Soy protein has long been derided in the bodybuilding world. It’s either regarded as a second-rate protein source or cause “feminization” in men. These common misnomers couldn’t be further from the truth...
Soy protein has long been derided in the bodybuilding world. It’s either regarded as a second-rate protein source or cause “feminization” in men. These common misnomers couldn’t be further from the truth.
In reality, soy protein is a viable alternative to the more common whey and casein proteins that receive many of the accolades around the industry. It is just as cost effective and versatile as its more popular brethren. Follow along as we breakdown what soy protein supplements are and also dispel some of the myths surrounding them.
What is Soy Protein and Where does it come from?
Soy protein comes from soybeans. Soybeans are low in fat and cholesterol and high in protein, fiber and carbohydrates. A number of steps have to be taken before it can be used in supplements.
Soybeans are cleaned, cracked, shelled and crushed into flakes
The minimal amount of oil contained in the flakes is then extracted
The remaining defatted flakes are dried
From here, the flakes are turned into one of three types of soy products
Types of Soy Protein
There are a variety of different types of soy, and they are differentiated by the way they are processed:
Soy Protein Concentrate Comprised of approximately 65-70% protein and is basically what is left after the defatting process. The rest of the concentrate retains most of the fiber and carbohydrates contained in the original soybeans.
Soy Protein Isolate Much like Whey Protein Isolate, this is the most refined source of soy protein and contains 90% protein or higher with little to no other ingredients remaining resulting in almost pure protein.
Textured Soy Protein Textured Soy Protein is made from soy protein concentrate and is used in various soy products like imitation chicken, steak, or pork.
Pros of Soy Protein
Recent research has unveiled a number of benefits attributed to the inclusion of soy protein in the diet:
Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid score of 1.000 (highest possible value)
Helps reduce the risk of heart disease
Aids in lowering LDL cholesterol (the bad kind of cholesterol)
Supports a healthy immune system
Reduce the risk of colon, breast, and prostate cancer
Additionally, a recent study compared the effectiveness of four different types of protein shakes on lean body mass composition as well as hormonal changes. The study concluded that soy protein shakes were equally as effective as whey protein shakes were in lean mass gains and there was no negative impact on hormone levels in men.
This brings us to…
Dispelling the myths
As stated earlier, soy protein has long been the whipping boy in bodybuilding circles based on some rather erroneous ideas. A few of the most common ones are:
Decreases testosterone levels
Raises estrogen levels
Ineffective for muscle growth
Inhibits thyroid function
The study that we just mentioned above refuted many of these facts and supports soy protein’s inclusion in a well-rounded muscle-building diet.
Although soy products do contain varying levels of phytoestrogens, you would have to consume upwards of 3 quarts of soy milk per day to reach any potential “danger levels” associated with soy.
Who is this for?
In case you haven’t read everything up to this point, we’ll paraphrase...soy protein supplements are applicable to anyone. They are of particular benefit to those who have lactose or egg allergies and thus can’t use whey or egg white protein based supplements. Also, for the vegan or vegetarian fitness buff, soy proteins offer an alternative to animal-based or pea proteins. No longer are you stuck having to eat rice and beans together to get your full spectrum of amino acids.
Hopefully this has assuaged any fears or reservations you may have had about experiment with soy protein. Whether your goals are muscle gain or fat loss, soy deserves a spot on your protein powder shelf right next to your whey and casein tubs.