• Protein: Offering People Function and Fitness

    By USDEC Staff July 24, 2015

    People look for protein in the foods they buy and use in meals, snacks and after workouts. In fact, 23 percent of adults say they are increasing the amount of protein in their eating plans. Today, we have a better understanding of the importance of eating an adequate amount of protein, and maybe more relevant, eating an adequate amount of high-quality protein - for not all proteins are created equal. Yesterday, at the 2015 Institute of Food Technology (IFT) Annual Meeting, I moderated a symposium sponsored by National Dairy Council that featured new insights on the importance of protein. I wanted to share key details with those of you working with patients and clients.

    During this session, three prestigious experts in the areas of protein nutrition and protein ingredient research spoke on some of the hottest topics of interest including the role of dietary protein on muscle protein synthesis, appetite, satiety, weight management and aging, and the importance of high-quality dairy protein ingredients in meeting the global demand for innovative, higher-protein foods and beverages. Additionally, the symposium included a discussion of the intersection of nutrition and sustainability, which we will discuss separately in a future post on The Dairy Report.

    Muscle Health Across the Lifespan

    Dr. Douglas Paddon-Jones, professor of nutrition at the University of Texas, discussed the latest research on the role of protein in developing and maintaining lean muscle mass and function across the lifespan. He stressed two key points about muscle protein synthesis:

    • Even distribution of protein consumption (30 g of protein/meal) throughout the day offers the greatest benefit. "Establishing a dietary framework with a moderate amount of dietary protein eaten throughout the day" is a long-term strategy that should begin early to help minimize muscle loss with aging, said Paddon-Jones.
    • Leucine, an essential amino acid, plays a key regulatory role on muscle protein synthesis.

    Milk proteins, in general, and whey protein, in particular, are one of the richest sources of leucine, which can help reduce the loss of muscle mass and strength associated with physical inactivity and aging.

    Appetite, Satiety and Weight Management

    Next, Dr. Heather Leidy, assistant professor of nutrition and exercise physiology at the University of Missouri, highlighted the benefits of eating higher amounts of protein, with emphasis at breakfast for improved satiety and lower subsequent energy consumption during the day. Dr. Leidy discussed her research in overweight/obese adolescent girls showing that a higher-protein breakfast improves satiety and diet quality and may be a useful weight management strategy. "The quantity of protein needed to elicit satiety and reduce food cravings appears to be roughly 30 g of high quality protein," said Leidy. She noted examples of high-quality proteins include milk, yogurt and cheese.

    Innovative, Higher Protein Foods and Beverages

    K.J. Burrington, dairy ingredients applications coordinator at the Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research at the University of Wisconsin, explained that dairy proteins are among the top protein sources being used to meet the global demand for higher-protein foods and beverages due to their excellent functional properties and nutritional quality. For example, she noted that milk and whey proteins are being used in Greek-style yogurt, and foods targeting weight management, sports performance, and healthy aging. "When working with other countries we ask questions like what are their traditional foods and what can we add protein to in order to help improve the quality of their diet," said Burrington. It could be as simple as adding whey protein concentrate to green tea, making a protein-enhanced pineapple juice for people in Latin America, or adding protein to traditional comfort foods like dumplings or soup - making it easier for people to get protein throughout the day.

    For a comprehensive overview of the current science on protein, including the quality, quantity and frequency needed to achieve health benefits, see the proceedings from the second Protein Summit. Both Dr. Leidy and Dr. Paddon-Jones have authored articles in these proceedings. To aid in your educational efforts, you can use these protein handouts and this new protein infographic with your clients.

    Nutrition Research Dairy Ingredients Consumer Insights Protein Dairy Trends Dairy
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