Adding protein to bars and baked foods appeals to sports nutrition and weight-management markets.

Some bakers are deterred from using dairy ingredients because inclusion means bringing one of the eight major allergens into a product. However, other bakers find dairy ingredients to be attractive additions. After all, inclusion requires label declaration, and for some marketers, the statement “Contains dairy” adds value to the product, creating a point of differentiation in the increasingly competitive marketplace.

Dairy’s perceived wholesomeness and health-promoting attributes can transfer to the product. This is especially true for dairy proteins, which have a positive reputation in the sports nutrition and weight management sectors.

It is important that formulators know their options to determine what protein or blend of proteins is most suitable to meet nutrition and label claims. 

Dense baked foods such as bars, brownies, cookies and muffins are some of the best candidates for protein fortification. Highly aerated products such as bread and cakes are less suitable for protein addition.

With all the many varied dairy ingredients available to bakers, it’s possible to include dairy’s healthful nutritional halo and functional properties in almost every application. Exploring the benefits of each ingredient can help bakers determine where dairy proteins can be used in their products.

Hydrolyzed whey
There are many varied dairy protein ingredients available to bakers. One such ingredient is hydrolyzed whey. This type of whey protein has been carefully processed to isolate the protein, resulting in an ingredient that is 90% to 95% whey protein. The process exposes the proteins to enzymes that free the amino acids, breaking them down so the body can process them quicker and more efficiently. This renders the protein easier for the body to absorb, which makes hydrolyzed whey a frequent addition to post-exercise recovery bars and snack foods.

A recent example is The Bar from sports nutrition company Progenex, North Salt Lake, Utah. With 14 grams of protein, 18 grams of net carbs and 12 grams of fat, The Bar satiates and provides a well-balanced snack between meals. It contains a proprietary hydrolyzed whey protein and trace mineral complex combined with conjugated linoleic acid.

Dairy-derived protein products can be used in baked foods like pretzels to add a healthy halo and replace sodium.

Concentrated milk products
Other specialty ingredients include milk protein concentrate (MPC) and milk protein isolate (MPI). Both are concentrated milk products, with the former containing 40% to 90% milk protein and the latter containing 90% or more protein. Both contain casein, whey proteins and bioactive proteins in the same ratio found in milk. As the protein content increases, the lactose levels decrease. The MPI contains very little fat (typically less than 3%), carbohydrates or lactose and has a high amino acid composition, making it ideal for meal replacement bars.

Eden Prairie, Minn.-based Milk Specialties has a new blend of whey and MPI designed to provide a soft texture, optimal sensory experience and extended shelf life in high-protein and nutrition bars. This soy-free line provides pliability and can significantly reduce browning and hardening over shelf life.