What should I know before I try functional foods?

Robert DeVito
Functional foods are an emerging field in food science due to their increasing popularity with health-conscious consumers and the ability of marketers to create new interest in existing products.

The functional food category includes meal replacement bars and shakes, protein bars and shakes, and anything that may be performance enhancing, such as ready-to-drink products (RTDs).

Powders and Meal Replacements
There is a lot of talk about increasing protein intake and questions on how to utilize protein supplements or meal replacement powders. In this answer we will define the differences between these things, explain all of the acronyms you see associated with these products and instruct on general usage.
  • Protein Powder is just that -- protein in a powder form. It is used to increase an individual's total protein intake and can be very convenient.
  • Meal Replacement Formulas (MRF) are products that have all 3 calorie-containing macronutrients (P,C,F). These products are generally used to replace a higher-calorie meal and provide satiety because of the greater amount of nutrition provided and the balance of macronutrients. 
  • Meal Replacement Bars are similar to powders except that they are in a bar form. There are crunchy/crispy bars and savory bars and bars with tons of chocolate in them. The bar category can be wildly confusing because of the endless list of ingredients that can be added in to a formula. 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.