Greenbelly Meal Bars: Calories for minimalists…

Getting hangry is no fun on the trail. But it’s often hard to avoid while bikepacking. In a quest to fend off hunger, and scurvy, we tried Greenbelly Meals 2Go which promise 1/3 your daily nutrition in a small package…

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It’s always a challenge to stay on top of you calorie requirements while out bikepacking — not to mention proper nutrition. Prepping for a trip at the grocery store usually involves intricately balancing numbers — weight, space, and minutes for preparation — which usually results in foods that will in fact keep you alive, but aren’t exactly healthful choices. And then, once moving, maintaining enough calories usually involves convenience store fare. I’ve found a few go-to, calorie-rich packable snacks that I like, but recently ran across these Green Belly meal bars which claim to be purposefully built for such endeavors.

Greenbelly Meals Review

Greenbelly’s mission is to make balanced trail nutrition much easier, and lighter. In 2012, Chris Cage quit his accounting job to pursue a two year adventure. While pedaling on a 3,000 mile bicycle tour in New Zealand and hiking the 2,185 mile Appalachian Trail, Chris continuously struggled with nutrition. So he set out to create a convenient meal that would be lightweight, calorie dense, and still cover the core nutrients. After working with a food scientist and trying countless recipes, he found a solution that worked and Greenbelly was founded in 2014. They now offer three meals in a convenient, ready to eat, meal bar form. Each meal package contains two bars and is gluten free, vegan [EDIT: not vegan per readers suggestion, as they contain honey] and made from simple and natural ingredients. And each provides a balanced ⅓ of your daily recommended intake for six core nutrients: Calories, Carbs, Fats, Fiber, Sodium and Protein.

Greenbelly Meals: Dark Chocolate/Banana

The Greenbelly Dark Chocolate/Banana was the meal I was most interested in trying. The main flavors are two of my favorites. However, in common with the other Greenbelly bars, two of its main ingredients are tapioca syrup and brown crisped rice. My initial impression was generally good. The flavors aren’t overwhelming, which I like. It’s not too sweet and not too salty. And instead of being a dense, pureed and reformed block, Greenbelly bars are chunky and you can see and feel the ingredients. The tapioca syrup and crisped rice give it a chewy and kind of crunchy texture that holds all the other ingredients together. This was a step up from many other energy bars. While the banana flavor is present, the overall flavor is more nutty than anything. All in all, I quite liked it. It could use a bit more chocolate though.

Greenbelly Meals Review, Dark Chocolate/Banana

  • Greenbelly Meals Review, Dark Chocolate/Banana
  • Greenbelly Meals Review, Dark Chocolate/Banana
  • Calories: 640
  • Protein: 17g
  • Fat: 22g
  • Weight: 5.64oz (160g)
  • Price: $22.99 (3-pack)
  • Contact: greenbelly.co

Ingredients: Tapioca Syrup, Brown Rice Flour, Brown Crisped Rice (Brown Rice, Brown Rice Syrup, Salt), Peanut Flour, Banana Chips (Banana, Coconut Oil), Gluten Free Oats, Sliced Almonds, Chocolate Chips (Sugar, Chocolate Liquor, Cocoa Butter, Soy Lecithin, Vanilla), Peanuts, Honey, Environmentally Sourced Palm Oil, Agave Nectar, Cocoa Powder, Vanilla Extract (Vanilla Bean Extratives, alcohol, water), Sea Salt, Dark Cocoa Powder, Natural Flavors, Mixed Tocopherols

Greenbelly Meals: Peanut/Apricot

The Peanut/Apricot bar shares a similar texture to the Dark Chocolate/Banana meal that I tried first. It does however taste quite different. It has whole peanuts and big chewy chunks of apricots that give it a sweet, salty, and tangy flavor combo. One thing about this and the other bar is if you eat just one of the two included bars and leave the other rattling around in the pack, they turn into piles of chunks in the package. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, they are just not super dense and sticky like a Larabar or Clifbar.

Greenbelly Meals Review, Peanut/Apricot

  • Greenbelly Meals Review, Peanut/Apricot
  • Greenbelly Meals Peanut Apricot
  • Calories: 645
  • Protein: 17g
  • Fat: 22g
  • Weight: 5.47oz (155g)
  • Price: $22.99 (3-pack)
  • Contact: greenbelly.co

Ingredients: Tapioca Syrup, Dried Apricots (Apricots, Sulphur Dioxide), Brown Crisped Rice (Brown Rice, Brown Rice Syrup, Salt), Brown Rice Flour, Peanuts, Peanut Flour, Gluten Free Oats, Environmentally Sourced Palm Oil, Honey, Agave Nectar, Sesame Seeds, Vanilla Extract (Vanilla Bean Extratives, alcohol, water), Sea Salt, Peanut Oil, Natural Flavors, Mixed Tocopherols

Greenbelly Meals: Cranberry/Almond

The Cranberry/Almond was my least favorite of the three. It’s still good, I just prefer tangy or chocolaty. And cranberries don’t quite pack the same punch as apricots. I do appreciate how this one includes sunflower seeds in addition to almonds and sesame seeds though.

Greenbelly Meals Review, Cranberry/Almond

Greenbelly Meal Bars 2go Review

  • Greenbelly Meals Review, Cranberry/Almond
  • Greenbelly Meal Bars 2go Review
  • Calories: 645
  • Protein: 17g
  • Fat: 22g
  • Weight: 5.47oz (155g)
  • Price: $22.99 (3-pack)
  • Contact: greenbelly.co

Ingredients: Tapioca Syrup, Dried Cranberries (Cranberries, Sugar, Sunflower Oil), Peanut Flour, Brown Crisped Rice (Brown Rice, Brown Rice Syrup, Salt), Environmentally Sourced Palm Oil, Gluten Free Oats, Sunflower Seeds, Brown Rice Flour, Raisins (Raisins, Sunflower Oil), Sliced Almonds, Honey, Agave Nectar, Vanilla Extract (Vanilla Bean Extratives, alcohol, water), Sesame Seeds, Sea Salt, Beet Root Powder, Natural Flavors, Mixed Tocopherols

Greenbelly Meals Review

Wrap Up

I am not a fan of bars, really. But, given the number of calories each packs into a small container, it’s kind of a requirement that I always pack several in my food bag when I set out bikepacking. I have pretty much worn out Cliff bars and now Larabars are something of a standard. So I was excited about Greenbelly meals to try something new. Plus, considering the name I was expecting something beyond a ‘bar’. However, suffice to say, they are still bars. But they are good ones. Their nice chunky ingredients make for of a whole food feel, and the flavors and textures are well done.

My biggest question was whether or not they would live up the promise of keeping me full for a third of a day. To prove this I ate them for breakfast to see how long they would last during a ride. I consumed one-half of a meal with coffee and the other a little later on the bike. Normally my bikepacking breakfast would include some oatmeal and a couple of Larabars between waking and ‘lunch’ and I’d generally feel hungry the whole time. The Greenbelly meal bars did a pretty good job of keeping me fueled until 11AM or so. I certainly don’t think I could survive off three of these in a single day while bikepacking, but 650ish calories is no joke. Theoretically, my go-to bar, Larabar has about 220 calories per 51 grams. So all told, the Larabar is slightly more calorie dense than a Greenbelly meal. However, Greenbelly seems to have a more rounded ingredient list which supports their claim to provide complete nutrition.

While I appreciate a mostly ‘all natural’ ingredients list in each of the three Greenbelly meals, for the price I would prefer to see organic ingredients and the elimination of a palm oil and a couple other things. But, all in all each is flavorful and relatively filling. My personal favorite is definitely the Dark Chocolate/Banana.

Ultimately, Greenbelly meals are pretty expensive (about $7.66 per meal) and I would have a hard time justifying the cost when I can buy three Larabars, a healthful choice with almost as many calories, for about $3.00. However, if you are planning for an ultra-endurance race or concerned about nutrition, Greenbelly Meals might be a good option to keep you fueled.

Greenbelly Meal Bars 2go Review

  • Christian

    The fire & bike picture is a killer.

  • Thanks!!

  • Justin Ham

    Want to point out that none of them are vegan, I got excited when the article listed them as vegan only to read honey as an ingredient. I say we spare the comment section a long drawn out conversation about the ethical implications of honey because to each their own and these decisions are personal, that being said most vegans don’t eat honey.

  • Ah, great point for those concerned. I was a vegan for several years, although not super strict and completely forgot about honey. Sorry about that.

  • Justin Ham

    No worries! Looks like a great product for people who consume honey and don’t mind spending the money.

  • Christophe Noel

    Dang…tons of carbs. :( I hate that I have to radically moderate my carb intake as it rules out so many awesome food choices. The search continues…

  • Chris

    ” Environmentally Sourced Palm Oil” – Not Possible. Instead of me ranting about the rain forest destruction and the (un)health effects of palm oil I encourage everyone to do a few minutes of research on palm oil. I have seen first hand the destruction of Borneo’s rainforest due to the palm oil industry. Just say no.

  • As noted in my Wrap Up. although I didn’t get into the specifics. Unfortunately the same can be said about a lot of things in the world we live in. But yes, I agree on the elimination of palm oil and often make purchase decisions based on its inclusion.

  • Todd Brockway

    Great review! I love no nonsense reviews and good educated feedback from readers. This is a great resource for anyone starting out and who have been going at it for a while. I’m new to this endeavor and Im doing my first trip in the third week of October. I’ve had this site in my favorites for a while and I now scour and read everything on it I can. Thanks again for straight forward informative information.

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