Facebook Pixel

What To Know About Soy Protein Isolate (If You Love Vegan Burgers, Read Up!)

By HERWriter
Rate This
What To Know About Soy Protein Isolate (If You Love Vegan Burgers, Read Up!)

So many of us have rules when it comes to eating. The interesting thing is that these rules are barely ever the same.

Some people believe fat bombs and keto coffee is the way to health and wellness, while others steer clear of fat. Others take a heavy on the meat, low on the carbs diet, while others go high on the plants, low on the meat.

The world is humming along with a lot of different opinions.

I am mostly plant-based with no real definition because my diet fluctuates as my life does. However, I love a good veggie burger. Years ago, when I found “Beyond Meat” burgers I thought I found the bridge to keep my carnivorous partner and I together. We fired up the grill and we loved the taste that was so close to meat, we didn’t need to be at odds anymore.

Every couple of weeks, we have one of these burgers. It goes well with my ethics and his commitment to health. However, recently, I read the label. While beef often has one or a handful ingredients, this burger was teeming with ingredients I would have no idea how to access in my own kitchen.

Pea protein isolate. What the heck was that?

While soy protein isolate is the main ingredient in many vegetarian foods – say, the Impossible burger, so named because it is impossible that a veggie burger tastes so much like meat – pea protein isn’t as regularly used.

A dried powder, both pea and soy protein isolate introduces a lot of chemicals during processing, such as aluminum and hexane (3). A spray drying process can involve acid washing.

You read that right.

While pea protein isolate hasn’t been as heavily researched, soy protein isolate is EVERYWHERE. If you are a vegetarian or vegetable forward eater, chances are that you have reached for some convenience food that has a smattering of soy protein isolate. If you eat tofu on Meatless Monday, it seems innocent enough. Virtuous, even.

Dietician Eliza Whetzel does not suggest consuming soy protein isolate, which exists in Burger King’s Impossible Whopper and even chips and snacks marketed to the health conscious consumer. “It's highly processed and chemically treated,” Whetzel says, “which has been shown to interfere with thyroid function and cause gastric distress." (1)

Natural sources of soy are not the enemy: things like tofu, miso or edamame beans. The ideal is fermented soy products, which increases the digestibility of soy and adds good bacteria.

There is a reason you don’t have a tub of soy protein isolate in your fridge. It is not natural. Soy has a lot of naturally good components, but if you chemically treat soy, it is stripped of the nutrients that the original bean contained. (3)

It reminds me of the expression “If it sounds too good to be true…it probably is.” Beyond Meat and the Impossible Burger and a host of other vegan convenience foods were simulated in a lab to taste like real beef. It is a process of food engineering and pretty far away from farm to table eating. (2)

Whether you are deciding to go the processed route or sticking to whole soy, it is best to enjoy soy proteins in moderation.

Gotta reign in on those burgers. Like everything else.


1. Soy Protein Isolate Is In. So. Many. Things. But Is It Natural? Women’s Health. https://www.womenshealthmag.com/food/a27559289/soy-isolate-protein/    Retrieved 4 June 2019.

2. Impossible Burger Versus Beyond Meat Burger: Taste, Ingredients And Availability Compared. CNet. https://www.cnet.com/news/beyond-meat-vs-impossible-burger-whats-the-difference/  Retrieved 4 June 2019.

3. Held, Lisa Elaine. Should You Avoid Soy Protein Isolate? Well and Good. https://www.wellandgood.com/good-advice/should-you-avoid-soy-protein-isolate/  Retrieved 4 June 2019.

Add a CommentComments

There are no comments yet. Be the first one and get the conversation started!

Enter the characters shown in the image.
By submitting this form, you agree to EmpowHER's terms of service and privacy policy

We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

Diet & Nutrition

Get Email Updates

Diet & Nutrition Guide

Have a question? We're here to help. Ask the Community.


Health Newsletter

Receive the latest and greatest in women's health and wellness from EmpowHER - for free!