This Local Startup Wants to Give You Expert Nutrition Advice, for Free

Lighter has shifted its focus to bring you plant-based meal plans inspired by the pros.


A meal from Lighter/Photo provided

Ever wondered what Beyoncé’s personal trainer eats? What about an ultramarathoner, or a celebrity chef? Now, you can find out.

Lighter, a Boston-based startup that originally specialized in healthy grocery delivery, is shifting its focus to bring expert nutrition advice straight to your fingertips—and your kitchen table.

“We tell people what food to buy and we tell them how to put great meals together, based on the recommendations of food leaders,” explains cofounder Alexis Fox. “This is no longer just about what Lighter thinks people should be eating, but now about what a particular doctor or athlete recommends people eat.”

Fox says she and her cofounder, Micah Risk, decided to make the change after growing frustrated that their initial business model didn’t allow them to partner with other experts in the field. The new platform, still in beta, allows for more collaboration, while also providing a valuable service to users.

The site works in two ways. You can go straight to the profile of an expert of your choice—we’re guessing Queen Bey’s personal trainer, Marco Borges, is going to get heavy traffic—and see his or her meal plan. Or, you can take a quick quiz about your dietary preferences (fair warning: everything on Lighter is plant-based), time restraints, and cooking equipment; choose health experts to follow; and use the resulting suggestions. Getting a personalized meal plan and grocery list is free.

“We intended, initially, to put the whole [thing] behind a paywall,” Fox admits. “[But] when it came time to actually putting up that paywall, we couldn’t do it. This is life-saving information for people, you know?”

As a compromise, Fox says the base-level recommendations will always be free, but the company will eventually roll out premium, for-profit memberships that include add-ons like cooking videos and one-on-one nutrition counseling. Grocery delivery will also return soon, hopefully by the end of the year.

Overall, Fox says the new version is an upgrade over the Lighter of years past—both for health professionals looking to reach new audiences, and for average people looking to eat better.

“This is far more customized than what we were doing before, and it’s enabling audiences of these food leaders to put their recommendations into action immediately, being very specific,” Fox says. “It’s not just ‘Eat more fruits and veggies,’ but, ‘Eat these veggies on Wednesday at 6:30. Pair them with this protein and this carb.'”