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Soy and Weight Loss: Hype or Hope?

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Soy and Weight Loss
Soy and Weight Loss

Some dietitians I know were recently discussing several new books on the vegetarian lifestyle, and our discussion quickly turned to the role of soy and whether it could be the answer to lasting weight loss.

Is this whole soy-helps-you-lose-weight thing just hype, or is there something to it?

A review of recent studies published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association looked specifically at soy and weight loss. The author of this review article, Mark Cope, Ph.D., has done several studies on soy himself, some of which found that soy foods may boost the loss of weight and fat when it’s part of a lower-calorie meal plan.

Why? Well, for one thing, soy is lower in fat and calories than animal sources of protein such as red meat. Soy was also found to help prevent or lower one’s chances of getting blood sugar problems and heart disease. In addition, soy minimizes the bone loss often seen during rapid weight loss. Although the authors in one of the research studies noted some limitations in their studies, such as not controlling for other protein sources, their findings suggest that soy can play a role in preventing disease and losing weight.

Okay, say you’ve heard all of this and have decided to give soy a try, or you’ve decided to make it a bigger part of your meal plan. Where to start? Here are my suggestions for incorporating more soy into your diet—in ways that even your family will love and thank you for:

  • Pete’s Tofu to Go® cubes and desserts (available in the produce section of many grocery stores)
  • Veggie Slices® (the vegetarian “soy” version of cheese, in many enticing flavors)
  • Edamame (frozen, fresh, or dried soy beans)
  • Soy chips or crisps
  • Tofutti® (higher in fat than most other soy products, but a nice treat in place of ice cream)
  • Ethnic Gourmet® (frozen meals, some with tofu—they’re delicious and fast, and most are low in fat and calories)

And for some tasty soy recipes, try these soy/vegan-cooking Web sites:

Soy is a healthy, low-calorie part of a balanced meal plan that just might help you lose weight. Give it a try!

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