At first glance, soy looks like a pretty good deal. It’s an inexpensive source of low-fat protein that doesn’t come from an animal—but this little legume has a dark side. Modern soy is almost always genetically modified, and our bodies have trouble breaking down foods that have been genetically fiddled with. Soy is also estrogenic; it closely mimics your body’s own estrogens. That can mean increased belly fat. Lastly, soy can slow your metabolism down.
If you’re watching your weight, soy can be a real bummer. Here’s an excerpt from my book, The Fast Metabolism Diet.
From the Fast Metabolism Diet: I had a client, an actor, who was extremely fit, thin, and healthy. He needed to look like a chronic alcoholic—like he’d been drinking for a week straight, his whole life going out of control. I had 14 days to make him look the part. No problem! I knew just what to do. I fed him a bunch of soy…
That’s the last thing you want to happen if you’re trying to lose weight. You want to set your metabolism back on fire, not load it down with damp logs! Every minute your metabolism spends breaking down hard-to-digest soy is another minute it’s not doing its real job—carting fat off to your liver to be processed and eliminated.
Think of it this way: Cattle ranchers use soy as filler feed because it helps the livestock gain weight quickly. It’s the perfect food if you want to fatten yourself up, too! But if you’re ready to ditch the soy and rev your metabolism back up to high speed, it’s time to explore other vegetarian-friendly sources of protein to fuel the burn.
Vegetarian and vegan alternatives to soy
Certainly for vegans, soy is an important alternative protein source, but even then, you might want to consider incorporating more legumes and nuts into your diet to minimize soy consumption.
The easiest vegetarian solution is eggs, but a lot of poultry feed has soy in it, so stick to eggs from free-range, soy-free chickens if you can.
If you eschew most meat but eat fish, opt for wild-caught fish that hasn’t been exposed to the cramped, antibiotic-laden environment of a fish farm. When your liver isn’t busy filtering all those contaminants out, it’s free to buckle down and get rid of any extra fat.