New fashion in the supermarket: 'light' products give way to those rich in protein

New fashion in the supermarket: 'light' products give way to those rich in protein

High protein products are one of the new demands of supermarkets, but nutritionists warn of the importance of carefully reading labels and knowing which customer profiles they are intended for

New fashion in the supermarket: 'light' products give way to those rich in protein

A few years ago there was the boom in light foods , then 0% fat products came to the fore and now, little by little, the high-protein label is the one that is gaining ground on supermarket shelves. It is becoming more and more common to find yogurt, smoothies, milk, pizzas, chocolate creams or protein-enriched cereals in supermarkets. This responds, according to Laura Jorge, dietitian-nutritionist and director of the nutrition center that leads

its very name, that the food industry is trying to take advantage of the rise of the healthy world . “The idea of weight loss diets has always been there. A few years ago the products were focused on light or low fat and now, as people practice more sports, manufacturers have gone to rich in protein, because they want make it understood that if you do sports or want to take better care of yourself, you need this type of product, “he says. The consumption of articles that a few years ago could only be found in specialized stores and that manufactured brands dedicated to sports nutrition has been democratized . This is what Aitor Sánchez, dietician-nutritionist at the Aleris nutrition center, assures, who assures that “when you distribute something massively, the public tends to interpret that everyone can benefit from its consumption.” But, are they products aimed at the bulk of consumers? Are they necessary in a common diet? Do they have benefits compared to foods that are already high in these types of nutrients, such as nuts or meat? Although the recommended protein intake varies depending on certain factors, adults should ingest at least 0.8 grams of protein for every kilo of weight . A threshold that experts say is easily reached by following a balanced, varied diet rich in legumes, eggs, meat, fish or nuts. According to nutritionists, these types of high-protein products could be necessary for people who do sports, vegans or vegetarians who do not consume too much protein naturally or elderly people who have a lack of muscle mass. But not every consumer needs them per se. The problem is, according to Jorge, that there is a lack of nutritional education and there are those who, when reading “high in protein”, automatically associate it with “healthier”. Two concepts that do not always go hand in hand. In fact, the Organization of Consumers and Users (OCU) has recently warned that there are manufacturers who try to persuade the consumer with misleading messages. In these cases, they highlight the need to consume these products as part of healthy diets or weight loss plans, which can confuse the consumer and make them believe that simply by taking them they will lose weight. Jorge insists that when buying one of these items it is important to read the labels to check the amount of extra protein they include (since it may be the case that the increase is minimal), and check that they are not high in sugar or fat . “For example, if you opt for a yogurt that is high in protein, it must contain the ingredients of classic yogurt and not have added sugar,” he emphasizes. Danone is one of the mass consumer brands that has decided to take the step of creating a line of yogurts, milks and shakes enriched with whey protein, YoPRO . They did so by verifying that more and more people “know how important it is for their health to stay in shape”, explains Javier Pejito, vice president of marketing at Danone Spain. In their case, they were clear from the beginning: they opted for a formula free of sugars and fats and high in protein (between 15 and 25 grams per unit of consumption). “If we propose a product for active people, its profile has to be excellent , not only in terms of protein, but also in terms of the absence of added sugars or fat,” he says. It also ensures that consumer interest is growing, as sales have increased 70% over last year. Another reason that brands allege to defend their purchase is that they serve to diversify the type of protein that is ingested and the times of day when its consumption is most common. “In the Spanish diet, proteins are taken mainly at lunch and dinner and through meat products and derivatives. The nutritional recommendation would be to distribute the protein intake throughout the day and increase the weight of vegetable proteins “explains Deisy Herbert, a Kellogg nutritionist. The cereal giant has adapted to this trend differently, as has the plant-based food brand Alpro. What they have done is launch a line of foods that are not enriched with protein powder, but whose formulation naturally has more of this nutrient than other similar products. This includes cereal bars with a high content of seeds or drinks and vegetable yogurts with more soy than usual (source of protein and amino acids). “It is for this reason that it has more protein, no artificial supplements have been added to achieve it”, concludes Roberto Del Barrio, Country Manager ALPRO Spain.

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