12th September 2021

The Spokesmen Cycling Podcast

EPISODE 282: Veloforte


HOST: Carlton Reid

GUESTS: Marc and Lara Giusti

TOPICS: A 50-minute chat with Veloforte founders Marc and Lara Giusti.


Carlton Reid 0:13
Welcome to Episode 282 of the Spokesmen cycling podcast. This show was engineered on Sunday 12th of September 2021.

David Bernstein 0:25
The spokesmen cycling roundtable podcast is brought to you by Jenson USA, Jenson USA where you will find a great selection of products at unbeatable prices with unparalleled customer service. Check them out at Hey everybody, it’s David from the Fred cast. And of course, I’m one of the hosts and producers of the spokesman cycling roundtable podcast since 2006. For shownotes links and other information, check out our website at And now here’s my fellow host and producer Carlton Reid and the Spokesmen.

Carlton Reid 1:10
Bear with me as I sample a smidgen of fresco energy chew along with a little chunk from a hazelnut coffee and cocoa flavoured Tuscany-inspired treat. That’s more like a pan forte than your traditional energy bar, which let’s face it is often on the functional spectrum, rather than a foodie one. I’m just gonna taste this, hang on.

Carlton Reid 1:37
Yep. Oh, that’s mint

Carlton Reid 1:39
Oh, lemon it’s also mint and lemon. It’s got the consistency of kind of Turkish Delight. It doesn’t taste like Turkish Delight, but it’s got the consistency of Turkish Delight. And that’s Fresco from Veloforte. And made in small batches, Veloforte is from London. The products I’m enjoying here are made with natural time-tested ingredients, not fancy schmancy gloops. I’m Carlton Reid and on today’s 50-minute show I’m talking – and eating – with Veloforte founders, Marc and Lara Giusti. Their brand is now five years old. And unusually for an energy bar company, its halo products have won numerous Great Taste awards. After we’d finished recording, I was kindly sent an all-products sampling box and I can exclusively reveal — well, not very exclusive — but I can reveal that everything in Veloforte’s range is super tasty, including the Fresco there which is now half chewed. Let me just open the Mocha so the Mocha is hazelnut coffee and cocoa

Carlton Reid 2:59
and it’s like a pan fortre I’d have I’ve have had a few before so I’m just tasting this one now.

Carlton Reid 3:07
So if you’d like pan forte, at Christmas or whatever you would like Sienna-sourced products well I guess you’re like this. Let’s taste this one.

Carlton Reid 3:21
Yeah, okay. That’s also

Carlton Reid 3:25

Carlton Reid 3:26
I’ll cut this audio out. Yeah. Okay, I’m now back in, I’ve cut the sound out of my chewing there. But that was also tasty, very, very tasty. Because these products are made from real food, not fillers. There’s like big objects of hazelnuts in the Mocha I can see on my desk here. And there are none of the bloating and you know those emissions-related problems that is common with other some other gels. Anyway, here’s my chat with Marc and Laura. I started by asking about the surprisingly long history of pan forte

Marc Giusti 4:04
Way back in a sort of Roman legions before even there’s evidence of

Marc Giusti 4:13
essentially fruits, nuts, berries, honeys, those sorts of produce being pulled together by

Marc Giusti 4:22
in this case the Roman legions as they marched through Europe.

Marc Giusti 4:26
And using these ingredients to sort of fortify the armies the soldiers you know, the the teams as they marched through the land.

Marc Giusti 4:37
And of course, what that became them was a sort of a dough really a mixture of, of these different ingredients brought together. But as time went on,

Marc Giusti 4:47
began to include all sorts of herbs and spices and in a new and interesting foods as they went through different lands and countries. So ginger

Marc Giusti 5:00
And cinnamons and you know, a whole host of fruits and who knows what.

Marc Giusti 5:05
And as this happened, the, the fruits of stops being, if you like, a fortifying dough for, you know, the plebs and the masses. And it started to become a bit more of a speciality it started become the almost sort of pharmaceutical away because of the the gingers and other spices that had some healing benefits in and they were finding that, you know, the the soldiers and the generals and the and the leaders were, were, you know better for it. And so it sort of started to become something of a speciality in this special food for,

Marc Giusti 5:39
I guess,

Marc Giusti 5:41
higher, higher and higher up the food chain, so to speak. And then as many hundreds if not a couple of 1000s of years have moved on, it’s now really seen in Italy as a as a classic delicacy, largely centred around the area of sienna. And around Florence, you can find it everywhere in Italy, of course, but it’s sort of central gravity seems to be that sort of Tuscan food. So that’s the snapshot and, and the reason that’s connects to to us is that my family’s from Florence, Lucca near Sienna. And there’s a long history of panforte to being a

Marc Giusti 6:25
Well, it’s true many Italian families were panforte is a thing that your, your nonna, your grandmother teaches you how to make. And if you if you don’t know how to make it, then you know you need to.

Marc Giusti 6:39
And it’s a staple, really, and of course, the the the recipes for these are very closely guarded sort of family secrets. And that’s the backdrop to how it’s in. And I guess our lives and

Marc Giusti 6:54
Laura, as well, over the years has developed an incredible capability as an award winning baker, not only

Marc Giusti 7:04
also for heart, lung, respiratory specialist as well. And so combining those skills, this provenance of food,

Marc Giusti 7:12
our interests for creating

Marc Giusti 7:16
natural ingredients, natural foods for, for sports context, that’s essentially the the moons were coming together, it looks a little bit like that. And when when, when the moons coming together, gosh, there’s so slowly at first, because we didn’t invent the recipes in order to create a nutrition brand. It was it was actually that was that’s where we ended up the the beginnings of this was just really to help fuel me on my own sort of cycling adventures. And I was sort of sick to death with this was around 2017, I think

Marc Giusti 7:51
2016 maybe 2017 I was fed up with all of the typical synthetic nasty gloop in tubes that we’ve all had to suffer for years that you know, you’ve most bike shops, or wherever you might get your food.

Marc Giusti 8:05
And all of it pretty unpleasant, all of it

Marc Giusti 8:09
was impossible to understand the what’s in it, let alone what it’s supposed to do, or how to use it. And so it was for me a case of I wanted to find something, I could trust him and something that I wanted to eat and something that I understood. And

Marc Giusti 8:24
so Lara turns around says, Well, I’ll make it for you. I know exactly how to do that. I know, from my home, as I said, from herbs of medical, years, 20 odd years.

Marc Giusti 8:33
And that side of her life, was saying what I understand recovery in the human body and performance perfectly. I also understand how to how to make this stuff at an award winning level. So why aren’t we making it for you, so it started there. And then of course, I’d have too much in my pocket, no doubt here and there. And we’d hand it to friends and friends and hand it to their friends. And all of a sudden, we were staring at an opportunity to develop the brand.

Marc Giusti 8:59
And it kind of built its own path. Really, my past previously was 25 years brand strategy for all sorts of international brands. So we sort of converged that thinking and Lara’s skills with the foods and creative metaphor.

Carlton Reid 9:19
And from what you’re saying, it sounds like you, you you, you issue and you don’t have in your ingredients maltodextrin which is the kind of the basis for many

Carlton Reid 9:30
foods out there.

Lara Giusti 9:30
No, Carlton, we don’t use any highly processed ingredients at all. So what was important for me when I’m curating the range when I’m building any new products is that you almost want to be able to make it yourself in your own kitchen, be able to open your own cupboards and get your dried fruits, get your plant based syrups your Maple syrups and your nuts and be able to you know create these incredible incredibly powerful and delicious

Lara Giusti 10:01
recipes at home. But we do it for you, of course. And so it’s important for me that you understand what’s in the recipes that your body understands how to digest what’s in the recipes. So we steer away from any sort of synthetic ingredients or heavily processed ingredients and try and keep it as natural and as simple as possible.

Carlton Reid 10:20
Does that not I mean that the reason companies use is apart from the fact that maltodextrin a one point was an incredibly cheap ingredient

Carlton Reid 10:28
was that long shelf life and then that’s, that’s their benefit. So what is your how’s your shelf life compared to one of your your

Carlton Reid 10:39
competitors who are using these other ingredients?

Lara Giusti 10:42
So that is obviously that lots of things that we taking into consideration when we do make new products. But when we started with the bars, we knew that pound 40 was highly appraised for its shelf life, that’s how it would live in the Roman legions packs as they would storm across the countries. And so and it has natural preservatives in it. So it has a fairly high sugar content. And as we know, from jamming, it’s a natural preservative, you don’t need to add any artificial preservatives to that, to maintain a shelf life. The bars themselves are fairly low in water content. And so the moisture is trapped within the dried fruits within the bars. And so there’s nothing really to grow any mould or or affect any shelf life. So we have now up to 14 months on our bars have natural shelf life, too.

Lara Giusti 11:35
So rather than refrigerators refrigerated, they cope amazingly from 40 degree heat down to you know, minus two degree heat.

Lara Giusti 11:45
The they maintain their texture, and they’re the most fantastic portable fuel.

Marc Giusti 11:52
And it’s the same with with the chews, with the gels with hydration with our protein shakes, none of the ingredients include anything synthetic or or preservative based or additive based. And then all of those have somewhere between 12, 16 and 18 months shelf life. So it has not been mean we just simply don’t subscribe to the I guess the thought that we need to pump the products full of convenient ingredients from a manufacturing point of view

Marc Giusti 12:26
In order to either gain margin or to gain sort of shelf life, when you can have what or if you did we believe that you you have a huge issue with your quality, the provenance of your ingredients, the digestibility of the ingredients.

Marc Giusti 12:40
It’s it’s just not necessary from our point of view.

Carlton Reid 12:43
So how about expense wise? So have any of these facts that you’re using real ingredients rather than the maltodextrins of this world, does that make your product more expensive?

Marc Giusti 12:54
Well, it certainly makes it more expensive to produce. It’s much more complicated for us, you know, we don’t just go and buy, you know, n litres of gunk and stick it in the steel vats and you know, job done. The the the issue for us is absolutely that we want to know where the food is coming from. We know to some level even understand who the growers are, I know we have an absolute

Marc Giusti 13:18
focus on the provenance, the quality, the taste, the efficacy, the digestibility. And the experience, we will talk about three different things natural, powerful and delicious. And unless those three things are true, we won’t make the product.

Marc Giusti 13:34
But yes, that makes it harder for us to source it makes it harder for us to to ensure that we have the same. So for example, a batch one batch of dates might be more squidgy and moist than another batch of data. So all sorts of sourcing issues become a problem for us that we need to manage. And we do very well.

Marc Giusti 13:53
It doesn’t necessarily translate to more expensive on the shelf. But yes, there are absolutely some products that you could buy materially less. You know, there are some very well known brands who do 60% off sales pretty much all day every day. And and and that’s fine. But that’s not really where we’re not coming from that place.

Lara Giusti 14:14
It’s reflective on the cost of their raw ingredients so we don’t stint on quality on anything. The peels that we’re using our bars come from Sicily, they are candied in the most traditional way we want to stick to the heritage of our of our roots really, and we don’t want to compromise on quality and that means that we do put more cost base into the manufacturing side of it.

Carlton Reid 14:40
And where are they manufactured now?

Marc Giusti 14:42
So all over we did the very beginning was the kitchen quite literally and we turned our house.

Marc Giusti 14:49
It was a case of I think we had the cleaner and all of her friends turning up into little white hats and blue nets and so when they were doing the cutting in the mixing and the wrapping

Marc Giusti 15:00
And we had Laura and I making in the kitchen and it was, you know, quite a homemade affair. We then moved that to our own facility. We’re very modest facility in North London. And then since then as we’ve started to scale a business where we now have, you know, I guess you might call grown-up facilities with all the sort of BCR ratings and you know, Informed Sports qualifications and everything else that you need these days to have a really compelling nutrition product, and it’s all in the UK.

Carlton Reid 15:33
So I’m going to ask you about that so so an athlete can have faith in your product because

Carlton Reid 15:41
the certain product that might be in other companies products definitely won’t be there. So that’s all accredited?

Marc Giusti 15:47
Yeah, so the the main thing with the whole banned substances thing is that you know, where something is made, particularly for using facilities that have all sorts of other people’s products in them to you know, set some ingredients can cross pollinate if you like, or somehow infiltrate and, and also some people will want to add these products in or these ingredients to their products. So, Informed Sport came about some number of years ago now to try to give athletes that confidence that the foods that this particular product or brand or this particular product, have got us a rubber stamp accredited, you know, it’s safe to eat this banned substance assured also no banned substance or short

Marc Giusti 16:33
label and also we have, whether it be celiac or whether it be vegan, whether it be brcc throw BRC a ratings and that’s about so quality and cleanliness and

Marc Giusti 16:47
a whole load of traceability, traceability of food markers that the food industry have put in place for self regulation as well as for for more legislative record regulation.

Carlton Reid 17:00
And so cos you’re producing with for want of a better expression, real food, that’s what attracted people like Ashley Palmer-watts and Justin Clarke of LeBlanq to your brand, how did you meet them?

Marc Giusti 17:14
So that came about because of, and we’re very fortunate in that, because our food is very high quality. And we I’d argue we’re really the only all natural brand you can buy from in terms of the range of, you know, before, during, and after your exercise your sport, be elite or pro. Because we have such a high, highly regarded quality products, we get to meet and get introduced to quite a lot of very

Marc Giusti 17:45
serious sports people, everyone from Formula One racing drivers to tennis players to, you know, cyclists, runners and all sorts of people. And part of the,

Marc Giusti 17:55
I guess, introductions we get are people who are doing interesting things, you know, creates introductions with interesting people. And

Marc Giusti 18:02
I think when you’re probably somebody like Ashley, and when you’re at the highest end of your, I guess the food industry and you see a brand, changing the way that that the bits industry, in our case, sports nutrition, operates and starts to provide products to a quality level that you would normally expect from in a professional kitchen or in the restaurant quality foods, you know, with the only nutrition brands with one, I think more than 10 or 12 goal, Great Taste awards now.

Marc Giusti 18:31
And so we managed to, I guess reach a level of

Marc Giusti 18:35
recognition in that space that that piece, some of those chefs interests and we’re getting those introductions all the time.

Marc Giusti 18:42
And through our retailer and our eventing over networks, you know that these,

Marc Giusti 18:49
in this case, LeBlanq cycling events, they came to know this they saw our story they recognise it was very much in tune with what they were trying to do and and Lara is I guess you like the solution to the on bike part of the LeBlanq story. And if the if Ashley is looking after the off bike piece, how do they assure the same gastronomic qualities on the bike and that’s where Lara and her food comes in.

Carlton Reid 19:13
Mmm. And you mentioned there about retailing. So how how do people get hold of your product?

Marc Giusti 19:20
Well, mostly it’s direct to the website. So predominantly, we are a DTC brand as it’s called and people come to the website they order and you know we deliver.

Marc Giusti 19:30
Otherwise, we’ve got a whole bunch of

Marc Giusti 19:33
independent retail and large retail outlets, you know, sports shops, gyms,

Marc Giusti 19:39
health clubs in all sorts of different shapes and sizes of those all around the country as well as internationally. And there are you know, we’re growing it although it’s very modest still we are growing our footprint into Europe and into other sort of international regions. So it we are not hard to get hold of

Marc Giusti 20:00
It’s hard these days is things like Brexit, and also getting it to be delivered on time when you don’t own the logistics, you know, but but we’re easy to get hold on, it’s not a problem.

Carlton Reid 20:10
Hmm. So yeah, I was I was expecting mainly website, because that’s where everybody gets their stuff from now.

Marc Giusti 20:18
It is i think i think one really important thing, though, is that we’re not we’re not trying to be exclusively, sort of the website, only the, we believe that every channel be it Amazon or be it our website or be it your local bike shop or be it,you know, the gym, you go to, you know, in any number of places that we should be readily available, we should be accessible to you there in the best way that we can be. And that’s very much our plan.

Marc Giusti 20:44
The convenience side of it and the affordability side of it comes in because often when you when you buy sort of onesie twosie items from a bike shop on a Saturday morning before you ride out, for example. And that isn’t really a very effective way for you to manage your nutrition requirements you might have for your, you know, the weeks ahead. So inevitably, people come to the website, they buy boxes of their mixed bars, or their, you know, gels and powders or whatever it might be that they’re looking for. And it’s a much more efficient and effective way for them to manage their nutrition. And we have a subscription programme where you can do that. So you can come and say, I’m training for the marathon, or I’m training for a sportif, or, I don’t know, I’m a professional tennis player, and I’m training every week, whatever the scenario is, and we can build a subscription model around that for you to say, Well, this is the kind of product that you need on these weeks. And this is a sort of cadence new engineer delivered in and we tried to put that together for you.

Carlton Reid 21:43
Do you ever regret calling it Veloforte, which then, you know, solidifies it into cycling when it could have been like something like Sportforte, or just more general?

Marc Giusti 21:54
It’s a conversation that I’ve had with myself many times. No, is the short answer.

Marc Giusti 22:00
The. To me,a brand strategy is very much about

Marc Giusti 22:05
giving brands meaning, right, they can be called whatever you want to be; Google when it first came out was you know what, what does it even mean? Nobody understands it, if it has a, it needs to be given meaning. And what we find is that the provenance of where we started, which was very much in cycling very much to help in a very high endurance and high consumption needs to have this sort of food and to have the quality of the foods.

Marc Giusti 22:31
And that that is sort of set behind you know how we can also feel your marathon or your outdoor swimming or your

Marc Giusti 22:39
tennis playing or whatever it might be that you do

Marc Giusti 22:42
is just a straight line from there, there. There is really isn’t a downside. And an often I see when you talk to cyclists, of course, they they appreciate the name velo being in, in the brand. When you speak to non cyclists, they often don’t actually recognise it or think of it as some sort of exclusive cycling word.

Lara Giusti 23:05
Velo be seen as velocity. So you’ve got velo strength, so velocity, speed and strength.

Lara Giusti 23:09
So it’s really, you know.

Marc Giusti 23:11
So I think it’s a it’s a, it’s a fair question. But I I don’t think it’s something that’s going to limit the business at all. And I think it’s a story that we want to tell you know, that’s where we started.

Carlton Reid 23:23
And Peloton is kind of proving at the moment that you can have a very, very cycling word, and it doesn’t really matter, because you can sell running, even though you’re a cycling brond originally.

Marc Giusti 23:35
And people’s active lives now, like cycling is not only one of the largest consumers of our kinds of products as a as a category, but it’s also now becoming ever more part of certainly UK at least and it’s true, of course, in Europe and all around the world, but it’s becoming evermore a part of people’s active lives. And so you’re seeing brands and names and terminology, you know, bleed across different sports. I think it’s a it’s one of the sports that enormously impressive feats of, you know, human endurance come from those sports. So I think it can only be a good thing we would, we would only be looking for those provenance points if we had called it something else. So it seems to come more naturally from the name.

Carlton Reid 24:22
You mentioned pro sport then what what sprang to mind was pro cyclists, clearly and obviously, are very often

Carlton Reid 24:32
anchored to particular brands of energy food and everything else, of course, but for instance, like the Gabba jersey, you often get pros will use

Carlton Reid 24:44
a Gabba jersey, but they’ll take off the Castelli stuff. And and do you know I don’t want you to spill the beans in it. But do you know of any pros that are like they’re sponsored by one brand, but they don’t taste? They don’t like that crap. They want your

Carlton Reid 25:00

Marc Giusti 25:00
I’d say in the low hundreds would be my actual answer to that are of pro cyclists who like our food very much and need to put it in a different bottle.

Carlton Reid 25:13
A different packet? Yes, yes. Yeah.

Carlton Reid 25:18
Yes. So you, you are the gabbeh of the well,

Marc Giusti 25:21
I would like I would very much love for us to be the Gabba I’m absolutely sure I would be I’m not sure they quite the Gabba yet. But yes, we’ve seen that at the time. And I think it’s also the case that people need to have confidence in their digestion, right. So there’s, it’s not just that our food is delicious, or, or just that it has some natural ingredients, there’s a, it plays a very important role in the on on and off bike, or whatever sport you’re in,

Marc Giusti 25:50
kind of regime. So it’s very much more about health and wellness, rather than just simply performance, you know, there and then at the end of the moment, so, where how people eat, you know, what they choose to have on a Monday morning versus, you know, a training session versus a recovery session?

Marc Giusti 26:08
Are all it’s all part of the same discussion. And so it seems it would seem odd to say to somebody, you know, only eat natural foods, you know, at certain times and eat a lot of synthetic foods and other time that just seems

Marc Giusti 26:22
particularly also as it’s very commonly the case that synthetic ingredients, cause so many sort of gastro issues for people in one of the most common stories is people saying my county jails is never tell me go funny or, and many other worse stories than that.

Marc Giusti 26:38
And, and our ingredients have completely eliminated that we have none of that. None at all.

Marc Giusti 26:45
It’s it’s simply because our bodies know how to digest those sorts of ingredients and sugars and the ratios that we put them together in.

Carlton Reid 26:54
because of the long provenance compared to the short providence of maltodextrin. etc.

Marc Giusti 26:59
Yes, exactly.

Lara Giusti 27:01
It’s not just the maltodextrin. It’s all the artificial sweeteners that go into so many products, it’s been proven now to completely wreck your gut biome. So we stay clear of anything like that. And we only use natural ingredients throughout. So we know that we’re going to keep your, your you know, your internal bacterias on track and keep your gut happy. And that motivates you to go further. If you’re not having to worry about cramping and needing the toilet, you’re going to concentrate on running faster, longer, riding harder. And that’s what you’re wanting to do want to enjoy your fueling, so you can enjoy your sport.

Marc Giusti 27:37
Yeah, and we see a lot of that a lot of people say, I don’t like them, so I don’t use them say a gel, say or powdery chalky bars that they’ve, you know, perhaps bought from elsewhere. And what that means is that they don’t feel when they should do it sort of try to work around, and lo and behold, they start to bonk, and then all of a sudden, they’ve now got to recover from that rather than, you know, maintain their

Marc Giusti 28:02
I guess their performance. As I was saying there’s a there’s a balance to be had. And, you know, before, during and after. And our food allows people can because normally when people are making food for themselves, they they’re looking for the highest quality, natural, you know, clean, good stuff to eat out there.

Marc Giusti 28:19
And so why would you then go buy a bag of synthetic gloop and chuck that in your tummy just because you happen to be on the bike. You know, it just seems a strange thing.

Lara Giusti 28:26
When you’re pushing the body the hardest, why would you put the rubbish in then?

Carlton Reid 28:31
Yeah. Yes. Laura, you mentioned that the microbiome there. And I’m kind of familiar that because I’ve got a medic daughter and I’ve got a doctor wife. So let’s let’s let’s talk medical stuff for a second now because that that intrigued me right at the beginning there when when your medical background was mentioned, so so tell us a bit about that.

Lara Giusti 28:52
So I trained many moons ago as a physiotherapist and specialised as a cardio respiratory physiotherapist. And that meant that I was working on intensive care units with people with long term lung disease, but also working with people who have cardiac operations and, and getting rehabbing them back into health, which included working with a fantastic team of nutritionists of occupational therapists of sports therapists. And that really enticed me into looking more into nutrition than I’d ever really done before. And so I did a Master’s in that and decided to focus my attention more on the nutrition side, and as Marc said, I

Lara Giusti 29:42
love my baking as well. It’s sort of a stethoscope in one hand and a wooden spoon in the other

Lara Giusti 29:49
end so I managed to put both of my talents and my passions into one place by developing this sports nutrition range, which really does

Lara Giusti 30:00
allow you to feel the way that your body wants to feel.

Carlton Reid 30:05
Hmm. So so let’s talk through your products. Now you’ve got a, you’ve got a bar

Carlton Reid 30:10
line, you have a gel line, and then you’ve got like a post exercise energy shake line, what else are we missing here? What are you.

Carlton Reid 30:19
So Lara wil take you through the, how each of them, I suppose do the job that they were but as a sort of range of bars, a range of chews, a range of natural gels, a range of hydration, which is sort of electrolyte powders, and a sort of performance protein recovery shakes range.

Lara Giusti 30:40
Really, the challenge was how to create a range that we say it’s from trainers on, to trainers off, or cleats on to cleats off. How are we going to make sure that you’ve got what you need, when you need it in a portable fashion, that means you’re never going to go hungry, and you’re never going to bonk or hit the wall. Because you’ve always got Veloforte in your back pocket or in your running pack.

Lara Giusti 31:05
So yes, we started with bars, and started just with three bars and then extended the range, we’ve now got eight in total, including to recovery focus bars, which can contain complete protein. And we try and use the most easily digestible protein. So in our thoughts of protein bar, we use egg whites, which is quite unusual for recovery and protein bars on the market. Right now we use egg whites because your body is the highest digestibility store is really fantastic form of protein without all the additional facts associated with it. And we use nuts in all of our our bars, which give a baseline of line of protein alongside the natural carbohydrates from the dried fruits and the syrups. That means that your energy sustained, so you get a nice boost from the sugars in the syrup in the bars, you get a prolonged energy release from the fructose from the fruits and from the proteins from the nuts. So you don’t just get this boom and crash which is so common with the maltodextrin based products, which is just one type of carbohydrate. We try to span it across forms of carbohydrates and also include low level proteins in the majority of the bars as well to keep you on an even keel.

Lara Giusti 32:24
So they’re the bars.

Carlton Reid 32:26
Sorry, sorry, before before you go on, you mentioned egg whites, so then that just immediately went all vegan? So do you have a vegan option as well?

Lara Giusti 32:35
Absolutely. So we have a vegan recovery bar as well called our Mocha bar, which is totally delicious, as well as obviously on point for nutrition that’s made from a blend of pea and brown rice proteins. And you need both of those to complete a complete a complete amino acid profile. And it’s important to have that complete profile because when you’re trying to rebuild your muscles, you need all of those nine essential amino acids that your body can’t produce itself. And so we use a mix of hazelnuts and those two plant based proteins to give you that extra protein boost in the recovery bar from Mocha.

Carlton Reid 33:11
Okay, so sorry, I think you’re about to go into gels.

Lara Giusti 33:13
So yes, gels.

Lara Giusti 33:16
Again, steering clear of the synthetic sugars, we use plant based syrup. So we use a mix of data at Maple syrup and brown rice syrup. And they’re flavoured with real fruit juices and with spices and so they’re really a lovely texture. They’re like a maple syrup textures. They’re not thick and gloopy. And they’re not super runny. They’re quite small in size. So instead of carrying a 16 ml hydro gel that is commonly available, our jails have just 33 mls. And so you get the same carbohydrate load from a smaller packet that you do from one of these larger synthetic packet. So they’re easy to carry, they’re easy to swallow, you’re not faced with this huge mouthful of gel. And they taste fantastic because they’re flavoured with natural ingredients.

Lara Giusti 34:05
And then

Lara Giusti 34:07
hydration mixes and quite difficult to come up with a hydration mix that is chemical free. What you’ll find in lots of hydration is that they’re a little tablet form so they’re heavily compressed. And they’ll use chemical compounds, magnesium sulphate and sodium chloride and sodium sulphates in them to up your electrolyte balance. Obviously they’re they’re lab based made ingredients, not natural occurring ingredients and finding agents and binding agents and then you need effervescent to make it fit in your water so it dissolves and all of those things are together. Really, what are my experience of them give you a sore tongue after a day in the saddle because the effervescence sort of eats at the side of your tongue and they’re overly sweet and overly flavour too.

Lara Giusti 34:59
With what are termed as natural flavourings, but really what that means is that say if something’s like a blueberry flavoured hydration tablet, they might have never seen a blueberry in its life. But there are natural occurring ingredients that when they put together will create a blueberry type flavour. So what we don’t, we don’t use any of those at all our hydration mixes are based from freeze dried coconut water, which gives you natural potassium, Pink Himalayan salt for really clean sources sodium, and then they’re flavoured with freeze dried fruit powders, and with herbs and botanicals. And so we use the freeze dried fruit powders, they’re picked at their prime, they’re rapidly frozen to trap in all the nutrients and then their ground. And then what happens when you add them to water is that they just reconstitute and you get the wonderful flavours and the colours and the textures of the fruit as well. And so altogether, it’s an extremely natural way to rehydrate and to add electrolytes into your nutrition plan.

Lara Giusti 36:07
So that’s the hydration, and then the chews.

Lara Giusti 36:12
looking at the marketplace, what I tend to do when I’m looking to create a product for Veloforte it needs to hit a function, it needs to taste amazing, it needs to have the right nutritional profile and it needs to challenge what’s already there on the market. So if you look at choose currently, you either get jelly beans, or you get wine gum type cheews, and both of those are very sticky in texture, they stick to your teeth, that’s not good for your dentine. And so what I went about to do was to create a very soft, textured chew that would just almost melt in your mouth rather than stick in your teeth. And so our Veloforte chews

Lara Giusti 36:52
are lovely and soft. Again, they’re made from natural sugars, beet sugar, they’re made from fruit juices and spices and there’s nothing artificial in there. They sit really nice in your tummy. And they pack a really good energy punch as well. So a pack of chews will give you 42 grammes of carbohydrates. And we have natural electrolytes in there, again, from Pink Himalayan salt. So they’re going to keep your energy sustained, and your electrolytes on balance. And they’re really easy to take, easy to carry, and then won’t pull your fillings out as well.

Marc Giusti 37:25
All of these as thinking not just in isolation too. So you know, our belief is that whether you want solids or you want liquids, or you want to choose or you want, you know, protein shakes will come into it in a second,

Marc Giusti 37:37
you should be able to have all of those and furthermore, to be able to sort of coexist.

Marc Giusti 37:43
I guess sort of happening not only from your palate and tummy point of view, but also as a performance perspective, from your electrolytes to your sugars to your proteins and some

Marc Giusti 37:54
And then the shakes.

Lara Giusti 37:55
And then the shakes are our latest release. Super proud of those. Again, lots of bad press about recovery shakes and protein shakes about the texture. They’re often sort of gritty, sandy textures, they often give really bad gastric side effects of bloating and wind. And so I went to create two different recipes one for our plant based customers. So our Nova recovery protein shake is made of a blend of pea powder, brown rice and pumpkin to give a complete amino acid profile. And that’s flavoured with cocoa and freeze dried banana and has all your electrolytes in there that you need to recover. And also we’ve added some adaptogens to our recovery shakes, we’ve got Macca in our plant base shake and we’ve got a ginseng in our low lactose whey based supershape which is flavoured with super berries in antioxidant rich and I chose to use adaptogens because they’re well known to help to combat the stress that your body goes through when you exercise vigorously. And what you need to do is to try and calm everything down and to rebalance yourself after your heavy sessions. And so the Macca and they didn’t seem go hand in hand with the proteins and the natural carbs to really give you effective recovery.

Carlton Reid 39:16
Some well known energy bars you can be really really very very hungry to eat them in an emergency.

Carlton Reid 39:25
Which I have done in the past when I’ve been incredibly hungry at a hotel late at night or something I will dig into my bag and find the energy bar that I’ve stashed that 10 years previously but Justin from LeBlanq was saying you having to fight people off from eating your product as almost as a snack as as a genuine food. So do you deter people from this, do you recommend that he This is a food is this is this like you don’t have to be going out for a three hour ride to eat your product you can eat you can eat this is just a this is a yummy bar.

Lara Giusti 39:59
You could eat absolutely as a yummy bar and if they’re brilliant breakfast replacements, if you haven’t got time for lunch, you know you’re eating on the run. And they are high carbohydrate products and they’re designed to fuel you to energise you. And so I wouldn’t say you know, sitting on the sofa and eating three in a row is what we generally recommend, but we have customers who chop them up and serve them at dinner parties

Marc Giusti 40:24
Yeah, we do

Lara Giusti 40:26
you know, they are they are wonderfully delicious as well as nutritious and and and very versatile.

Marc Giusti 40:32
There’s nothing about them from a performance point of view, if you’d like from a sort of fats and sugars point of view if you like that, the next and bad news to have at any time we just naturally if you’re that we’re building arrange around active lifestyle, so if anybody’s eating, you know, snack food and staying sedentary, then that’s not quite the right way to be using our products. But yeah, absolutely, it’s the case that we mean all of us in our own way, and nibbling on these things, thankfully, we get we get good access to them all the time. And funny enough, there’s a bit of a story that when when we were making them at home,

Marc Giusti 41:08
because it would be we’re baking them in essentially within trays and we would have to take them out and cut them and you cut the sort of the edges off so that you get a nice clean shape that you can then cut the bars from rather than having the wobbly edges.

Marc Giusti 41:22
And so those cuttings so the off cuts became like a currency between friends and family and people would literally come around and say can we have some of those off cut things and we would have bags and bags and bags and bags of these things don’t really know. So we would just give them away.

Marc Giusti 41:39
And you know, that was just proved to us that these were truly delicious. And so yes, they they span and that’s part of that point about the diet and and that’s pretty much what the Veloforte brand wants to do for our customers is to say you know, no matter what you’re where you are in kind of the day or in terms of your lifestyle, we want you to be able to open the cupboard and see that you know when you want to go out for a run or when you want to go out for a ride or when you want to sit at home and relax or when you want to recover or when you want to give some for the kids or whatever the perspective might be that that we’re able to give you the confidence that this is you know so much better choice than conventionally we’ve been able to find you know in the shops.

Carlton Reid 42:21
Mmm. Now I’m sure we have people listened to this where they will also have problems with rumbling tummies no doubt and we have whetted their appetite for for what you’ve been talking about. So how can people

Carlton Reid 42:37
because you haven’t you have a taster box is that how you get people is there’s like

Marc Giusti 42:42
There’s a bunch of things I guess we try to say too, because a number of our customers they already know what you know bars and gels and drinks and and protein shakes are and so they understand the context of it and so of course they can choose whichever ones they want. For other customers who are you know, just getting started or they’re not really sure which ones they like, but a bunch of different packs, we have a starter pack which is a if you like it kind of best off, you know, here’s a couple of interesting that will give you a chance to you know try essentially the range without having a whole range in there. And then on the other hand, we’ve got something called a complete pack which is a one of everything of the entire range and and almost everywhere in between and as I was saying before you can go to any of the product pages you can say okay, I have one of those or three of those or 10 of these or a mixture like that and compile yourself off a little box.

Carlton Reid 43:32
Marc, how much are those packs? How much of those two different packs?

Marc Giusti 43:35
So the, gosh off the on my head?

Lara Giusti 43:40

Marc Giusti 43:42
And the complete pack I think it’s £35, £38 pounds … I need to double check it

Lara Giusti 43:53
But they are they offer good savings as opposed to buying individual products. One of our best selling packs is our family box bar which is 50 bars and you think goodness me 50 bars, that’s a lot of bars. But it’s a good mix of all the flavours and that offers a 25% saving over the cost of buying them individually. So we do for our customers who want to order large there are there are perks to that too.

Carlton Reid 44:22
Sorry, Lara sorry, what are the flavours of the bars?

Lara Giusti 44:26
Of the bars? so we have the first three flavours Classico is based on a panforte Margarita recipe which is Marc’s nonna’s recipe which is where it all began. So it’s a citrus fruits, almonds and honey. And then we have a De Bosco which is red berries pistachios and almonds and Choco which is dates and cocoa and almonds. And then we have a ZenZera which is stem ginger and pistachios that’s delicious really good for your digestion. We have a Venti which has sea salt in it so great fuel

Lara Giusti 44:59
electrolyte replacement as well. It’s like pecan pie meets salted caramel, it’s totally delicious. We have Forza which is a one of our protein recovery bars which is made from apricots, almonds and fennel. And fennel gives a nice sort aniseed kick or try to do with all the recipes is use spices to accent the fruits. Because what I want to do is to stimulate your tastebuds stimulate your saliva and your digestion so the minute you put it in your mouth, because then your body’s getting ready to digest something. It’s not a synthetic flavours. It’s not not something your body’s going ‘ugh, this is horrid.’ Some of you actually want to be in so that’s the first stage of your digestion. So we use spices in all of our bars. You’ve got the Mocha bar, which is your coffee and chocolate and your protein and he’s on that so that’s like a Juan absolutely delicious. And then we have our Pronto bar which has a little bit of caffeine in it as well for if you need an early morning pick up and that’s figs, pistachios and lemons. So there’s plenty of flavour choice to be had something for everybody in there. And also if you’re out in the long run, if you’re doing an ultramarathon, or if you’re doing a long sportif, then you’ve got a full range of flavours to keep you motivated because being motivated by your fuel actually helps you to eat and helps you to go further. Yeah.

Carlton Reid 46:18
All sounds absolutely gorgeous, and definitely having problems with tummy rumbling. So Mark, I stopped you and I think you’re just gonna get me the price head you’ve gone into your website to get it.

Marc Giusti 46:26
Yes, the complete pack is £38.99, the starter pack is £18.79 and you can get some smaller packs for example, the chews are £6.99

Marc Giusti 46:38
and the gels £7.50 the drinks £5.25 so this price range is all over the place and and you can if you subscribe as well, you get an all sorts of benefits of we have a rewards programme. We’ve got discounts on the subscriptions as a bunch of other ways that we try to help people if they’re doing training programmes and so on. So there’s it’s much more flexible than just simply the list price. If you take a moment to have a look at the site, it’ll explain.

Carlton Reid 47:05
Brilliant, thank you and how do people get into would tell me your website. Tell me your social media. Tell me tell me all your contact points.

Marc Giusti 47:13
So is the website v e l o f o r t e dotcom. The same is so just @veloforte for Insta and Twitter, and Facebook.

Carlton Reid 47:27
Thanks to Marc and Lara Giusti. There, and there’s a photo of them on the show’s website at Our next episode features American academic Peter Norton talking about his soon to be published, future-facing book Autonorama but meanwhile, get out there and ride …

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