Whey vs Soy Protein
May 14, 2021

When it comes to having a protein-rich diet, it is considered best to obtain as much of your daily protein intake from whole, natural foods such as lean meats and vegetables. However, we all know how hard it can be to eat so much food and consume the amount of protein and nutrients we need on a daily basis in order to grow sufficiently. When it comes to consuming protein shakes, we have many different options. Two of the most popular protein sources are Whey protein and Soy protein. So how is soy protein vs whey?

What is Whey Protein?

Whey protein products have always been seen in the last 50 years or so as the perfect protein supplement one should take. When it comes down to other types of protein, Whey surpasses all of them when it comes to building muscle due to its rich amount of amino acids that also aid in the strengthening of bones and the immune system.

The other advantage of whey that makes it superior to almost every other protein source is its fast absorption rate in the body after consumption. When we consume whey protein, not only is it digested and absorbed more easily than other protein sources, but we also digest and absorb almost 100% of the whey protein we consume. This is why Whey protein has become the ultimate muscle building post workout protein shake over the last 50 years.

So what other options of protein do we have that compares to whey protein? Although nothing else can compete with whey on the exact same scale, the next best and closest protein alternative or supplement is Soy Protein.

Which is better soy protein or whey

Whey Protein Benefits

1. Whey is an Excellent Source of High-Quality Protein

Whey protein has a very high nutritional value, and is one of the best dietary sources of high-quality protein. It is highly digestible, and absorbed quickly compared to other proteins.

2. Whey Protein Promotes Muscle Growth

Whey protein is excellent for promoting muscle growth and maintenance when coupled with strength training.

3. Whey Protein May Lower Blood Pressure

Whey proteins may lower blood pressure in people with elevated blood pressure. This is due to bioactive peptides called lactokinins.

4. Whey Protein May Help Treat Type 2 Diabetes

Whey protein is effective at moderating blood sugar levels, especially when taken before or with high-carb meals. It may be particularly useful for people with type 2 diabetes.

5. Whey Protein May Help Reduce Inflammation

High doses of whey protein have been shown to reduce blood levels of C-reactive protein, indicating that it can help reduce inflammation.

6. Whey Protein May Be Beneficial for Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Whey protein supplements may have beneficial effects on inflammatory bowel disease.

7. Whey Protein May Enhance the Body’s Antioxidant Defenses

Whey protein supplementation may strengthen the body’s antioxidant defenses by promoting the formation of glutathione, one of the body’s main antioxidants.

8. Whey Protein May Have Beneficial Effects on Blood Fats

Long-term, high-dose whey protein supplementation may lower cholesterol levels. The evidence is very limited at this point.

9. Whey Protein is Highly Satiating (Filling), Which May Help Reduce Hunger

Whey protein is very satiating (filling), even more so than other types of protein. This makes it a useful addition to a weight loss diet.

10. Whey Protein Can Help You Lose Weight

Eating plenty of protein is a very effective way to lose weight, and some studies show that whey protein may have even greater effects than other types of protein.

What is soy protein

Soy protein is a protein that is isolated from soybean. It is made from soybean meal that has been dehulled and defatted. Dehulled and defatted soybeans are processed into three kinds of high protein commercial products: soy flour, concentrates, and isolates.

Soy protein originally elicited from the soybean is a nutritiously-dense legume (also a certified member of the pea family)1. Unlike other legumes, soybeans are a great source of high-quality protein. This explains why it’s widely used as a protein source by those following a plant-based, vegetarian or dairy-free diet.2

Soy protein can be extracted from the soybeans in different ways – variations you may have heard of are soy protein isolate, soy protein concentrate and textured soy protein. Pure protein powder is usually powdered soy protein isolate or soy protein concentrate.

soy protein benefits

Soy protein Benefits

Soy protein originally elicited from the soybean is a nutritiously-dense legume (also a certified member of the pea family)1. Unlike other legumes, soybeans are a great source of high-quality protein. This explains why it’s widely used as a protein source by those following a plant-based, vegetarian or dairy-free diet.

Soy protein can be extracted from the soybeans in different ways – variations you may have heard of are soy protein isolate, soy protein concentrate and textured soy protein. Pure protein powder is usually powdered soy protein isolate or soy protein concentrate.

Difference of whey protein and soy protein

Soybeans are a type of legume that are naturally high in protein while remaining relatively low in fat. To create soy protein, manufacturers grind soybeans into a meal which contains no hulls or fat. This soybean meal is then processed into soy protein isolate, which consists of 90 to 95% protein (Soyfoods Association of America, 2013). This soy protein isolate is then sold in powder form. The soy protein powder can be used to make a protein shake or to add protein to other meals. Although soy protein isolate is naturally high in protein but very low in carbohydrates, many manufacturers add additional nutrients to commercial soy protein to improve its taste, texture, and nutritional value.

Whey protein, on the other hand, is made from cow’s milk. Cow’s milk naturally contains about 3.5% protein and 4% fat (MyProtein, 2014). After being pasteurized to kill any bacteria, special enzymes are added to the milk to separate casein -- the milk solids that are used to make cheese -- from the whey. This whey is processed further to remove carbohydrates, fats, and excess water. The end product is a protein-rich powder that can be used to make protein shakes.

What is pea protein

Pea protein is an extract from split peas, and food manufacturers are adding this protein to a variety of foods like energy bars, meal-replacement shakes, veggie burgers and even cereals. You can also find it as a powder to add when making smoothies.

Pea protein benefits

pea protein benefits

Pea protein powder — or pea protein isolate — is made by isolating the protein from ground yellow peas, forming a beige powder.

Nutrition facts can vary between brands, but — for example — two scoops (20 grams) of NOW Organic Pea Protein Powder contains:

Calories: 80

Protein: 15 grams

Carbs: 1 gram

Fiber: 1 gram

Total fat: 1.5 grams

Sodium: 230 mg

Iron: 5 mg

Pea protein powders offer a variety of nutritional benefits.

High-Quality Protein Source

Pea protein contains all nine essential amino acids that your body cannot create and must get from food. However, it’s relatively low in methionine (1Trusted Source).

You can compensate for this by including other methionine-rich foods, like eggs, fish, poultry, beef, pork or brown rice in your diet (2, 3Trusted Source).

It’s also a great source of branched-chain amino acids, especially arginine — which promotes healthy blood flow and heart health — and leucine, isoleucine and valine — which promote muscle growth (4Trusted Source, 5, 6Trusted Source).

In general, animal proteins are more easily digested and absorbed than plant-based proteins.

Still, research demonstrates that pea protein is one of the more easily digested plant-based proteins — just behind soy protein and chickpeas (7Trusted Source, 8Trusted Source).

Rich in Iron

Pea protein powders are also rich in iron.

Most products contain around 5–7.5 mg of iron per serving — roughly 28–42% of the reference daily intake (RDI) for premenopausal women and 62–94% of the RDI for men and postmenopausal women (9).

However, the iron found in plant foods is less absorbable than that found in animal products (10Trusted Source).

This can be improved by consuming pea protein powder with vitamin C or vitamin-C-rich foods like citrus — which boosts iron absorption by up to 67% (11Trusted Source).

Since approximately 10% of American women are iron-deficient, including pea protein powder in your diet could be a great way to boost your intake of this nutrient (12Trusted Source).

Works With Many Special Diets

Pea protein powder is naturally vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free and does not contain any of the top eight food allergens — peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, fish, shellfish, cow’s milk, wheat and soy (13Trusted Source).

Therefore, it works with nearly any diet.

Pea protein also blends well with water and has a less gritty or chalky texture than other plant-based protein powders like hemp.

While pea protein powder works for most people, anyone with an allergy, sensitivity or intolerance to peas should avoid it.

can you mix whey and soy protein

Mixtures of whey and soy proteins gelled simultaneously upon heating resulting in the formation of one network.

Major changes in gel properties occurred at small amounts (1–3%) of soy protein.

Gel stiffness decreased and water holding increased with increase in soy protein concentration.

How much soy is in whey protein powder

Whey protein manufactures use about ½ to 1.5% of soy lecithin to make their powders “instantized”. Therefore, every time you buy a whey protein concentrate or whey protein isolate that is instantized (which pretty much means all of them) you are technically buying whey protein and soy lecithin. (Side note, it is now required by the FDA that all whey protein powders that are instantized list soy lecithin in the ingredient deck, not doing so are against FDA regulations.)

Which is better soy protein or whey-1

Which is better soy protein or whey

Protein Quality

Protein quality is a score assigned to a protein source based on the quantity of essential amino acids and their digestibility.The winner is whey protein, hands-down. It’s not only a higher quality protein source than soy, but also the highest quality protein of all proteins.

Mixability and Flavor

How do soy and whey protein stack up for mixability and taste?Soy and whey are tied for mixability. Both are easy to mix in a shaker bottle or blender.And they both have a nutty taste. Whey tastes fairly mild, while soy protein has a stronger flavor.The texture of whey protein is smooth and creamy, while soy may be slightly grittier.However, both protein supplements come in flavored varieties, and it’s ultimately a matter of personal preference.

Soy Protein vs. Whey - For Weight Loss

But research also suggests that the type of protein you eat matters.

A 2011 study of 90 overweight people compared the effects of soy and whey protein on weight loss.For 23 weeks, the participants consumed two servings (56 grams) of soy, whey, or carbohydrate formula each day as scientists tracked their results. Otherwise, they didn’t change their diet at all.

Whey was the clear winner: the people who received whey ended up with smaller waists, lost 4 pounds of body weight and 5 pounds of fat, and also had lower hunger hormone levels. In contrast, the soy and carb groups didn’t lose weight, burn extra fat, or shrink their waists!Based on the available evidence, whey supplements are the winner over soy protein for weight loss.

For Workout Recovery and Soreness

Studies support the use of soy as well as whey to enhance recovery and reduce soreness after training.There’s no clear winner in scientific research, making it a tie.

For Building Muscle

Without question, soy and whey both enhance muscle-building in people who lift weights.

Soy Protein vs. Whey - For Building Muscle

And despite the higher protein quality rating of whey, a 2018 meta-analysis (a study that reviews all existing studies) found that while whey increases muscle growth more initially, the results of soy versus whey are comparable from 6 weeks onward.Perhaps future research will show a clearer advantage to whey, but that's what current evidence says.Regardless, the higher protein quality and the evidence of greater short-term muscle-building give whey protein a slight edge over soy, making it the winner for hypertrophy.

For Digestion and Absorption

One significant issue with soy protein is that it contains protease inhibitors that can reduce protein digestibility.Aside from that, whey protein drinks also digest more quickly than soy, which makes them an excellent choice for post-workout shakes.Whey is the definite overall winner for both digestion and absorption.Check out Protein Absorption: Everything You Need to Know to learn more about the ins and outs of digesting protein.

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