While ingredients are available that mimic fat and sugar, achieving the proper functionality of these key ingredients in baked products often takes trial and error.
Obesity is clearly becoming more prevalent in the United States. And the often mixed and confusing dietary messages coming from mainstream media aren’t helpful. While diet fads, from low carb and high protein to the grapefruit diet and the cookie diet, hold sway among consumers, perhaps the most tried and true diet remains the reduced calorie version.
It has long been debated that “successful and sustainable weight loss and weight maintenance strategies require attention to both sides of the energy balance equation, that is caloric intake and energy expenditure,” says John Foreyt, M.D., obesity expert and professor at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, as reported by the Calorie Control Council. But bakers can’t concern themselves with the energy expenditure side of the equation. That’s up to the consumer. What bakers can focus on is reducing calories where and when appropriate.
Because fat provides 9 Kcal/g versus carbohydrates and protein, which provide 4 Kcal/g each, it is the most logical target for caloric reduction. But simply removing the fat and replacing it with another ingredient on a one-to-one basis typically isn’t feasible, as fat contributes a variety of attributes, including flavor, texture, emulsification, mouthfeel and lubricity. “The trick is to match the functionalities of caloric ingredients with those of the calorie-reducers, while paying mind to the economic impact of specialty ingredients,” says Teri Paeschke, Ph.D., in “Dropping Calories, Maintaining Taste and Functionality,” Food Product Design.
Formulating with sugar replacements
Replacing sugar with a reduced or no-calorie sugar substitute in a formulation can reduce the calorie content even further. Yet sugar also provides many functional attributes that can be difficult to replace, including browning, bulk, flavor, water activity control and improved tenderness in baked products.
The list of potential fat and sugar replacement ingredients is long, giving bakers an opportunity to create various formula iterations. For instance, protein-based fat replacers include microparticulated protein (Simplesse®) and modified whey protein concentrate. Carbohydrate-based fat replacers include fiber, gums, inulin and starch, among others. Reduced calorie fat-based analogs also are available.
Because sugar typically provides bulk, it must be replaced by a bulking agent, such as polydextrose, at 1 Kcal/g. Low-calorie, high-intensity sweeteners can be used for sweetness and sugar alcohols not only provide sweetness, but have functional properties as well.
Regardless of the method chosen for calorie reduction, bakers must consider all the functional properties of the fat and/or sugar they are replacing. In the end, high quality reduced calorie baked products can be produced, but only through trial and error.