This week we caught up with Will McLaren and Richie McDonald. Two former Royal Marines who have started their own supplements range designed to help soldiers achieve peak performance in fitness training, and to give them the nutritional tools to excel in operations.
Q. First of all, favourite flavour – chocolate or vanilla?
WILL. Has to be chocolate – makes me feel naughty.
RICHIE. Vanilla – can’t go wrong.
Q. So you guys were both in the Royal Marines. Can you start by telling us a bit about your time in the corps – what commando unit you were in and what were your specialisations?
WILL. I began my life at 45 Commando then moved to Commando Logistics Regiment (CLR) in Barnstaple. I played a lot of rugby in the Marines. It was a great time in my life and all the lads I met were amazing.
RICHIE. I started at Fleet Protection Group Royal Marines (FPGRM) – now known as 43Cdo and then moved to CLR where I met Will. I’ve tried to get rid of him but it’s harder than it looks. I did Herrick 14 then came back and did my juniors; from there I went to British Indian Ocean Territory – Diego Garcia and finished my career in 42Cdo.
Q. Why did you decide to launch your own supplements?
WILL. The main reason I wanted to start up a supplement business is firstly to help soldiers out. I thought this was honestly the best way to give back to the armed forces. I used to spend a lot of my wages each month on nutritional supplements. I thought I could do it better, cheaper and try to educate at the same time.
RICHIE. I was tired of all the lads getting into good routines then going away for long periods of time and loosing everything they worked hard for fitness wise. I wanted to be able to develop something that was full of everything they need and nothing that they don’t, and in the same breath be affordable whilst sticking to informed sport guidelines.
Q. What sets your products aside from the more established brands?
WILL. All our products are tested by soldiers. We do this by using nutritionists that work for the MoD. This lets us trial all our products on soldiers in the gym and on exercise before we launch them. Its like have are very own professional testing team.
RICHIE. Exactly, there isn’t a larger group of people who know how to work and play hard than the boys and girls of our armed forces.
Q. What do you guys get up to in your spare time?
WILL. Training mainly and occasionally the local spa to really unwind.
RICHIE. Spare time? What’s that?
Q. Being former military you obviously know there is demand within the services for a good priced quality nutritional supplement – is it aimed at people outside the military as well?
WILL. MilitaryAthletic has two ranges. Firstly we have our Base range. This includes your everyday sports and nutrition supplements you may find a lot of other companies produce. Ours are far superior due to the quality of our suppliers and the fact it’s all made in the UK.
Then we have the Tactical Range. This is the range that is specifically for soldiers or endurance athletes. This is the range that really differentiates us within the global market.
RICHIE. We Want to improve nutrition for the Armed Forces both serving and retired/former but we also want to help those who aren’t such as their families. Plus its nice to share the love and help everyone stay fit and healthy.
Q. Have you faced any significant problems in getting to where you are?
WILL. Many, many problems. Working with civvies is a challenge in itself!
RICHIE. I cant add to that its Gospel.
Q. Who’s your inspiration?
WILL. My girlfriend (she is watching me type this).
RICHIE. Will’s Girlfriend… My wife who has put up with me throughout my military career and helped me with my transition from the military to the real world. She isn’t watching me type but she could be anywhere… SF don’t have sh*t compared to her!
Q. Your prices are very reasonable compared to what else is out there – how do you manage this?
WILL. This is done to our links in the supplement industry. We have close contacts with one of the biggest supplements companies in the world, which I shouldn’t really be saying.
RICHIE. Shhhhhh OPSEC!
Q. Tea or coffee?
WILL. Coffee. One every 4 hours and none past 1700.
RICHIE. Coffee. Black. Just the one in the morning before my run.
Q. Fitness is a key component to life in the RM. Do you think the amount of food you receive both whilst in camp and in the field is enough – and of the right quality?
WILL. The food you receive on camp is appalling. I remember in training it was about cramming as many calories into your body as possible. It really angers me how the military can take such a lack lustre approach to diets. We should be giving troops the best fuel possible. I would like to fuel our soldiers like we fuel our athletes. A soldier’s job is equally important, if not more.
RICHIE. We are well aware of the tight budget that the military have to deal with when it comes to what they give our soldiers, sailors and airmen. However, we really think that more can be done than sausage and chips as a cheap meal and making the healthy option expensive. If we want our guys and girls to be operationally ‘good-to-go’ then we need to take close stock of their nutrition as its vitally important. I mean you wouldn’t put diesel in your petrol sports car and expect it to go would you?
Q. What’s your favourite sport?
WILL. Rugby, hands down. Have you been watching the Lions tour?
RICHIE. Rugby, no shadow of a doubt.
Q. Would you like to see your products in ration packs in the future?
WILL. We are currently in talks with the ration pack manufacturers. Wait out on this 😉
RICHIE. Is there a Mole at MilitaryAthletic? Who have you been talking to?
Q. Ration packs have come on a long way in the last ten years or so… what is your favourite item from them?
WILL. I was always a huge fan of the bacon and beans. In the Norway rations it was always melting the chocolate bar into the porridge. EPIC.
RICHIE. I’d have to agree with Will on that one. I enjoyed mixing the coffee with the hot chocolate, mocca-choca-chino!
Q. And your least favourite?
WILL. Those things they called biscuit browns. My dog has a similar snack.
RICHIE. The new Ration packs are actually good on taste. The old ones though – the worst had to be corned beef gash.
Q. As Marines you’ll appreciate the need for a resupply – how many servings can you get from the protein powders and do they come in different sizes?
WILL. We decided to go to start selling our protein in 1kg tubs, which is 15 servings or 2 weeks supply. We found that a lot of soldiers travelled with the supplements and this made it easier for guys to take their protein with them. We will be giving more weight options in the future, for sure.
RICHIE. *pouches not tubs. We want to make sure the guys and girls can have all their kit packed and still have room for us.
Q. What do you bench?
WILL. Double my body weight.
RICHIE. I bench Will and then some.
Q. Where’s the best place you’ve been with the RM?
WILL. I used to tour a lot with the Royal Marines rugby team. The best trip was probably Ex. Auriga to the states. They really look after you well over there but don’t get me stated on their nutrition – they have burger king in the ‘chow-house!
RICHIE. I did a couple of decent trips but my year on Diego Garcia was great. I got to train like a demon, get my bronze on and I managed the Brit club bar… no one was left sober!
Q. And the worst?
WILL. Mountain Training was horrendous.
RICHIE. Pork Chop Wood on my juniors.
Q. You give a generous discount to serving personnel providing they have a MoD e-mail. What if someone has recently left the forces – do they still qualify?
WILL. Of course. Any ex serving personal qualifies. All they have to do is put their old service number and email address in the website and they will receive the 20% discount.
RICHIE. Like we said we want to look after our boys an girls like they look after us.
Q. Do you ship to a British Forces Postal Address (BFPO) if friends and families want to send some morale to their loved ones currently serving overseas?
WILL. Of course we do. It’s important for us to get MilitaryAthletic delivered to all our troops across the globe.
RICHIE. World domination.
Q. Everyone loves a new shaker. Do you sell them separately?
WILL. At the moment we are just giving them away with our launch bundle but they will become available to purchase individually soon.
RICHIE. Later down the line there will be a lot more variety too.
Q. Finally, you mentioned that “you have more in the pipeline” Can you give us any clues to what they may be?
WILL. Big, big things planned. We are trying to create a brand for soldiers and help them in more ways that just nutrition.
RICHIE. You Know too much already.
Former and serving military personnel can sign up to receive £15 off the introductory bundle that includes 1 x 1kg pouch of fortified protein blend, 1 x box of 12 80g field bars and 1 x shaker. All for just £30.80. CLICK HERE to BUY NOW.