There are many differences when it comes to protein these days. For example, should bodybuilders and athletes use animal protein, whey protein, or soy protein? Furthermore should they use one exclusively, or should they use a combination or mix of the three protein supplements?

Researchers have recently stated their concerns regarding the potential effects of animal protein and it's effects on the body. Because of this more and more athletes and bodybuilders are turning to toward whey protein as well as soy protein. But which one is better? What are the drawbacks, benefits, as well as the differences between these different protein supplements? And or course after you pick the right one, how much should you include in your diet to reach your personal diet/exercise goals?

In the following article we try to shed light on the whey vs. soy protein debate and we hope that you understand which is better for you and your specific diet plan. By the end you should have a good idea as to which is the better, or more efficient protein. Enjoy!

Whey Protein

Whey protein like soy protein has provided many benefits to both athletes and those involved in bodybuilding. Some of the studies have shown that whey protein can accomplish the following as listed below.

  • Assist in maintaining the proper weight
  • Act as a natural antibacterial or anti-viral
  • Improve the function of the immune system
  • Improve blood pressure
  • Improve the function of the digestive system
  • Improve athletic performance
  • Reduce gastric mucosal injury
  • Reduce Liver Damage
  • Reduce the symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Whey protein is more or less a collection of globular proteins that can be isolated from whey, which is a by-product of cheese that is manufactured from cow's milk. Most of the time whey protein is very easily digestible.

The biological value or BV of whey protein is very high, and for this reason is sought after by athletes and bodybuilders alike. Basically the biological value is the amount of protein that your body can replace with 100 grams of consumed diet. Besides whey, the only other food that contains very high levels of BV are whole eggs as well as egg whites. The key to whey protein and difference between whole eggs however is that whey protein does not contain high levels of fat like that of the eggs. This is the chief reason that athletes and bodybuilders use at least whey protein, and often a combination of both whey protein supplements with whole eggs and egg whites.

Soy protein comes from soybeans, while whey protein comes from milk as a diluted byproduct of the cheese making process. Fresh liquid whey protein is made up of only about 1% protein. The reason for this is because liquid protein is comprised for the most part of lactose and water. This means to create a kilogram of super-high quality protein isolate it usually takes about 230 liters of milk.

Whey protein typically comes in three major or popular forms: concentrate, hydrolysate, and isolate. Concentrate protein contains low levels of cholesterol and fat, but generally higher levels of bioactive compounds and carbohydrates such as lactose. Concentrates are 29%-89% protein by weight.

Hydrolysates are partially hydrolyzed and predigested whey proteins that are more easily absorbed. Because of this, the cost is for the most part higher higher than the other types of proteins. Of course with different types of proteins you'll get different tasting proteins. Some say that hydrolysates have a distinct taste, while others do not notice this. As far as the taste factor, this will be in large part dependent on what you're used to eating, as well as your personal preference. For this reason you might want to try a few different types of proteins to see what tastes best, and what seems to be most effective for your overall body chemistry.

Isolates have lower fat content but are processed to accomplish this. Consequently they are also lower in bioactive compounds as well. They have a mild or faint milky taste. Isolates are about 90% protein by weight.

Whey protein is similar to yogurt in the way that it works with a digestive tract. This is noteworthy as many feel whey protein is a good and or effective natural remedy for a handful of intestinal problems. Some people use whey protein to aid in preventing bowel problems such as constipation or gassiness. It is noteworthy that, in some individuals, it can actually do the opposite and end up causing bowel blockage, and thus being a nuisance. For this reason you might want to try out different types to see what works best for you and your body, as all people and their body chemistries vary quite a bit.

As one of if not the main supplement for athletes and bodybuilders, whey protein is commonly used to accelerate muscle development as well as aid in recovery. Another very popular use of whey protein is when it's incorporated into a person's diet. The reason for this is that a high quality protein has a low fat content, effectively helping people who are trying to maintain or even lose weight. Some studies have even shown that diabetics can benefit from whey protein supplements because they can prevent blood sugar spikes, especially after a high-carbohydrate meal.

As with any change to your diet, we suggest contacting your physician if you have any additional questions or concerns. The amount of whey protein that you consume ideally depends on a wide variety of factors such as a person's specific diet, his or her weight, his or her exercise goals and routine, level of activity, and overall general health.

Some take both whey protein as well as soy proteins to attack from both angles. If you use this approach be sure to include enough dietary fiber to keep your bowel movements regular. Part of the fun of working out and dieting is finding that special combination of exercise and diet that works great with your body. Experiment with different amounts and different types of protein, and most importantly have fun with what your doing!

Soy Protein

Soy Proteins are interesting in that they contain high quantities of protein similar to the protein found in animals. They also contain much less cholesterol and many important amino acids. The Food and Drug Administration has stated that 25 grams of soy protein in a person's daily diet can help reduce the likelihood of developing or advancing heart disease.

Some studies have also shown soy protein to help reducing the symptoms of menopause, to reduce the possibility of developing osteoporosis, as well as the prevention of many other diseases directly and indirectly related to hormonal issues such as breast cancer, prostate cancer, as well as endometrial cancer. Those interested in losing weight will also be glad to know that soy protein can also speed up the metabolism of the thyroid which can help when trying to get a leaner body. Again with any change to your diet make sure that you are comfortable taking soy, as some people are intolerant to this type of protein. A little experimenting on your part, a well-balanced diet, and you should be on your way to a healthier happier you.

There are many products that contain soy protein. Some of these products include soy burgers, food bars, soy flour, tofu, whole soybeans, as well as many beverages that have soy protein in them. There is actually quite a lot of variety as far as how you can find and implement soy protein into your diet.

It is noteworthy to know that soy isoflavones, often sold in health food stores as a dietary supplement, are not the same as a pure soy protein. This is not to say that the pure soy proteins don't contain many benefits. In fact they contain ingredients that have been shown to improve kidney function as well as prevent bone loss.

Just like with any food or supplement, peoples bodies can react differently to products and soy is no exception. Some may show an intolerance to soy, some many feel constipation, while others may get diarrhea. Many people have no visible or negative side effects at all. So experiment with different kinds of protein, different amounts of each protein, balance that with a good diet, and you should be in great position to experience fantastic results.

Useful Information Regarding Soy vs. Whey Proteins:

For the most part both soy and whey proteins offer their respective health benefits. However if you are interested in building lean muscle mass (which in turn also helps burn fat), then a protein that has the largest concentration of usable muscle building protein coupled with essential amino acids in what you're looking for.

The so-called building blocks of protein are amino acids. Amino acids are made up of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen. Macro nutrients contain carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. However the macro nutrients differ from carbohydrates and fats in that they also contain nitrogen as well. It is because of this extra nitrogen in the protein that makes it unique as well as effective in building lean muscle mass.

Biological Value — Soy vs. Whey Proteins:

The Biological Value or BV method is used in order to quantify the different qualities of protein. What is measured during this process is the amount of nitrogen retained after consumption of protein compared to the amount of nitrogen consumed when a person's stomach is completely empty.

The Biological Value indicates two things. First, the BV indicates the digestibility of the protein. Second, the BV indicates the availability of the protein to the body. In the beginning the BV value was a percentage scale of 100% with whole eggs being rated at 100% of nitrogen absorbed. However as time has passed, the evolution of protein powders have become a much better source or protein, thus exposing a possible and likely flaw in the traditional BV measurement system. Currently the scale has been modified to have a whole egg represent a BV of 100. Because of this some synthesized proteins which have values greater than 100 can be represented. The higher the number the better, but you also need to have a good absorption rate coupled with a high BV ratio.

For example when soy and whey proteins are compared using Biological Values, a typical soy protein concentrate has a BV rating of about 74 while a typical whey protein has a BV rating of about 104. So if you compare the two proteins based on their respective Biological Values, then the clear winner is the whey protein.

Net Protein Utilization – Soy vs. Whey Proteins:

Now when you are trying to determine whether soy protein or whey protein has a better net protein utilization, amino acids are important to understand. Net Protein Utilization or NPU is the amount of amino acids which are converted to protein inside the body, versus the amount of amino acids from protein eaten. The NPU effectively measures the ratio of protein taken in a person's diet to the amount of nitrogen emission. This measurement is on a scale from 0 to 100 and often presented in the form of a percentage. A value of 100% means that when someone consumes protein that all of the protein taken in is used up. Conversely if someone consumes protein and has a value of 0, then none of the nitrogen converts into protein for the body.

For example when soy and whey proteins are compared using the Net Protein Utilization, a typical soy protein concentrate has a BPU rating of about 61 while a typical whey protein has a NPU rating of about 92. So if you compare the two proteins based on their respective Net Protein Utilization values, then the clear winner is the whey protein.

Protein Efficiency Ratio — Soy vs. Whey Proteins:

Another way to measure and determine the efficiency of the soy and whey proteins is to measure the PER or the Protein Efficiency Ratio. This calculates the gain in body weight divided by the weight of the protein consumed by infant laboratory rats.

Of course there were many who questioned the accuracy of the PER especially when tested on lab rats. This is because of the fact that rats utilize protein differently that humans, which has lead to some discrepancies in data stemming from calculation errors. The errors have caused minor overestimations of animal protein and a slight underestimation of plant protein.

In fact the Federal Drug Administration used the protein efficiency ratio to derive the recommended daily allowance of protein that are found on all standard food labels.

Interestingly the PER measures growth and not maintenance. The result of this is that it may not be the best or most accurate measure of the quality of protein for those who are doing their best to burn as much fat as they can.

The bottom line of this study is that a protein with a Protein Efficiency Ratio more than 2.7 would fall into the category of a supposed excellent source of protein.

In summation when soy and whey proteins are compared using the Protein Efficiency Ratio, a typical soy protein concentrate has a PER rating of about 2.2 while a typical whey protein has a PER rating of about 3.2. So if you compare the two proteins based on their respective Protein Efficiency Ratios, then again the clear winner is the whey protein.

Amino Acid Score — Soy vs. Whey Proteins:

The Amino Acid Score is a way to quickly measure one protein to another protein where the second protein is used as a reference point, or standard by which the first protein is measured. The AAS is for the most part inexpensive, quick, and consistent. It categorizes the protein in subject on the most limiting amino acid found in the studied protein. The Amino Acid Score however does not consider the important aspect regarding the digestibility of the protein in question.

In the AAS scale, a value which is greater than 1 demonstrates that the studied protein has higher levels of essential amino acids than the human body requires.

In summation when when soy and whey proteins are compared using the Amino Acid Score, a typical soy protein concentrate has a AAS rating of about 0.99 while a typical whey protein has a AAS rating of about 1.14. So if you compare the two proteins based on their respective Amino Acid Scores, then again the clear winner is the whey protein.

Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score – Soy vs. Whey Protein

The Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score is a way to evaluate the protein quality based on the amino acid requirements of the human body. The PDCAAS method is fairly new, but has recently been adopted by the United States Food and Drug Administration, World Health Organization, as well as the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (WHO/FAO). The three of these organizations have more or less collectively decided to have the PDCAAS as the “best” method for determining protein quality.

The PDCAAS is similar to the Amino Acid Score in that it measures essential amino acids in a protein compared to a reference protein. The reference protein is what an everyday human body requires, and is given a PDCAAS of 1.0. As a result of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and their concerns to have an accurate reliable method for determining the quality of protein, many health professionals now recognize the PDCAAS as the standard measure of protein quality.

Unfortunately this method has also stirred up a bit of controversy. In fact in the early 90's the FAO/WHO determined that any protein having a PDCAAS higher than 1.0 would be rounded down to 1.0. This was decided as an indicator that such a protein meets and possibly exceeds the requirements of the everyday human body, one of the problems being that if they round down to 1.0, then the consumer or whoever is looking at the information would not know how much more because it had been rounded down to 1.0. This was of course frustrating to all those who fall into the category of ordinary or average human. The reason for this is because the average human more than likely needs significantly lower amounts of essential amino acids compared to those who need more, such as bodybuilders, those individuals who participate in high energy activities, and of course those who lift weights.

Another concern with this rounding method is that when you round down the proteins which have a score greater than 1.0, there is no way to differentiate the subtle differences between the proteins that have a PDCAAS score of 1.0. The exception would be to refer back to previous measurements which the PDCAAS hopes to eliminate. This all makes for a less than clear method particularly when trying to make sense of the whole whey vs. soy protein debate.

In summation when when soy and whey proteins are compared using the Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score, a typical soy protein concentrate has a PDCAAS rating of 1.0 while a typical whey protein has a PDCAAS rating of about 1.0. So if you compare the two proteins based on their PDCAAS ratings, the two proteins tie in their respective categories. Still this gives whey protein a 4 to 1 advantage over soy protein.

Protein Digestibility Percentage – Soy vs. Whey Protein

The Protein Digestibility Percentage is a great measurement to gauge the amount of protein that is absorbed into the body. Interestingly the PD% is determined by evaluating laboratory rats, this in spite of the FDA replacing the PER as the standard for measuring protein quality with the inefficient PDCAAS, which allows for differences between lab rats and humans.

In summation when when soy and whey proteins are compared using the Protein Digestibility Percentage, a typical soy protein concentrate has a PD% rating of 95% while a typical whey protein has a PD% rating of about 99%. So if you compare the two proteins based on their respective Protein Digestibility Percentages, the two proteins tie in their respective categories. These results clearly point to the Whey Protein as the clear winner.

Which Protein Has More Glutamine – Soy vs. Whey Protein

Glutamine is very important for helping those looking to build muscle, but more specifically those who build muscle but are looking for optimal muscle repair. In fact glutamine is a non-essential amino acid which distributes nitrogen to the body's many tissues.

Another important aspect to glutamine is that it increases muscle cell volume through the all-important cellular hydration process. Similarly glutamine also uses and increases the amount of growth hormone levels leading to the muscles using fatty acids as fuel as opposed to using blood sugar. It is suggested that for those who are looking to build muscle, a good 3 to 5 grams of glutamine intake per day would be good.

Based on these criteria then the most logical choice for a protein would be one that has the highest levels of glutamine. When soy and whey proteins are compared to determine which has more glutamine, a typical soy protein concentrate has about 10.5 grams of glutamine per 100 grams of protein. A typical whey protein has about 4.9 grams of glutamine per 100 grams of protein. So if you compare the two proteins based on their respective glutamine levels, the results clearly point to Soy Protein as the clear winner.

Which Protein Has More Essential Amino Acids – Soy vs. Whey Protein

Occasionally there are some things that our bodies do not produce by themselves, but have been found to be important to our diet. Essential amino acids fall into this category as they are not produced by the body, but are very important to the overall ability to put on muscle and therefore burn fat.

The key to building muscle and burning fat is the ever-important but sometimes difficult task of getting the right combination of essential amino acids along with the non-essential acids. Because of this the study and comparison of the essential amino acid profile is necessary when comparing whey and soy proteins. Additionally comparing the two proteins and their levels of essential amino acids also helps one better understand the AAS and PDCAAS scores as mentioned previously.

Below is a list of the different amino acids as well as the mg of essential amino acids per gram of protein.

>
Soy vs. Whey ProteinSoy ProteinWhey Protein
Histidine 19mg 16mg
Isoleucine (BCAA) 49mg 4mg
Lysine 64mg 88mg
Leucine (BCAA) 82mg 89mg
Methionine 26mg 32mg
Phenylalanine 38mg 32mg
Threonine 38mg 65mg
Tryptophan 14mg 22mg
Valine (BCAA) 48mg 82mg
Totals378mg480mg

Based on these criteria of which has the most essential amino acids, the following results were found. When nine different types of amino acids were compared to soy and whey proteins to determine which has more essential amino acids, a typical soy protein concentrate has about 378mg of essential amino acids per gram of protein from the nine amino acids. A typical whey protein has about 480mg of essential amino acids per gram of protein of the nine amino acids. So if you compare the two proteins based on their respective EAA levels, the results clearly point to Whey Protein as the clear winner. In summation the whey protein has 102mg more of the essential amino acids found in the different types of soy protein. Again whey is the winner.

Which Protein Has More Arginine – Soy vs. Whey Protein

Arginine is another non-essential amino acid similar to glutamine. The important role that arginine plays in body building and exercising in general is that it helps fight both physical as well as mental fatigue. Something else that arginine does is that it aids in the process of muscle growth. It does this by releasing growth hormones as well as insulin in the body, especially during heavy exercise particularly during activities such as body building.

Most recently arginine has be more popular as a supplement for it's recently discovered ability to produce nitric oxide. Nitric oxide promotes muscle growth by increasing blood flow and delivering the necessary nutrients to the body's muscles.

If this wasn't enough, arginine also provides a lower LDL cholesterol level in the bloodstream as well as increases fat metabolism.

In summation when soy and whey proteins are compared using the amount of Arginine they contain, a typical soy protein concentrate has 7.6 grams of arginine per every 100 grams of protein. A typical whey protein has about 2.9 grams of arginine per every 100 grams of protein. So if you compare the two proteins based on their content of Arginine, soy protein leads both categories. These results clearly point to Soy Protein as the clear winner.

Results – Soy vs. Whey Protein

For the most part Whey Protein is the clear winner in the debate of whether whey orsoy protein is better and or more efficient. This is especially true when you supplement your protein with a good arginine as well as a good glutamine.

Even though we feel that soy protein has it's place in certain diets (for example those who are lactose intolerant or those who are vegetarians), our conclusion is heavily favored toward the clear benefits and advantages that whey proteins have over soy proteins. Below is a table with all of the results of our findings.

Tie
Variable/CriteriaSoy ProteinWhey ProteinBetter Protein
Biological Value (BV) 74 104 Whey Protein
Net Protein Utilization (NPU) 61 92 Whey Protein
Protein Efficiency Ration (PER) 2.2 3.2 Whey Protein
Amino Acid Score (AAS) 0.99 1.14 Whey Protein
Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS) 1.00 1.00
Protein Digestibility Percentage (PD%) 95% 99% Whey Protein
Glutamine per 100g of Protein 10.5g 4.9g Soy Protein
mg EAA per g of Protein 378mg 480mg Whey Protein
Arginine per 100g of Protein 7.6g 2.9g Soy Protein