Jason Navarro, formulator of 4D
“The biggest problem in the sport supplement world is not covering everything, other than protein, in one product.”
It started in August of 2009. I was unpacking from another road trip and trying to find a place to put all my supplement bottles. Frustration set in as I realized one of the containers had melted underneath the bus. After letting go of that worry, I got some lunch and headed to the field. That night, I woke up around 4 a.m., and the idea hit me: “Why isn’t there one nutritional product with everything I need as an athlete?” I wanted a sugar-free, low caloric index, user-friendly supplement with a complete energy formula – not what the nutrition stores or manufacturers said I needed – but a formula that would enhance my performance over the course of a season. In addition, it needed to be travel-friendly – no more carting around bottles of pills and powders all season. The next morning, I woke up and the thought was still in my head: “If guys, who never set foot on a field can put out supplements ‘for athletes,’ then what’s stopping me?” After all, I had lived nutrition and fitness since 15 years old, and I had a lifetime of practical knowledge about supplements. For 20 years, not a month would go by when I wasn’t in a GNC or some other nutrition store trying new products. Most importantly, I knew what ingredients were safe, effective, and cleared for sport.
What leads to injuries and poor performance? The answer cannot be stated with 100 percent certainty nor can it be limited to one specific cause. However, we do know some of the conditions that negatively impact performance: weak muscles, weak tendons, bad posture, bad nourishment, slow metabolism, and negative mental state. Over the years, I have taken a variety of pre-game supplements, energy drinks and thermogenic products. Through careful study and ongoing use, I learned that most of these products contained large doses of ingredients that dehydrate the user. Typically, the most popular energy drinks and supplements – the few that had a great kick – dehydrated me the most. As I got into my late twenties, I would notice this – not during the game – but the next morning. When dehydrated, I found that my recovery was negatively impacted, and my chance of serious injury was greater. No one ever told me that diuretics not only suck the water out of your muscles, but also cause a loss of essential fluids that are needed to keep tendons and ligaments lubricated. These “energy” products that were laden with diuretics compounded aches; soreness, muscle strains, headaches, and seemed to cause a lack of focus. Taking high doses of these diuretics daily for a six-month season was a sure way to be in the training room for one reason or another. Moving forward with this in mind, I began creating a supplement formula with a solid foundation of ingredients that I knew worked from years of use. This was a 10-month process of testing alone. Fortunately, my wife, a marathon runner, agreed to be a guinea pig during the testing process, and her input gave me feedback from a female perspective as well. To optimize the formula, I also consulted with Dr. Greg Stewart, Orthopedic surgeon and Director of the Tulane Institute of Sports Medicine.
As testing moved forward, I began studying individual ingredients. This process included daily workouts after each ingredient was consumed by itself to test the effect. When experiencing these ingredients alone, I found that less than half of them worked, and many of the ingredients actually produced negative side effects. Following these tests, most of the ingredients went straight into the garbage, but chalk it all up to research! What I also found was that anything that tastes really bad in water is not a long term ingredient. If something tastes that bad, imagine what it does to you on the inside! Needless to say, my wife and I found this out the hard way. (Note: While there are many products out there with bad tasting ingredients, they tend to be used only in one or two week detox program and are not intended for long term use.) After months of testing I had the foundational ingredients to start creating what would eventually become 4D. The actual formula mixture took four months and 121 changes. Yes, there were 121 failures before it was complete. It was a nice coincidence that I was reading books about failure being a major part of life and success (thanks John Maxwell).
So here is what I concluded. The biggest problem in the sport supplement world is that companies do not cover everything in one product – other than protein. (If lean meats are consistently in your diet, then the need for protein powders is not as great.) While we can’t overlook the muscles, there are so many other aspects of the body that are equally as important:
- Connective tissues (tendons and ligaments)
- Muscles (fast and slow twitch fibers)
- Mind and Spine (central nervous system )
- Internal (digestion and circulation system as a whole)
After separating the body into these four parts (4 Dimensions), I asked myself the following question: How much and how many ingredients should be included in the formula? Initially, I thought of having a couple of ingredients that work and putting a lot of them in one product; however, I wondered if that would last over the long haul. With a limited number of ingredients, I wondered how the body’s receptors would respond. From experience, I knew that after giving the receptors a lot of a specific substance over time, the effects would fade, and the consumer would end up wanting and needing more for the same effect. Then, an idea came to me: “What if we put together several ingredients that work by themselves at a higher dose, yet lessen that dose well below recommended amounts?” (Remember: the benchmark for recommended amounts for supplements is usually always set by the companies who make them.) If the total effect is the same, but the body isn’t relying on just one or two ingredients to work, would the long term effects stay the same over time as the first day? After four months of daily doses and workouts, my wife and I found the answer to be a definitive “Yes!” After drinking 4D Clean Energy daily for eight weeks and still feeling the good push, we both took two days off. The following Monday morning we had it again and it was awesome!! The push was great, and the formula had been verified. Like most things in life, as the saying goes, “everything in moderation.” Even if the body’s receptors got used to one or two ingredients, the other active ingredients would make up for it. This included energy, digestion, lubrication of joints, and positive mental effects. I’m not saying other products don’t work or my philosophy is the best; I’m just saying that this formula had shown the positive results desired and stood the test of time. (This wasn’t just a little over a year of testing mind you, but also included a lifetime of participation in highly competitive sports). Now that we had a complete 4D energy drink formula, the next step was to make sure it was packaged in a manner that was convenient for travel. I knew from experience that buckets of powder are hard to transport, and ready-made drinks require refrigeration, additional space, and can bust and leak in your luggage. With this in mind, individual single-serve powder packets proved to be a perfect option. These user-friendly packets provided the most convenient way for 4D to be packaged – plus they are easy to mix when you get where you’re going. Now if you have a four day road trip, all you need is four convenient packs in your bag. That is, of course, until your teammates find out how good it is!