The demands imposed by Special Operations Forces (SOF) training and missions are unlike any athletic endeavor. Success requires the mustering of all strength and endurance—both physical and mental. SOF are “Warrior Athletes,” the ultimate athlete, at the top of the athletic pyramid. One factor that will contribute to mission success and lifelong health is good nutrition. It is well known that appropriate nutritional habits and interventions can enhance performance, and these successful approaches need to be known.  – Excerpt from the official Navy SEAL Nutrition Guide

Iassen Donov, former Army Ranger and author with our friends over at SOFREP, joins the Loadout team today to talk about a new sports nutrition product that his company is launching which will have a huge focus on the military community.

Loadout: So why the military?

Iassen: In the first stages of our launch we’ll actually be working with the special operations units from all the branches. Change happens in SOF first and disseminates through the rest of the armed forces as we’ve seen time and time again (MultiCam is a great example).

50-70% of active duty military use some type of fitness supplement. But since the deaths of the two U.S. soldiers out of Texas who used products sold at a GNC, there has been a stigma on supplements – this is anything that has a “Supplement Facts” label on the back of it. Basically it is a non-regulated industry and companies can claim and put all sorts of things in their ingredients.

Ascent Protein is not a “supplement”. We are classified and regulated by the FDA as a food – anything that has a “Nutritional Facts” label. Since military units are not buying anything that is classified as a supplement – there is a space for us to build a brand that the military can fall behind with!

The military as a whole has evolved greatly in its fitness regimen since my time with the Rangers. Programs like CrossFit, Gym Jones, Military/Mountain Athlete have created the building blocks to create the true Warrior or Tactical Athlete.

Image courtesy of
Image courtesy of

Loadout: Why is this different from what else is out on the market?

Iassen: Ascent is the first consumer brand of dairy giant Leprino Foods. We are a multi-billion-dollar company which has been around since 1950 and began selling raw material whey protein powder on the business-to-business side since the late 70s. Chances are high that your favorite nutrition brands, buy their protein powder from us. The manufacturing process has been basically the same for the last few decades, so there has never been any reason for us to play in an already high saturated market.

But in 2010 or 2011 our scientists and engineers began developing the process to extract whey protein directly from milk as opposed to it being a byproduct of the cheese-make process. They succeeded and now consumers will be able to experience a new type of product called “Native Whey Protein Isolate”. It’s a much purer protein than what even we’ve been able to produce in the past with higher levels of leucine – the amino acid that tells the muscles to start growing/rebuilding.

Loadout: Do you have anybody using it currently?

Iassen: Our first sponsored athlete is Rob Killian, the Army Special Forces officer who just won this year’s Best Ranger Competition as well as the Spartan World Championship in 2015 – he’s been using Ascent for months now. We’ve also met with the head nutritionist and performance trainers at my old unit, the 75th Ranger Regiment, and they are all aboard to begin passing it down to the individual shooters.

We’ve been keeping the specifics of this product very confidential up until literally a few months ago so if you ask me this question in one year, I hope my answer is “every warfighter in our armed forces”. 

Loadout: And will our trigger-pullers see results?
Iassen: Yup – just have to add some water, and squats, and deadlifts, and push-ups, and long ruck marches, and burpees, and pull ups, and bench presses, and hard runs, etc. We’re not using “six-pack in 4 weeks guaranteed” or “gain 50 pounds of muscle in a month” marketing gimmicks. This is a whey protein recovery product and it ONLY works as hard as you do. Our shooters know what it means to do hard work, they just need the good nutrition to go along with and sustain that lifestyle.

Loadout: So when is this available?

Iassen: We launched today. More of a “soft launch”, our national campaign goes live in August but anybody can purchase as of this morning. The website is If you’re reading this and you decide to give it a try – at the checkout screen it’ll give you an option to put an employee name. Put my name in with “Loadout” in parenthesis next to it so I can see where you first heard about us! We ship to APO addresses as well. 

(Featured image courtesy of