Thursday, February 15, 2024

The Potential of the Protein Leverage Hypothesis for Dairy Innovation


SPYLT is a line of better-for-you (high protein and low sugar) dairy-based energy drinks. The 11-ounce canned line rolled out in 2022 with two varieties of caffeinated chocolate milk. Light Mode has 60 milligrams of caffeine and Dark Mode has 140 milligrams. This spring there are two new varieties: strawberry and vanilla. This is an example of putting the protein leverage hypothesis to work by reformulating ultra-processed food to help restore greater balance in the diet by raising their relative share of protein.

As featured in Food Business News:

The future is now for precision fermentation. Link HERE to learn more.

More dairy manufacturers are embracing sustainable packaging. Link HERE to learn more. 

Ever hear of the protein leverage hypothesis? It’s new to me but has been circulating in the nutrition science space for around 20 years after researchers from the University of Sydney published the hypothesis in the May 2005 issue of Obesity Reviews. The hypothesis states that human beings will prioritize the consumption of protein in food over other dietary components, and will eat until protein needs have been met, regardless of energy content, thus leading to over-consumption of foodstuffs when their protein content is low. This ultimately is a potential explanation for the obesity epidemic. 

“The idea of protein leverage, that our daily hunt for protein drives our overall eating patterns has been circulating with nutrition science for some time but has yet to transition over into the food world,” according to Nicholas Fereday, executive director-food and consumer trends, Rabobank. “This is likely to change for a number of reasons, not least because it puts forward both a plausible explanation for the impact of highly processed foods on our health, and a practical solution for packaged food companies to work with.” 

The authors of the protein hypothesis—Stephen Simpson and David Raubenheimer—found that the average proportion of calories from protein in the American diet decreased from 14% in 1961 to 12.5% in 2000, with more calories from carbohydrates and fats making up the difference. In their words, “the only way Americans could have maintained target protein consumption was to increase total calorie intake by 14%, creating an energy (calorie) surplus and associated weight gain.” 

Fereday posed the question: Is it possible to redevelop ultra-processed foods to help restore greater balance in the diet by raising their relative share of protein?

He said something we all know. “Consumers are primed for protein.” 

All the recent consumer surveys and trend forecasts show the same thing: Consumers want more protein. 

The dairy industry has the opportunity to give it to them. 

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