“High protein,” “added protein,” “max protein.” All of these phrases that advertisers use to grab the attention of consumers, particularly aiming at the health conscious. Protein is commonly known to be useful in a weight loss situation, and it is therefore considered to being the glorified or ‘superior’ macronutrient.
Thermic Effect of Food (TEF), or Diet-Induced Thermogenesis (DIT), is the amount of energy it takes to break down and digest food to release energy. In the case of protein, approximately 15-30% of the food’s energy will be burned during the digestion, absorption, transport and metabolising processes*. This is what makes it so desirable for those who are in a calorie deficit trying to lose weight.
People tend to think ‘the more protein I have, the better.’ This is true that increasing your protein intake throughout the day may aid in assisting weight loss, however this is only to a certain extent.
Food manufacturers are using this as a way of promoting their product by suggesting it as having a higher amount of protein per serve. Now, something to be aware of and pay careful attention to is the serving size.
Some of the above products have changed their serving size, which has consequently increased the ‘protein per serve’ amount in the higher protein version of the product compared to the original. This can be misleading to consumers, particularly those less educated in label reading. For example, in the peanut butter example, a serving of normal super crunchy peanut butter is 15g (approximately 1 tablespoon), compared to a serving of the ‘protein’ peanut butter being 30g (or 2 tablespoons). So really, if you were to use the same amount of each peanut butter (e.g., 1 tablespoon) and compare them, the amount of protein would be pretty similar.
The almond milk comparison however uses the same volume for their serving sizes, eliminating the above issue and allowing for a more clear-cut comparison in products. The additional protein in the ‘high protein’ almond milk has come from the addition of soy protein which is also stated on the front of the product, which is good as an indication that it is not suitable for those with a soy allergy (although it could be written in larger font to save the disappointment when getting it home).
Finally, the yoghurt example shows a different serving size also- 125g versus 180g. In saying this, however, the protein version of this yoghurt does show a considerable increase in its protein content when looking at both products’ per 100g columns (over double the protein content of the original).
So whether or not something is labelled as ‘high protein’ or not, not you have the tools to see whether the product is in fact ‘high in protein,’ or if it is a ploy made by food manufacturers where they have changed the serving size instead.