Soy Protein and Whey Protein: Which is Better

What is Soy Protein and Whey Protein

Soy protein and whey protein are two of the most common forms of protein. Protein is available in a variety of dietary sources. These include foods of plant and animal origins. Soy protein is a plant protein that is isolated from the soybean. While Whey protein is an animal protein that is derived from milk.

Normally, all animal proteins such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and dairy are considered complete protein sources. These are the proteins that contain all of the essential amino acids required for your body to function properly.

Proteins from vegetable sources are incomplete in that they are normally deficient in one or two essential amino acids. To get the better of all essential amino acids, you need to consume a variety of vegetables, fruits, grains, and legumes.

Soy Protein

It is the most widely used protein of plant origin. From the legume family, Soybean is regarded to be as important as wheat, barley, and rice as a nutritional staple.

Soy’s quality makes it a fabulous substitute for those looking for non-animal sources of protein in their diet.

If you are vegetarians, soy can provide a comparable nutritional benefit of protein as compared to its animal equivalent.

Soy protein is comparatively better and easier to digest than most protein supplements. It also contains little or no fat and has virtually no cholesterol.

If you are lactose intolerant, you will be pleased to know that soy protein contains no lactose and you can consume it safely.

Soy Protein Types

Proteins obtained from soybean can be separated into three distinct forms; Flour, Concentrates and Isolates.

The protein composition of soy flour, concentrates, and isolates are as below:

  • Soy Flour 50%
  • Soy Concentrate 70%
  • Soy Isolate 90%

Out of the three different forms of soy protein products, soy flour is the least refined form. It is commonly found in baked goods.

One more product of soy flour is called textured soy flour. This is mainly used for processing as a meat extender.

Soy concentrate was developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s that is made from defatted (removal of fat) soybeans.  

Though soy concentrate retains most of the bean’s protein content, it doesn’t contain as many carbohydrates as flour, making it more palatable.

Soy concentrate is easily digestible and is found in nutrition bars, cereals, and yoghurts.

Soy isolates are the most refined soy protein product that contains the highest concentration of protein. But unlike flour and concentrates, it contains no dietary fibre.

Isolates originated around the 1950s in The United States of America.  Like concentrates, they are too easily digestible.

Hence it is introduced into foods such as sports drinks and healthy beverages as well as infant formulas.

Nutritional Benefits

Soy has been a part of the human diet for centuries.

Epidemiologists were the first to recognize soy’s overall health benefits when considering populations with a high intake of soy.

These populations reported a lower rate in certain cancers, decreased cardiac disorders, and improvements in menopausal symptoms and osteoporosis in women. (1)

The American Heart Association recommended soy protein foods in a diet to reduce saturated fat and cholesterol to promote heart health. (2)

The health benefits associated with soy protein are due to the presence of bioactive compounds such as sterols, saponins, and isoflavones. (3)

These compounds have beneficial effects on lowering blood cholesterol levels and blood pressure.

Besides isoflavones present in soy exhibit estrogen-like effects that can reduce the risk of breast cancer in women.

Besides, soy protein supplement helps to maintain bone mineral content and reducing the severity of menopausal symptoms. (4)

Isoflavones, along with vitamins A, C, and E boost your immune system by fighting against several diseases.

Soy Beans are Great Substitute

Soybeans are a very versatile food. Various cuisines, especially Asian ones recognize the value of the modest soybean. 

A variety of naturally yummy delicacies are all soy-based: tofu, soy pudding, soya milk, meat substitutes, and soy sauce.

Soybeans are low in fat and can be replaced with most protein sources.

 If you are obese, soy protein can do wonder for you. This is a great protein supplement to lose weight without compromising your protein requirements.

Bodybuilders have just received a great blessing of a food.  Soy foods make their jobs a lot easier. Without the fat and with all the goodness of protein, easily digestible soy is a great help for them.

Soy products can be mixed into shakes and drinks. Being lactose-free, you can still be able to drink it safely if you have lactose intolerance.

How Much is Too Much

It is pretty safe to consume a wide amount of soy products, unlike other protein sources. Allergies to soy products can exist, though cases are few and far between.

However, it would be best to consult your physician or your nutritionist when changing to a soy diet. It may interfere with any prescription drugs you are taking.

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Whey Protein

Milk contains two major proteins, whey, and casein.

Whey is the clear liquid parts of milk that leftover following the process (coagulation and curd removal) of cheese manufacturing.

From this liquid part, whey proteins are separated and purified utilizing various techniques.

Whey protein provides high levels of essential and branched-chain amino acids.

Also, Wey protein is rich in vitamins and minerals. The presence of these bioactive compounds in whey protein makes it beneficial for your overall health.

Whey protein is mostly used in sports nutrition for its wide health benefits.  Additionally, whey products are also used in infant formulas, baked foods, salad dressings, and medical nutritional formulas.

Whey Protein types

Three major forms of whey proteins are available, resulting from various processing techniques used to separate whey protein.

These are whey powder, whey concentrate, and whey isolate.

Composition (%) of whey protein forms.

  • Whey Powder 11% to 14.5%
  • Whey Concentrate 25% to 89%
  • Whey Isolate 90+%

Whey protein powder has loads of applications throughout the food industry. It is used as an additive in food products for bakery, confectionery, dairy, and in a variety of snacks.

Whey powder itself has several different varieties. Sweet whey and Acid whey is used in salad dressings.

While demineralized and reduced forms are used as food additives other than sports supplements.

Whey concentrate is obtained after removing the water, lactose, ash, and some minerals.

Whey concentrate usually contains more biologically active components and proteins that make them a very attractive supplement for the athlete.

Whey isolates are the purest available form of protein. The protein concentration in whey isolates is 90% or more.

During the processing of whey protein isolate, fat and lactose are removed. As a result, if you have lactose intolerant can often safely take these products.

Nutritional Benefits

Whey is a complete protein whose biologically active compounds provide additional benefits to improve your body function. (5)

This protein contains an ample supply of the amino acid cysteine, which enhances glutathione levels. Glutathione is an antioxidant that can assist your body in combating various diseases.

Whey protein also contains a high concentration of branched-chain amino acids like leucine, isoleucine, and valine. These are important to build muscle, and decrease muscle fatigue after exercise. (6)

It frequently plays an important role in most low-carb and high-protein diets. Taking whey protein is a great way to increase your protein intake that can help you slim down.

Pregnant women should increase their intake of whey protein because it can provide the nutrition needed by the growing infants inside their bodies. It will indirectly improve the immune system of the baby.

For bodybuilding, muscle growth is everything and that’s why bodybuilder takes whey protein so much. It can help accelerate the development of muscle and growth of lean tissue mass.

Whey protein can also be used as a supplement to boost your immune system. It helps you heal faster from diseases and feel better.

Diabetes, cancer, and AIDS have symptoms that cause muscle strength and growth to deteriorate. This condition can be combated by taking whey protein supplements. (7)

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How Much is Too Much

Whey protein is good for the body, but too much consumption of anything is never beneficial. It may lead to unnecessary complications of your liver.

Lactose intolerant people must consume whey protein isolate rather than the normal variety as the former has less lactose content.

Soy Protein and Whey Protein: Which is Better

So, which one is better? Both are similar when compared to an increase in lean muscle tissue or lean body mass if consumed regularly

However, animal-sourced protein is important for us from infancy until mature adulthood. Though, the potential health risk associated with a high animal-source protein diet should be kept in mind.

Vegetable source proteins may provide similar benefits with proper combination sources as animal sources protein.

For athletes and bodybuilders supplementing their diets with whey protein can provide greater benefit than soy protein because whey protein is a complete protein source.

Whey protein has a greater initial benefit for protein synthesis as compared to soy protein. It is the fastest absorbed protein compared to any other protein from other sources.

It is likely a combination of the two could be beneficial, or smaller but frequent intake of whey protein could have more value.

However, if you cannot consume dairy products or are on a vegan diet, soy protein is the best choice without a doubt.

And the greatest single advantage is that soy protein products are much cheaper than whey protein products. So lastly, the choice is up to you.

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