My Story

Hello all, I’m Dave Carr the founder of Growli and I’m really glad you’ve decided to take this journey into healthy eating with us! A bit of background about me, since the age of fourteen, I’ve always had a keen interest in exercise and nutrition and have literally dozens of books on the subject from Universities, nutritionists, dieticians, personal trainers and celebrities. Many years later in 2004 I even wrote my own e-book called ‘Lean and Clean’.

After the age of fourteen and for the subsequent twenty years, I exercised on regular basis initially following my Joe Weider wall chart and using sand filled vinyl weights as a youngster. As I got older, I attended various fitness centres and gyms so I could use more advanced equipment and eventually joined the military where my fitness was pushed to the maximum on a daily basis.

During these twenty years I did adhere quite strictly to the knowledge that I had learned through the library of books I had amassed, the training I received in the military and by studying for a personal training and nutrition diploma. Once I graduated I opened my own private training suite where I would train clients from around the midlands in everything from boxing drills, self defence, core strengthening and functional fitness through to hypertrophy routines.

What I Wanted To Achieve With Growli

  • Provide complete nutrition

  • Include all essential vitamins and minerals

  • Use organic produce

  • Suitable For Vegetarians

  • Use a source of complete protein

  • Control my calories

  • Provide healthy gut bacteria

Photo of Dave Carr From Growli Foods

However, somewhere between that time of being a young, fit and enthusiastic personal trainer with lots of equally enthusiastic clients, up until the age of 48, I found I had let bad habits creep in for one reason or another. My exercise routine became non existent and the foods I was eating were way off what could be considered ‘healthy’.

Through that decade of my life, I’d suffered quite a lot of heartache through losing members of my family and strained relationships. I found myself falling into a depression and I have to admit to giving up on my own health and fitness almost completely, I also lost interest in maintaining my appearance. 

For comfort, I turned to eating larger quantities of food which I would justify because the food was home made. My portion control was terrible, I never seemed to be full and so I just carried on piling up my plate with food, caught in a never ending vicious circle that I couldn’t ever see myself getting out of.

Motivated By Insults

Looking back, I was obviously searching for something - a motivation, a reason why I should change back to my healthy self but this reasoning was not forthcoming. At times, I felt I had convinced myself that these obsessive actions were normal and may even be good for me! Eating all the wrong things appeared to ease my stress and allowed me to be more sociable at meal times. I became totally addicted to sugar and sweet things.

At the end of 2018, a work colleague began teasing me about my weight. Just the odd little jibe here and there, nothing major, nothing over the top, although the comments did plant seeds and I thought about them more and more. I began to correlate my weight gain with health problems I had been experiencing of late but I still didn’t take action. Christmas was coming and there was not a single chance of me avoiding all the Christmas food and drinks!

By the time early 2019 came around, I had already accepted things were completely out of control and that I was quite overweight at 15 stones (212 lbs/96 kg) at 5’ 10”. I didn’t like what I saw in the mirror or how I felt and had lost all my body confidence. 

On holidays I would sit in the sun with a t-shirt on no matter how hot it became, I was simply quite embarrassed by myself. In many ways, I didn’t recognise the body I was in, it seemed so alien to one I’d worked so hard on for many years. I didn’t put much stock in getting that younger body back.

My overall health and wellbeing wasn’t great and things needed to change and quickly.

The Diet Begins

So, January 2019 was the start of my weight loss journey. I had set myself the goal of reducing my weight from 15 stones (212 lbs/96 kg) to 12 stones (168 lbs/ 76 kgs) before undertaking any form of structured exercise. 

In hindsight this was a stupid idea as I should have included exercise from day one, but at the time my confidence was very low and I didn’t want people to see me working out. So I started out keeping things really quite low key with only a select, trusted few knowing what was happening.

I initially started eating a healthy diet of meat and vegetables, but no white carbohydrates such as bread, rice, pasta. It was tough at first but I was getting results very rapidly - like all men do when they haven’t been on a diet for 10 years!  

Like many others will have experienced, I lost a lot of water weight initially and became sucked into the rapid weight loss trap. I found myself constantly chasing impressive results on the scales each week, not caring what that weight loss actually consisted of. Everything I’d learnt through my training diploma and nutrition courses went out the window. I knew better! I knew how to diet correctly but ignored it all to be sucked into the numbers game.

Eventually my progress slowed down as the water weight was depleted and fat stores naturally became a much slower prospect to burn off.

The Road To Keto

I then turned to the Keto diet as my best friend had achieved awesome results on this diet, during which she became super confident along the way; something I wanted to experience. The idea of Ketogenic diets was counter intuitive to anything I’d learned in the past, with the large amounts of fat and almost no carbohydrates, but I have to admit this did intrigue me. 

I had only known of a diet called the metabolic typing diet around ten years previous, which my late mother had briefly followed. However I figured it was very similar to my meat and vegetable diet, just a heck of a lot more fat!

After a short period of adjustment the results started coming back favourably and I did experience very good mood and an overall feeling of positivity. Yet for all the positive aspects I discovered with Keto, it can be very restrictive and for a guy like me who likes to eat, the restrictions were tough to handle. With all that added fat, chasing ketones and getting my macros right, it wasn’t long before I needed a change.

Going Full Carnivore

Did I opt for more food flexibility? Hmm, nope! Ever searching for that elusive formula that would work for me I went even more strict and ended up following a Carnivore diet of solely meats, eggs, limited diary and fat. For month after month I followed this diet, I even started a small YouTube channel where I explained the what and why of the carnivore diet and how I was fairing. I did eventually get down to 168 lbs with the carnivore approach. 

My physique wasn’t toned, my muscles were weak and I had very little aerobic endurance. On a ketogenic diet you don’t store a great deal of muscle glycogen which forces the body to create glucose in the liver. This, whilst a natural and normal thing to do, is hard to adapt to when you’ve had decades of eating carbohydrates.

Working Out Starts

On reaching 12 stones, it dawned on me that this is was the moment I’d been putting off for so long - it was time to get back in the gym! I was still too self conscious to let others see me exercise and didn’t want to go to a commercial gym only to pay monthly fees, to have to share equipment and wait my turn, so I bought my own budget equipment. Nothing special, nothing expensive and nothing branded, mostly straight from Amazon I just wanted it to do the job.

Hands down, it was the best decision I had made in years. Within weeks my strength was starting to build, my levels of stamina increased and I began to develop a little bit of shape, which pleased me no end. I was easily pleased at first and found that regular exercise definitely boosted my confidence and overall sense of wellbeing. 

However, the lack of fibre in the carnivore diet was starting to cause me to be constipated on a regular basis, and for every day I seemed to be full of energy from ketones or fat oxidation, I had a day of lethargy. My manual work each day was tough to complete on these days of low energy and I often felt defeated.

Looking back, I honestly think my body had been giving me cues for months that things needed to change and that I needed a more flexible and robust diet. In all the time I followed a ketogenic or carnivore diet, I had never managed to significantly increase my lean mass or improve my personal bests in the gym. This was frustrating as I was pushing as hard as I could, often leaving my gym dripping in sweat and thoroughly exhausted. I felt I deserved my rewards for all of the effort I was putting in!

The Virus Surfaces

So come December 2019, I had heard from one of my Chinese suppliers that there was an illness spreading in their homeland and later, reports appeared on our news media, stating that the coronavirus was affecting the lungs of those affected. This concerned me as I’d had a serious bout of pneumonia during my time in the Royal Navy. At the time, the added complications of pleurisy and broken ribs almost killed me. The pain was also unrelenting for week after week. If catching the coronavirus was anywhere near the same, I wanted to stay well away from it.

This is when I the idea hit me that I could kill two birds with one stone by developing a complete food drink, similar to ones on the market but with better ingredients, for use whilst at work and for consuming at home, instead of supermarket food. If I needed to self isolate. I wanted to be safe and eat healthily.

Even though it only took a few attempts to create a lovely, smooth shake full of nutritional goodness, I really didn’t like the idea of drinking my food. I always seemed to be full of fluid and needed to urinate frequently. Plus, it just didn’t seem to me or to others that drinking my food was natural; many work colleagues commented that it was weird.

I felt I should have known I would probably feel like this as I had already spent between 2016-2018 consuming a very popular food drink on a daily basis before I decided to lose weight in 2019. As a result, I put the shake idea to one side and continued to eat healthy home cooked meals instead. Lockdown began and I was forced to queue with others for entry to supermarkets, empty shelves were a common occurrence and social distancing was a complete pain. I needed to solve my personal issues with the shake I’d developed. How could I make it more appetising?

More Than Just A Muesli

By chance, I had watched a documentary about Bircher muesli which I found really quite enlightening. I’d always assumed that muesli was a cereal based food only eaten at breakfast, but it turns out that various versions were eaten throughout the day by the Swiss as either a main meal or a side dish. I’ve always loved muesli and the idea of eating it throughout the day was quite appealing to me, although I knew I would have to reduce the sugar content massively from the commercially available ones. 

The thought of a muesli packing in loads of flavour, giving me flexibility and more importantly being chewable and satisfying was a real game changer. Clearly many of the ingredients I’d put together in my shake formulation would transfer across to the new muesli, I would just need to add in larger whole grains to make the meal more solid than liquid.  

Within a couple of hours, I’d worked out a formulation for what I believe is the most complete and nutritious form of muesli on the planet. I crammed it full of wholegrain cereals and seeds and researched the best forms of proteins for both vegan and non-vegan variants. During this time, I only thought of making this super muesli for myself, I never expected to be for supplying to others! Many have commented since Growli’s creation, that by making my formulation so complete and so full of different specific ingredients it would make it very difficult for any copy cat Growli products to make an appearance!

Anyhow, I took to eating my new creation for every meal during the pandemic lockdown, between four and five meals per day. Exercising for hours each day; an hour of weights, an hour and a half of steady cardio and at least ten thousand steps per day across the local fields. Within a week of starting this new diet, I felt very different. I felt stronger, I experienced more endurance and a desire to work harder than my last workout. Without sounding too dramatic I felt super human, like I was preparing for a movie role! 

I noticed my body becoming leaner at a steady rate, nothing drastic or rapid, just naturally paced and deliberate but whereas with keto and carnivore I had experienced a loss of lean body mass, this wasn’t case whilst eating Growli and I was setting personal bests in the gym each week.

I wasn’t in a calorie deficit, I was simply consuming the correct amount of calories for my body size and of course I was full of nutrition  every meal containing all the vitamins and minerals I needed. A far cry from the meat and fat diet I had been living on previously.

My constipation issues from carnivore were gone, my hunger was greatly reduced and my outlook on life was far more positive. It wasn’t long before I would start evangelising my new creation to anyone who would listen, I simply wanted to share my experiences and many were interested and intrigued. Some simply didn’t get the concept, but why would they? They obviously hadn’t thought about the need for a such a muesli in their current lifestyle.

The Road To Growli

So, now that I’ve formulated such a great little product, where could I take it from here? I had proved the product worked well for me, but what if I was an anomaly? Would Growli work for others? Naturally I needed to find the answers to these questions and sought out people to sample the product on. I chose people who were from all works of life and at different stages of their fitness goals. Some led a sedentary life, a few worked an office job, the rest were as active as allowed during the pandemic lockdown.

The major complication I experienced during this time was getting the ingredients I needed together during the restrictions of the lockdown. Suppliers were either part manned or completely closed but within two to three weeks I’d managed to put together enough ingredients to give everyone on my list at least a weeks worth of Growlies to try.

It became clear very quickly, that the average member of the public is affected by the inherent levels of salt and sugar in their everyday foods. Whilst I and the majority of the test group thought Growli had a nice natural level of sweetness, some wanted something more sweet, more artificial tasting, which was never going to happen as I had always envisioned Growli to be natural.

I had to realise that for every person who loves the natural taste of Growli, they’ll more than likely be an equal amount of people who have a preference for extra sweet or salty flavours. I can’t blame them, I’ve been there!

Then I got really stuck in to the investment and planning stages, ready for manufacturing a class leading nutritional product. I was exhilarated. It was complicated and a challenge of course, but nothing I hadn’t experienced before with my other business ventures. 

I’ve been so fortunate to collaborate with some of the finest and most experienced food manufacturers, blenders and nutritionists to get to the point we’re at now, where I’m able to get my nutritionally complete muesli that I’m so proud of to you, my valued customer. I look forward to hearing about your Growli transformations and reading your feedback. Wishing you all the very best in health and happiness!

About Growli Foods Ltd

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