High Plains Bison maintains the second-largest herd of bison in the world, according to Kevin Lamar, chief customer officer for the bison company's new weight-management branch, Plainsmart. So it's no wonder that when the company decided to jump into the weight-loss industry, it built a menu making its own bison meat the focal point for its dietary plan.
Plainsmart will launch its first weight-management clinic on Monday, July 6 at 401 West Hampden Place in Englewood; it's using metro Denver as the testing ground for a concept it hopes to build into a national brand. "Denver is a great food market and it's a bison town," Lamar explains. And that's true — Denver diners are at least savvy enough to understand that bison doesn't taste much different from beef and it's certainly not gamy, as the uninitiated might assume. Plus, we stopped calling it buffalo years ago. And the National Bison Association is based here.
Bison is still a minority meat, though, even out here in the West, but most supermarkets offer the meat in ground form and other cuts are becoming more and more common, especially in Denver restaurants embracing Colorado's heritage. But are Denverites ready to curb calories while turning to bison as a primary protein source?
Plainsmart wants to make that part easy: The weight-loss program includes pre-made, shelf-stable meals — breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks — as part of a 21-day program. It all starts with bison, which Plainsmart pitches as lower in fat and calories than beef, pork, chicken or turkey. Lamar says the meat is also richer in iron and anti-oxidants than standard grocery-store meats.
The majority of the boxed meals contain bison in some form — meatballs, breakfast sausage, braised short-ribs and grilled sirloin, for example — but there are also chicken, seafood and vegetarian options for those not ready to be, um, buffaloed. Additional between-meal snacks include high-protein bars and fruit smoothies. The diet itself is intended to be high in protein and low in fat, but also includes whole-grain carbohydrates — Lamar notes that it's not an extreme diet like Atkins or Paleo.
"We want to suggest that you be on our food program, but it's not required," Lamar adds. A 21-day meal package, which includes three meals a day plus snacks, comes in at about $500; there are also additional costs for a body-composition analysis (to establish body-fat percentage before and during the program) and regular dietary consultations.
Lamar notes that Plainsmart "takes it a step further than other diet clinics" by offering evaluations from registered dietitians and a recommended fitness program. In fact, the company plans to sell a line of fitness equipment that customers can buy for home use. A typical customer experience would start with a visit to the new weight-loss center for an initial screening (including that body-composition analysis), an evaluation of activity level, current diet and overall health, and weekly check-ins to monitor progress. The plan also recommends using an activity tracker during the week that Plainsmart can access to see how you're doing with its recommended balance of cardiovascular and strength training.The overall goal is to lose body fat without also losing muscle mass or sacrificing nutrition.
Plainsmart plans to add six to eight more storefronts in the metro area, Lamar adds, and the company will soon launch a direct-response infomercial campaign for a nationwide audience.
Let the bison stampede begin.