Sunday, July 08, 2007

Next Big Diet Trend In Beverages Is Protein And Fiber Fortification

Want proof that livin' la vida low-carb is still having an impact on our culture in the year 2007? Well, look no further than this Natural Products Insider column to see what research & development marketing guru Dr. Karen Grenus says is the next big diet trend in beverages.

Although it has been mocked and scorned by the so-called health "experts" and their willing accomplices in the media, protein is the first of two new "it" ingredients that every beverage manufacturer is clamoring to put into new products to show consumers they care about helping them get healthy and lose weight.

Many credit low-carb diets like Atkins, Protein Power, and South Beach for launching this new trend which will begin to manifest itself in the very near future. All I can say is that it's about time (although we've already had lots of protein in the delicious Atkins Nutritionals shakes for years)!

Low-carb researcher Dr. Donald Layman from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign shared in my interview with him last year that a higher-protein diet combined with moderate exercise results in greater weight loss and effective fat-burning while preserving lean muscle mass.

Protein is indeed power food for weight loss as all the latest studies are showing because of the magical effect of satiety. In fact, there is a specific study that shows consuming protein-packed eggs actually causes you to eat LESS calories than if you ate a bagel with cream cheese for breakfast!

Additionally, we have proof from still more studies that confirm high-protein diets are good for bone health and eating this way gives you a metabolic advantage--something you want when you are attempting weight loss.

The evidence is very strong and the marketing machines at the largest beverage companies in the world are already salivating at the sales potential they will muster up from this new trend. We've already seen signs of it with the release of new diet beverages this year such as Diet Coke Plus, Diet Pepsi MAX, Enviga, and even FUZE.

Look for these efforts to be stepped up even more.

Dr. Grenus says the allure of using a beverage as a meal replacement is about convenience and controlling the nutrients that go inside your body with precision.

"Today, consumers know about macronutrients and are more likely to purchase products after looking at carbohydrates, net carbohydrates, protein, fat and fiber," she wrote.

She added that consumers demand the product "must taste good enough for consumption and be palatable; cause fullness during consumption, or satiation; cause a continued sense of fullness until the next meal, or satiety; and remain palatable over the course of the diet."

This is where protein comes into play. Manufacturers are realizing that adding enough protein to their product can help their beverage meet all these requests by the customer. People realize protein satisfies, so they're looking for it to squelch their hunger.

Interestingly, Dr. Grenus explained that protein also adds "viscosity, emulsification, opacity and flavor." Hmmm, I did not know that. Additionally, there are several different blends of proteins used to find the perfect match for the beverage that ends up on store shelves.

Here is a listing of the various proteins used in beverages:

1. Casein

This milk protein is generally combined with calcium, sodium, or both. Sodium Caseinate is best used in shakes and drinks that contain fat while calcium caseinate works better in water-based drinks for protein potency.

2. Whey

Another milk protein which packs a punch with concentrated amino acids that help protect lean muscle mass, suppresses appetite, and nutrient-dense.

3. Soy

A plant-based protein that is low-fat and low-cholesterol. In fact, soy protein isolates contain nearly ZERO carbs while adding dietary fiber to the mix.

Speaking of fiber, that is the other "it" beverage additive that manufacturers are looking to add to their products. Although not everyone agrees that fiber is necessary in a healthy diet, I believe it can play a vital role in your weight management plan. So does Dr. Grenus.

"Soluble and insoluble fiber have been linked to the reduction of blood cholesterol and certain cancers, respectively," she explained. "There is no question that soluble and insoluble fibers should be a part of every healthy diet. In the event that fiber-rich grains, fruits and vegetables are replaced by weight-loss drinks, it’s essential that fiber be incorporated into the beverage."

In fact, fiber is becoming so popular now that there are even diet books being written with fiber as the central ingredient. Beverage makers are keenly aware of this, too, and are working on ways to put it in their products.

Just like proteins, there are several kinds of fibers, too:

1. Soy fiber

Made from soybeans, this is a commonly used product in weight loss drinks because it has the health benefits of soluble fiber while working well in the digestive tract in the way insoluble fiber performs.

2. Polydextrose

A fiber-based bulking agent added to artificial sweeteners to serve as a prebiotic which allows good bacteria to grow in the gut. This fiber is extremely low-calorie, low-glycemic, and studies have shown it to increase satiety.

3. Inulin

A soluble fiber with prebiotic properties which can pass right through the body without ever being metabolized. It is fermented by bacteria in the colon.

4. Fructooligosaccharides (FOS)

In addition to providing soluble fiber, this also is used as a sweetening and bulking agent that does not raise blood sugars. Sweeter than inulin, this fiber allows for a "creamy mouthfeel" (if you've ever tried the delicious low-carb ChocoPerfection chocolate bars made with an FOS called oligofructose, then you know what I'm talking about). Additionally, this can actually be used as a replacement for fat and sugar.

The most important thing to the consumer is to make sure the beverages they are drinking to help them lose weight taste good while maintaining nutritional integrity. That's the biggest trick, according to Dr. Grenus.

"Products formulated for health instead of taste need the magic of flavor houses to make drinking them a memorable experience," she remarked. "Flavors can mask undesired characteristics from added ingredients, enhance existing flavors and create the signature taste of weight-loss beverages."

If a product tastes funky, then it should come as no surprise that people won't keep buying it. That's exactly what happened when the "low-carb craze" hit. Too many of those products tasted DISGUSTING and thus did not sell. That doesn't mean low-carb itself failed (as has been the MO of those who oppose livin' la vida low-carb), but these manufacturers hurriedly pushing out products to supposedly meet the demand rather than taking their time to do it right.

To me, the worst-tasting products that are out there right now have to be the ones that contain soy in them. I don't know if my taste buds are so acutely tuned in to it or not, but everything I eat with some measure of soy in it just tastes gross to me. It's got a nasty wang time and time again. I hate that, but it is what it is.

The key to remember with these new protein and fiber fortified beverages is to READ THE LABELS and make sure they contain low enough sugar (ZERO or next to none is preferable) if you are livin' la vida low-carb. It does absolutely no good to drink a protein-based product for weight loss if you are simply gonna sabotage it with carbohydrates your body DOESN'T need!

If this topic is interesting to you, then I encourage you to read the full report which appeared in Food Product Design. Dr. Grenus discusses the various sweeteners on the market (although she makes a faux pas when she states Pepsi One is sweetened with ACE-K and ASPARTAME--nope, it's ACE-K and Splenda!) and she even brings up stevia (which The Coca-Cola Company is trying to get FDA-approval for a new version of Diet Coke) as an up-and-coming sweetening agent in beverages. WELL WORTH THE READ!

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Blogger jimpowers said...

I've been living the low carb lifestyle for 3 years now. I have my ups and downs, mostly downs lately, but I've always trusted this blog to help me along. I am concerned that you called Adkins shakes "delicious". I have never had any Adkins product that was even close to delicious. Thank goodness you've steered me to other sites that do have good products. I suppose that tastes differ but not I'm concerned about your choices. Oh, and why do low carb products have to cost so much? Thanks, though, for giving me someplace that I can go to that helps me in my journey. You do good work.

7/09/2007 12:54 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

THANKS for your comments, Jim. Have you tried the Atkins shakes lately? They were reformulated recently to improve the taste and texture and are indeed delicious.

Why do low-carb products cost so much? It's all about the quality of ingredients. Why else do you think manufacturers put high fructose corn syrup in everything? Because it's cheap. The manufacturers of this garbage don't care it's harmful. They just want money.

Quality costs money, so you get what you pay for. It's quite a bargain when you think about how much healthier you are eating and drinking with the low-carb products versus the regular sugary ones.

7/09/2007 1:03 PM  
Blogger BamaGal said...

Protein drinks are a way of life for those having had gastric bypass surgery. This is where the major market for these types of drinks come in to play. For the first 6 months post op you practically get all of your calories from them.
But I agree with you on the soy---Horrid tasting---but now I also know how bad soy is for the body. I stay away from it completely. Even though I am 3 yrs post op I still have 1 shake a day. They are also a life saver when you are sick and can't keep anything down.

7/09/2007 8:38 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

I have to suppliment protien drinks and powder because I cannot digest it very well through food. I have survived pancreatic cancer but the bad part is I no longer produce enzymes to digest protien and fat so supplimenting is really helpful for me and of course low carbing.

7/20/2007 2:50 PM  

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