Tofu vs. soy protein powder?
February 4, 2010 3:54 PM   Subscribe

I am trying to get more protein into my diet and have started making smoothies with tofu. Is there any nutritional/physiological reason to use soy protein powder rather than tofu?
posted by ShadePlant to Food & Drink (10 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
Soy protein powder would have a higher concentration of protein than tofu, so you would get more protein with less carbs and fat. Honestly, tofu is not really a protein-rich food. It's rich in protein compared to, say, a bagel or strawberries, but it's not a good substitute for meat, eggs, or higher-protein dairy products.

If you aren't going to have protein from whole food choices like the above, then whey protein would be a better choice than soy--it's more bioavailable.
posted by schroedinger at 4:03 PM on February 4, 2010


If the whey stuff doesnt agree with you, try hemp protein. It's great with cranberry.
posted by the cuban at 4:34 PM on February 4, 2010


Well, another thing to consider is the isoflavones in soy products that have estrogenic effects, which you may or may not want in addition to the protein. With tofu you invariably get them, with soy protein powders the content of residual isoflavones may be quite variable depending on the extraction process used, and the concentrations of these are unfortunately often not even reported.

Incidentally, I second what schroedinger said about considering whey as another alternative.
posted by drpynchon at 4:35 PM on February 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Ditto schroedinger's bit on whey protein being more bioavailable than soy protein due to the fact that whey is more protein dense. There's a really good layman's synopsis of protein options here (you'll have to scroll to non-meat options) which offers some options you may not have thought of.
posted by Hiker at 4:37 PM on February 4, 2010


Also: a comparison of soy and whey protein.
posted by drpynchon at 4:38 PM on February 4, 2010


schroedinger: Honestly, tofu is not really a protein-rich food. It's rich in protein compared to, say, a bagel or strawberries, but it's not a good substitute for meat, eggs, or higher-protein dairy products.
That's not true. Regular tofu is 40% protein. Mori Nu's lite silken tofu is even 68% protein. Tofu is higher in protein than many meat products.

50% of regular tofu (by calories) is fat, so it depends on what you want to achieve whether that's what you want or not. Tofu is much more of a real food than isolated soy protein powder, so I prefer it over protein powder.
posted by davar at 12:52 AM on February 5, 2010


davar: Mori Nu's lite silken tofu is not 68% protein. It is less than 25% protein. While it looks like 68% of its calories probably come from protein, silken tofu is mostly water by weight.

This is actually extremely important and not nitpicking, because it is difficult to cram enough silken tofu into a smoothie to get the protein dose you might want. THAT is really why people use protein powders and other dietary supplements, not out of a perverse desire to not eat whole foods, but because sometimes it is just not practical to eat enough of the whole foods to get the specific nutrient you're looking for.

I would prefer whey powder over soy protein as well, assuming you're OK with dairy-derived ingredients -- phytoestrogens are something I really don't like eating too much of.
posted by kataclysm at 7:38 AM on February 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Not to start a holy war here but if you think dairy products are free of freaky estrogen like compounds (it comes from female cows, for cryin' out loud), you are probably very wrong.
posted by chairface at 4:32 PM on February 5, 2010


Not to start a holy war here but if you think dairy products are free of freaky estrogen like compounds (it comes from female cows, for cryin' out loud), you are probably very wrong.

Do you have a citation for this claim relating to whey protein isolates specifically? This article [pdf] suggests that the level of estrogens in processed whey (not whey protein mind you) is on the order of 1 pg/ml, which is probably well below any biologically meaningful threshold. It's about a 1,000,000 times less than the concentration of isoflavones in soy (on the order of 2-5 mg/ml based on one source).
posted by drpynchon at 8:12 PM on February 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


Thanks, mefi. I've found I dislike the dairy/penicillin-y taste of whey protein but understand that is where I may get the most bang for my protein buck. I'll keep experimenting with recipes!
posted by ShadePlant at 6:55 PM on February 9, 2010


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