As mentioned in my second ever post on this site in The Healthy Boy Lifestyle Plan where I outlined my future posts for losing fat, gaining muscle, and for overall health, I mentioned that I would be discussing in the future why you should never consumer soy, particularly men. Out of all the points I mentioned, this one created the most questions and emails from readers. Why? Because we have been led to believe, only in recent years because of very effective marketing campaigns by soy manufactures, that soy protein is a better for us than meat and dairy, and as a consequence we are consuming more of it than ever.
Lets get straight to what my Healthy Boy readers are most interested in. How soy negatively affects fat loss and muscle building. Most fit guys out there know that the male hormone testosterone is very beneficial for fat loss and muscle building. It's even beneficial for women. The hormone is known for providing and increasing strength, shredding fat, and the reason you got a little frisky as you perused the underwear section of the Sears catalogue when you were a teenager. Well the female equivalent is known as estrogen, and we also contain small beneficial amounts of that in our bodies. Soy products contain what's known as phytoestrogens, which are essentially plant based estrogens, and when consumed by men throw off our natural testosterone to estrogen ratio by decreasing testosterone and increasing estrogen levels, with devastating consequences such as;
- Gynecomastia (man boobs)
- Decrease in libido
- Mood swings
- Weight gain (particularly around the waist)
- Decreased sperm count
- Erectile dysfunction
Make's you rethink that "healthy" drop of soy milk you have been putting in your coffee, or that soy protein shake you have been chugging down after a workout. In fact studies show that men who consumed soy foods and consumed a soy based diet had dramatically lower testosterone levels, up to a 76% decrease, than men who consumed a diet rich in red meat.
But that's not the end of the nasty side effects of consuming soy. You see soybeans contain a chemical known as phytic acid, otherwise know as phytates or isoflavones, and these are considered 'anti-nutrients" because our bodies lack the enzymes to break them down and as a consequence can block the absorption of certain vitamins and minerals. In fact recent studies have shown that there are numerous health risks of consuming the isoflavones in soy, including;
- Accelerate brain aging (Alzheimer's Disease)
- Thyroid Issues (leading to fatigue, weight gain etc)
- Increased risk of cancer
- Infertility in women
Health conscious people have been including soy based products into their diets in recent years because of 1999 health claim that said that diets low in saturated fat and cholesterol that include 25 grams of soy protein a day may reduce the risk of heart disease. However new researched studies on adults with high cholesterol have concluded that diets high in soy as opposed to dairy, had no impact whatsoever on cholesterol or blood pressure. As a result the American Heart Association no longer support the claims that soy is a health food.
"But wait, what about all those commercials I see on TV, and all those articles I read about the health benefits of soy and how it's a great substitute for milk, and a great meat and protein alternative?" These are nothing more than very effective marketing campaigns from the soy industry that has seen soy food sales increase from $300 million in 1992 to a whopping $4 billion dollar industry in 2007. It has also seen the introduction of roughly 3000 new foods that contain soy as an ingredient. It's propaganda, just like the "healthy high fructose corn syrup" commercials the corn industry are now paying top dollar for and plastering on TVs across the country to try and combat the fact that research now shows how bad it is for your health.
Dr Kaayla T. Daniel, a PHD in nutritional sciences and anti aging therapies, and a clinical nutritionist has written a book on soy that has received critical acclaim by both the medical and scientific communities. Dr Daniel says "Unlike Asia where people eat small amounts of whole soybean products, western food processors separate the soybean into two golden commodities - protein and oil. There is nothing safe or natural about this". She goes onto say "Today's high-tech processing methods not only fail to remove the anti-nutrients and toxins that are naturally present in soybeans, but leave toxic and carcinogenic residues"
Maybe you're not a soy milk drinker and prefer your big chunky beef burgers and therefore think this information doesn't apply to you? Think again. Turn over the packet of your favorite protein bar, or take a look at the ingredient list on nearly everything you eat from breads to sauces, chocolate and even fruit juices and you will see ingredients like soy protein isolate, hydrolyzed plant protein, and soybean oil. Nasty, cheap, refined ingredients that are the worst forms of soy you could possibly be eating. Yes, soy ingredients are as about hidden as the 10+ tattoos that GLEE start Lea Michele has plastered over he body...bet you don't think she is so sweet and innocent now right?
If you do enjoy soy every now and then and couldn't possibly live without it, there are some soy products, namely the fermented ones, that don't pose as many health risks. Fermentation essentially kills a lot of the nasty chemicals found in soy that can cause health related issues, and these include miso products (such as miso soup), soy sauce and tempeh.
So if you consider yourself a healthy individual and pride yourself on your fitness and want to look after your body, please give some consideration to eliminating soy from your diet. Put down those veggie burgers, ask for real eggs instead of tofu in your scrambles, and don't be afraid to eat lean meat and lean dairy foods. Another great alternative to soy milk is almond milk. It is low in calories, has zero carbs and sugar, and a small dose of health fats. I use it on my cereal every morning and throw it in my protein shakes after a hard workout at the gym
Further to this, let me just reiterate that the above information was obtained via research and can be backed up with medical trials and results. There is however two sides to every debate, and therefore a side which believes that soy is good for you. I'm just not on that side. If you currently enjoy soy as part of your diet and have no ill health, then by all means continue to eat it. If you are unsure. then maybe try and eliminate it from your diet for a period of time and if you notice any difference. Everyone is different, and I am by no means an expert. So do what works for you.
Healthy Boy x