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Post-Workout Protein: Soy Revisited

By Alexandra Williams, MA & Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA

In 1973, the movie “Soylent Green” was set in the far future of 2022! A detective, played by Charlton Heston, is marked for death when “he gets too close to a bizarre state secret involving the origins of a revolutionary and needed new foodstuff.” There’s no way we’ll tell you the secret of Soylent Green, but we will tell you that the “foodstuff” is full of protein.

YouTube Preview Image Speaking of forced segues, another “soy” word that is protein-packed, yet has nothing to do with the detective/ science-fiction movie genre, is soy. It’s green, it’s soy and we’ll happily lend you some. Get it? Soy – Lend – Green? hahahahaha. Oh, quit slapping your forehead unless you want a V-8!

Edamame with Salt (we say "Eat a Mommy")

We are asked a LOT by our students and readers if soy is a good pre- or post-workout food. It’s a protein, and if you click to read the link you’ll discover a picture of donuts and coffee that carbs and protein are your best choice after a workout. Soy has been controversial (The only food that isn’t controversial is dark chocolate – right?), so we try to stay up on the latest so we can give you our informed answer of “it depends.”

Alexandra: My son was allergic to soy when he was young, yet I can eat a gi-mantic bowl of edamame and feel nothing but full. So when we were offered the chance to write about some new research that just came out about the benefits of soy protein in combination with whey and casein, I was right in front, shoving my colleagues out of the way raising my hand. Because I’m a vegetarian, I’m always interested in finding ways to get a good balance of omega-3 and omega-6 in my diet, especially as I’m not fond of fish oil (who is, I want to know? And who’s keeping anchovies on the pizza menus? Gag).

Kymberly: I am fond of fish oil that comes in fish. I like fish.

Without going in-depth about the research (we’d enjoy it, but you might start to glaze over and drool a bit), the bottom line is that soy (in combo with whey & casein) has been found to prolong muscle building and recovery after exercise. The study was done with college-aged subjects, yet the implications for helping older adults deal with sarcopenia (muscle wasting) are really exciting to me (not because we’re old; because we plan to BECOME old)!

Natto: It tastes even worse than it looks

Before you say in all caps, ‘FOLLOW THE MONEY,” we’ll tell you right out that the research was funded by Solae LLC (they develop soy-based ingredients). We didn’t have to follow that hard; it’s listed on the abstract! But, we kept following and found out that Solae has also been recognized for 3 years in a row as a world leader in ethics.

Alexandra: So I’m going to do what I have been doing all along – eat a balanced diet that has all kinds of organic choices, in moderation, which includes soy and soy-based foods. Heck, the Japanese have been eating tofu, bean paste and edamame for centuries and they’re healthier than we who eat a western diet! However, I will NOT be eating natto. That stuff looks, smells and tastes like a science project gone mutant. I tried it at the National Products Expo so you wouldn’t have to! It’s tied with Marmite for nastiest food in the universe as far as I’m concerned.

What about you? Are you more interested in post-exercise muscle building and recovery, or the possibilities for preventing sarcopenia in older age? Me, I’m off to figure out why our dachshund likes to eat empty edamame pods.

Are you on Twitter? There is a Twitter chat about soy protein on Wednesday, May 23, 9 PM EST/ 6 PM PST, hashtag #SoyProtein. Join the chat. Bring your questions. Do your workout first!

FitFluential LLC compensated me for this campaign. All opinions are my own.

Photo credits: Natto: Gleam, Edamame: MagicRobot

About Fun and Fit

Get practical exercise advice, your fitness questions answered, and cutting edge health edu-tainment that is accessible and doable from long time fitness experts, Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA. We have taught on land, sea, and airwaves for 3 decades on 4 continents. From writing to speaking, emceeing to hosting a radio show, reviewing products to teaching classes, we believe that little steps turn into big paths. Move a little more than the day before. FitFluential Ambassadors and award-winners both online and off.

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20 Responses to Post-Workout Protein: Soy Revisited

  1. Evelyn May 21, 2012 at 7:11 am #

    Hey A and K!

    Thanks for sharing this information.

    It’s good to know I have more options besides the hemp protein. I love edamame and since I’m planning to focus more on muscle building, I know what to do.

    I have always thought the same thing, if the Asians can eat soy and do well, why can’t I do the same. People will say that the difference is the processing and how much they eat. I do eat soy foods, in moderation of course, and I haven’t had a problem.

    That natto looks gross, yuck!!

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. Miz May 21, 2012 at 7:40 am #

    Wait we HAVE to workout first?
    I’ll be there!!!!

    For SOYten.

    Like CERTAIN. FUNNY? No? Ok….

    • AlexandraFunFit May 21, 2012 at 7:56 am #

      hahah, I think dear Miz, that you just started the trend for the day. Soytenly Ollie!

      • Tamara May 21, 2012 at 8:39 am #

        In my family, battery and egg jokes prevail; we can go on for hours amusing ourselves with witticisms. But soy? I’m coming up empty handed here.

        I’ll be back after my brain churns on it for awhile…

  3. Tara Burner May 21, 2012 at 9:04 am #

    y’all are a trip and hopefully I’ll be at the chat!!!

  4. Alicia May 21, 2012 at 11:04 am #

    I think I better start working out first:)

  5. Pooley Wooley May 21, 2012 at 1:15 pm #

    My favorite line is when Charleton Heston says “Take your stinking paws off me, you damn dirty ape!”

    Oh, wait….wrong film. Sorry! :-D

    Seriously, though: Soy is great for you. (And buying lots of it will keep the Poole farm in GA going for years to come!)

    ~ Soy-lent Pooley Green

  6. Elle May 21, 2012 at 2:31 pm #

    I am a soy fan… edamame, tofu, roasted salted edamame, and soy protein.
    Have been looking for tempeh but so far no luck.

    Will try to make the twitter chat!

  7. Jody - Fit at 54 May 21, 2012 at 3:17 pm #

    At my age – I am interested in it all!!!!! ;-) I definitely see the changes from my mid to late 40′s to now BUT I will continue to fight!!!!!!

    Soy – so many conflicting studies for older women so interested in the chat!

  8. Stuart Phillips May 22, 2012 at 12:47 am #

    Be careful when you cite a presented abstract from a meeting “Without going in-depth about the research (we’d enjoy it, but you might start to glaze over and drool a bit), the bottom line is that soy (in combo with whey & casein) has been found to prolong muscle building and recovery after exercise.” The actual finding was that the blend was THE SAME as whey, whcih has actually been shown to be superior to isolated soy both acutely: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19589961 and in a chronic training study versus milk: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17684208. So the blend ‘worked’ because it contained whey and caseinate. When the research you cite is actually published then you can talk about the hypothesized benefits of the blend for old people that the researchers claim. The study was funded by Solae!

    • AlexandraFunFit May 22, 2012 at 2:19 pm #

      Thank you Stuart for your love of research and stats, which we share. You are correct that the full study isn’t published yet (we tried to get access to a link to share above), although the findings were presented at a number of respected conferences, including ACSM. The abstract is available to the public I believe. My interpretation of the study was that the blend appeared to be superior to whey alone in the double-blind trial. As we mention above, the study was definitely funded by Solae, so we are in agreement that further studies are needed. Especially as the population ages, and actively, we feel there will be increased demand and interest in foods that enhance muscle activity. For some people, the blend of soy-whey-casein may be the answer. We are eagerly looking forward to further research.

    • Mike Luque October 28, 2013 at 8:53 am #

      I’m with you about soy protein isolate. But whole food sources of soy, like edamame, are completely different. It’s almost impossible to find studies where they use whole food soy. It’s always either the isolate or an isolated component of soy, like the isoflavones.
      Admittedly it’s hard to do a “blind” study when you’re clearly eating edamame but clinicians could account for the lack of the “blind” by having the participant groups switch the foods they are eating. But someone should do studies with whole food sources.
      Edamame as a post-workout snack does sound like a great idea. Whole foods!
      Mike Luque recently posted..Weekly Roundup Oct 25th – Label GMOs, tasty eggs & a brutal workoutMy Profile

  9. Hanan May 22, 2012 at 6:17 am #

    I don’t mind soy!

    • AlexandraFunFit May 22, 2012 at 2:20 pm #

      I”m with you. I like it in many instances (edamame & tofu), yet don’t in others. And my son is no longer allergic, yet doesn’t like it.

  10. Melissa May 22, 2012 at 6:30 am #

    Great information, I really haven’t been exposed to soy. I’ll need to try it.

    • AlexandraFunFit May 22, 2012 at 2:23 pm #

      Yes, Melissa, give it a try. Although, you probably have been exposed to it, as it’s in many foods. Do you ever have soy sauce on your food, for example? When my son was first diagnosed with his allergies, I discovered that soy was in a lot of foods (corn too), and sometimes in a variety of different names. The only way to completely avoid it was to cook from scratch. At this point, he can eat cereal and ice cream, and all kinds of stuff he couldn’t before.

  11. Charlotte May 22, 2012 at 10:12 am #

    awesome information!!! now I have even MORE reasons to eat ALL THE EDAMAME! nomnomnom

    • AlexandraFunFit May 22, 2012 at 2:23 pm #

      I”m with you Charlotte. I can eat edamame cold or hot. And it’s one of 2 foods (popcorn is the other) where I love to add salt.

  12. Shira May 22, 2012 at 2:27 pm #

    Great info on soy protein for post exercise recovery!. I love edamame almost as much as hearing my mom try to pronounce it in her Charleston, SC accent (she calls it eddy-maw-mah). :)

  13. Mary @ Fit and Fed June 22, 2012 at 7:55 am #

    I’m glad you are keeping up with the research. There are a lot of benefits to soy. I just read about another study where BPA (the notorious chemical in plastic) and genestein (a component of soy protein) were both fed to separate groups of young rats. Both chemicals are phytoestrogens but the phytoestrogens in soy act much differently than industrially produced phystoestrogens. The soy protein reduced the incidence of breast cancer in the rats later on in their lives, while BPA increased it. Here’s the study in full text: http://jn.nutrition.org/content/early/2012/05/28/jn.111.152058.full.pdf
    Mary @ Fit and Fed recently posted..Hummus made with Sesame Seeds and Homemade ChickpeasMy Profile

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