Soy protein has become the competence of whey protein, which is possibly the most sold supplement. It is a vegetable source of protein which has called the attention of many people due to its properties and benefits. This is due to the fact that it can significantly stimulate the muscle growth and even support our health.
What is soy protein?
Soy protein is an excellent source of protein from soy beans. It is the most convincing alternative against other animal products. This vegetable belongs to the leguminous family and it is the one that has the highest protein content within the plant kingdom.
Quite often, soy tends to be underrated in terms of its nutrient content. However, the truth is that it has an excellent nutrient profile. It has many vitamins and minerals, no cholesterol and barely any saturated fats, as well as a good fiber supply. It can be perfectly compared to meat.
Nutrient Profile of soy (legume) per 100g
|of which sugars||7.3g|
|of which saturated||2.9g|
|Vitamin A||22 IU||13.5%|
Amino acids from soy
As we said previously, soy is a high quality source of vegetable protein. Unlike others, it provides all the amino acids, both essential and non-essential. The first group are those which cannot be synthesized by our body, which is why we need an external supply through food or supplementation.
Soy beans aminogram per 100g. The essential amino acids are in bold letters
Nutrients from soy
Soy has a series of bioactive components which are almost exclusive to this product. All of its properties are meant to improve our health. Some of them are:
Flavonoids and isoflavonoids
The first ones are a group of vegetable metabolites (phytochemicals). They essentially provide a series of benefits for our health through cell signalling pathways and antioxidant effects. These molecules are present in some fruits and vegetable, including soy, which has the highest content.
Two types of bioflavonoids, called genistein and daidzein, provide support for our bone health and osteoporosis, reducing the risk of fractures.
Isoflavones can help to fight cancer by inhibiting certain enzymes which are related to the growth of malign cells. They prevent the estrogens from binding to alpha receptors, which are present in the breasts, testicles or liver. To do so, the phytoestrogens will substitute the in order to lower this risk.
They are a type of phytochemical called polyphenol, which is present in many vegetable products. These phenol compounds are absorbed in the walls of the intestinal tract. Some of their beneficial effects are: their antioxidant effects neutralize the free radicals, reducing the oxidative damage to the cells. They also stimulate the anti-inflammatory activity of the body. This phenomenon is the way in which the body fights against any infection, injury or irritation which can cause heat, pain, reddening of the skin, swelling… If there is an inflammation, it means that there is a threat and our body is responding to that. However, sometimes, this kind of inflammation is not necessary and it is not due to any of the previous reasons, which can actually affect the healthy cells. In this way, the phenolic acids will be in charge of regulating the inflammation.
It is another type of polyphenol released by plants when there is a risk or threat, such as an anti-microbial response. In other words, it is a defense mechanism against external agents. In this way, we can take advantage of this phytochemical to improve our immune response.
These components are found in plants which have a molecular structure that is similar to that of cholesterol. However, they do not entail any risk for our health. There are several types, such as beta-sitosterol, campesterol.
They are steroidal glycosides, steroidal alkaloids or triterpenes which are present in many plants, including soy. Their benefits for our health are:
- Lowering high cholesterol levels: saponins bind to the bile salts and cholesterol in the intestinal tract. Bile salts form small micelles with cholesterol to improve their absorption. Therefore, saponins lower the blood cholesterol by preventing its re-absorption.
- Stimulating the immune system, helping to fight against parasites, viruses and/or bacteria.
- Preventing certain types of cancer and supporting the bone system.
Soy protein and muscle mass growth
Soy is frequently not advised among bodybuilders. The main reasons are its effects on the hormones, since it is believed that it lowers the testosterone levels. However, this is a myth with little scientific evidence.
The controversy sprouts from one of the components of soy, called phytoestrogens. These are natural chemicals substances whose molecular structure is similar to that of female sex hormones, estrogens. However, the behavior of this plant component on the body of men will not lower the testosterone levels by any means.
Foods containing soy protein:
This is a healthy alternative to a red meat hamburger. A vegetable hamburger has less fats, cholesterol and calories than a normal hamburger. Soy hamburger has an average of 10.99g of protein, mainly from soy.
This one is a good alternative to cow milk, since it has almost as much calcium – 200mg and 290mg respectively. When it comes to the protein content, soy milk has 7g of protein per glass.
It is a very healthy product, rich in protein, without cholesterol and a high calcium content. Many people around the world eat soy cheese as a main source of protein. A portion of 100g of soy cheese will provide 10.10g of protein.
Moreover, it is an excellent source of calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium and group B vitamins and vitamin E.
Benefits and properties of soy protein
Amino acid supply
Within the range of proteins available in the market, Soy Protein is a product that will meet the daily protein requirements of athletes
Soy protein contains essential amino acids, these elements cannot be synthesized by our own body. This means that we can only get them from external sources. Soy protein is rich in Arginine, which is a direct precursor form of nitric oxide (NO). Genistein will stimulate the NO production. This substance is released by the body and it improves the performance since it enhances the nutrient transport and muscle tissue oxygenation.
How much protein do we need?
One of the main points when it comes to planning a diet to gain muscle mass is knowing how much protein do you need. According to scientific evidence, we need an average of:
1.7-2.5g per Kg of body weight
This will be enough if we want to increase our muscle mass.
It contributes to the recovery
On the other hand, later supply will coincide with the beginning of the muscle growth (hypertrophy), strength gains and muscle recovery processes.
Vegan protein source
Soy protein is a good alternative when it comes to getting proteins in a vegan or vegetarian diet. As we already know, those who follow this type of diets have a harder time finding a complete protein (with all the essential amino acids). This is due that they are mostly found in animal products. In this case, they can benefit from taking this type of protein since it has a very good aminogram. You can purchase a quality soy protein at HSNstore, where there is a wide range of proteins suitable both for vegetarians and vegans.
Benefits for health
As we discussed in the first part of this article, soy will provide a series of micronutrients which will contribute to:
- Supporting the Antioxidant Function
- The Anti-inflammatory Function
- Lowering the Cholesterol levels
- Improving the Bone System
Soy protein can be used to:
- Lower the cholesterol
- Provide amino acids for those athletes who need to gain strength and power
- Meet the protein requirements of those who suffer lactose intolerance
- Complement a vegetarian or vegan diet
- Support weight loss diets
- Control the blood sugar levels
Soy protein, intake and formats
Soy protein is available in tablet format, ready-to-take drinks or instant powder in different flavors. The powder can be easily mixed with soy milk, skimmed milk or water.
Side effects and interactions
Soy protein contains isoflavones-phytonutrients which can protect the cells and prevent the onset of cancer. Nevertheless, you should consult your doctor before taking it because they have a similar effect to the hormones of pregnant women.
- What is better, amino acid powder or capsules/tablets?
- Amino Acid Dose: How and When to Take them
- How to Combine Vegetable Proteins