October 12, 2021

Protein; Whey vs. Soy, Which Is Right For You?

Protein powders are very popular, for many reasons. They contain concentrated animal and plant proteins. They are easy to add to food you already eat and some even have additional vitamins and minerals you may not get from your regular diet. You need to eat enough protein for everything, from building muscle mass to losing weight.

There is no one-size-fits all solution for choosing the best powder. These are the two most common. Soy and whey.


  • Tara Collingwood MS, RDN CSSD is a certified sports dietitian located in Orlando, Florida.
  • Keri Gans MS, RDN CDN is a nutritionist, speaker, author, and trainer.

What Is Whey Protein?

Tara Collingwood MS, RDN CSSD, certified Sports Dietitian Orlando, FL explains that whey proteins are an animal-based derived from dairy. The milk is pasteurized, separated into proteins casein and water. She says that the whey protein is further processed to remove carbs, fat and water which then leaves a powder which is whey proteins after which the isolate of Whey is processed to remove lactose (milk sugar), but whey proteins concentrate can contain small amounts.

Benefits of Whey Protein

  • It may help improve athletic performance: Keri Gans MS, RDN. CDN, nutritionist, speaker and author of The Small Change Diet explains how whey protein can be beneficial for athletes, she also says that there is evidence to suggest that whey protein may improve athletic performance and increase strength, as well as muscle mass.
  • Whey may help in reducing the itchy symptoms on skin according to Gan, it’d help in psoriasis.
  • It may help you lose weight: Gans points to some studies that have shown that whey protein can aid in weight loss.
  • Stuffed with amino acids and nutrients whey has a large amount of nutrional value and it contains all essential amino acids and branched-chain amino acid, as well as calcium, making it great for your bones.
  • It’s easy to add to your favorite recipes: Collingwood points out that it’s a great addition to smoothies and other dishes because it absorbs quickly and has a creamy texture.

What Is Soy Protein?

Whey is a protein obtained from animal tissue, whereas soy is a plant-based protein, also soybeans, according to Collingwood, are a legume from which soy protein is generated. “Soy protein isolate is made by ground soybeans, which are then powdered.”

Benefits of Soy Protein

  • It May Help Lower Cholesterol: Gans points out scientific research showing that soy may be beneficial for cholesterol. She explains that some studies have shown that soy may lower LDL cholesterol and increase HDL cholesterol.
  • Anyone who is following a plant-based diet, soy protein is great for them. Collingwood highlights that soybeans are a legume.
  • It is lactose-free: Soy protein is great for those who are lactose intolerant. There are no dairy products.
  • Stuffed with loads of amino acids and nutrients: Collingwood says that soy has a lot of nutritional value. It is rich in essential amino acids and branched-chain amino acid, making it great for your bones.
  • Smoothies, beverages and shakes can be used to have the intake of soy since it is quick in absorption, according to Collingwood.

Whey vs Soy: The Key Difference

The primary difference is what they are emerged from Collingwood explains that soy is an animal-based protein and soy is a vegetable-based one.

There are also differences in taste. Whey is creamy in texture, mild tasting with little aftertaste. But soy can taste “nutty” and some people report bitter aftertastes. Collingwood says that soy has the same characteristics. It can also be a bit more coarse than whey protein in texture and may not be as creamy.

Which Type of Protein Is Best for You?

Soy milk is better for vegetarians and vegans than soy. Gans recommends that you choose whey if you are able to tolerate dairy. It is “most likely more effective in building muscle mass and increasing strength than soy,” she says. Collingwood also notes that whey has a slightly higher level of amino acids and vitamin-minerals. She points out that “soy contains more naturally occurring phytonutrients, which can be beneficial for disease prevention.” It is also important to consider taste, since some people don’t like soy’s nutsiness.

The Takeaway

You should try whey if you are able to tolerate it. Soy is the best choice if you have a lactose intolerance or eat a plant-based diet.