Following the annual New Year countdown, there’s often celebratory cheer, an incantation of Auld Lang Syne and a determination to lose weight — one of the top resolutions most often made — and, unfortunately, often broken within the first few weeks of January. This outcome may change for some dieters in the years ahead. Product formulators have developed a better understanding of the mechanisms that regulate appetite and now are developing products that help consumers feel full and satisfied, which in turn helps them eat less and ultimately lose weight.

Research from Ingredion Inc., Westchester, Ill., suggests more than 33% of American consumers are aware of the concept of satiety, the feeling of fullness after eating that suppresses the urge to eat for a period of time after a meal. Nearly half of consumers are aware of foods and beverages that help them feel full for longer. This includes most dairy products.

Satiety is influenced by a food when it is first consumed and continues as the food enters the gastrointestinal system and is digested and absorbed.

“Signals feed into specific areas of the brain in response to the expansion of the stomach, our sensory responses and the brain’s perceptions of the food and drink consumed,” said Bridget Benelam, senior nutrition scientist with the British Nutrition Foundation, London. “Hormonal signals are released in response to the digestion and absorption of nutrients.

“There are also hormones that tell the brain how much fat we have stored in the body, which affect satiety over the longer term. These signals are integrated in areas of the brain involved in the regulation of energy intake, which lead to the feeling of satiety.”

George van Aken, scientist-emulsions and digestion with Nizo Food Research B.V., The Netherlands, concurred that stomach volume and the rate at which the stomach releases nutrients to the small intestine for absorption are important physiological parameters by which the body estimates the time to stop eating.

“Foods behave differently in the stomach, depending on their structure,” he said. “If a food in the stomach separates into an energy-poor upper layer and a viscous energy-dense sediment, the energy-dense part is delivered to the small intestine first, keeping the energy-poor liquid layer stacked on top. The volume of the stomach then stays larger for a longer time while at the same time the small intestine signals an influx of high-energy food.

“By altering the physical properties of food, the rate of gastrointestinal passage, stomach distension and the rate of stomach emptying can be modulated in ways to induce satiety. Our expertise in the field of protein/ingredient technology, such as gelling in the stomach, gastric emulsion stability and resistance to enzymatic degradation, enables us to identify and design ways to increase a food’s effects on satiety.”

Ms. Benelam explained that even though we may feel the stomach filling as we eat, it may take 15 to 20 minutes for the full range of satiety signals to reach the brain.

“By this time and for some time afterwards, we will experience feelings of fullness,” she said. “Certain foods and food ingredients promote this feeling of fullness faster and maintain it for a long period of time. This in turn curbs appetite and assists with weight loss and weight management.”

Satiating nutrients

Fat, fiber and protein are considered the trifecta of satiety, as they take longer to pass through the digestive system, as compared to most carbohydrates. With milk an inherent source of fat and protein, it makes sense for it to serve as a base for satiety-inducing foods and beverages.

Although fat promotes satiety, it also contains more than double the calories per gram compared to protein (9 vs. 4). Because calorie reduction is necessary for weight loss, increasing fat consumption is often not considered a wise choice. However, increasing protein (4 calories per gram) intake does make sense. Not only does protein exert appetite regulation mechanisms, consumption is also correlated to lean muscle building and maintenance.

“Whey proteins have long been popular with body builders and elite athletes for their superb muscle-building and satiety benefits,” said Peter Schouw Andersen, business development manager of health and performance for Arla Foods Ingredients, Denmark. “In recent years, however, whey proteins have emerged from this niche to go mainstream. Increasing numbers of ‘ordinary’ health-conscious consumers are now demanding food and beverage products that help them stay fit, toned and looking and feeling good but that are convenient to integrate into their everyday lives.

“The key to tapping into this growth opportunity is to offer consumers lifestyle protein-based products that are delicious and easy to consume, since these shoppers are not willing to make the taste and convenience sacrifices accepted by niche protein consumers such as body-builders.”

Adding dairy proteins back into dairy products makes sense. Suppliers offer specific dairy proteins that have been scientifically proven to optimize the body’s muscle-building and satiety response mechanisms.

Some fiber ingredients have the potential to modulate appetite without adding calories, as even though fiber is a type of carbohydrate, it is less calorically dense than traditional carbohydrates, which provide four calories per gram. Caloric content varies by fiber ingredient, with some containing nearly zero calories.

“We have a new patented satiety-inducing ingredient consisting of a combination of dietary fiber sources, including a viscous hydrocolloid and a whole grain corn flour rich in resistant starch,” said Lorraine Niba, global director of nutrition at Ingredion. “The ingredient delivers on a number of satiety mechanisms, including how starch fermentation in the colon decreases feelings of hunger, how increased gastrointestinal viscosity prolongs absorption and thereby reduces calorie consumption, and how whole grains delay digestion, helping to reduce hunger pangs.”

Scientists from the University of Liverpool in the United Kingdom recently demonstrated the satiating impact of the new fiber ingredient. In the study, 90 normal to overweight participants were given a fruit-based smoothie for breakfast containing a dose of either 20 grams or 30 grams of the satiety ingredient or a non-active control. Their subsequent intake of food at both lunch and dinner on that day was measured and their levels of hunger examined.

The study found that food intake at both lunch and dinner times were lower when the satiety ingredient was given at breakfast compared to the control. The higher the dose of the satiety ingredient, the fewer calories consumed at the other meals. Lower hunger levels after breakfast were also recorded for both doses.

DSM Nutritional Products, Parsippany, N.J., offers a patented and natural lipid emulsion consisting of droplets of palm oil coated with oat oil. Because of its composition, it is not digested as quickly as normal fat, and as a result, reaches the small intestine relatively intact where it triggers a hormonal response of the body being full.

“The fat from this ingredient is digested normally further on in the small intestine,” said Caroline Brons, director of marketing for DSM Nutritional Products. “A wide range of peer-reviewed, published clinical studies, as well as mechanism-of-action and dose-response studies in normal weight, overweight and obese individuals, support its effect in appetite control and reduced-calorie intake.”

In addition to fat, fiber and protein, various plant extracts have been shown to have satiating effects. For example, the South Asian fruit Garcinia cambogia contains hydroxycitric acid, which has been shown to suppress appetite as well as decrease fat production by the body. Another is an ingredient derived from the flowers of saffron crocus, Crocus sativus L.

Opportunities for dairy

As mentioned, milk is already a source of protein (1 gram per oz) and fat, unless it’s been skimmed, making milk and products made from milk well poised to be positioned as satiating foods.

Greek yogurt, most notably, has been riding the high-protein platform. Produced by either straining the cultured white mass to concentrate the protein or adding dairy proteins to the culturing vat, Greek yogurt contains double to triple the amount of protein of a non-Greek yogurt.

Cheese, too, is being positioned as a source of satiating protein, with most cheeses containing about 7 grams of protein per oz. Its fat content, which tends to range from 5 to 10 grams per oz, further contributes to a feeling of fullness.

Manufacturers such as The Dannon Co., White Plains, N.Y., are exploring ingredient combinations to better compete in the satiety category. Just in time for New Year’s resolutions, the company is rolling out Dannon Light & Fit Protein Shake. The drinkable cultured dairy concept is nonfat yogurt enhanced with milk protein concentrate and polydextrose, providing 12 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber, respectively, per 10-oz bottle.

Chobani L.L.C., Norwich, N.Y., has introduced Chobani Oats, a Greek yogurt designed to bridge the breakfast gap between yogurt and oats. Each 5.3-oz cup contains 10 grams of protein, 8 grams of whole grain and 3 grams of fiber from gluten-free steel-cut oats and fruit.

The Quaker Oats Co., Chicago, a subsidiary of PepsiCo, Inc., Purchase, N.Y., takes a different approach to getting oats and milk together. The company offers the shelf-stable Quaker Breakfast Shake, with each 11.1-oz bottle providing 8 grams of whole grain oats, 10 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber. The protein comes primarily from milk protein isolate, while the fiber comes from a combination of whole oat flour, polydextrose and hydrocolloids.

Dallas-based Dean Foods now offers TruMoo Protein Plus, which delivers 25 grams of protein in every single-serve 14-oz bottle. It is basically low-fat milk enhanced with nonfat milk solids.

Fairlife L.L.C., Chicago, uses processing technology to increase the protein in its new Fairlife Purely Nutritious Milk. By cold-pressing milk through soft filters, the company concentrates desired nutrients such as protein and calcium while separating the fats and sugars. The milk contains 50% more protein and calcium and half the sugar of ordinary milk.

New Organic Balance Milk Protein Shakes from Organic Valley, La Farge, Wis., relies on filtered skim milk from a protein boost. Each 11-oz bottle contains 15 grams.

The iconic V8 vegetable juice brand recently entered the protein beverage category with V8 Protein Shakes. The first-of-its-kind concept from Campbell Soup Co., Camden, N.J., blends juice from sweet potatoes and yellow carrots with five different sources of protein: milk protein concentrate, soy protein isolate, pea protein isolate, whole grain brown rice protein concentrate and quinoa flour. The combination provides 12 grams of protein in every 10-oz bottle. The formulation also includes soluble corn flour, delivering 3 grams of fiber per serving.

Be Well Nutrition Inc., New Orleans, markets Iconic. Described as a healthy lifestyle beverage, it is designed to be an on-the-go breakfast or snack. Each 11-oz single-serve container contains 20 grams of protein from milk protein isolate and 4 grams of fiber from inulin.

With less than a month to the countdown to 2015, it is likely more satiating dairy products will be hitting the marketplace.