Medically supervised weight loss and bariatric surgery patients have a new way to manage their diet, thanks to an innovative meal replacement product cooked up by a chef and a bariatric surgeon at the University of Cincinnati (UC) Health Weight Loss Center.

Rational Foods just released its nutrient-packed Achieve® food pouches. Created by Sean Daly, a chef and director of food innovation and Dr. Jonathan Thompson, a bariatric surgeon and Daly's longtime friend, Achieve® food pouches offer an alternative to sweet, powdered shakes for meal replacement nutrition.

"Bariatric patients must adhere to a strict diet of liquid and soft foods pre- and post-surgery before they can eat solid foods again," explains Thompson, a surgeon at the UC Health Weight Loss Center who has performed over 600 weight loss surgery cases. "We believe a convenient, non-shake option has the potential to disrupt the weight loss recovery marketplace."

The Achieve® food pouch comes in three flavors: Butternut squash, pear and ginger; banana, yogurt and strawberry; and apple, carrot and raspberry. Each brightly-colored, 4.7-ounce squeeze pouch boasts real, organic foods, 20g of protein, 160 calories and the vitamins/minerals necessary for the low-calorie program. They're ready to eat but also have a long shelf life. Patients will be able to purchase the pouches through their healthcare providers or through the Rational Foods website.

"As a registered dietitian I am always looking for healthy options for my bariatric patients," says Valerie Brookbank of University of Cincinnati Health. "The benefits of small meals include better digestion of nutrients, hunger management and better food choices, and Rational Foods' new organic, real food pouches check all the boxes. Achieve® provides a complete, portable meal replacement option. It does not contain junk – additives that people can't even pronounce. It supplies 20 grams of protein in a small serving – appropriate for bariatric patients. Best of all it tastes good! I am very excited to offer this to my patients."

Rational Foods spun off from the Thompson Center, an entrepreneurial division of the University of Cincinnati Research Institute directed by Thompson that focuses on new medical technologies. Thompson also invented a medical stapler designed to transform how surgeons perform sleeve gastrectomy surgeries. Daly brought experience developing ready-to-eat (RTE) food solutions and the creation of a culinary innovation center, where he co-developed new products with customers in a USDA-certified test lab with the nation's biggest CPG and food service companies.  

A long-standing friendship brought them together. With angel funding, they developed the patent-pending formula used in Achieve®, along with a manufacturer and food formulation specialist. They tested the prototypes in weight loss support groups, and participants took home every sample.

The founders hope their product will help weight loss patients adhere to their diet restrictions and adopt a rational, healthy lifestyle.