The Unexpected Benefit of Soy!
By Linda O'Byrne C.N.
When most people think of soy they think of the more commonly known health benefits. Some of these include the lowered risk of certain cancers, such as prostrate and breast cancer, attributed to the high levels of antioxidants such as isoflavones, found in high levels in soy. Also soy protein has cholesterol lowering effects and research supports the positive impact on stabilizing hormones, which can give relief from menopausal symptoms. Yet soy protein is becoming ever more popular for its weight loss role, this article will examine the reasons that soy should be part of any weight loss plan and how it can help you get leaner, and stay that way.
Supplementing or eating foods with high levels of soy protein has been linked to lowered appetite and a reduction in unhealthy cravings. This is partly attributed to the minimal impact of soy on blood sugar levels. Some protein sources, such as cow's milk, have naturally and added amounts of high glycemic carbohydrates like lactose, or milk sugar. This causes an insulin spike upon consumption which can not only negatively affect energy levels, by causing a crash shortly after eating, but also lead to further cravings for sugar. By reducing your appetite and keeping you feeling fuller for longer you're more likely to stick to a good nutrition plan and see a reduction in excess bodyfat. As soy has a slow digestion rate you'll feel more satisfied, have more energy for longer and have fewer unhealthy cravings.
Soy provides a good source of protein, which is the macronutrient essential for building lean muscle. Having more lean mass helps to increase the body's basal metabolic rate (BMR) which is the number of calories burnt all day. In other words, the higher the BMR the more calories you can ingest without gaining bodyfat. Having more muscle shapes your body and helps you look and feel fitter, stronger and healthier. As soy is a "complete" protein, in other words it contains all 9 essential amino acids; it provides a great source of protein without added fat and fewer calories than most sources, like meat or chicken. Soy has a higher level of dietary fiber which is attributed to good digestive health and has been linked to weight loss.
Interesting new research from the University of Illinois compared the effects of soy (protein hydrolysates and peptides) to the hormone leptin. Leptin is produced in fatty tissue in the body and gives a signal to the brain that we are full so we stop eating. This study proved that soy did affect this regulatory hormone and positively boosted the metabolism, leading to weight loss.
In summary, soy provides an excellent addition to your weight loss plan whilst adding numerous other health benefits. Whether you're supplementing with soy protein, consuming delicious soy based snacks or adding tofu or tempeh to meals, you can get a delicious protein-packed meal that can keep you satisfied for hours.