Soymilk is a completely plant-based, dairy-free alternative to cow's milk, and it's often lower in calories and fat than its dairy-based counterpart. It's also a high-quality source of essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients. Although you don't have to include any soymilk in your diet to follow a healthy eating plan, drinking it on a daily basis may provide several benefits.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1 cup of original or vanilla-flavored soymilk has approximately 130 calories, 8 grams of protein, and 4.25 grams of fat. A serving of unsweetened soy milk is an even leaner choice with 80 calories, 7 grams protein and 4 grams of fat per cup.
To Lose Weight
Replacing full-fat or even low-fat dairy milk with unsweetened soymilk may help you lose weight because the soymilk has fewer calories per serving. If you normally drink three cups of whole milk per day and switch to unsweetened soymilk, for example, you could lose nearly two pounds per month without changing anything else. Alternately, if you already drink soymilk, you can lose weight by cutting it out of your diet entirely and drinking water instead. You'll save up to hundreds of calories per day, which can add up to gradual but steady progress. One more option is to try a daily soy protein shake as a meal replacement. In 2003, Dr. Steven Heymsfield and colleagues discovered that overweight and obese subjects who drank a daily soy shake in place of one meal lost more weight than those who followed a low-calorie diet.
To Gain Weight
If you're looking for a way to gain weight healthfully, try drinking soymilk or soy protein shakes between meals. Getting extra protein can help you gain lean muscle mass as well as body fat, and soy is a healthy choice because it's low in saturated fat and added sugar. For a single serving smoothie, combine a scoop of soy protein powder, a cup of soymilk or soy yogurt and fresh or frozen fruit. Drink one smoothie daily to add 250 to 500 calories and gain about 1/2 lb. to 1 lb. per week.
According to the United Soybean Board, having 25 grams of soy protein per day can help reduce your risk of heart disease. That amount is present in about 3 cups of soymilk. In August 2004, researchers also discovered that postmenopausal women who had about 60 milligrams of soy isoflavones per day experienced more relief from hot flashes and related symptoms than women who had a placebo. One cup of fortified soymilk contains about 40 milligrams isoflavones.
Just because a certain food is healthy does not mean that it is essential to your diet or that you can't get by without it. Soymilk does offer benefits for health, weight loss and safe weight gain, but you don't have to drink a certain amount of it every day to meet your wellness goals. Before you start any new eating plan, speak with your physician.
- NAL.USDA.gov: Nutrient Data Laboratory
- United Soybean Board; Soy and Heart Health; 2011
- "Nutrition Journal"; Results of Soy-Based Meal Replacement Formula on Weight During a 40-Week Clinical Weight Loss Trial; Steven B. Heymsfield; 2003
- "Maturitas"; Benefits of Soy Germ Isoflavones in Postmenopausal Women; E Petri Nahas; August 2004