Donuts rarely top lists of healthy foods, what with all the sugar and saturated fats found in a single serving. But a foursome from the University of Texas transformed this tasty treat into a business they call Elite Sweets, developing a healthy alternative that’s a perfect post-workout snack.
Brothers Amir and Amin Bahari launched their “performance protein donut” in late 2017 alongside two former college football players, Caleb Blueitt and Timothy Cole Jr. All four lived near a donut shop west of campus and followed a two-a-day habit.
As they prepared for graduation, the Bahari brothers imagined a world where donuts could be both delicious and nutritious. Amin, who was working with the UT football team at the time, says they “all bonded over health and fitness.”
“We looked at the market and saw there really weren’t any protein donuts in Texas,” Amin says. “We saw this golden opportunity.”
Using their apartment kitchen as a laboratory, they got to work.
“We made a lot of bad donuts,” Amin admits. Over a period of several months, Amin baked and toiled while the others tasted and tested. The founders contracted a product team of two pharmacy students at the university, who took the concept and prepared the perfect composition.
While a conventional donut contains roughly 300 calories, Elite Sweets have 200. Using whey protein, egg whites, and almond milk, the gluten-free rounds are sweetened with stevia. Each donut has 16 grams of protein and lasts about two weeks in the refrigerator.
For now, four flavors—cinnamon sugar, peanut butter, birthday cake, and chocolate chip—fill out the Elite Sweets menu, but more varieties are in development.
“When I was in high school, I had a weight loss journey and was able to lose 140 pounds,” Amin says. He adds that diabetes runs in his family, making the business all the more personal.
Today, the donuts are baked in Austin and can be found at two local coffee shops and two fitness studios. The company was a finalist this year at WeWork’s Creator Awards San Francisco, held on May 10.
Amin says that going to college in Austin, one of the country’s startup capitals, has made them all entrepreneurs.
“We were all interested in entrepreneurship,” Amin says. “We want to be our own bosses.”