Nutrition

Power into the New Year with Soy

Whether you’re looking to add more plant foods to your diet or are already eating a plant-based diet and want to ensure that you are meeting your protein needs, soy foods can help fuel your active lifestyle.

Soy: The Unique Legume

Soybeans are part of the legume family (along with black beans, lentils, etc.). They are unique among legumes because they have a high protein to carbohydrate ratio. Also unique among plant-based protein sources, soy protein is a “complete” protein, providing all nine of the essential amino acids in amounts needed by the human body. [1] Soy is a source of heart-healthy unsaturated fat, gut-friendly fiber, B vitamins, and potassium. [1]

Meals and snacks that include a good source of protein keep you feeling full and help prevent energy crashes. In addition to helping build and maintain muscle, protein serves important functions throughout the body, including support of the immune system.

Support Your Workout with Soy

Plan to eat a meal or snack that provides both carbohydrate and protein 1-4 hours before you exercise (see snack and meal ideas below).[2] Exact timing will depend on what and how much you are eating and what works best for your digestive system.

After a workout, make sure to include a balance of protein and carbohydrate in your next few meals and snacks. If you are engaging in intense exercise, aim to eat something within an hour post-workout for optimal recovery.[2] Try a post-workout smoothie made with soymilk and/or soy protein powder!

Soy: Something for Everyone 

Soy foods come in many forms. From edamame – young, green soybeans sold shelled or in the pod – to soy protein used in plant-based meat, there is truly something for everyone to enjoy! Here are a few ways you can incorporate different forms of soy throughout your day:

Start your day with soy

Aim for 20g of protein at breakfast to start your day strong.

  • Use soymilk or creamer in your morning coffee
  • Enjoy some soy-powered veggie “sausage” with your eggs
  • Prepare your oatmeal or smoothie with soymilk

Snack smart with soy

Soy foods provide a balance of protein, fiber, and carbohydrate.

  • Frozen edamame makes a quick and easy snack that checks all of the boxes for a balanced snack that will keep you going between meals
  • For a crunchy fix, try roasted soynuts or edamame crisps
  • Pair a soy yogurt with granola and fruit

Savory meals with soy

Whether you eat plant-based every day, or just want to try something new, soy delivers.

  • Add frozen, shelled edamame or pressed, diced tofu to stir-fries or curries
  • Add soy crumbles to spaghetti sauce or chili for a plant-powered meal

Treat yourself with soy

In the mood for something sweet?

  • Look for dairy-free frozen desserts made with soy (or make your own!)
  • Make a rich hot chocolate by melting dark chocolate in soymilk
  • Enjoy a nice glass of soymilk with a warm cookie
  1. https://www.soyconnection.com/docs/default-source/default-document-library/soyandchildrenguiderevision_school-and-child-nutrition-outreach.pdf?sfvrsn=67a03e47_0
  2. Mohr, CR. “Timing Your Pre- and Post-Workout Nutrition.” 2019. https://www.eatright.org/fitness/exercise/exercise-nutrition/timing-your-pre-and-post-workout-nutrition
Melissa Brown

Registered Dietitian

Melissa Brown, MPH, CHES, RD, LD is a private-practice dietitian with a large urban garden. She sees clients at McDaniel Nutrition Therapy (@stl.dietitians) where she promotes eating plants to prevent and manage chronic disease, working from an intuitive and mindful eating perspective. She is on IG @growinggreennutrition.