Q: Is Soy Good for Athletes?

Hi Lauren,

I was wondering, is there something bad about soy milk? I know that with your Picky Bars website, you said that too much soy can be a bad thing. I was just wondering, what exactly does too much soy do, and if drinking soy milk twice daily counts as too much soy? Thank you for your time! By the way, this is really awesome that you have this website to ask you questions!

Sincerely,

Patrick Jeannette

A:

Hi Patrick,

Thanks for the question!  My research tells me that good quality soy in moderation is totally cool, but you should be aware of the issues associated with it.  Like corn, soy has become an extremely popular ingredient in foods and beverages because it is cheap as hell to produce, so there is a huge incentive for food companies to find a way to incorporate it into their recipes.

With mass production of anything comes genetic modifications (GMO) and the use of pesticides to be able to grow massive quantities on mega farms with minimal risks.  You need to look for things like “Non-GMO” and “organic” on your soy products if you want to maximize the health benefits, (and good quality soy does have health benefits).

alternative beverages to soy that I love

Alternative Beverages to Soymilk that I Love

You might think you are having two servings of soy per day, but if you look at the ingredients of many other foods you eat, there is a good chance they are beefed up with soy products, especially if you eat packaged foods.  Most energy bars and protein drinks (and a million other things) use soy, and so a lot of athletes get 5-7+ servings of soy per day without realizing it.  There is research to suggest that too much soy is unhealthy (increased risk of certain types of cancer, phytoestrogens affecting testosterone levels in men, etc) as well as the usual amount of counter-research to prove its totally fine.

If there is anything I’ve learned in studying Human Biology and factors that affect human performance over the past 11 years, its that research is always changing, and its often influenced by business, economic, or government interests.  You have to learn to know when you are being manipulated, and when you are being truly educated.  If you don’t have time to figure out what is what, you can develop a food survival strategy similar to mine.
My vibe towards food can be summarized as follows:

  • build variety into my menu.
  • never go full-steam-ahead into a health fad.  It’ll change within a year.
  • stay as natural and local as is reasonable without making my life all about food.

This philosophy is what guides me when I create a Picky Bar recipe.  I avoid ingredients that people are likely to be over-consuming, and I select ingredients that are likely to add variety and micro-nutrients that people might otherwise miss.  Then I make it in a size that is appropriate to what a person actually needs.  Basically, I do the Picky for you.  I figure if I’m doing all the research for myself anyway, I might as well share it.

So long story short, if you start checking labels and find out that you are soy-ing it up way more than you thought, here are two different strategies I recommend:

  1. Buy non-GMO and organic soymilk, and avoid it in your other foods so you keep the total servings down.
  2. Keep your soy-filled snacks, but switch to Almond or Coconut Milk to balance things out.  Silk brand Coconut Milk is AMAZING.

All the Best,
Lauren