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Whey Protein Vs Soy Protein - Which One To Consider?

Anju Mobin

Posted on September 21 2018

whey protein scoop

There is no doubt that protein is necessary for building muscle. But planning, cooking and eating enough protein-rich foods to meet daily nutritional requirements is not an easy task. Protein supplements such as whey or soy protein powders are a boon for bodybuilders as they are concentrated with the key nutrients needed for building muscles. Drinking a tasty protein shake is the quickest way to replenish your body with nutrients it needs, especially after an intense workout. 

Considering the variety of protein powders available in the market, choosing a suitable supplement may seem like a confusing task. Though whey and soy protein are the two most popular protein sources, it is necessary to know the differences between them to understand which one is best suited for your needs.

Whey Protein And Its Benefits

whay protein & benefits
Cow’s milk contains two types of protein - Whey and Casein. When cheese is made from cow’s milk, the casein gets separated out, leaving behind whey protein with water as the byproduct. This way water is then processed and made into concentrated Whey Isolate. Whey isolates have a high percentage of pure protein. They are free of carbohydrates, fats, and cholesterol.
Whey Protein has a rich amino acid profile. It not only aids muscle recovery and growth, but it also helps with fat loss. One of the major benefits of whey protein is that it has a fast absorption rate. Almost all of the whey protein consumed is quickly digested and absorbed by the body. Though whey protein is considered as the best bodybuilding supplement, it is not an option for some people due to their dietary preferences or food sensitivities.


Soy Protein and Its Benefits

soy protein & benefits

Soy Protein is a great alternative to Whey Protein, especially for those who want a non-animal sourced protein. This plant-based protein source has all nine essential amino acids. It has high amounts of glutamine and arginine.
Soy Protein powders with 90% protein content usually have essential fatty acids, fibres, and vitamins making up the remaining 10%. To make soy protein isolate, soya beans are first ground into a fine meal. The carbohydrate, fibre and fat content are removed during processing to create 95-100% pure protein isolate. Additional nutrients are often added to soy protein powders to enhance their nutritional value, texture, and taste.
Soy Protein is the only plant-based protein that can cause an increase in lean muscle tissue similar to that of whey protein. Though soy has a high carbohydrate and fat content, it is not a cause for concern as most of these carbohydrates are fibrous while the fats in soy are unsaturated and rich in essential omega-3 fatty acid.


Whey Protein Vs Soy Protein

soy protein vs whey protein

Though both are effective for muscle building, there are a lot of differences between whey and soy proteins. Beyond the basic decision regarding a plant or animal based protein, there are many factors to be considered before deciding which one is more suitable for your needs. Here are 10 major differences between whey protein and soy protein powders:

1. Impact On Testosterone Levels

According to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, supplementation with soy protein resulted in lowered serum testosterone levels. But, there are other studies that dispute this. Whey was seen as a better option as it not only did not affect testosterone levels negatively, it also reduced the response of cortisol during the recovery phase after an intense session of resistance exercise. Cortisol is a catabolic hormone which increases muscle breakdown.


2. Biological Values

biological value (BV) of various proteins tell us how well they are absorbed and utilized in our body. If you compare the biological value of whey and soy protein, whey is a clear winner. Whey scores at 104-110 while the BV of soy usually ranges in the mid-70s.


3. Net Protein Utilization

Net protein utilization or NPU is a method of measuring "protein quality" for nutritional purposes. It is the ratio of amino acid converted to proteins to the ratio of amino acids supplied. On a scale of 1 to 100, the score of 100 means that all the supplied amino acids are being converted in proteins and used up by the body. Whey has an NPU value of about 92 while soy ranges in the low 60s, making it clear that whey protein is better utilized by the body.

4. Levels Of Glutamine

If you feel whey protein is a clear winner, this point will make you think again. Glutamine is an amino acid that's essential for muscle repair and its growth. So the glutamine content in a protein powder is a factor that needs to be taken into serious consideration. The glutamine levels in soy protein are way higher than that of whey protein. Soy isolates have high concentrations of both glutamine and arginine amino acids.

5. Taste And Texture

The taste and texture difference between soy and whey protein is a matter of personal preference. Whey protein drinks tend to be creamy and smooth with a mildly nutty taste. Drinks made with soy protein powder tend to be grainier with a stronger nutty flavour. The additives and stabilizers in different brands also affect the taste. Many people prefer to buy unflavoured versions, so they can add their own flavours and create a variety of tastes and textures with the addition of fruits and nuts.

6. Shelf Life

Since protein powders are processed food products, they have a relatively stable shelf life. Both protein and soy protein powders usually have a shelf life of a year or more. Even though whey protein is derived from milk, whey protein powder does not go bad quickly. In fact, if stored properly, protein powders like whey isolates can be used for months after their expiry dates. Buying in bulk is always cheaper, and you can be rest assured that protein powders do have a decent shelf life.


7. Type Of Amino Acids

Though whey and soy protein both have all nine essential amino acids, they have different compositions of other amino acids. The levels of leucine, isoleucine, methionine, and lysine are much higher in whey protein when compared to soy protein. But soy protein powders contain much higher levels of arginine, phenylalanine, and tryptophan.

8. Dietary Restrictions

Whey protein can cause adverse reactions in lactose intolerant people, so soy protein is an ideal alternative for such people. Even the whey isolates and the whey hydro-isolates, the most processed form of whey protein which are said to be lactose-free, can still cause gastrointestinal disturbances in those sensitive to lactose. So if you have such food sensitivities, practice caution while testing out whey isolates.

9. Other Dietary Restrictions

Vegans and vegetarians often find it difficult to meet their daily protein requirements. Since whey is extracted from an animal source, it is not considered vegan-friendly. Soy protein is a great choice for people with such dietary restrictions as it is a complete protein with all essential amino acids.

10. Nutritional Considerations

There is more to bodybuilding than just protein consumption and workouts. There are various other vitamins and minerals that play an important role in muscle synthesis. For example, vitamin B2 aids the breakdown of protein while Zinc is required for producing muscle-building testosterone. Protein powders are often fortified with other nutrients, so take a close look at their nutritional profile before making your choice.

The Final Scoop

vitamon b2 for testosterone

With their high absorption rates, both these supplements offer substantial results when consumed regularly after workouts. Though many people prefer whey protein, they still opt for soy protein products as they tend to be much cheaper in comparison. if you are not lactose intolerant or a vegan, you can opt for whey protein or soy protein powders. The choice is up to you. Just make sure to choose a protein powder that suits your budget and fitness goals as well as your taste buds.
It's important to keep in mind that, protein powders are not miracle drugs for getting ripped. They are used for supplementing your existing diet, to ensure that you meet your protein requirements for faster muscle recovery and building muscle mass. Even if you are having a protein shake daily, ensure that the majority of your daily protein requirement is met by the healthy foods in your diet. Plan your meals to include protein-rich foods such as seafood, chicken, eggs, cheese, yoghurt, beans, and nuts.


Also read: 7 effective ways to increase muscle protein synthesis

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  • HIJAM AMARJIT SINGH: August 10, 2019

    What a nice description. ! I am so eager to know about my dieting. i have been using amway soy protein powder. I want to be a great bodybuilder. From todays onwards, i will use whey protein.Thanks for the information, appreciate you.

  • piyush: November 02, 2018

    i use peanut butter 1 tbl spoon in
    whey protein isolate
    so i wnt to ask u there is no problem with this?
    bocz when i use protein shk foam was made in it
    but after use peanut butter now foam was disappear.
    plzz ans..
    i am afraid..

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