If you want to learn about the reasoning behind different diets, you might want to ask Dasha Agoulnik, who has spent years researching the mechanisms of how the body metabolizes chemicals and nutrients.
Dasha received a bachelor’s degree in biology and, after becoming fascinated with diet and exercise during college, she pursued a master’s in nutritional epidemiology at Tufts University.
While earning her master’s, Dasha threw herself into her research and ended up writing a thesis on the paleo diet — a diet based on hunting and gathering — and doing consulting work with Dr. William Li as well as a company searching for the perfect meal.
Now, Dasha is a registered dietitian, specializing in gut health — especially for athletes.
“I really know and specialize in how to eat and how to train to create the healthiest human being,” Dasha says. “That’s my passion.”
Dasha began to work in medical nutrition therapy and realized that she continued to hear the same question from clients: what protein powder will not upset my stomach?
However, Dasha did not have a good answer to this question since the protein supplements available on the market all had ingredients such as gums and artificial sweeteners. So, Dasha created a solution: she decided to produce a protein supplement line to provide a gut-safe supplement with the correct ratios of amino acids for the body.
From this idea, CorePerform Protein was born.
However, early on as she built her business, she encountered a major setback that she describes as “a wild ride.” During the first year, she gave her protein manufacturer $30,000 and received no product in return. She lost the investment and had to enter a legal battle, which is still ongoing.
However, Dasha entered a pitch competition that year and received $18,000 of capital as well as other opportunities and support. CorePerform officially launched on Aug. 1.
“It ended up being all for the best because this product is absolutely 1,000 times better,” Dasha says. “We have raving fans — 80% returning customers — because they just love the protein so far.”
Dasha’s business also features CorePerform Coaching, which provides clients with diets and personal training. To build this aspect of her business, Dasha drew heavily from her research background to create a simplified gut-healthy plan that is easy for clients to follow.
“I was trying to create the least inflammatory diet for the most amount of people,” Dasha says.
Dasha’s dietary guide is based on a simple green-yellow-red system. Foods under the “green” category are foods that a client can eat, while “yellow” is the moderate column and foods in the “red” column are completely cut from the client’s diet to reduce inflammation. Dasha has seen some clients lose between two and 10 pounds in a week just from lowering inflammation through the diet.
The program focuses on five phases for clients. The first four, guided by dietitians such as Dasha, include reducing inflammation, removing harmful gut bugs, restoring good gut flora and focusing on hormones. The fifth phase, implemented by CorePerform’s personal trainers, focuses on physique transformation and training.
Dasha also launched a new gastrointestinal mentorship program under CorePerform Coaching earlier this year in which she taught 40 professionals — coaches, practitioners, nurses and registered dietitians — about gut health, treatments for it and the science behind these treatments. She plans to teach another course in the fall.
Dasha emphasized that launching her own business required her to take on many roles.
“Fortunately and unfortunately, when you are an entrepreneur you take on everything in the beginning, and I think that’s the best way of going about it because you are going to learn how everything works and all the systems work,” Dasha says. “You can really get your hands in on every aspect of the business.”
She encourages other women looking to become entrepreneurs to be organized and be prepared to be involved in every aspect of the business. Most of all, though, she stresses commitment.
“You have to truly believe in whatever you are doing because I promise you, it is going to go up in flames,” Dasha says. “There is no doubt about it. And if that scares you, you’re not ready. You need to be so 110% confident in whatever you are doing and whatever entrepreneurial endeavor you are starting that when it goes up in flames, you’re running towards it with water and not running backwards in fear.”
Dasha plans to launch new products for CorePerform Protein and continue to expand CorePerform Coaching in the coming months. For those looking to improve gut health overall, Dasha recommends focusing on the five SPEED pillars — sleep, personal stress, environmental stress, exercise and diet.
For more gut health tips and to stay up to date with CorePerform, follow Dasha on Instagram @dashafitness and check out CorePerform Protein on Instagram @coreperform and CorePerform Coaching on Instagram @coreperformcoaching.