Soy Protein Isolate: Features and Benefits
Protein is a macronutrient that is essential in our body to synthesize, reproduce and repair new cells and tissues. We can achieve our protein from various sources like animal products- eggs and meat or non-animal products- lentils, nuts and seeds. Alternatively, one can also increase their intake of protein in their diet through supplementary protein powders that are highly concentrated, with minimal carbohydrates and fats. Soy protein is a popular protein powder used by vegetarians and those looking for an alternative to dairy-based whey protein powder. But have you ever wondered how they are made and what’s so good about them?
Soy protein is processed from soybeans that are cleaned, cracked and dehulled to produce the raw material. Moisture is added to the raw soybeans so they can be flaked and undergo a ‘de-fatting’ process using hexane1. Non defatted soybeans have shown to cause abdominal flatulence that can sometimes cause discomfort, something we definitely don’t want to experience! The resulting product is soy protein concentrate that has 60%-70% protein, whilst isolates can have up to 90% protein. This is because isolates undergo a second protein isolation stage to remove more impurities and carbohydrates1, 3. As a result, soy protein isolate has shown to possess higher nutrition quality and is more favoured over the latter.
Soy protein can offer a wide range of positive influences on your body. Research carried out on whey protein and soy protein showed that athletes taking both protein supplement powders experienced an increase in lean body mass. However, those on soy protein enjoyed a second benefit of enhancing antioxidant capacity in the body whilst undergoing physical training2. A similar trend was also seen in a study comparing soy protein concentrate (SPC), soy protein isolate (SPI) and soybean meal (SBM). Subjects following a SPI diet had the lowest increase in body weight compared to the rest of the diet after 4 weeks into the study3. And the benefits of soy protein isolate just keep on coming! Soy protein isolate also has the ability to reduce cholesterol levels and enhance the level of serum thyroxine and free thyroxine in the body4. Thyroxine is essential to the body as it influences several processes in the body like metabolism, growth and development and immunity boosting effects. People who suffer from a deficiency in thyroxine might suffer from gout or hyperthyrodisim, reducing their potential to enjoy life to their fullest.
Soy protein isolate can be enjoyed anytime, anywhere. It has a mild tasting flavour that can be easily masked by a delicious smoothie or even incorporated into baked goodies. I love to mix Morlife’s soy protein isolate in my favourite smoothie (banana and strawberry smoothie with almond milk is a perfect combination) or a low-fat yoghurt and enjoy!
- Messina M and Barnes S, 1991, ‘The Role of Soy Products in Reducing Risk of Cancer’, Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 83 (8): pp. 541-547
- Brown E, et al., 2004, ‘Soy versus whey protein bars: Effects on exercise training impact on lean body mass and antioxidant status’, Nutrition Journal, 3: 22
- Jankowski J, et al., 2009, ‘The effects of diets containing soybean meal, soybean protein concentrate and soybean protein isolate of different oligosaccharide content on growth performance and gut function of young turkeys’, Poultry Science, 88: pp. 2132- 2140
- Potter S, et al., 1996, ‘Soy protein concentrate and isolated soy protein similarly lower blood serum cholesterol but different affect thyroid hormones in hamsters’, The Journal of Nutrition, 126 (8): pp. 2007- 2011