Laird Hamilton’s Superfood Creamers Help You Stay Focused and Perform
If you've ever sat at your desk and been distracted by emails, YouTube, IG stories or the news (and who hasn't?), you could use a little performance booster. And no, we're not talking about a drug, a supplement or a jolt of coffee, which spikes your heart and your metabolism and then drops you like a bad date.
Our national attention-deficit could be solved by something as simple as a functional creamer, or plant-based beverage booster, in the form of natural herbal powder-- to keep our mental focus steady for hours at a time. If only there were such a product. Well, thanks to Laird Hamilton, there is.
The brainchild of champion big wave surfer and all-around endurance athlete Laird Hamilton, Laird Superfood Coffee Creamer comes in several flavors, mixtures and formulas, depending on what you're looking for: Focus, energy, calm, or a chocolate taste (or all of the above).
Hamilton has created a line of power-packed beverage boosters to help all of us, not just athletes, to dial-up our mental acuity, and be able to focus for hours at a time, at our desks, on our bikes, or wherever our mental performance is needed most. As he says: "We are all athletes and life is performance. We all want to optimize our energy." Okay, so maybe we are not all athletes on the same level that he is. Hamilton made his name surfing some of the most ambitious waves in the world and is known as the co-inventor of tow-in surfing.
Laird Superfoods is a line of performance functional superfood creamers that are vegan, non-GMO and clean, made from anywhere between two and five ingredients, to add to your coffee, tea or hot water in the morning, that will help you feel calmer and more focused as you start your day. (We tried and absolutely love the Turmeric formula, and got addicted to it.)
The big wave surfer used a variation of the original product in his own coffee for years, and then shared the formulation with friends who constantly asked him, "How do you stay focused?" The secret was his functional creamer, which allowed him to focus even when he ate little else in the morning and would spend hours on waves the size of small buildings, where one mistake could cost him a career-ending injury or his life.
Hamilton then partnered with a friend to start the Superfood company, and market his creamers, along with natural coconut water hydration products, and now they have a business that is "taking off like a rocket."
Hamilton spoke to The Beet about why he started his business and where he plans to take it next. Because it's growing fast among non-athletes: His fans were his first focus group, but now his products are sold on Amazon, at Whole Foods, and his own website.
Hamilton shares his tricks for focusing, feeding your brain, and training. Read on to learn how to gain focus and be smarter about your intake to get to your peak performance and be at your best, all day long.
Q. Laird, why not do a supplement? What was the inspiration for a functional creamer?
A. We always think of creamers as something you add to your coffee. But for me, it was part of the whole experience of coffee for performance. The very first product is the original creamer, based on a recipe I had been refining with my coffee for 10 or 15 years. Maybe longer, because of my relationship with coffee in general.
Coffee is one of my two French habits. And I gave up wine, so now I have just one. Drinking high-quality coffee for energy is something I have done for a long time. We all do it. But I use it for sports performance. And it's even more exaggerated when you know how to use it.
First, we used raw espresso, then creamers. Then the bulletproof phenomenon came along. Then people used butter (in their coffee) and then coconut oil. And what we found in the performance side of things is that time releasing the caffeine is what it's all about.
And that is where the enhanced performance creamer came in. Your brain is a fat-eating organ. Your muscles eat carbs but your brain eats fat. I would have friends come over and try it and they would call me later and say, "What is going on with this stuff?" And I gave them the ingredients and ratios and this other friend said, "You have to let me make a product with this." He took my recipes and the ingredients and by the third or fourth rendition, we had it. And that was the original recipe we made.
Q. So, you use coffee as the platform and the creamer as a functional additive?
A. One of the most nutritious things Americans do is drink coffee. So thinking that coffee or should I say "the first beverage of the day" was the perfect platform to get people things that they needed.
Then I understood that the most important thing is to time-release caffeine, so there isn't a spike and a big drop, and since the brain needs to have good fat to fuel it, for clarity and mental focus, then we were thinking about the creamer as the beginning of the brand, It's a perfect place to meet people since we are not asking them to drink some weird concoction -- just meet them where they are and add minerals and high nutrient powder.
Paul Hodge, the CEO of our company and a startup expert over the years, came up with the third rendition and it was the powdered version of my recipe. And that was the original creamer. And he went on and sold to people who were fans of mine, or I should say of my work, and that was the original customer base to start to test stuff.
This was the perfect gateway to expand the brand since from there we can take it in a lot of different directions. And the creamers have had the best tractions. Because we are putting a lot of terrible stuff into our coffees on a regular basis, so people's bodies respond to it.
Then we have to make it taste good or you'd lose a majority of the people who could benefit from it. Once we started refining the flavor, then we can give you stuff that's good for you. The flavor gets you to start and then the minerals and the fats keep you. [Customers] don't want to drink it any other way.
Q. What is the thinking behind Turmeric? I never would have thought to add it to coffee.
A. I use the Turmeric creamer for the benefits and what it does for the coffee. We grow it in Hawaii and it's part of the culture and we drink it and put it in just about everything -- it's part of the food so there's not a big leap to have it in your coffee. If you're a coffee connoisseur there is bitterness in coffee that you like and the turmeric continues to keep that tartness or bitterness. So people who like black coffee will like it. And of course, it has major health benefits, like anti-inflammatory compounds.
The mushroom one, the benefit there is that it's calming. We also have mushroom-infused coffee grounds. It has mushroom powder in it.
This mushroom-infused ground coffee is great but some people like the taste of coffee, like Gabby [Reece, his wife the former pro-volleyball player] She didn't like coffee until she tasted that and it tastes like hot chocolate. Some people prefer that since it is unsweetened powdered and you add water and you can make a creamier hot chocolate or a golden latte.
Q. What do you think people need more of, all day long, for energy?
A. Most people are dehydrated most of the time and they don't realize it. Hydrate, which is made of coconut water, is one of the unsung heroes in the line that people use and those who know it love it. It's a true sports drink, so you can give it to your kids, or you can use it to train or run a marathon, and it's natural. Most of the time, we are all dehydrated, so I suggest anyone use it just to naturally rehydrate. It contains a mineral-rich, calcified sea algae that adds beneficial natural minerals to your body that you can't get from your food. But there are no unnatural ingredients or added sugars, so it's totally natural and healthy.
Q. What made you decide to make your company all vegan, gluten-free and non-GMO?
A. These days, our world is going plant-based. All our products are plant-based. As a company, you have to hit all these categories: Fair Trade, Organic, Vegan, Non-GMO, soy-free, gluten-free... all of it. There is so much transparency to really be a modern food company, you really need to be all of it. If you look at most of our products we have just two or three or maybe four ingredients. We don't have that much stuff in there. That's part of our philosophy too. Use an ingredient the way it is in nature. The whole powder thing means that you get a lot more servings per bag, not sending around a lot of environmentally taxing stuff.
We've been plant-based from the beginning, not out of a trend. It was the thing to do, not just because it was a trend. We are five years old, and we couldn't make products that we could endorse that followed our values without being plant-based. We ended up being plant-based.
Q. How did you know that this stuff actually worked?
A. It just brought a certain focus and an incredible amount of endurance. I had an incredible amount of sustained energy with focus. Sometimes we misinterpret tea or coffee and the energy we get from caffeine with focus -- and those two things are actually separate.
The focus you get from these products is based on fat. Only using healthy fat. So your brain is getting what it needs. Not only do you get satiated, but also you get this mental clarity and focus. Your vision is enhanced and you have an overall clarity that is set by the fat feeding your brain and then you get that overall sustained energy. It just makes for enhanced performance. Either at your office or taking care of your kids. We are all athletes and life is performance. We all want to optimize our energy.
Q. How did you decide to add chocolate? And thank you for that.
A. It needs to taste good and be presented in a way that is appealing. Gabby didn't drink coffee for 40 years and now she drinks hot chocolate with coffee in it. The cacao is still a performance creamer, and she enjoys it and she gets the energy from it. You can't separate the need for flavor and the benefits of energy.
In the past, there were things that gave us energy but didn't taste great or the things that taste great but didn't give us energy, other than a quick up and down. Now you're getting sustained energy. How long it lasts depends on your tolerance and output.
But my personal cup is a little more high octane. I put the leaded gas in there, the extra fuel. I am not eating till noon or 1 every day and I'm operating on my beverages. So mine has turmeric and added coconut oil. And I could be on a bicycle for six hours and never be hungry or need energy for six hours.
These creamers take the spike out of it. I drink my breakfast. There will be some mushroom in there and it's fat-based -- but the kind of high-quality fat-based fuel your brain needs. People misconstrue how fat works. You can't store them, and you can't short change fats. You either burn them or excrete them. It's not like you're going to gain weight. It helps you burn long-chain fat. It helps you lose weight. Your brain is hungry and it needs to be fed. It's interesting how the brain responds to that.
Q. Other than being half fish yourself, what made you add the algae to the formula?
A. We wanted to supply people with the minerals they are not getting. Most people are in this narrow habit of eating the same things over and over again, and not eating diversified foods. Calcified sea algae is a natural source of minerals. So we are able to give people stuff they really need but slip it into their coffee, under the guise of a creamer, so they taste great.
I want to hear people say: "I bring your creamer everywhere." They're getting the minerals they need and the fats they need. They tell me it's addictive. But they misinterpret addiction as negativity. They ask "What do you put in there to make it taste so good?" and we say "It's something you need from nature and you are craving it." But the food industry, in general, takes advantage of humans' addictive personality and gets them addicted to something that is not so good for them [like sugar]. But in nature, when you crave one kind of food or plant, like your favorite fruit, there was something in there that you needed. And we are doing that.
Q. When someone asks, What fuel do I need to be an endurance athlete, how do you respond?
A. The most important thing is to hydrate and get great electrolytes and minerals. That is all you need. If you're out on your bike, or even at your desk and your brain gets foggy, you need electrolytes. Not going to find better quality anywhere than in nature, than in coconut water.
It's probably the most perfect drink that nature created. They say coconut water is the only thing that mimics blood plasma. That is what you need. You could be using sugar instead of fat as a source of fuel.
Q. Tell me about this idea that we can train our bodies to burn fat, by fueling that way?
A. Endurance athletes, they become what's called "fat-adapted" and burn fat. You can run out of carbs, and just have to eat more of them. But if your body is fat-burning, you can go forever. This is true at your desk too.
The secret is to eat a healthy snack of plant-based fats: Like a bite of cashew butter and you'd be good.
The fact is we probably have enough stored energy as fat that if we learn to burn that you can go and go and not bonk, and not lose focus. The average person has 50,000 stored calories in their system but you can only have 20 to 40 minutes of stored carbs.
So that means when you are using sugar as an energy source you have to go reload the sugar and then in another 20 to 40 minutes you have to do it again. But if you are fat-adapted then you can use fat as calories. And you can use a little of both. And that then makes the fat in your body available. You'll be able to use that and be athletic and burn fat, if you want to lose weight.
Of course, sugar is more available. Most people, when hungry, they have an easier time grabbing a bar and get their boost from that. Cashew butter or something like that, is going to burn like dense hardwood.
It takes a little effort to become fat adapted. You have to have the discipline or have more of a plan. But when you look at serious ultra runners, at a certain point a hot fire burns any type of wood. And if you're that well-trained you can throw anything in there and it's going to be fuel. Training for me is an everyday thing. But I want to help everyone perform at their highest level. That's why we keep growing Superfoods -- because everyone is an athlete and has to perform in their own life.