The Clean Body Podcast

Your Protein Energy Bars Aren't Healthy with Bright Bar Founder Brenden Schaefer

March 31, 2021 Lauren Kelly Season 1 Episode 2
The Clean Body Podcast
Your Protein Energy Bars Aren't Healthy with Bright Bar Founder Brenden Schaefer
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

The Clean Body Podcast introduces you to the souls and brains behind some of the cleanest food beverage and lifestyle products on the market, because what you put on in and around your body matters from cookies, bread, and mushroom superfoods to adaptogenic lozenges, clean medicines, organic mattresses, and fluoride-free toothpaste, we'll explore how the brands came to be, how scientific studies drove decisions about ingredients and materials, and most importantly, how the products support all the physical and mental microscopic miracles that occur in your body every minute of every day.

As the driving force behind Bright Bar, Brenden Schaefer is committed to creating convenient, nutrient-dense, and clean food made with whole vegetables, fruits, nuts, and superfoods. Brenden started the company from his garage in 2016, motivated by a desire to revolutionize the world of packaged food - and to satisfy his personal need for a plant-powered, delicious snack to fuel his active lifestyle. Brenden lives in Los Angeles, CA where he enjoys spending time with his wife and two kids, cycling, practicing yoga, and eating way too many refrigerated bars.

What you’ll learn: 

  • Hidden ingredients in most energy and protein bars (00:02:00)
  • Breden’s journey to the health & wellness industry (00:03:59)
  • Why Brenden stopped eating protein bars 10 years ago (05:32)
  • Why other food producers are adding unfavorable ingredients to energy bars (00:08:14)
  • Why Bright Bars believes in providing plant-based products (00:15:06)
  • What complete proteins are (00:16:40)
  • How Brenden discovered plant powered nutrition (00:19:18)
  • How people can cultivate intuitive eating habits (00:24:01)
  • Why organic foods are so important (00:28:48)
  • How Bright Bar works with local farmers to source high-quality ingredients (00:33:40)
  • How to surround yourself with “comfortable” people (00:35:43)
  • What enzymatic oxidation is and how it impacts foods (00:30:30)
  • How oxidation increases bioavailability of nutrients in broccoli, onions, and garlic (00:43:33)
  • How Bright Bar helps to fuel active lifestyles and consumer’s bodies (00:44:53)
  • What prebiotic fiber is and how it helps the body (00:46:07)
  • How fiber improves blood sugar levels (00:48:20)
  • Conventional ingredients all people should stay away from (00:49:10) 

For more on Brenden Schaefer and Bright Bar, visit 

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For more on Lauren Kelly and The Clean Body Project, visit 

Brenden Schaefer, Founder of Bright Bars (00:03:41):

It's great to be with you. Thank you so much for the invitation. I'm really looking forward to our conversation.

Lauren Kelly, Clean Body Podcast Host(00:03:46):

So I would love before we jump into all things, bright bars, to just hear your personal journey with health and wellness and maybe, you know, what brought you to starting bright bribery?

Brenden Schaefer, Founder of Bright Bar (00:03:59):

Yeah. Yeah. So I first got into health and wellness in college. I started running and I fell in love with the way that I felt. Then I got into swimming than yoga and I wanted more of that energy and that feeling of being alive, that tingly feeling that you get right after a workout, I always call it nature's drug. And I also really love food. And I thought about being a chef for a time. So I had this one part of me that was looking at food through the lens of what's healthy. What makes me feel good? And another part that was looking at it and saying, what's interesting, what's new, different, what's delicious. And it takes me on a journey when I eat, it makes me forget where I am and just escape into pure sensory delight. And this love of both of those things, continued running, swimming, yoga, and later cycling became fixtures of my life, really something that I needed and something I still do every week. And in the last few years I've also become a devoted meditator. And it's really at the intersection of those, those things that I've built my career. This love of all those activities that I mentioned along with this love of food. And when it came to bright foods I'd been working in the food industry for about nine years. And I stopped eating protein bars about 10 years ago.

Lauren Kelly, Clean Body Podcast Host(00:05:30):

I can't imagine why.

Brenden Schaefer, Founder of Bright Bar (00:05:32):

Yeah. You hit it right on the head. They didn't leave me feeling good and they were packed with tons of sugar. And then I discovered this brand in the refrigerated bar set called perfect bar. And I ate that for awhile until I turned it over. And I realized that it had just as much sugar as a cliff bar and had spent a lot of time in, in sprouts and whole foods demoing a prior product line that I had launched. And I heard all these people who had similar experiences to mine. The refrigerator bar space is growing so fast and it has so few competitors that I saw an opportunity to really catapult into the next generation of bars. So I took the leap and was very fortunate to launch with whole foods. And then now our products are national and sprouts as well, but there's a lot of stuff in between that initial ramp today, which I know we'll get into.

Lauren Kelly, Clean Body Podcast Host(00:06:35):

Yeah. I mean, spouts is where I buy mine. That's where I discovered the brand, but I love that you said food for you as this sensory experience. And you were looking for almost this like culinary adventure. I think that's so cool. And life is just a compilation of experiences. Some we remember some we don't, but I could probably dive into the dichotomy of energy and protein bars forever because I just remember being little and watching my mom drink V8 juices and eat cliff bars. And I don't even remember what the other ones were called and now looking back like, Oh, I just feel so bad that she was putting that all in her body. And she thought she was doing herself a favor, you know? And I remember as a teenager working out, I swam as well. I hate cycling so good for you.

Lauren Kelly, Clean Body Podcast Host(00:07:27):

I cannot get into. But after, you know, swim lessons or swim tournaments where, and I just spent like two hours exerting my energy and body, the first thing you put into it is a cliff bar. And there's just like, no real nutrition in there. It is all just sugar. What is kind of your take on that? Like, what is it it's so confusing. And like you said, something like bright perfect bars, it looks healthy, the packaging looks healthy and it sounds healthy. And then if you flip it over, it's definitely got some downsides to it. So what do you think, why, why, why, why are healthy bar producers now actually making it as healthy as they could?

Brenden Schaefer, Founder of Bright Bar (00:08:14):

It is. I think there are two main reasons. One of them is the way that people actually eat today in the United States. And the second is dishonesty. And let's talk about both of those in turn. So one of my lessons having been in food now for almost 15 years is that food is evolutionary rather than revolutionary. What I mean by that is we all grow up eating certain foods and what good versus what tastes bad gets imprinted on us at some level. And in some cases, people will make a drastic shift because they have to, they have a health emergency their eyes are open and they realize, okay, I've been eating really, really unhelpfully. And so I need to, to start to shift to something that's more sustainable for other people who are already eating pretty heavily, even your mom, right? VA juice, they're far worse things you could be having

Lauren Kelly, Clean Body Podcast Host(00:09:28):

Back then. They had a lot more sugar. I'm pretty sure in preservatives, but yeah, now they're much better. We won't, we won't throw them under the bus right now,

Brenden Schaefer, Founder of Bright Bar (00:09:38):

But I, but I mean, it's the there are I'm trying to get back to my train of thought here, because you know, you raise a good point. The there are there are certain foods that we find comfortable. And when you're on the other side of of the equation, meaning you're not the one who's eating, but you're the one who's making food. It's very tempting to move the pendulum really, really far over and say, okay, well, here's, we're going to make something that's ultra pure and ultra clean. And oftentimes it means ultra expensive. And the reality is with consumer behavior, you want to nudge, you don't want to move people too far, too quickly because it's not, you're unable then to deliver on what food is supposed to, to do for most people, which is make them feel happy give them a really pleasant experience and give them something that is good for them.

Brenden Schaefer, Founder of Bright Bar (00:10:58):

So it's kind of a long-winded way of saying I think part of the reason that there are so many products out there that have so much sugar is that's what a lot of people are accustomed to. That's what they've grown up with. And the, the goal for a lot of food manufacturers has been to say, okay, well, instead of putting in 21 grams of cane sugar, I'm going to do 18 grams of honey and three grams of cane sugar. It's a little bit better at least from the perspective of someone who's reading a label. Once you start to get educated about nutrition and you realize that's actually still really bad for you. So I think that's, that's the first thing that's going on. The second thing that's going on is dishonesty. And the reality is most marketing is lies. There's a very famous kind of popular philosopher named Seth Goden, who writes a lot about marketing.

Brenden Schaefer, Founder of Bright Bar (00:12:03):

And he said that marketing marketers are liars. And there are so many examples in the food industry of that being true. And it's because people are trying to, marketers are trying to get to the sweet spot where they will tell you that you're eating something, we call it permissible indulgence, I'm eating something which tastes amazing, and I'm going to be able to rationalize it away. So I can still feel good about myself at the end of the day. And I think that there are ways to enter into the food industry. There are ways to bring a product into the market that tastes delicious. That leaves somebody feeling really, really good, and that are not lies. But it's, it's a very difficult thing. And the part of the reason why the companies that are doing this are all startups is because the big food companies aren't really capable of creating those kinds of innovations. So that's probably a much bigger answer than you were looking for, but that's why I think there is that that conflict. That's why there's that contradiction in so much packaged food that's on the shelves today.

Lauren Kelly, Clean Body Podcast Host(00:13:24):

I could say so many things to all of that. First of all, the evolution of consumerism is a great point as well as evolution of science. So like I was saying before, some of those brands and the eighties and the nineties, they didn't necessarily know what they were doing was wrong. It was that the science was bad. And what we were being told was healthy was bad. Like all those low fat products fat is the devil. Well, some kinds of fat. Yeah, absolutely. The devil, but however healthy fats are essential to human life. And then on top of that like you were saying with disloyalty I think that's, you know, a reason that I started this podcast because consumerism is changing once again buyers want honesty, and I think they're getting smarter. They're not seeing, they're not just trusting a label on the front that says like, you know, chocolate chips, low sugar, good for you.

Lauren Kelly, Clean Body Podcast Host(00:14:20):

Like whatever, they're actually, a lot of people are really looking into it and wanting transparency behind what ingredients are in this food and how is it going to affect my body, which is why it's so important for us to use our money and our wallets to support companies like bright who are doing it right. Because we need to keep you in business so that we can fuel our bodies with the best ingredients. But speaking of marketers being liars, which is so funny because in my everyday job, I work somewhat in marketing, but my company is all about authenticity and transparency. So I'm safe there. But what are some of the brand values and missions that you founded bright on that you try to embed into the DNA of everything you do?

Brenden Schaefer, Founder of Bright Bar (00:15:06):

Yeah. We first and foremost, believe in plant-based and we're not we're not zealots again, recognizing that life is busy. We're all trying to balance a ton of things. And the goal is not to you know, be super strict about eating only plants and nothing else and no dairy, no eggs, but our mission is to make it easy and delicious to eat plant-based whole food when you're strapped for time and the, when it came to designing this product we laid out that pillar. We laid out the pillar of as fresh as possible. So that's why our product is refrigerated. We're not baking it, we're not loading it up with a million preservatives, so it can sit on a shelf for a couple of years. The other pillar is deliciousness and we want, we don't want there to be a sacrifice when it comes to eating something that is good for you.

Brenden Schaefer, Founder of Bright Bar (00:16:21):

And the final pillar is nutrient dense. Well, I know we'll get into this a little bit more, but we took great pains to make sure that what we were creating was going to check some really important boxes. The first is to make sure we're offering a complete plant protein, if you want to help people eat plant-based you have to make sure that they're not sacrificing anything, obviously first on the taste side, but also then on the nutrition side and the vast majority of plant-based products out there don't have complete proteins. The second piece was we wanted to make sure that we had lots of fiber. So all of our products actually have eight to 10 grams of fiber. The third piece was low sugar. So again, for our discussion, a moment ago, most of the products out on the market are really candy bars in disguise.

Brenden Schaefer, Founder of Bright Bar (00:17:15):

And we took a very hard stance and said, okay, let's cut sugar and half. How do we do that? How do we get it to a place where you're going to have a low-glycemic index product? It tastes great. And you can feel good knowing that you're not bombing your system out with a bunch of unnecessary sugar. And then on top of that, we said, okay, let's also put in greens and adaptogens, so you're gonna get some kale and some spinach in there, some reishi and some Maka so that you're giving your body a little bit of extra defense, a little bit of extra energy you know, all in a pack or package that you can rip open from the fridge and eat. So yeah,

Lauren Kelly, Clean Body Podcast Host(00:18:01):

No, that's great. Adaptogens are so hot right now. It's incredible there. I think there's four brands that I'm speaking to that all in some way, shape or form are using adaptogens right now. And it's, you know, some consumers think this is a new trend and new science. It's not, it's old, old wisdom that dates back. I don't even know how long, billions of years probably. But it's just really fascinating to just hear how adaptogens and incorporating that into packaged foods that are better for you is becoming such

Brenden Schaefer, Founder of Bright Bar (00:18:37):

Yeah. Adaptogens are, are exploding and there's still not a lot of consumer knowledge about what they are and what they do, but I think the next five to 10 years that's going to change, right?

Lauren Kelly, Clean Body Podcast Host(00:18:53):

Yeah. They're incredible. The way that they just work with the individual, person's unique, genetic makeup and help balance out hormones and give you whatever it is you need. If you're feeling stressed, anxious, it's just like, is this magical superfood that balances you out? But I want to go back a little bit and focus on plant powered nutrition. Why was this a tent pole for bright foods?

Brenden Schaefer, Founder of Bright Bar (00:19:18):

A large part of it is my own belief and my own set of experiences around how I have, how I feel after eating plant-based food versus not plant-based food. I, I'm an intuitive eater. I'm not, I've never jumped on different diet bandwagons. I've never done keto ever. I know it's got a rare and I think a big part of that is because I've always I've always loved exercising so much. And I have found over time that by listening to my body I would get pretty good signals about what felt good and what gave me energy versus what didn't. And over time, what I discovered was eating dairy was really not good for me. I don't particularly like eating eggs. I eat them for a long, long time. I started to realize that just for me, I feel kind of heavy afterwards and meat, I still eat, but I found that in general, when I was eating more plants, my body just seemed to function better.

Brenden Schaefer, Founder of Bright Bar (00:20:42):

And I'm putting myself through the ringer sometimes, you know and nonetheless, yeah, it's just kind of a better experience. Now, what I'll do there is I'll stop and say, okay, that's my experience. Is this also an experience that other people are having? Because I'm not just because this is what I'm having seeing day to day doesn't mean that 98% of other people are, but I started to, after doing some research realized, yeah, a lot of other people feel the same way and, and plant-based is growing. And there's no really good option out there for fresh plant-based high protein, high fiber greens plus adaptogens product. So that it was really that the combination of my own personal need plus seeing, okay, I'm not alone. There are a lot of other people who are looking for this too.

Lauren Kelly, Clean Body Podcast Host(00:21:42):

Yeah. I don't have a problem with dairy and eggs. So it goes back to everybody's body is different and you do have to intuitively eat and figure out what works for your own genetic makeup and your own digestive system. And I do believe quite a bit in like eating like your ancestors. My family was, you know, from Austria and they were Irish farmers and Scotland, and they all kinds of dairy and bread. And so I have no problems with those things. However even if you don't have a problem with dairy and milk and ethically, or, you know, whatever your belief systems are, you do eat those food sources. You can go no wrong having more plant-based foods in your life. Nobody is going to have a downfall from eating more plant-based foods. So enjoy those foods if your body can handle them, but make sure you're also getting as much plant-based at every single meal as you can, because the power of vegetables and fruits and nuts and seeds, it's so crucial to our overall health.

Lauren Kelly, Clean Body Podcast Host(00:22:47):

So I think it's great that bright pars is kind of packages that because it makes it a lot easier to make sure that you are getting some, you know, I think cooking is really overwhelming for some people and making sure that you have a healthy meal on the go. Also, people are so busy right now in lockdown, down with kids at home. Like the last thing you have time to do is think about like, okay, how am I going to open up this coconut yogurt? And what am I going to put into it? So that I'm getting lots of nutrition and bright bars kind of takes away that, that quandary for you. But I would love for you to talk a little bit more to intuitive eating. I'm sure that a lot of people listening, you know, it's still a journey that I'm on. And even though I know things about my body, I still don't always listen to it because gosh, darn it. I want that pizza, you know, I'd rather be having pizza. Yeah. That's why I had beats at my wedding. So that's how much yeah, yes, much less expensive guests. You didn't hear that. But how for people listening, what would you, what advice would you give them for cultivating more of an intuitive eating lifestyle habit?

Brenden Schaefer, Founder of Bright Bar (00:24:01):

So I, my personal philosophy is that there are foods that are good for your body, and there are foods that are good for your soul. Sometimes those overlap, and sometimes they don't, but you need both. I really do love pizza. I eat pizza at least once every two weeks. And going back to my love of, of all things, culinary I love going to new restaurants that are doing really interesting things with food. And my approach generally speaking, is I try to be pretty healthy during the week. And then on the weekends, that's my time to explore and indulge and feed the other side. And for me, there's a balance it's probably 70, 30 when I'm being good, 70% of the time eating things that again are nourishing providing sustenance, providing good energy, 30% of the time eating things that man, they just, they taste so great,

Lauren Kelly, Clean Body Podcast Host(00:25:19):

But you can feel it later. You can feel it. And

Brenden Schaefer, Founder of Bright Bar (00:25:22):

That's exactly yes, a thousand percent. And I think this is where the intuitive eating part comes in. I noticed after a weekend of indulging after eating pizza, that the next day I feel pretty inflamed. I feel pretty sluggish. It's hard for me to get going and that's a signal to me that okay, I I'm in a little bit of debt if you want to call it that. And I kinda need to get back up to my baseline. So I've learned over time. All right. I will maybe I'll have a green juice that morning. You know, maybe I'll have an Apple with some peanut butter. I've got some, maybe I'll have some pretzels sometimes, but I've sort of started to figure out, okay this is, these are some things I can go to when I need to tip the scales back to a place that's a little bit more balanced.

Brenden Schaefer, Founder of Bright Bar (00:26:20):

And for me, that's an approach that works. I think exercise is also for me a really integral component as you gathered that in, in helping to kind of purge when I've got stuff that's sitting around in my system that that needs to just be sweated out. But I think I, I find it pretty, pretty difficult to follow really, really stringent rules around food. And I've tried that in the past couple of times, again, none of those diets, but at a certain point in time that other part of me that wants the food, that's good for my soul kind of starts yelling. And so this is, this is the system where I'm just I'm kind of, I've got some loose guardrails, but I'm following what I need and what I want at the time. And then recognizing that it's going to, it's going to shift, it's going to go like this and over time, you know, balances out and it's and it works.

Lauren Kelly, Clean Body Podcast Host(00:27:25):

Yeah, it is so much about balance and you really have to remove that shame. You don't need to feel shameful if you eat an indulgent meal or you have a doughnut, which by the way, if I take one bite of a donut, I feel it within five minutes. I just think it's so little sugar that if I'm ever having digestive issues need to get things, moving, have some sugar and get together. That's probably TMI very open about these things. But yeah, I got help. But yeah, you gotta remove some, some shame and find the balance. And as you said, if you're going to have an indulgent meal, you just need to know that the next meal or the next day, you need to support your body and detoxification. And just boosting, you know, antioxidants that you're getting through your foods. So have extra servings of broccoli, have some extra citrus, have a green juice and just get those nutrients in there because your body is working so hard for you to process what you put in there. And that's a little harder when it, it's not the best types of food. So you just need to give it a little support to get, get back to a balanced state. So I think that was a great explanation. Going back to bright bars, something that is unique is that you guys really are committed to using organic. What were some of the decisions that, or some of the science or things you learned that drove that decision?

Brenden Schaefer, Founder of Bright Bar (00:28:48):

A big part of it is simply that whenever it's feasible for us financially we will use organic ingredients. And part of that goes back to a love of the outdoors and sustainable farming and trying to support organic farmers who are out there. It's being an organic farmer is lower yield than conventional farmers. You're really at the whim of seasons, much more and without the added tools that you get from conventional farming you just live with a higher degree of risk. And so to the extent that we can support people who are again supporting the land and doing helping to nurture the earth, we always want to do it. The tricky thing with organic from an entrepreneur's perspective simply is cost. Because I had launched an organic food brand once before.

Brenden Schaefer, Founder of Bright Bar (00:29:58):

And what I realized is you have to charge a lot more on shelf, and it's very difficult to reach a broad group of people. You know, the last, if you're charging $3 and 99 cents a bar, you're already narrowing down to really only a small group of people who can afford to pay that everyday. I, I wouldn't pay three 99 for something that I wanted to eat every day or even, you know, four times a week. So the way that I look at it now is we use an organic, complete protein, organic coconut nectar. We use organic, a Gavi nectar. We use non-GMO for everything else. That to me is kind of where we that's the compromise that we make in order to be able to price something that in a way that's affordable, but also again, kind of do our small part to deliver values

Lauren Kelly, Clean Body Podcast Host(00:31:00):

[Inaudible] and I actually had a friend recently ask me, is organic food really that much better for you? Or is it just a marketing ploy, essentially short answer? Yes. It is better for you long answer. I'm going to let you take over cause you were shaking your head. Yes. So in your experience and from your education and what you've learned through the years, why is organic more nutritious and beneficial for people to commit to?

Brenden Schaefer, Founder of Bright Bar (00:31:28):

I'm actually curious to hear your, your take on it. Why did you say that to your friend?

Lauren Kelly, Clean Body Podcast Host(00:31:33):

Well I don't think that all foods need to be organic. It really depends on the amount of pesticides that are used on the food. So, you know, berries, for example, can have up to, I think like 40 different pesticides, which are chemical compounds and not all chemicals are bad, you know, water and oxygen is a chemical, but they are manmade chemical compounds that I don't think initially were rolled out into the marketplace to cause chronic illness and inflammation and damage our gut health. But the science was not good behind what those compounds do. And that is essentially what they do. They really, we consume these chemical compounds that are not natural to our body, that our body doesn't know how to break down and how to use it. And so often they get stored in our fat and they accumulate and they cause inflammation and inflammation is a root cause of so many chronic illnesses that we see rising in our country right now.

Lauren Kelly, Clean Body Podcast Host(00:32:28):

And so if you can find some of your budget to spend, you know, there's the, I think clean 13 maybe and dirty 12. I can't remember the exact numbers. Yeah, dirty dozen. Thank you. And so if you can find the money within your budget to at least buy those organic, you're doing your body a favor, you can't do everything perfect. None of us have all the money in the world to only spend on food, except that's all I spend my money on. But you can make little changes in, in your daily and weekly lifestyle that will accumulate over time too. Optimizing your health so that, you know, it's more expensive at the grocery store. That one time that you go, but you might be saving yourself a whole lot of health care bills later in life. So that's, that's my diatribe. Thanks for allowing me to go on it. Okay.

Brenden Schaefer, Founder of Bright Bar (00:33:22):

I think you said it beautifully. I add.

Lauren Kelly, Clean Body Podcast Host(00:33:26):

All right. Well, good. So speaking then of farmers what are some of your, how do you gauge, what are your requirements of local farms that you do work with?

Brenden Schaefer, Founder of Bright Bar (00:33:40):

The, the short answer is again, we, we source organic whenever possible. And we source as close to California or in California whenever possible. We've been really fortunate or I should say I am really fortunate to live here because we are near the salad bowl. And so there's an amazing array of farmers who you can get stuff from within a day you know, comes packed on ice and like you're done. And the, there are certain times where you can't get ingredients because they simply aren't grown here. So not for, not for Breitbart, but for the product that I launched before. I'll give you two examples. Pineapple and mango. Those were products that they basically just don't grow at this latitude. So if you want pineapple, you're going to Sri Lanka, or you're going to the Philippines, if you want mango odds are, you're going to Mexico most of the time.

Brenden Schaefer, Founder of Bright Bar (00:34:55):

That's just the reality of, of that supply chain. But our goal is always to use the highest standard products that we can. We inspect every certificate of analysis that comes through to make sure that there's no weird stuff in there, because again, we just want, we just want food. And then yeah, from there, it really comes down to trying to support good people go and advisor mindset. If you have the choice between two suppliers, choose the one that's more, who's more comfortable to work with. And I've always taken that to heart.

Lauren Kelly, Clean Body Podcast Host(00:35:36):

That's an interesting, more comfortable to work with. What is, how do you define comfortable?

Brenden Schaefer, Founder of Bright Bar (00:35:43):

I, so this is, this is a relatively new thing for me in the past few years. Life goes by pretty fast and I really want to work with people who I enjoy. I want to work with people who are knowledgeable, who are substance you know, over flash. I want to work with people who are humble and I want to work with people who are honest. And I find if you think about the course of your day, and if you were to sort of chart your mood there are, there are great kind of peaks that come from interacting with people who make you laugh, who teach you things who as one friend said, you know, with and then the opposite is true when you're dealing with people who are really antagonistic, who are trying to take advantage of you, who your hosts sort of second guessing yourself, not only in the moment, does that feel bad, but there are aftershocks from that because later in the day you'll think about that conversation. You'll wonder how's this going to unfold? And what I've found over time is whenever there's a choice, I I'm an optimized for that first. I really I've had enough experiences now with great people and with people who were not great and, and businesses really at the end of the day, a team sport and it's about partnership. And I would rather build a network of partners who I really enjoy working with who I really think are good people.

Lauren Kelly, Clean Body Podcast Host(00:37:47):

Yeah. That can be so hard sometimes, especially if you have people that you don't always choose certain people in your life, and if they are draining and they do take advantage, or what have you, it can be really difficult to create those boundaries and those barriers, but it all comes back to living an intuitive and a healthy life because those experiences of stress and anxiety, they impact your health and your hormone balance as well, which just leads right back to inflammation, leads right back to leaky gut and all of that manifests in a variety of ways including chronic illnesses. So I love that. I think that's a really wonderful motto life motto to have for the decisions that you make. I'm curious what the life is of a bright bars, food, I'm sorry, bright bar, right. RS bar. When I say a bright bars bar, or just bright bar by bar, right by because like you've mentioned, you have Kaylin at, you have spinach in it, but it really doesn't change the flavor whatsoever. And you put a lot of time into figuring out how you remove some of the sugar, but still have a good tasting product. So without giving away, of course your trade secrets, what is the life cycle? How do you produce that bar and how long can it stay in the refrigerator or on the shelf?

Brenden Schaefer, Founder of Bright Bar (00:39:14):

Yeah. Yeah. So let me think of how to answer this in a way that,

Lauren Kelly, Clean Body Podcast Host(00:39:23):

Okay. I just asked you like 8,000 questions too. If you can answer them all in one, that would be great.

Brenden Schaefer, Founder of Bright Bar (00:39:30):

You know, the the the short answer is I can't tell you where else I'd have to kill you. The slightly longer answer is we worked with a really brilliant food scientist to figure out how to, to do these things because they are hard. And w there it gets even harder when you're dealing with a product that is refrigerated, and to be clear, our, our bars that they, they last in the refrigerator for 10 months, you can take them on the go for a year. And part of what we had to figure out was how do we get in all of these ingredients that we want while keeping enzymatic oxidation at Bay because when you're dealing with any sort of a food system and you're chopping ingredients up and you're putting them together you have enzymes, which are going to be set free.

Brenden Schaefer, Founder of Bright Bar (00:40:47):

And you have oxygen, which is going to be set free. And those two things are the enemies of good taste and they're the enemies of, of shelf life. And so the other piece of it, I should say is even when you keep those things at Bay over time, flavors change and flavors morph. There's another piece of it too, which is even when you make something that tastes great in your kitchen, when you actually go to produce it, which changes dramatically. That's one of the hardest things about food. So this food scientist essentially ran lots and lots of experiments to figure out how to get the flavor, right. How to get the texture, right. How to make sure that those those, that flavor and that texture held up over the course of shelf life. How then to produce that when, you know, we're going to run pretty short later, we'll go run about 60,000 bars. So how do you make sure that those 60,000 bars all tastes the same and all have the same attributes? And so for each of those ingredients, the answer is a little bit different. You know, when it comes to keeping sugar low, well, part of it is what's the sweetener that you're using. Who's the supplier that, that sweetener is coming from because you wouldn't think it, but you can get the same exact ingredient from two suppliers, and there'll be drastically different 

Lauren Kelly, Clean Body Podcast Host(00:42:19):

Because of transporting and like heating and cooling or what, or how it was like created what soil it was grown in and are those all factors.

Brenden Schaefer, Founder of Bright Bar (00:42:29):

And that all factors where, where it's from, how it's grown, how it's been processed, how old it is at the time that you get it. All of those things come into to play. And so a really great food scientist will get all of these different ingredients, line them up side by side. And then this is where things can get tricky. You may have two coconut vectors, which you taste in the raw and you say, Oh, this one's sweet caramely luscious, and this other one tastes kind of bland and one dimensional. And then you put them actually into the product and you go, Oh, wow. The plan one dimensional one is brilliant. The first one tastes terrible, and there's no way to know it really having, having gone through so much product development now only way to do it is to do it and then to taste it. 

Lauren Kelly, Clean Body Podcast Host(00:43:24):

So how much bad stuff have you tasted

Brenden Schaefer, Founder of Bright Bar (00:43:28):

So much, so much?

Lauren Kelly, Clean Body Podcast Host(00:43:33):

Well, that's great. And that's, I mean that we're getting a little science nerdy there with the enzymes and the oxygen, but that's so fascinating. I mean, even if you cut broccoli and you leave it out for 30 minutes, the nutritional profile of that broccoli is differently than when it was in its bunch. So there's same with like onions and garlic, because it's all about that oxygen and how that oxygen is also triggering the enzyme activity and changing the profile of that food. So it's something that I don't regularly think about when I purchase a product like bright bars, but that's just so fascinating. Like the actual, you got to think this is just like your chemistry class, you're going into a lab. You're bringing in a lot of products with you and you don't know how they're going to interact together. And so that's gotta be an exciting part of the process of creating these products.

Brenden Schaefer, Founder of Bright Bar (00:44:24):

Yes, that, that to me is actually probably be most exciting part is like when you're creating and you're creating a brand you're creating products I will also say that the, that creative process and the product development process also is one of the most up and down

Lauren Kelly, Clean Body Podcast Host(00:44:44):

Upsetting night sweats.

Brenden Schaefer, Founder of Bright Bar (00:44:47):

Yes. Glorious when it goes well. So soul destroying on the days,

Lauren Kelly, Clean Body Podcast Host(00:44:53):

I think it's something I would like to venture into eventually, but trying to juggle too many things right now. So I've got to make time for that. But how do, and I know we said at the beginning of this call, we are going to talk about this. How do the specific ingredients in bright bars, fuel individuals' bodies?

Brenden Schaefer, Founder of Bright Bar (00:45:11):

Yeah. So, I mean, you'll be able to speak to the chemistry of it better than I can because of your nutrition background you know, at the simplest level. So you think I've got protein, I've got fiber, I've got fruits, veggies super foods and not a lot of sugar. So protein is obviously one of the, one of the key building blocks of life. As I mentioned before, we have a complete plant protein and not really complete protein which you can find those in various meats. I believe eggs have a complete plant or complete protein but hard, hard to find elsewhere. That's going to help you repair your muscles after a workout that's going to help you sustain and feel sated in between meals fiber. Our fiber is, is unique for a couple of reasons.

Brenden Schaefer, Founder of Bright Bar (00:46:07):

Number one, it's well, I guess kind of the number one is the quantity of it, but then number two is we actually use a prebiotic fiber source from tapioca. So that prebiotic prebiotic is essentially just food for probiotics and prebiotic fiber also helps your body to run smoothly. And the quantity that we put it into the bars we found through trial and error was an amazing amount to help you feel full to again, kind of help your digestion, just assist them work a little bit more easily, but not so much that you help bloated, excuse me, because one of the things we found is some of these products have fiber in them in a way where you just feel terrible afterwards.

Lauren Kelly, Clean Body Podcast Host(00:46:59):

And chick, pea pasta gets me every time.

Brenden Schaefer, Founder of Bright Bar (00:47:02):

Yeah, yeah. I know no disrespect to bonds. And then we've got our superfood blend. So we're putting in actually Apple banana, coconut, kale, spinach, reishi, and Maka. And the idea there is, Hey, let's get some antioxidants in there for you. Let's get some of the benefits of, of green vegetables. And then we talked about adaptogens before for people don't know, adaptogens are like kind of like your body's thermostat as you had alluded to, you know, if you're over a little too hot, they'll be a cool down. If you're feeling a little too frazzled at all you know, smooth you out. If you're feeling a little sluggish, they can help bring you back up to baseline. So between those things, when you're, when you're eating a bright bar, you're getting a lot of really great nutrient dense food, which is going to help you repair. It's going to help your body run smoothly. You're gonna get this little I call it a healthy cocktail, which is also just going to help your body sort of adjust and, and get back to a healthy state so you can do whatever it is that you want to do.

Lauren Kelly, Clean Body Podcast Host(00:48:20):

And from a nutrition standpoint, I do want to also mention that fiber is so important, especially if you have a product, even with a little bit of sugar in it, fiber really slows down the absorption of sugar into your bloodstream. So it prevents those blood sugar spikes, which cause cravings and crashes and ruin your energy levels and hurt your gut health. So having that amount of fiber is just really important because it's not bad to have, you know, some natural sources of sugar in your food, but you want to balance it out as much as you can. I'm going to start wrapping up this interview because I know you have other things to do other than talk to me all day, but before I get to our quick hit questions what conventional ingredients are often in bars in the grocery stores that you would just suggest people stay away from?

Brenden Schaefer, Founder of Bright Bar (00:49:10):

Yeah, gosh, there are a lot what are the first ones that comes to my mind is Brown rice syrup. Yeah. And I think the problem is some companies that many companies have that as the first ingredient on their label and for people who don't know ingredient labels or as we call them ingredient decks have to be organized by the percentage of the ingredient that's present in the product. So when you have products like a cliff bar or there's another bar called GoMacro, which is another one of those like really masquerades as being healthy, the, have this Brown rice syrup. So just recognize that that's mostly a sugar bar. 

Lauren Kelly, Clean Body Podcast Host(00:50:01):

And then it'll also say cane cane sugar, and it'll also say another sugar. They have like all of these different sugars in these bars masked by different names, but it all does the same thing.

Brenden Schaefer, Founder of Bright Bar (00:50:12):

That's right. Your body processes at all as a sugar. There are you know, another example is glucose syrup, which you see very often in, in kind bars and they'll call it non-GMO glucose syrup. Well, no, that's still just good old sugar. There are certain preservatives which you'll find, and these tend to be in I think very mainstream products, but sodium EDTA, or there's a whole whole list of them that I could walk through. You don't really need to put those things in your body. They're just there to, to keep that product on the shelf and kind of doing what it needs to do. So a lot, a lot of them are basically fillers, preservatives which, which get jammed onto labels. And yeah, they're really, it's just like, you don't need them.

Lauren Kelly, Clean Body Podcast Host(00:51:19):

Yeah. I would say probably 98% of the bars in the energy and protein bar category. We probably should just avoid, just go for the bright bars. There's your plug for you? The other thing that I always tell friends and family to watch out for too, is artificial coloring. I read a study that just, Oh man, just artificial coloring just gets stuck in your body. And so, you know, drinking all those Gatorades after you play some basketball or you go for a run and that blue coloring, like I just visually imagine fat blue because the artificial coloring you're buying doesn't know what that is. It doesn't know what to do with it. So it stores it. And there have been studies that have opened bodies up after they've passed and it does color the fat inside the body. And I just, I can't stay away from artificial coloring. Everyone use tumeric, if you want some yellow use berries, if you want some blues, there's lots of natural options out there now to wrap this up, I would love to, Oh, wait, I wanted to ask if bright bars has any plans to expand into other categories. I know that you have already kind of ventured around that, but I did want to ask that question.

Brenden Schaefer, Founder of Bright Bar (00:52:32):

Yeah, yeah. Eventually. Absolutely. Right now there are a lot of different areas which are, are really fertile territory for us. One of the ones that has been cool for me to see is kids. And when I first came up with the idea for, for bright bar and when I was thinking about the name for it one of the things I really loved about bright was that, that we could go into that. I have two kids, three and a half and six and creating a bright kids line is certainly at our future. At some point, my younger daughter, who's super picky, eats a peanut butter bar pretty much every single day. And as a parent, you can feel good about it for all the reasons that we've, we've been talking about you know, when you've got somebody who who's not getting enough protein or was not getting enough fiber and not getting fruits and veggies, and then there are other yeah. But what we've just come out with right now actually are a couple of exclusive flavors online too. So we've got a peanut butter and jelly, which is amazing. And then for all the thin mint lovers out there, we just came out with a chocolate mint crisp bar, which is just bonkers. Good. And for listeners of the podcast, if you if you want to check them out, go to bright, you can type in the code, Lauren L a U R E N. And we'll give you 15% off your first order.

Lauren Kelly, Clean Body Podcast Host(00:54:04):

Thank you for that. That is so nice. I'm not sure I'm going to go use that code right after this. So hopefully it's working. All right. Let's wrap this up with some quick hit questions. What does having a clean body mean?

Brenden Schaefer, Founder of Bright Bar (00:54:20):

Mm. So a clean body to me is when I am feeling at my absolute best when I'm feeling light and energetic and sort of like I'm ready to go conquer the world. And it's really, to me, it's, it's post exercise with good fuel. That's kind of the, when I feel at my cleanest and most energized,

Lauren Kelly, Clean Body Podcast Host(00:54:56):

What are a couple, and you've mentioned a lot of them already, but a couple other routine lifestyle and diet habits that you have that you just couldn't live without.

Brenden Schaefer, Founder of Bright Bar (00:55:06):

So meditation is a huge one. As I mentioned at the beginning of the podcast I've been meditating twice a day now for probably four years. I think I've sat for kind of a frightening amount of of hours at this point in the thousands. And meditation is just a, to put it very bluntly, but I think it's kind of an effective medic or somebody said to me, it's like flushing the toilet every morning, watching the mental toilet. It's really, really, really powerful when you're dealing with all sorts of different forces on your life. Cycling and yoga are the other two that are huge for me. I, I really like exercising outside and there's something about being able to go ride, being able to go suffer up a mountain getting lots of oxygen, which is super restorative yoga is a really wonderful counterbalance to that because cycling is go, go, go yoga it's okay, let me kind of settle in. And then I have my go-to foods that are a source of comfort, honestly, way too many bright bars, but then there are a host of others, which I just, I just keep coming back to time and again partly for nostalgia and partly because of the way they make me feel. That's great.

Lauren Kelly, Clean Body Podcast Host(00:56:36):

Are there any new, not new, but just any wellbeing or wellness trends or practices that you've recently been getting into?

Brenden Schaefer, Founder of Bright Bar (00:56:48):

I've been, I've been pretty consistent and, and boring with a lot of, but I think the one that I've been experimenting with is just eating a little bit less meat. And there, there are a few reasons for that. But switching over to some of the plant-based meats or just going more plant-based not all the time, but that's the one that I've been just trying to pay more attention to.

Lauren Kelly, Clean Body Podcast Host(00:57:21):

And what other brands are you currently loving on?

Brenden Schaefer, Founder of Bright Bar (00:57:27):

Good question. So ideas about who to reach out to next. I've been, I've been drinking Ali pop for awhile if you've come across that brand. And I'm not a soda drinker, like have I, not at all. But what I found was they have a lot of prebiotic fiber, nine grams in there it's extremely low sugar. There is a bit of a Stevia taste, which yeah, take it or leave it, but it was a really nice treat in pandemic times when I just wanted something that was going to lift my mood, but then also have the benefit of, okay, I'm not going to crash with this. And it's actually because it's got the prebiotic fiber and they were going to give me a little bit of, of steadiness. I'm a big fan of trader Joe's actually. I just think that they, you know, they go out and they actually find a bunch of brands and then they private label. They're really smart. So they have some just really delicious snacks like baby bananas. They have a planting chip mix, which is great, but that's not gonna help you with the interviewing side. Talk to me, that's good.

Lauren Kelly, Clean Body Podcast Host(00:58:51):

You gotta also try droplet droplet. I'm actually interviewing them for the podcast and they're an adaptogenic drink and really delicious. And they were kind of, they're kind of my treat at night when I'm cooking dinner, because I'm trying no longer to have wine or beer, which I definitely indulge a little too much during 2020. So 2021 is my no longer sober, curious, just sober a year. So droplets a really good substitute for, but thank you so much for all of this. You are a wealth of knowledge and I'm so appreciative of what you and bright bars are doing, and I hope we can all support you and help you launch into as many categories and as many food items as you could ever dream, but how can listeners get how can they get some bright bars? How th how can they interact with you and the brand? Any other color you want to give? This is your time.

Brenden Schaefer, Founder of Bright Bar (00:59:49):

Yeah. Yeah. So, so we are now available nationally at sprouts, which is huge where you can find us in any sprouts and we're actually on sale right now. So if you want to go pick up a bar or three head over there, you can also find us on Instagram at bright foods. We're always running giveaways. We will share with you all sorts of beautiful food photography, things that we find interesting You can learn more about us there and order directly, and yeah, really, I kind of the best, the best ways to go and experience a brightness for yourself.

Lauren Kelly, Clean Body Podcast Host(01:00:34):

Awesome experience the brightness for yourself. I like it. I'll have all those links in the show notes. And as a Brendan, so graciously said 15% off to all listeners just use my name, Lauren at checkout. And you guys can get your hands on some bright bars, including those peanut butter and jelly and thin mint flavored ones. I'm definitely going for those. But again, thank you so much, Brendan. I really appreciate your time and I hope we can continue to collaborate into this.

Brenden Schaefer, Founder of Bright Bar (01:01:02):

Absolutely. Thank you. I really appreciate the opportunity and enjoyed our talk.

Lauren Kelly, Clean Body Podcast Host(01:01:08):

Hi everyone. I hope you enjoyed that interview just as a reminder, this podcast is for educational purposes. Only. It is not a substitute for professional care from a doctor or otherwise qualified health professional. This podcast is provided on the understanding that it is not a replacement for medical or other health-related services, and we take no responsibility for the opinions of the guests we have on the show. If you're looking for help in your journey, seek out a qualified practitioner, you can find all show notes on the clean body It'll be right there on the homepage, and we hope to see you for the next episode.


How Bright Bar works with local farmers to source high-quality ingredients
Hidden ingredients in most energy and protein bars
Brenden’s journey to the health & wellness industry
Why Brenden stopped eating protein bars 10 years ago
Why other food producers are adding unfavorable ingredients to energy bars
Why Bright Bars believes in providing plant-based products
What complete proteins are
How Brenden discovered plant powered nutrition
How people can cultivate intuitive eating habits
Why organic foods are so important
What enzymatic oxidation is and how it impacts foods
How Bright Bar works with local farmers to source high-quality ingredients
How to surround yourself with “comfortable” people
How oxidation increases bioavailability of nutrients in broccoli, onions, and garlic
How Bright Bar helps to fuel active lifestyles and consumer’s bodies
What prebiotic fiber is and how it helps the body
How fiber improves blood sugar levels
Conventional ingredients all people should stay away from