Special K Protein cereal
Protein and fiber remain focal points in efforts to develop products that promote satiety.

Satiety is an industry term, but the concept is merging into the mainstream of product development trends. Food and beverage marketers are striving to develop products that aid consumers in their weight maintenance efforts and feature ingredients that offer a positive health connotation. The protein trend, for example, fits within the scope of the trend and is one reason the nutrient is being incorporated into such a wide variety of product applications.

Consumers are particularly drawn to products high in protein as they are perceived to carry a variety of health benefits. The increased satiety that they bring is appealing, as is the perception that they provide increased energy and fit into a healthy, balanced diet. For consumers seeking to remain lean, a diet high in protein may lead to better muscle maintenance.

The United States has led the rising interest in protein content, both overall and specifically in the dairy sector, according to the market research firm Innova Market Insights, Duiven, The Netherlands. But it is not just dairy processors that are capitalizing on the trend. Ready-to-eat cereal and nutrition bar companies both also have been quick to respond, and the concept of satiety has been front and center. This past November, for example, the Kellogg Co., Battle Creek, Mich., introduced its line of Special K Protein cereals and prominently displayed directly beneath the brand name on the packaging is the phrase “satisfies hunger longer.”

The increased interest in satiety also is being seen in the development of products perceived as functional. Functional product development today is focused on such trends as weight management, satiety, sports nutrition and energy, according to the market research firm Packaged Facts. The growth partially is due to the development of products focused on the breakfast and snacking occasions.

Cutting rare steak
Protein is considered to be the leading nutrient that induces the feeling of fullness.

A study published this past May in The Journal of Nutrition found consumption of a protein-rich afternoon snack containing soy protein resulted in reductions in appetite, a greater delay in subsequent eating and improved diet quality in teenagers compared to other snack options. The study, titled, “Protein snacks improve appetite and diet quality in teens,” was one of the first studies of its kind to examine whether replacement of a high fat / high sugar snack with a healthier version would lead to improvements in obesity-related outcomes in overweight young people.

The study was conducted by researchers from the University of Missouri in collaboration with ingredient supplier DuPont Nutrition & Health, a business unit of DuPont, Wilmington, Del.

Thirty-one healthy, normal to overweight adolescents between the ages of 13 and 19 who usually consume an afternoon snack randomly were assigned to consume either a chocolate-peanut-caramel-flavored pudding snack formulated with soy protein, a snack with a “typical” nutrition profile that is higher in fat, or no snack as part of the randomized, crossover-design trial. Participants consumed the assigned snacks for three days, followed by a series of tests conducted after consumption on the fourth day.

The study found incorporation of a protein-rich afternoon snack improves total daily diet quality. Children who received the high fat snack or no snack subsequently consumed more snacks high in fat and sugar that evening than those who consumed the protein-rich snack (the high fat snack subjects consumed 20% more, while the no snack subjects consumed 30% more). Daily protein intake was higher and fat intake was lower when a protein snack was provided versus a high fat snack or no snack, but no differences in daily energy intake were observed between treatments.

The study also found inclusion of an afternoon snack reduced appetite over the course of the afternoon but the soy protein snack led to a greater reduction in post-snack appetite. When participants consumed the protein-rich snack their request for their next meal was delayed by 20 minutes compared to the group that did not receive a snack.

One question that has arisen with regards to satiety and protein is which types of protein — meat- or plant-based protein — work best at making consumers feel full longer? A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, and published in the Journal of Food Science has added insight to the question.

Pea pods in a clay pot
Fiber has long been associated with satiety.

As part of the study, 28 participants (14 men and 14 women) consumed two test lunches containing a “meatloaf” made from either beef or beans. The beef meal provided 26 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber, while the bean meal provided 17 grams of protein and 12 grams of fiber. Both meals were matched in weight, calories, and total fat. All the participants showed no difference in appetite ratings between the beef and bean meals over three hours. In addition, they consumed the same amount of calories at the next meal eaten.

Protein is considered to be the leading nutrient that induces the feeling of fullness, with fiber coming in a close second. While protein intake releases appetite suppressing hormones, the beneficial effects of fiber on appetite and food include slowing down the digestion process and helping control blood sugar levels to increase the feeling of fullness for longer. The findings of the University of Minnesota study supported the idea that plant-based proteins with high fiber may offer similar appetite regulation as animal protein.

Fiber long has been associated with satiety and additional evidence is emerging to support the relationship. Animal and human intervention studies suggest that prebiotic fibers may play a role in achieving the goal of helping consumers eat less, according to Beneo, which has a U.S. office in Morris Plains, N.J. Company ingredients that feature oligofructose-enriched inulin and oligofructose have been shown to have beneficial effects on energy balance, by helping to reduce spontaneous caloric intake in people consuming a non-restricted diet.

The company cited a study involving overweight and obese adults that consumed a daily dosage of oligofructose-enriched inulin at 12 grams per day for 3 weeks that resulted in a significant reduction in energy intake. Additional research involving adults considered “normal weight” that supplemented their diet with 16 grams of oligofructose-enriched inulin or oligofructose during a two-week period showed that the total daily energy intake of the study participants was reduced.

“Taken together, these human intervention studies have reported a consistent reduction in energy intake, following supplementation with 12 grams to 16 grams of prebiotic chicory root fibers daily,” Beneo said. “The reduction in total calories consumed was sustained over time and showed in normal weight, overweight and obese individuals. The influence of chicory root fibers on daily energy intake is believed to result from their specific fermentation properties and the production of short chain fatty acids, which positively influence satiety regulation and subsequent food intake.”