A new nutrition bar is designed to fully replace meals: Eat three a day, and you’ll be getting a full serving of recommended daily nutrients. It’s like Soylent in Clif Bar form, except it actually tastes good.
“We really want to take the thinking out of eating,” says Chris Cage, the 27-year-old entrepreneur behind the Greenbelly bars. “Particularly while on the go, as fast food is just such an unhealthy, nutritional mess.”
Cage, who left his first desk job after college to travel the world, started thinking about the need for better nutritional bars on a three-month bike tour of New Zealand. “I was just burning a lot of calories every day, and as I was cycling up to 100 miles, time and weight were very important resources–I didn’t want to have something heavy on my bike, and I didn’t want to have to stop and cook,” he says.
Existing bars didn’t provide enough nutrition. “A big thing I noticed was missing for a lot of nutritional balance,” Cage says. “Some bars would be slammed with protein, and have no fiber or no sodium. I really wanted more of a balance of nutrition across the whole profile, down the whole label.”
When he got back to the U.S., Cage started hiking the Appalachian Trail, and kept thinking about food. “I thought, you know what, it would be really cool if we could just take the FDA’s recommend amount of nutrition, divide those numbers by three, and throw them into a product that’s ready to eat, you don’t have to cook, it’s lightweight, all that good stuff,” he says.
He started working with a food scientist and a chef to make a prototype of the new bar, made entirely from recognizable ingredients like brown rice, almonds, and cocoa.
It isn’t designed for dieters–each bar, split into two pieces, has over 600 calories, and 200 from fat (this may explain why they are so delicious; when I tasted one after lunch, I couldn’t stop, and accidentally ate an entire bar). But endurance athletes love the extra calories, and when Cage started making them–in his mother’s kitchen in Georgia–he couldn’t keep up with demand.
“My mom’s kitchen let me test the market and see, is this 600 calorie product just completely ludicrous?” he says. “And it was just like check, there are people wanting to buy it.”
After a successful Kickstarter run in March, Cage now has a fully operating production line and has launched a new site to take orders. Some of his biggest fans–beyond marathoners and cyclists–are people who don’t have time to eat lunch at work.
While technically you could live on the bars–maybe with a vitamin supplement–Cage doesn’t recommend it. “I think it’s best to get nutrition from a variety of sources and not eat only our bars,” he says. “Not to mention you may get sick of them.”
You also might not be able to afford to eat them all the time: Unlike other nutrition bars, a Greenbelly meal sells for around $6. Though the cost will likely come down as the company scales, Cage says that it’s partly unavoidable.
“The sheer quantity of food we are providing (160 grams versus 65) and level of nutrition (650 calories versus 230) is much more on par with a meal than a Clif Bar,” Cage says. “We are taking on easy meals . . . and ours are healthier, nutritionally balanced, and easier.”