Soy Protein for Weight Loss
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Soy Protein for Weight Loss

Soy protein is a specific strand of protein that is extracted from soybeans. The ingredient is often used as a dietary supplement and is sold worldwide.

Current research suggests that soy protein could be a valuable ingredient when it comes to weight loss. Numerous dietary supplement manufacturers have started to include the ingredient in their products due to these claims and also claims associated with other health benefits. Soy protein is also frequently mentioned by the media because of its common usage as a weight loss aid. The below review outlines the general information on soy protein, particularly its potential to spur weight loss. The article touches on subjects such as clinical research, possible adverse effects, as well as general customer usage instructions for the ingredient.

What is Soy Protein?

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Soy protein is a form of protein that is extracted from soy beans and used for a variety of purposes including as a dietary supplement. Soy is often considered by medical professionals as a beneficial ingredient and is regularly used as an alternative to milk and in everyday cooking, therefore, the protein contained within the bean may have its own benefits to health and weight loss.

The claims associated with soy protein for weight loss suggest that the ingredient is low in fat, is a complete protein and also has the ability to satiate appetite. Not all of these three weight loss claims are fully supported by scientific evidence, although the below section does outline some studies that suggest the above allegations may be true. In fact, protein in general is thought to have weight loss and general health benefits, most of which also apply to soy protein as an individual ingredient.

Soy protein can be bought as an individual product (often labeled soya protein isolate powder), or can be found in products that contain multiple ingredients. Soy protein powder is often used to make protein shakes, popular with individuals trying to lose weight or gain muscle mass alongside strength training exercise. There are many different manufacturers that produce soy protein products, all of which have individual claims and uses; therefore, it is important to always read the label before using any product containing the ingredient.

Clinical studies on Soy Protein

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A scientific study from 2005 looked at the potential weight loss effects of soy products when used alongside a low energy diet. The hypothesis of the study suggests that soy protein is able to distribute fat and reduce body weight and aims to prove this claim with the below method. This hypothesis was formed due to existing evidence from testing the ingredient on animals. This study however, took a group of overweight and obese men and women and randomly assigned them to either a milk-based or soy-based meal replacement diet. This diet was low in energy, providing the body with around 1200 calories per day over a 12 week period. The individuals’ body weight and lipid levels were measured across the duration of the study.

The results of the study show that the soy meal replacement method produced some, but not significant, weight loss effects, with individuals losing 9% of their original body weight on average and the milk diet slightly less than this. However, the soy supplementation was found to have positive effects upon the levels of lipids in the blood. This suggests that the hypothesis that soy can aid in fat distribution may be true to some extent and the Soy Protein could reduce the amount of fat in the body.

The Journal of Nutrition published a clinical trial in 2011 that compared the weight loss effects of soy protein against whey protein and concluded that soy protein may not be overly useful for weight loss. A group of 90 participants that were either overweight or obese, but otherwise healthy, were supplemented with either whey or soy protein, or a carbohydrate controlled diet for a total of 23 weeks. Various measurements, including BMI, insulin and hormone levels, were taken before and after the 23 week period and the results were studied and brought to a conclusion. The study found that whey protein spurred the most weight loss and soy protein was relatively unsuccessful in helping to reduce weight. The study also looked at the potential satiety effects of the supplements although found no conclusive evidence to suggest any such effects from any of the ingredients. Overall, this study does not support the weight loss claims made for soy protein, but does not fully prove its ineffectiveness as a dietary supplement.

A third study, published by The International Journal of Medical Sciences, focuses upon the relationship between soy protein and obesity. The report outlines various experiments that tested the effects of soy protein on weight loss, glycemic control and the reduction of lipid fats accumulated around the body. After reviewing a handful of studies that all concluded with positive results, the report states that soy protein is ‘well known to suppress appetite’ and that specifically ‘dietary protein [such as soy protein isolate] has been shown to induce … thermogenic effects and greater weight loss’. By collecting the results from numerous previous studies, this report may be able to support the weight loss claims of soy protein.

Soy Protein Safety and Side Effects

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As a naturally occurring ingredient that is often used in cooking and other commonplace products, soy protein is not associated with an extensive list of side effects. However, as with all dietary ingredients, customers should be aware of some potential adverse effects that have been previously reported. Some sources state that soy protein is likely safe when ingested for short periods of up to six months, although continued use may cause some minor adverse effects such as constipation and nausea.

There are also some special precautions for individuals with underlying medical conditions such as cystic fibrosis, kidney disease and various forms of cancer. These individuals should avoid using products containing soy protein as it may worsen their condition or interfere with their existing medication. For more information about possible interactions, it is important to always read the label of the product containing soy protein.

Some clinical studies have addressed the possibility for soy protein to cause adverse effects. The first of these was undertaken in 2006 and tested the safety of soy protein on hemodialysis patients. Despite not having a link to weight loss, the study disclosed that ‘Soy protein intake produced no harmful effects’ on any of the patients included in the study. This study therefore positively supports the safety claims associated with soy protein, but is not proof that the ingredient is without any adverse effects.

Another clinical study published by The Journal of Nutrition looked at the health effects of soy protein. The details included in the report are relatively vague, although the statement that ‘some studies have documented potential safety concerns on increased consumption of soy products’ is disclosed. However, soy protein is not specifically mentioned here and the study does not outline that all products containing the ingredient put individuals at risk of unwanted side effects. Overall, this text suggests that further research is needed to prove the safety of soy protein and its effects upon a number of medical conditions, including excess weight.

How to use Soy Protein

Soy protein is a common ingredient in many dietary supplements and can be used for weight loss in a variety of ways. It is important to read the usage instructions for any product containing soy protein as these instructions may vary between manufacturers and product types.

Soy protein is commonly sold under the label of soy protein isolate, which is often found in powder form. A popular way to ingest this product is by adding liquid, such as milk, to the powder to make a protein shake. However, some dietary supplements include soy protein alongside other active ingredients and have different usage instructions, particularly in terms of dosage and frequency of use. Therefore, it is crucial that customers read the product label before taking any dietary supplement.

Where to buy Soy Protein

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A handful of UK high street stores offer weight loss products that contain soy protein. For example, Holland and Barratt sell packs of Soya Protein powder, which is marketed as a dietary replacement for vegetarians and vegans. Despite this being the case, as the product claims to contain pure soy protein, the product could be useful for weight loss after looking at clinical studies, such as the ones outlined in the above sections of this article; also, many UK stores label the ingredient as soya protein, which is exactly the same ingredient. Shake mixes and powders are also available online from Amazon and eBay, although it can be difficult to guarantee when buying from these websites that the product is from a reputable source. It is important to read product labels before commencing a dose of soy protein as products and manufacturers vary.

Conclusion

Soy protein is an ingredient that is included in a variety of dietary products, many of which are available to UK buyers; soy protein can also be purchased from high street stores within the UK. The vast variety of products provides customers with a choice of how to use the ingredient and in a variety of forms, such as capsules or shake powders. Despite this availability, the scientific studies that have been undertaken on the ingredient can not yet be used as complete proof of its efficacy and safety and therefore the claims associated with Soy Protein are not fully supported by scientific evidence.

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