Mar 27, 2019

Saffola Fittify Hi Protein Slim Meal Shake Review

There is a new trend in marketing these days - creating a new need. A decade ago, marketing was catering to the prevailing needs of consumers by positioning products/brands accordingly. This involved understanding consumers' needs (both expressed and latent needs), current alternatives used and the struggles consumers faced with those alternatives. The promotions - ad narratives, taglines and messaging all revolved around these aspects. 

But if you see the latest trends in marketing, it is all about creating new needs in the minds of consumers. Packaged food brands achieve them in two ways - one based on instilling fear and the other based on aping Western trends. Once the new needs are established, the product category gets created and new brands get launched. 

Since the last 3-4 years, Indian media has been abuzz with articles stating that Indians don't eat enough protein and publish statistics/research to substantiate those claims. This is the precursor to create a new product category in the market, which is protein supplements/shakes. Brands are jumping on this bandwagon big time.

The latest is this new Fittify Gourmet Hi-Protein Slim Meal Shake by Saffola, which the "food influencers" have started to promote it on social media.

There are multiple flavors of this meal shake. Let's look at Pistachio Almond flavor, which seems to be the favorite among the food influencers.

Whey protein concentrate (44.5%), Skimmed milk powder (26.1%), Inulin (chicory root extract), Thickener (INS 412), Garcinia Cambogia, Edible vegetable oil (sunflower oil), Almond Flakes (1.1%), Mineral premix (0.9%), Vitamin premix (0.3%), Quinoa (0.15%), Buckwheat (0.13%), Amaranth (0.12%), Sucralose, Turmeric (0.02%), Moringa (0.01%).
Contains permitted natural colour (INS 140) and added flavors (nature and nature identical flavoring substances)

The source of protein is whey protein concentrate, the first ingredient. When milk is processed to form cheese, the remaining liquid is called whey. This liquid undergoes several processing steps and then dried to form a whey protein concentrate powder.

Given that most commercial milk is adulterated and the cows raised in large-scale dairy farms are given antibiotics, growth hormones and what not, I don't consider "dairy products" procured from a commercial large-scale industry as a reliable nutrition source for protein (or calcium). I would urge all these protein supplement brands (that use whey protein isolate/concentrate as their protein source) to first prove that their supplements are free from antibiotics/growth hormones residues.

The flavor is called "Pistachio and Almonds" but the quantity of almonds is so less (1.1%). And I'm searching for pistachio in the ingredients list. In Goundamani's voice, "avan kedaikka maattaan". There are NO pistachios but there is green colour added in the form of INS 140 (and maybe a few drops of flavor). They are so confident that consumers wouldn't read the ingredients list that they chose to skip adding real pistachios.

Similar to their meal soup, the slim meal shake also emphasizes on five super foods but the percentages are so less here as well - Quinoa (0.15%), Buckwheat (0.13%), Amaranth (0.12%), Turmeric (0.02%), Moringa (0.01%). In SJ Surya's words, "irukku aana illa".

Last but not least, this meal replacement shake uses artificial sweetener - sucralose. All artificial sweeteners affect the gut bacteria, impairs appetite regulation and causes weight gain. I had shared more details in my earlier post on Brittania Nutrichoice Digestive Zero biscuits that use sucralose as the sweetener.

I avoid ALL products using artificial sweeteners. They come with a laundry list of repercussions such as weight gain, sweet cravings etc. They impact our gut bacteria, intestine and liver.

Meal replacement shakes sound all hip, cool and modern, but they are never wholesome. There is very little dietary fibre (2.9gm) in this drink, how can this be considered a meal? The product page in Amazon shows that 1 serving equals 3 bowls of dal, 1 bowl of curd, 1 bowl of spinach etc. Why not EAT those regular staple foods?

I'm NOT falling for such traps. Yes, protein is important and I'd rather eat my bowl of dal, nuts (including real almonds and pistachios) and seeds on a daily basis than gulp this pretentious drink.

From a price perspective, a pack of 12 servings costs Rs.1190. So per serving is around Rs.100. For the same price, one can easily buy a day's requirement of organic milk, organic fruits and vegetables. 

In my not-so-humble opinion, such meal replacement shakes are a lazy way to eat, one that doesn't require chewing, one that doesn't require any attention to be given to food (work/drive and sip your shake) and of course, one that doesn't need any time to cook. It is a shame that food bloggers who "cook" promote such unhealthy options.

Mar 21, 2019

Saffola Fittify Hi-Protein Meal Soup Review

I came across this product in Instagram when a popular food blogger lavishly praised it as "tasty and healthy with the power of 5 superfoods". This new product "Fittify Gourmet Hi-Protein Meal Soup" by Saffola is trying to capitalize on the latest high protein craze with the claim "up to 10x protein vs regular soup". The front side of the pack of Spanish Tomato flavor lists other claims - "11g protein, 6.3g fibre, 26 vitamins and minerals". What caught my attention was this phrase
"With 5 plant-based superfoods - quinoa, moringa, amaranth, buckwheat and turmeric".

All the right words to grab the attention of today's health-conscious, time-starved urban consumer, isn't it?

Firstly, we need to understand these 10X protein claims. In tiny font, it is mentioned that 10X protein comparison is with regular powdered instant soups available in the market, the ones like Knorr that hardly have any nutrition. All I can think of is the classic Goundamani-Senthil dialogue - "naa ezhaavadhu pass nga, neenga SSLC fail nga...pass perusaa, fail perusaa?" (Folks who don't understand Tamil, this is a dialogue from a Tamil movie Gentleman).

In other words, one who claims "I have scored 15 marks and I'm better than the student who scored 5 marks" when the pass percentage is 50% and the distinction percentage is 90%.

Next, let's turn our attention to these superfoods. The back side of the pack states the benefits of these five superfoods to reinforce the fact that this soup indeed contains these magical ingredients. Now we need to know how much of these ingredients are actually present.

Let's search for these superfoods in the ingredients list (picture source - Amazon)
Quinoa (0.1%), Buckwheat (0.08%), Amaranth (0.08%), Turmeric (0.01%), Moringa (0.004%)

Such minuscule quantities! How ridiculous is that! Since there are no regulations, brands can add a teeny tiny amount of any of these and use them in their promotions. As consumers, we need to be wary of such claims and really understand the quantity of these ingredients. The food bloggers promoting this soup are being sent a hamper with these superfoods in cute, little glass jars. Yet another visual fooling strategy used by brands to create a false image. Earlier, brands used to send only their product (and the exact phrases to be used) to food bloggers/influencers. Now they seem to be sending the appropriate props to use in the pictures.

What are the top ingredients then?
Soy protein isolate, maltodextrin, inulin, sugar, Edible Vegetable Oil, Edible Common Salt

I haven't done enough research to share my thoughts on soy protein isolate, which is being widely used in protein shakes. What I have read so far is that soy protein isolate is chemically extracted from soy. Given that more than 90% of soy is genetically modified, I avoid soy products or its extracts. There are enough protein-rich sources in a traditional Indian diet. I don't see a need for such chemically processed protein extracts.

The source of protein is mainly soy protein isolate. Quinoa, buckwheat and amaranth are protein-rich sources but given their quantities are so less, we are not getting protein from these natural ingredients.

Maltodextrin is highly processed, artificially produced white powder, derived from starch. It is used as a thickener and binding agent in many processed foods. Our body absorbs it quickly, giving instant energy. It has a high glycemic index and spikes up glucose levels. It might be suited for athletes, but definitely not for someone looking to lose weight or managing lifestyle ailments like diabetes.

Each serving contains 6.8gm of sugar (approx 1.5 tsp of sugar). What's the need for sugar in a soup? A pinch should suffice to enhance the flavor, why 1.5 tsp of sugar?

Each serving contains a whopping 1189 mg of sodium. To give you a comparison, Knorr sweet corn vegetable soup contains 543 mg of sodium per serving. This is extremely high for a single meal soup.Why aren't the food bloggers talking about this fact?

As usual, this soup also uses the term "real vegetables". If you check the ingredients list, it is a measly 1.3% of dehydrated vegetables(tomato, onion, coriander and parsley). The soup is called Spanish tomato but there is hardly any tomato present.

Artificial additives in the form of flavor enhancers (INS 627, INS 631) are also present. Yes, the same flavor enhancers used in Knorr soups. Please check my post on Knorr soups to know more about these flavor enhancers and their side effects. 

Apart from the soup mix, it also comes with "multigrain crunchies". Yeah, obviously....when you add "gourmet" to the name and want a premium positioning, there has to be "multigrain" in it, isn't it? 

What are these crunchies made of? Oat flour, corn flour along with a few other ingredients. And yes, the same 2 flavor enhancers (INS 627, INS 631) are present here as well.

Each pack comes with 4 servings and MRP is Rs.375. Current selling price in Amazon is Rs.300. So each serving costs Rs.75. Quite a high price we are paying for hardly-any-good, mostly-bad ready-to-eat soup.

There are other variants like Mexican sweet corn, Italian mixed vegetables etc. The ingredients are pretty much similar. And the same story repeats itself.

Yet another junk masquerading as healthy, that is launched to fool urban consumers, curated by a celebrity chef.

A bowl of healthy and tasty tomato soup can be made in 15 minutes with a 2-litre pressure cooker and a hand blender. The minimum ingredients needed are 4-5 tomatoes, 1 onion, 3-4 garlic cloves, butter/oil, salt and pepper powder. That's it, not a long laundry list of thickeners and flavor enhancers. You can skip the butter/oil and make it vegan, oil-free. If you want to add protein-rich foods to this soup, add a handful of moong and/or masoor dal, which will also give a nice, creamy texture without the need for any thickeners.

If you want to make a nice moringa soup, here's my recipe, using real drumstick greens. You might need around 2 handfuls of the greens, not 0.004% as present in this pack of instant soup.
All my homemade soup recipes are tagged in Instagram here. Do take a look, these are quick and simple.

Let's stop relying on celebrity chefs to curate junk meals for us. Let's stop falling prey to tall health claims. 

Let's learn to cook and invest time in cooking every day for our good health. And yes, as always, READ THE INGREDIENTS LIST AND NUTRITION FACTS TABLE.

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