New Breed of Weight-Loss Foods

America's obsession with its waistline has made the food industry pay closer attention to a new breed of diet- and weight-friendly foods.

By Kantha Shelke, Ph.D.

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Cargill, Minneapolis, has a range of low-cal sweetener solutions, such as those utilizing erythritol, an all-natural, no-calorie bulk sweetener. Erythritol is about 60-70 percent as sweet as sugar in combination with various high-intensity sweeteners is used to round out the sweetness profile of beverages. Erythritol, a natural sweetener, has added benefit for processors interested in the natural and organic sectors.

Makers of Honest Tea, Bethesda, Md., use erythritol combined with organic agave syrup for its 10-Calorie Tangerine Green, an antioxidant-spiked organic green tea. Honest Tea's 'Weight is Over' line of four low-calorie beverages include the first organic zero-calorie sweetened beverage on the market.

Fat replacement

Fat replacement is enjoying new life as an effective strategy for weight management. Cincinnati-based Proctor & Gamble's Olestra is still the fat replacer of choice for a number of snack chip products by Frito Lay, Plano, Texas. The FDA recently approved the use of olestra in microwave popcorn.

ADM Kao LLC, Decatur, Ill., makes Enova oil - a 1,3 diglyceride-rich vegetable oil which sends less fat into the post-digestion system. As a result, less fat is stored. Enova is GRAS for use in a number of food-product categories, including spreads, baked goods, and meal-replacement beverages and bars.

The neutral-flavored oil requires little or no modifications in manufacturing and, because it also functions as a emulsifier, tends to produce moister and fluffier cakes. Stacey Marsh, founder of Flatout, Saline, Mich., credits Enova for the popularity of the company's Flatbread Light breads.

Body Composition

Healthy, long-term weight management entails targeting fat and not solely pounds. Some effective nutraceuticals have made a successful cross-over into the food and beverage sector.

Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), recent research confirmed as safe for decreasing fat mass while maintaining muscle mass. CLA is also effective in helping subjects maintain the weight loss without the familiar loss-gain cycle most diet products are associated with. Lipid Nutrition, Channahon, Ill., makers of Clarinol brand CLA. CLA is believed to help decrease leptin, a hormone associated with increased body weight. For now, CLA is mostly used in beverages, sport/weight-loss bars and shakes, such as those from EAS ( , Golden, Col.

ForsLean from Sabinsa  (, Piscataway, N.J., is another ingredient for processors leaning toward metabolic intervention. ForsLean is said to trigger metabolic processes induce thermogenesis.

Dairy Day

Research is invesitgating a postive role whey proteins and other components in dairy foods could have for weight loss.
Research is invesitgating a postive role whey proteins and other components in dairy foods could have for weight loss.

Dairy derivatives - proteins, peptides and mineral components - may also help affect body composition. According to Mayo Clinic researchers, four servings of dairy foods per day in a reduced-calorie diet, combined with moderate exercise, helped obese adults lose a significant amount of weight and body fat.

The body requires more energy to digest protein than other foods. As a result one burns more calories after a protein meal - making whey protein isolate a perfect complement to any weight management plan.

The National Dairy Council, Rosemont, Ill., says that even with higher calorie intake, dairy products are effective in helping dieters lose weight at the same rate dieters who consume two servings of dairy a day and fewer calories.

A clinical trial published in the journal Obesity Research sheds light on why consuming dairy foods may help weight and fat loss. Edward Melanson, Ph.D., lead investigator and assistant professor of medicine at the University of Colorado noted that when exercising adults on a slightly reduced-calorie diet consumed three to four servings of dairy foods daily, their metabolism changed so that their bodies burned more fat than they did when they had one serving of dairy under the same conditions.

Pete Huth, director of regulatory and research transfer, Dairy Management Institute (DMI), Rosemont, Ill., highlights the role of the essential amino acid leucine in improving body composition. High-quality proteins are rich in leucine, and whey protein contains more leucine than milk protein, egg protein and soy protein. Leucine mobilizes fats for oxidation, depleting reserves of body fat.

While protein helps to stabilize blood glucose levels by slowing the absorption of glucose into the bloodstream, it also is thought to reduce hunger by lowering insulin levels and make it easier for the body to burn fat.

Whey protein contains bioactive components that help stimulate the release of two appetite-suppressing hormones - cholecystokinin (CCK) and glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1). Donald Layman, Ph.D., of the University of Illinois, showed that whey protein has a greater impact on satiety than casein, the other protein in milk.

Next Proteins, Carlsbad, Calif., makes whey derivatives plus a full-line of whey protein products under the Designer Whey brand. The primary ingredient in the company's Detour-Go bars - a first of its kind in the all natural category - is whey protein.

Advances in ingredient technologies helped isolate and concentrate other effective dairy minerals, proteins and peptides into novel ingredients specifically for weight management, according to Eric Bastian, director of R&D, Glanbia Nutritionals, Monroe, Wisc. Glanbia developed Prolibra, a mineral-protein derivative of whey, to help influence weight management.

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