got to keep going. You’re not dead until you’re dead. Every day is a battle. There’s something new. Somebody is going to throw a wrench at you. There’s always somebody throwing garbage and trying to blow you up but you got to keep fighting. You got to say there’s something else. Keep going. You have to stay very true to your why.

Momentous CEO Jeff Byers on The Jedburgh Podcast with Fran Racioppi and Jessie Graff

Your why is so important. If you don’t have a strong why, you have no resiliency in that because it gets hard. If you don’t have a strong why, you’re done. It’s easy to say, “Tomorrow or I’ll do something else,” but the why and the resiliency is so important. I got these two things that I picked up from my dad. The two words that I keep with me are attitude and effort. There are a lot of things that you can and can’t control in your life. There are a lot of things that have a dramatic impact on your life.

The things that have a big impact that you can control, there’s a very small Venn diagram on it. There are a lot of things that you can control that aren’t important. There are a lot of things that you can’t control that are important, but the things that you can, you can control your effort and how you show up every day. You can control your attitude and how you address problems.

Are you resilient? What are you going to do when it knocks you down? What are you going to do when it’s good? How are you going to learn from both? That’s all about your attitude. You choose how you get to respond every day and if you want to work your ass off or not. Nobody else makes those choices and controls those things. To me, that’s what’s most important. That equals resiliency and winning. That’s what I take from sports.

I’ll give you one more. It’s supposed to be hard. It’s not supposed to be easy. We live in a culture now and we’ve created a society where everyone is looking for the easy fix or the hack. How do I find this app? How do I find this thing that’s going to make everything that I’m doing easy? That’s not reality. The reality is if you want to become a great player in the NFL, you’re going to work your ass off through high school and college and then you’re going to walk in the door. When you get there on day one, you’re going to be number zero. You’re going to be the worst guy on the team. You’re going to carry the pads.

We live in a culture now where we've created a society where everyone is looking for the easy fix, the hack. Share on X

It’s the same in the SF. We have guys that come in, you do your time, you go to selection, you make it, you go to the Q Course, you walk into your team room, and you don’t know shit. You’re the little guy. Now you have to earn your spot every single day. If it was easy, anybody would do it, and we don’t want people who come up the easy way. I put something up on social media because someone was talking to me about easy. I said, “Tell me the name of this most successful person you know who told you they got there because it was easy.” It doesn’t exist. We have to embrace that. Everybody would do it if it was easy.

I resonate with that. Life is hard. To be great is hard. To be good and to do good is hard. It’s not easy. Greatness does not come with ease. I think that’s also our society’s whole thing around, “What’s the easy button?” It’s part of the problem with my industry. Everybody is looking for something quick. It’s because we’re sold on, “Do this and X is going to happen. You’re going to look great. You’re going to lose weight. You’re going to be buffed.”

Momentous CEO Jeff Byers on The Jedburgh Podcast with Fran Racioppi and Jessie Graff

It’s like, “You don’t get fit, you don’t look great, and you don’t have great longevity.” There are some genetics in all of that, but if you don’t do the right things, it doesn’t matter. Bone-crushing consistency wins. Our space is littered with quick fixes. It’s like, “Do this. You’re going to be great.” No. That’s not how life works. That’s not how anything great works. That’s why, to me, it’s so important to get people into the right things at the right time because consistency matters. It’s not doing seven things but doing two things.

Do that. Master it and then we can talk about something else and then something else. The likelihood is it might be behavior, not even supplement. It might be diet. It might be an exercise that will have the next biggest impact. That’s what you see in SOF. You master that skill. You’re not going to go do something until you master it and be proficient and good. It then just becomes second nature and you go do something else.

We’re here at the CrossFit Games so I’ll talk about CrossFit. One of CrossFit’s greats is Josh Bridges. He came on the show, and he talked about you don’t do something until you get it right. You do it until you can’t get it wrong. That means that when you go out there and you did get it right, you have to stop and say, “Now I got to do it 1,000 more times.” That’s the difference between great and good. What are you looking forward to over the rest of the weekend?

I love talking to consumers. As a CEO and founder, it’s easy not to show up to something like this. I got a team for the long days and hard days. This is not a 7:00 to 5:00 in an AC building. This is a 7:00 to 7:00, and then you have to work and write emails afterwards in the AC. It’s hot, humid, and stressful, but for me, how can I ask my people who don’t have the same economic incentives I do and are not even close to come and bust their ass for seven days?

Start to finish, sweaty, hot, have passion, and have the energy if I am not willing to do it myself? Lead from the front. People follow when you lead from the front. Lead with passion. If I am not willing to do it, they shouldn’t. I get inspired by seeing greatness and talking to people. Also, people are curious and ask the questions you ask.

It’s fascinating for me to do that. That’s why we do what we do. Democratizing high performance, you don’t do that with a paid Facebook ad. You do that by having meaningful conversations with these people, walking around, educating, informing, inspiring, and equipping. That’s what we do, and that’s the passion that we want to bring in. Also, sitting in an office is boring. I love what I do. I love my team and my company.

I secretly love building financial models. I love solving hard challenges and board prep and board decks, but I also love this. What I found is the business that we’re in has been able to smash it all together. It’s because I could go do a tech company. That’s boring. It’s not my passion. Being around people who are like-minded, community-focused, and who are trying to be better every day are my people. Whether you’re a CrossFit athlete, an endurance athlete, an academic, or another executive trying to be better every day, I love having those conversations. I’m looking forward to sweating more.

It’s about to happen because we got the 5K here. It’s about 1,000 people.Momentous CEO Jeff Byers on The Jedburgh Podcast with Fran Racioppi and Jessie Graff

Do they all start at the same time?

I have no idea how it’s going to work. You’ve got to go get your GORUCK shoes and get over there.

Speaking of GORUCK, I’ll make a nice plug. These are the best trainers I’ve ever worn. I’ve worn a lot of trainers.

The Ballistic Trainers are great.

They are so good. I love them.

Why are they good?

They are great for my foot. They fit my foot. They’re super solid. They look stylish. I’m not a bright green or purple. These are the classics. I would wear these with pants and, some would say, with slacks. I’m not the most fashionable human being, but I like muted and dull. These are beautiful. These are normal colors. They cost $99 or something. They have a lifetime warranty. I’m like, “$99 and a lifetime warranty? That should cost $500.” Your shoe should cost $500 if you get a lifetime warranty. No other shoe company has any warranty because they’re crap and they break down. I love GORUCK. They’re great people. They’ve been super good to me. They’re fun.

They are great partners of the show. Jason McCarthy has been a friend for a long time and has been awesome. I do a lot of sandbags. Have you got some sandbags?

I love them.

1,000 pounds of sandbags.

I didn’t get exposed to them until GORUCK, and it changed how I think about training and working out. It’s so mobile and so fun but also great community building. We had this cool workout crew in Park City where I live. Once a week, we do sandbag workouts on the field. It’s so different. It’s community-based. It’s easy. You can scale. The sandbag burpee up and over is no joke. It became my favorite exercise. I’m a weird human. My boys played lacrosse. I take my 60-pound sandbag to lacrosse practice and I do sandbag burpees while watching my boys at practice.

My wife is like, “Oh my gosh,” but here’s the thing. In Park City, there’s another strange guy. Hoby Darling, who you met at the GORUCK Games. He’s been doing it for years. He wears his ruck. He runs around the field. He’s got two daughters. When I started doing this, everybody was like, “You must know Hoby.” He made it normal in Park City. I do weird things like that at kid sporting events.

I did the exact same thing at my daughter’s lacrosse practice. She was out on the field. I pulled the sandbag out of the bag while on the adjacent field. I was the only guy on the field doing kettlebell swings with the sandbag.

Let’s normalize that.

That’s the goal.

It’s been an awesome time learning so much. I learned an incredible amount about all this stuff. I told Jessie before this, I was like, “I don’t know that much about the science behind this.” She’s like, “I got it.”

It’s an important part of what we do.

That’s what we have to think about. This is a component. When we add in our mental, emotional, and physical health and we look at the total person and all these components, the triangle that is going to make us great at what we do, be all that we can be, this is a part that we have to think about. Thanks for sharing that with us. Thanks for sharing your lessons as you build this company. We look forward to watching it grow and be a part of your journey.Momentous CEO Jeff Byers on The Jedburgh Podcast with Fran Racioppi and Jessie Graff

Thank you. Assuming a lot of the people who read this are veterans or still on active duty, spend $40 on Omega 3s and creatine a month. It’s for your brain. You only got one. We’re going to fix everything else. Everything else is fixed with hammers, nails, and screws. We don’t know how to fix this yet, but we know some things that help. I don’t care who you buy it from. Get a high-quality omega and get creatine. Creatine is creatine.

Do it because you have one brain. If you’ve shot .50 calibers, if you’ve played a professional sport and hit your head, or if you’ve done combat sports, don’t risk it. $40 is not that much. Make a sacrifice in some other area of your life. Buy it from anybody. There are a lot of great brands out there. It’s what I’m most passionate about, and people closest to me are going to have the biggest impact on their lives.

Also, talk to Julius Thomas and Tommy Shavers about brain training, but I’m with you on the Omega 3s.

I appreciate you very much for having me and what you’ve done. This is amazing. Thanks for having me.

Thanks, Jeff.

Thank you.

 

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