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Frequently Asked Questions About Soy Protein Powders
What Are Soy Protein Powders?
Protein functions as a structural component of all our cells, as a protective antibody, as an enzyme, and much more.
We need approximately 0.36 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight – which translates to around 54g of protein per day for the average 150 lb person.
However, this recommended amount is on the low side for many folks, especially those who exercise regularly or require extra protein for another reason.
For some, reaching adequate protein intake from the diet alone can be difficult, which is one reason people turn to protein supplements.
Soy protein powders are powdered health supplements that use protein extracted from the soybean. Also known as soya bean, the soybean is species of legume native to east Asia, that is now grown worldwide. It’s a crop that is fairly easy to grow, nutritious, and protein-rich, which makes it a very popular crop for commercial farming.
Soy is used in countless health products and is also the main ingredient in many foods including tofu, soy sauce, soy milk, etc. It’s commonly used as a meat replacement for those following a vegetarian or vegan diet. Soy is commonly processed into soy protein powders which essentially takes the dried, processed soy and extracts the protein from it. These products can offer upwards of 20g of protein in each serving, so they are a great way to supplement your daily protein intake.
As far as actual protein powders, they are just what they sound like: protein extracted from soy, dried, and powdered for convenience. The protein is extracted either using a water extraction or alcohol extraction process. There is some evidence to suggest that water extraction method maintains higher isoflavone content in the finished product.
Typically these powders are used by making drinks or shakes, but they can also be used in cooking/baking. They provide a versatile, easy and affordable way to increase protein intake, and are therefore a very popular supplement class.
What Are the Uses & Benefits of Soy Protein?
Soy protein is a rich source of high quality protein, which is essential for good health. Protein makes up about 15% of our body mass, and without adequate protein intake, we can suffer from a wide variety of health issues. So, in a way, the soy protein benefits are similar to the benefits of protein itself.
Additionally, the following benefits of soy protein are:
- Rich protein content
- 15-25+ grams of protein per serving
- Good amino acid profile
- Supports healthy muscles, skin, hair and more
- Important for muscle recovery
- Vegetarian and vegan-friendly
- Useful as a dieting tool
- Protein can help you feel more full for longer
- May help increase muscle mass and strength
- Supports bone health
- Soy contains isoflavones
- Supports good health as we age
Protein is a key source of amino acids, which serve countless functions in the human body. Some aminos can be produced in our bodies, while others have to be consumed through our diet. Soy protein includes all the key amino acids in good quantities, which can provide numerous health benefits.
Additionally, soy protein supplements contain high concentrations of isoflavones. Soy isoflavones are a natural compound found in the soybean, and they have been shown to have some positive health effects.
For one, isoflavones have been shown to have cardioprotective properties, which helps keep the heart-healthy. They may also help to improve bone density and improve bone health, among other benefits. All soy protein powders will contain isoflavones, but you will find higher concentrations in the products that use water extraction (we’ve noted which ones use water extraction in the guide).
Really, it’s difficult to overstate the importance of adequate protein intake. It can make a huge difference in your health. With that said, some people get enough protein from their diet alone, while others might need the help of a top soy protein powder. We’ll discuss this in detail in the guide below.
Who Can Benefit From Soy Protein?
Protein is important for everyone. It’s particularly important for specific groups of people, such as athletes. In this section, we’ll take a closer look at the specific groups of people that can experience the most benefits from soy protein products.
- Athletes – athletes need a lot more protein than the average person because protein is a key component of muscle recovery. In order to reach these higher-than-average recommended protein intakes, many athletes turn to supplements to help, as it can be difficult to reach those protein levels from dietary sources alone.
- Vegetarians – with the daily recommended intake of protein being at least 50g/day for adults (and often much more than that is recommended), reaching that protein intake without meat products can be difficult. Most of us get the majority of our protein from meats, so vegetarians who have made the dietary choice to avoid meat products can often struggle to consume adequate protein.
- Vegans – like vegetarians, vegans often struggle with their daily protein needs. In fact, vegans have even more difficulty, because many protein-rich foods that are vegetarian, are not vegan. This includes eggs and dairy products. Additionally, many of the most popular protein supplements, such as whey protein, are made with dairy and are therefore not vegan. Soy protein powders are one of the very few vegan-friendly protein supplements and provide vegans with a simple and effective way to increase protein intake.
- Dieters – soy protein powders can be used to supplement your diet and can also be used as meal replacement tools. Soy protein shakes can be very filling, and protein helps you feel full for longer (known as satiety). So, many choose to use soy protein supplements as a way to boost their dieting efforts.
How Do I Take Soy Protein Powder?
Soy protein powders are sold in large tubs, and usually, contain a scoop that can be used to measure out a single serving. A single serving typically contains 15-25g of protein, although the soy protein dosage (and the size of the serving) can vary from product to product.
There are both flavored and unflavored versions available. Regardless, they’ll need to be mixed into a liquid, such as water or milk. You can also throw in various other ingredients to make tasty, filling protein shakes. Typically, it’s best to use a blender or a shaker bottle to mix these powders up, as simply stirring with a spoon may leave some chunks.
Some people also like to cook with soy protein, which is an easy way to add additional protein content to the foods you’re already eating. You can add it to soups, stir-frys, and shakes, use it as a meat alternative, and more. To do this, we recommend choosing an unflavored product so that it doesn’t affect the taste of your meal.
For athletes, soy protein should be taken after working out, ideally as soon as possible after finishing exercising. The faster you can get amino acids into your system after working out, the better. Soy protein has a good amino acid profile that can benefit post-workout recovery.
For general protein supplementation/meal replacement, soy protein can be taken at any time of the day. Be sure to drink plenty of liquids when you use protein powder products.
Are There Any Side Effects of Soy Protein?
Soy protein supplements can cause some minor gastrointestinal issues in some folks, including nausea, diarrhea, stomach upset, etc. Most people will not notice any substantial side effects, though.
There is some concern with the long-term use of soy products, including soy protein. Some research has suggested troubling potential side effects when soy products are taken for long periods of time.
Soy can potentially cause chronic inflammation, itchy throat, mineral deficiencies, and more. There is also some concern based on the fact that the vast majority of soy grown is GMO soy, although there are a few non-GMO options out there.
If you’re concerned, you should speak to your doctor and do some research on your own. For now, know this: the majority of these potential side effects are caused by long-term use, so short-to-medium-term use should be fine.
Additionally, there is a lot of conflicting research out there, with some experts claiming that soy is harmless, and others that soy is dangerous. Speak with your health professional if you have concerns.
How Do I Pick a Good Soy Protein Powder?
Like the majority of products these days, there are a ton of options when it comes to choosing an effective soy protein powder. If you’re looking for the best option for you, keep the following factors in mind:
- Protein content – a big consideration should be the amount of protein offered by the product. Each product offers a different amount of protein, generally with a range of 15 to 25 grams per serving. When comparing products, take note of the amount of protein per serving, as well as the size of the serving itself. Some products may appear to have a lower protein content, but they may just have a smaller serving size than average.
- Included ingredients – take a look at what is in the product(s) you’re considering. Is it just soy protein, or are there additional ingredients? Is it soy protein isolate, or another form? Also, consider any dietary sensitivities you have, and keep an eye out for any products you may want to avoid, such as artificial flavorings/sweeteners, GMO products, etc.
- Brand quality – who makes the product? Are they a well known, reputable company? On our list soy protein powders, we’ve only recommended products by great companies. However, there are a lot of other products out there, so if you choose to shop elsewhere, do some research about the manufacturer before buying.
- Flavor/taste – this one can be difficult, obviously, without being able to actually try each product. However, you’ll want to find the best tasting soy protein powder for you, based on the flavors you tend to like. You can also look at user reviews to learn how other people liked the flavor. In general, it’s best to go with simple flavors, like chocolate or vanilla, or even unflavored, so you have a variety of choices when it comes to what you can mix the powder with.