The most undesirable, often unpreventable characteristic of nutrition bars containing standard whey protein isolate is the tendency of bars to harden well within the first three months.
“Manufacturers would come to us and say, 'We would really like to use more whey, but it keeps drying out our bars. What can we do?'” says Starla Paulsen, applications research manager for Glanbia Nutritionals Inc. (Monroe, Wis.).
In response to this request, Glanbia developed Barflex™, a partially hydrolyzed premium whey protein isolate designed to control water migration in nutrition bars; it is a solution to the extended shelflife challenge. Barflex is a unique whey ingredient with a functionality developed to reduce the drying and hardening that occurs in nutrition bars when standard whey proteins are used.
“The length of time by which Barflex can increase a product's shelflife is very formula-dependent. Glanbia can guarantee a one-year shelflife with Barflex,” states Paulsen.
The ingredient can create a product that is less like a traditional nutritional bar and has more of the candy-like texture. “Everyone thinks of nutrition bars as kind of dry,” says Paulsen. “But because we manipulated the protein in Barflex, we are able to create different types of products which are more appealing to a wider audience.”
The WPI contains both peptides and proteins that are nutritionally similar in that they offer the same amino acids. The smaller peptides tend to be absorbed faster, something that is desired in sports nutrition for recovery after exercise. The short peptides have less water-binding potential when compared to the longer proteins. “Nutritionally, the shorter the peptide, the faster it is for the body to absorb,” explains Paulsen.
In general, small peptides can be very bitter. There is a proprietary process that reduces bitterness in this ingredient. “Placed side by side with some of the other ingredients on the market, the profile of Barflex is much cleaner and easier to work with,” states Paulsen.
As with any whey protein product, Barflex is high in branch chain amino acids, and has a complete amino acid profile. Branch chain amino acids are in high demand because of their link to muscle synthesis. “Barflex is whey-based, and whey is one of the highest quality proteins available, and it is a 100% natural product,” remarks Paulsen.
The WPI Barflex comes as a standard powder, but can be extruded into textured protein ingredients. “Outside of nutritional bars, it can be used in bakery products, but its optimum usage was designed specifically for nutritional bars; hence, the name Barflex,” says Paulsen. “It is an outstanding solution for nutritional bars to help extend the shelflife out to 9 to 12 months.”