No Soy Protein

We are proud to have 10-13 grams of protein in our bars without using soy protein. Most bars use soy isolate for protein because it's incredibly cheap.  But as nutritionists, we’re not fans of heavily processed soy powders, and here's why:

  1. Extracting protein isolate from soybeans requires extensive processing which creates harmful by-products, the worst of which are lysinoalanine, a toxic chemical, and nitrite, a carcinogen.1 (Not what we’re looking for.)
  2. The high heat required in the processing de-natures the protein to such an extent as to make it largely ineffective and difficult to digest.2 (Ever get gas after eating a bar with soy protein?)
  3. 91% of the soybeans grown in America are genetically modified which can create proteins unrecognizable by the body, leading to sensitivities. In addition, genetically modified foods may have destructive impacts on our agricultural food supply.3
  4. Soy is loaded with many “anti-nutrients” like trypsin inhibitors, that block protein digestion, and phytic acid, which blocks mineral absorption.4
  5. Soy is a common food allergen. Many of our patients have an intolerance to soy protein, experiencing digestive upset, gas, eczema and skin irritation.
  6. Excess soy consumption has been linked to thyroid conditions and “estrogenic” cancers like breast and ovarian cancer.

While soy was the darling of the media a few years ago, the truth is, especially in its highly processed protein powder form, it actually has destructive health effects. Plus, soy protein powder doesn’t taste very good, creating the need to mask its taste with excess sweeteners. Look at the amount of sugar in a soy protein bar—it’s often in excess of 10 grams per 100 calories. Ideally, you want to limit sugar to 7 grams per 100 calories.

So instead of soy, we use whey protein, derived from whole milk, or rice protein. They taste better, the body handles them better, and we just think they’re more in keeping with nutritional science. They do cost more, but they’re well worth it.

Before you think we’re totally down on soy, we’re not. Like so many foods in our diet, it can either be a junk food or a health food, depending on its form.

Even though we consider heavily processed soy protein powder little better than junk, as nutritionists, we heartily recommend fermented soy products like miso, tempeh and natto, which are quite healthy. The fermentation process deactivates the trypsin inhibitors, converts minerals into a more absorbable form, and actually increases the amount of B vitamins. This fermentation also creates substances that fight cancer, reduce cholesterol and inhibit the progression of atherosclerosis.

1 Rackis, Joseph J. et al., "Evaluation of the Health Aspects of Soy Protein Isolates as Food Ingredients," p. 22. Prepared for FDA by Life Sciences Research Office, Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (9650 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, MD 20014), USA, Contract No. FDA 223-75-2004, 1979.

2 Wallace, G.M., "Studies on the Processing and Properties of Soymilk," Journal of Science and Food Agriculture 22:526-535, October 1971.

3 Weise, Elizabeth, “Genetically Modified Foods Get U. S. Traction, Global Debate,” USA Today, March 24, 2010

4 Rackis, Joseph J. et al., "The USDA Trypsin Inhibitor Study,” Qualification of Plant Foods in Human Nutrition, vol. 35, 1985.