Soy Protein…Soy What?

Soy – good or bad? Right or wrong? Yes or no? Soy is one of those seemingly eternally-debated foods that seem to be bad for you one second, and great for you the next. And so goes the never-ending phenomenon of the media latching onto every scientific study that’s released, blowing up the results (positive or negative), and reporting their skewed version of them. Help for the curious consumer to interpret studies’ findings and make a rational, informed decision about what he or she is going to consume is not often included.

So what I’m here to do today is talk about the findings of a study that found soy has benefits. But I’m not here to blow those positive findings into a, “Soy is your savior!” kind of blog post. I’m just here to share the benefits of a food I consume weekly, and some tips for easy ways to incorporate soy into your diet.

Dr. Blake Rasmussen’s clinical study, “Effect of Protein Blend vs. Whey Protein Ingestion on Muscle Protein Synthesis Following Resistance Exercise”, peaked my interest because not only am I constantly making an effort to incorporate resistance exercise (strength training) into my fitness routine several times a week, but I am always hearing differing opinions on what form of protein is the “best” to consume post-lifting for maximum muscle repair and growth. It turns out the answer isn’t one protein – it’s several!

Between sets!

The double-blind, randomized clinical trial examined 19 young adults and split them into two groups. All members of the study performed a high-intensity leg workout and consumed some form of protein an hour later. One group of 10 consumed 19 grams of a protein blend (25% soy, 25% whey, 50% casein), and the second group of 9 consumed 17.5 grams of just whey protein. Before and after both the leg workout and protein consumption, scientists took measurements which gave them an idea of the degree of muscle protein synthesis occurring in each subject.

Different types of tofu!

It was found that the first group (consumers of the protein blend) was still showing signs of muscle protein synthesis up to five hours after doing the leg workout! Quick subtraction reveals that to be four hours after consuming the protein blend. Imagine getting your protein on post-iron-pumping, heading out to run your errands, and continuing to build muscle as you stand in line a few hours later at the grocery store. Talk about multi-tasking! Dr. Rasmussen posits that the answer to the question of why these results occurred lies in the rates at which the body digests casein, whey, and soy. Casein is a “slow protein”, whey is “fast”, and soy lies somewhere in the middle. The more complicated a protein blend you throw at your body, the more work it will have to do to get those amino acids and deliver them to your muscles, prolonging the length of time muscle protein synthesis occurs.

Dipping sauce makes EVERYTHING better!

So much for needing meat to build muscle! I myself know plenty of vegetarians and vegans who have seen impressive gains from strength training as a result of consuming soy-based proteins. Just like meats, it is a complete source of protein containing both non-essential amino acids and the essential ones that the body cannot make on its own. How to consume it, you ask? Here are some recipes I’ve scouted-out from some of my favorite bloggers that incorporate ingredients containing soy:

Cooking isn’t a requirement, though. You can also use soy creamer or milk in your coffee or tea, have soy yogurt as a snack, or keep soy jerky (a recent find of mine) nearby for a fast protein fix. Even if you’re not into strength training (cough – it’s nothing but good for you – cough), soy still provides plenty of other benefits. It gets a bad rep for the hormones it’s said to contain, but soy doesn’t actually contain estrogen, which you may hear can feminize men and impair fertility. It contains isoflavones, a form of “plant” estrogen, and studies have not shown feminization or impaired fertility in men who consume them. Soy has even been shown to have benefits for kids, such as being an attractive alternative for those allergic to other forms of protein (milk, eggs, peanuts, etc) and possibly increasing chances of having a lower BMI later in life.

A soy snack!

So before you knock soy down, if you haven’t tried it yet, I’d suggest heading to your nearest grocery store and getting yourself a few different products to taste-test. You may find love for a new food! And it’ll love you right back 😀

Fitfluential, LLC compensated me for this campaign. All opinions are my own.

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