There are fat bombs for those on keto diets, undressed salads for those scrupulously counting calories and bison bars for some who swear by paleo.
For macro-counters and protein junkies, there’s now something other than a steak or a smoothie: Proletas.
Greg Garcia isn’t going around to local gyms and nutrition stores selling these protein paletas as a gimmick. The 43-year-old city of Dallas employee was simply looking for a post-workout bite that was satisfying on all levels.
“When it’s really hot, a Greek yogurt after a workout wasn’t cutting it,” he says.
Three years ago, he got the idea for something closer to an ice cream bar to be the fix.
“My focus was getting the macros to be healthy. My metric for taste was if my kids would eat it or not,” Garcia says.
The business is more or less a family effort, from the four kids to mom. Noah, 17, is studying culinary arts and is working with Garcia on recipes. Caiden, 15, is into graphic design and worked on the logo and business cards. Owen, 9, and Elise, 6, have the onus of taste-testing. Garcia says his wife, Jennifer, holds it all together.
Garcia, an athlete who’s been doing Crossfit for 10 years, felt this was a side opportunity he couldn’t pass up.
“I didn’t want to be that guy looking on the internet and saying I had that idea,” he says.
He originally wanted to call his enterprise Protein Paletas, but it wouldn’t get trademarked because the term is too general. Combining the two terms led to the birth of Proletas.
Garcia has hit on something. The natural flavors come through, and the sugar and ice-cream-on-a-stick concept make it more enjoyable than the typical post-workout smoothie.
Yes, there is sugar, but most of it is in the form of fruits. The rest is just enough to add a hint of sweetness.
“I had not made anything before. There was a learning curve,” Garcia says. “At first I was all about protein, and it was gummy. The kids convinced me to add a little bit of sugar.”
That not only improved taste, but made the texture better, he says, and after continuing the testing process, it became creamier.
It was important to avoid the vitamin taste, which one of his younger kids calls “the birdseed taste.” After he launched, Garcia went from off-the-shelf protein to ordering in bulk, which resulted in a better quality protein isolate. It changed the quality and texture, and he was on his way to a marketable product. Today, he has the paletas manufactured near Walnut Hill Lane.
Each flavor takes its own experimenting.
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“Like the Key lime pie: It took me 35 times to get that right,” he says.
Flavors also include strawberry, chocolate, cappuccino, dark chocolate, orange and vanilla, and bars generally range from 15 to 31 grams of protein. A typical paleta has anywhere from 0 to 4 grams of protein.
This business is still a “side hustle,” but in addition to online sales, Garcia is selling the bars at local Crossfit gyms and nutrition stores such as Total Nutrition on East Mockingbird Lane at Greenville Avenue. Next year, he’d like to get beyond the DFW area, perhaps to Austin.
For those rolling their eyes about protein-packed ice cream, Garcia says to try it: “It’s just a healthier ice cream.”