Fuel Me: Greenbelly Meal-On-The-Go

Because there are so many bars on the market right now, when something unique pops up it always catches my eye. Recently, some space-age looking packets showed up on my doorstep. Their creator was interested in my feedback, as someone who spends a significant amount of time in the “eat and burn” calorie cycle.

The foil packaging looked like something from REI. I flipped one over and was immediately scared off by the calories: at a whopping 640 per pouch, these babies weren’t your average granola bar.

greenbelly meal on the gogreenbelly meal on the go

These hearty bars come in three flavors: Chocolate Banana, Cranberry Almond, and Peanut Apricot.

Because, of course, they’re not. Greenbelly founder Chris Cage, who launches his  for the bars today, came up with the idea while trekking, cycle-touring, and volunteering his way around the world. A person after my own heart. The bars were born out of a need Chris saw for high-quality, nutritious, packable, light, easy-to-prepare fuel on the road.

Cranberry Almond Greenbelly meal bar.

Stashed for an on-the-go snack…or, meal.

Chris and his team (a French chef and a food scientist) didn’t want to create a snack, they wanted to create a meal: they took the FDA-recommended values for calories, carbs, protein, fat, sodium, and fiber, and simply divided by three. This means that each pouch of two bars fulfills 1/3 of one’s daily recommended nutrition. That’s a lot of nutrition—all packed in a 5 oz pouch. If you’ve ever carted around a week’s worth of Clif bars, these will seem as light as a Rice Krispies square.

Chocolate Banana Greenbelly meal bar

Chocolate Banana, my favorite of the three flavors.

greenbelly bars

All three flavors.

At first I wondered where on earth I was going to fit one of these 640-calorie bars into my normal daily routine. (I usually stick to the 180-220 range for my rides and between-workout snacks.) When the Festival of Calorie Deficits (aka The Coast Ride) came up, however, I decided it was as good a time as any to give them a go. I ate the first bar as a mid-morning snack on the second day, where lunch wasn’t until mile 80. I appreciated the “whole food” texture and immediate energy boost. I saved the second one for a snack on the last day when I knew I wouldn’t get dinner until the train ride home. Splitting them into two servings is a good way to adapt these bars, which are targeted more toward backpackers. Their overall taste profile is good, considering that they meet 1/3 of your daily nutritional needs (most bars come in at less than a quarter.)

Cranberry-Almond Greenbelly meal bar

Cranberry-Almond bite after a long swim.

While triathletes have different nutritional needs while racing than backpackers (ie: more salt, increased digestibility) I came up with five perks Greenbelly offers that make them something triathletes should consider:

1. Traveling to a destination race? Not only will you rejoice at how light these babies are, if you’re heading somewhere where you’re not sure if the cuisine will agree with you, these will make a solid backup plan.

2. The bars are all-natural and gluten-free, meaning you can share them with your pickiest, most discerning ride partners.

3. Triathletes are inherently busy people. I just started a 3-month yoga teacher training program, and after my four-and-a-half hour workout on Saturday, I had about 45 minutes to shower, eat a decent meal, and get myself to class. If I didn’t have Mark to make me breakfast while I got ready, I definitely would’ve grabbed one of these.

4. If you’re a fan of consuming solid food on long endurance rides, a Greenbelly pouch will fit into your jersey (or relocate smaller pieces to a Ziploc), and provide a good chunk of calories for your whole ride. You won’t have to stuff a pound of bars in your pocket or make as many stops at convenience stores. Or, if you’re doing a route that takes you off the beaten path of civilization, these are your bars.

5. Triathletes are often accused of being narcissistic and selfish. Guess what? For every Greenbelly you buy, they’ll provide a meal to someone in need through the Atlanta Community Food Bank.