Protein: It’s Not That Simple

24 Nov 2014

Protein has become more than just a recommended part of meals and a shortcut to building muscle; its links to satiety have implicated it in weight management, and protein has now become the foundation of many diet plans. Attention to when protein should be consumed has become more of a focus as the application and use […]

Protein: It’s Not That Simple

Protein has become more than just a recommended part of meals and a shortcut to building muscle; its links to satiety have implicated it in weight management, and protein has now become the foundation of many diet plans. Attention to when protein should be consumed has become more of a focus as the application and use of protein continues to grow. Typically, protein intake is skewed towards the end of the day, with dinner providing the bulk of protein. Indeed, over 70% of UK and 61% of German consumers consume protein-containing food and drink products at dinner. The consumption of protein at other eating occasions is less frequent. Although 55% of German consumers claim to eat some protein  at breakfast, less than a quarter of UK consumers claim to and only around 20% of those in Germany and the UK have protein-based snacks between meals. Research continues to support spreading protein consumption more evenly over a whole day as it positively affects muscle protein synthesis. This should encourage the inclusion of high protein ingredients into breakfast products, as well as snack products, to help consumers spread protein intake throughout the day.

Focusing on the UK, protein is used most as a tool in weight management and for building muscle. Of the consumers eating more protein, almost half – 47% – are doing so to help maintain a healthy weight and 42% have increased their protein intake to help them lose weight. Meanwhile, some 33% and 36% of UK consumers are eating more protein to help build muscle or maintain muscle mass respectively.

Different types of protein are better suited to certain applications. In applications related to physical activity, protein hydrolysates are considered the best source as the proteins are pre-digested into more digestible protein during processing – meaning they are digested into the bloodstream faster than whole, intact proteins. When looking to build muscle, whey protein hydrolysates are considered the best types of protein, as not only are they digested faster than casein or soy proteins but they stimulate protein synthesis to a greater degree. However, the slow-absorbing protein casein is more suited to improving overnight post-exercise recovery, delivering a slower, more continuous stream of protein. This also has implications for products making satiety claims, as casein has a slower but longer and more sustained effect on satiety compared with whey.

The source of protein is also relevant in the growing pool of mainstream products making high protein claims. Wholefoods naturally high in protein are being utilised more for their high protein content, with Greek yoghurt, ancient grains (such as quinoa, chia and teff), and pulses, grains and seeds such as pea, maize, rice, hemp, lupin and linseed being used more for their protein content. Aligning the type of protein used in products with different consumer goals should help consumers reach their targets easier. Given the wider range of benefits being linked to protein, high protein products should not just focus on their protein content but use more tailored messages that call out the specific benefits the product can provide. Manufacturers should explore new formats to deliver protein to consumers, particularly breakfast products and snacks to help spread protein intake more evenly across a day. Also, the type of protein used should be aligned with consumers’ specific goals.

Related tags

Blogs New

Related news

What role do omega-3s play in sports nutrition?

What role do omega-3s play in sports nutrition?

10 Jul 2018

Omega-3 fatty acids have increasingly become part of athletes’ nutritional regime over the past few years but research supporting their role in sports nutrition is still in its early stages.

Read more 
Could nature-identical ingredients damage the natural sweeteners market?

Could nature-identical ingredients damage the natural sweeteners market?

4 Jul 2018

Natural sweeteners are a major target for companies looking to make nature-identical food ingredients, but if they are produced in a lab rather than extracted from a plant, will consumers accept them as natural?

Read more 
How does honey compare to sugar?

How does honey compare to sugar?

27 Jun 2018

Sugar use is down and honey use is up as manufacturers look for natural sweetening alternatives – but does honey live up to the hype?

Read more 
Fruit and vegetable powders add clean label nutrition, colour and flavour

Fruit and vegetable powders add clean label nutrition, colour and flavour

25 Jun 2018

Fruit and vegetable powders are appearing in a range of foods and drinks to improve their flavour, colour, nutrition and texture, driven by the trend toward whole foods and consumer desire to boost fruit and vegetable consumption.

Read more 
What are the smartest botanical ingredients for brain health?

What are the smartest botanical ingredients for brain health?

20 Jun 2018

As the population ages, botanical ingredients to maintain and improve cognitive health are on the rise. What are they, and what evidence is there to support their claims?

Read more 
Turning a spotlight on healthy fats and oils

Turning a spotlight on healthy fats and oils

19 Jun 2018

European food manufacturers have been turning to healthier oils and fats – but there is often a trade-off to be made, balancing their benefits in terms of flavour and health with how easy they are to work with.

Read more 
Beyond ingredients: Food processing as a tool for cleaner labels

Beyond ingredients: Food processing as a tool for cleaner labels

12 Jun 2018

Ingredients come first when companies think about developing clean label foods and drinks, but certain processing technologies also should be considered part of the clean label toolbox.

Read more 
Plant-based eating boosts European walnut demand

Plant-based eating boosts European walnut demand

12 Jun 2018

The current trend toward plant-based diets and wholesome, natural ingredients has led to increased European demand for walnuts, as consumers have become more aware of their health benefits.

Read more 
Europeans embrace a new wave of seaweed ingredients

Europeans embrace a new wave of seaweed ingredients

6 Jun 2018

Seaweed ingredients are on the rise, set to appear in a wide range of new products in Europe in the coming years – far beyond the traditional sushi and miso soup.

Read more 
How clean label ingredients affect packaging

How clean label ingredients affect packaging

28 May 2018

When companies consider ‘cleaning up’ their product labels, they often focus primarily on how to remove or replace certain ingredients – but they should also consider implications for product packaging.

Read more