Protein is vital to any athlete’s diet. We all consume it in one way or another, whether you’re a meat eater, or a vegetarian. If you’re training and you want your muscles to build and grow properly you need protein. Many athletes consume protein through nutritional shakes. However, I am not sure everyone understands the difference between whey protein and soy protein. They are two totally different types of protein both with their own pros and cons. Based on certain studies, whey is said to be known to be the more superior of the two, mainly because of its fast absorption rate due to its amino acid profile. I want to go over what differentiates these two proteins.
First off, whey protein is derived from milk and is a type of animal protein. Whey protein is not vegan friendly. It is a fast-acting protein and is also considered a “complete protein.” This means it contains an adequate proportion of all nine of the essential amino acids necessary for the dietary needs of humans. It seems to be more favorable as far as muscle building purposes go because of its absorption rate. This type of protein can be found in foods such as cheese, yogurt, and milk. A study done in 2003 noted in “Toxicology In Vitro”, stated that whey may have antioxidant and other health-promoting effects. The authors note that whey is effective in stimulating glutathione — the chief antioxidant for protecting human cells. Whey protein is also said to be known as an immune booster, helping you achieve your training goals while avoiding getting illness. It is also known to be associated with numerous other health benefits including providing cancer patients with nourishment, providing infant nourishment, improving memory, maintaining cardiovascular health and aiding with weight management.
There are always cons to every aspect as well. As far as whey goes, it typically is pasteurized. Some of the growth factors and proteins found in it may be damaged, making them useless for our bodies, essentially making it lose some its nutritional value. Also, people with dietary issues such as lactose intolerance may have trouble digesting whey and experience intestinal problems.
Soy protein is made from soybeans and is a vegetable protein. Soy can be found in sources such as soy protein powder, soymilk, tempeh, miso, tofu, soybeans and certain meal-replacement drinks. Soy protein is great for those who are on a vegan diet or for those who have other dietary needs such as lactose intolerance (soy contains no lactose sugar). It is also known to lower triglyceride levels as well as LDL cholesterol which results in lowering the chances of heart disease. Typically high protein diets have the possibility to put stress on the kidneys, but a diet with soy protein is easier for the kidneys to digest in comparison to those who ingest animal proteins.
Soy also has its cons. Similar to whey, it is pasteurized and also contains harsh fiber, which can be hard for the body to digest. I know I’ve heard concern among males about soy due to its estrogen properties. It does contain isoflavones that can increase estrogen levels and also can lower levels of the male hormone testosterone, which is important for muscle growth.
Everyone has their own preference, but if you’re not a fan of either of these you could always resort to pea protein as well. I actually just started looking into pea protein because I didn’t know too much about it, but it actually seems like another great alternative. Some people do have allergies and sensitivities to whey(milk proteins) AND soy, so this is a great option. Pea protein is not considered a major allergen so the majority of people can digest it. Pea protein has a high content of arginine, lysine, and phenylalanine. It also contains a variety of high level aminos, including BCAA’s.
Regardless of what type of protein you chose to take, just make sure you are getting the recommended amount based on your own training regimen. Protein is essential to any successful diet!
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