The Secret of Soy

It's not just for "granola" dudes anymore.

The Secret of Soy
Ismael Roldan

Attention: a valuable bodybuilding nutrient has gotten a bad rap — here, we set the record straight on soy protein.

Soy protein powder is the most misunderstood and underrated protein powder on the market today.

Do we have your attention? If you’ve been a victim of the misinformation permeating the bodybuilding community, you’re probably thinking that statement is ludicrous. After all, many male bodybuilders fear anything with soy in it, and more than a few so-called nutrition experts have wrongfully bashed this potent muscle builder.

Perhaps the confusion is due to the fact that  most of the research on soy protein that has made media headlines lately focuses on its health benefits for females, which are due mainly to its estrogen-like effects. Yet, lost in the shuffle is the fact that studies show soy has no negative impact on male testosterone levels and, further, confirms that it has clear muscle- boosting benefits.

Have you been missing out on the bodybuilding benefits of soy? Most likely, the answer is yes, and if so, it’s time you learned the truth.


Soy is a plant protein, and the general rule about plant proteins is that most are incomplete — i.e., they don’t contain all the amino acids the body needs for processes such as muscle growth.

Soy is not ordinary plant protein, however: it does contain all the required amino acids. To be honest, soy is a bit low in the essential amino acid methionine, yet it really doesn’t contain much less methionine than that in quality protein whey. And, when soy is compared to whey on what scientists call the protein digestibility corrected amino acid score, which tests how much of a protein’s critical aminos are properly digested and delivered to the muscles to build muscle mass, they both rate 100%. Black beans, in comparison, score only 85% on the scale.

Soy’s amino acid profile is actually very similar to whey’s. In fact, soy has a higher concentration of arginine and glutamine than whey does. Arginine is critical for stimulating nitric oxide production, which has numerous beneficial properties such as increasing blood flow to muscles to deliver more nutrients, anabolic hormones and oxygen for better recovery and greater muscle protein synthesis. Arginine can
also enhance growth hormone release. Glutamine has a multitude of benefits, including aiding muscle growth, decreasing muscle breakdown, enhancing immune function, decreasing fatigue during workouts, improving GH levels and even aiding fat loss.

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