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Soy versus whey protein bars: Effects on exercise training impact on lean body mass and antioxidant status

Erin C Brown1, Robert A DiSilvestro2*, Ari Babaknia3 and Steven T Devor1

Author affiliations

1 Department of Sport & Exercise Sciences, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA

2 Department of Human Nutrition, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA

3 DrSoy Inc., Irvine, California, USA

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Citation and License

Nutrition Journal 2004, 3:22  doi:10.1186/1475-2891-3-22

Published: 8 December 2004



Although soy protein may have many health benefits derived from its associated antioxidants, many male exercisers avoid soy protein. This is due partly to a popular, but untested notion that in males, soy is inferior to whey in promoting muscle weight gain. This study provided a direct comparison between a soy product and a whey product.


Lean body mass gain was examined in males from a university weight training class given daily servings of micronutrient-fortified protein bars containing soy or whey protein (33 g protein/day, 9 weeks, n = 9 for each protein treatment group). Training used workouts with fairly low repetition numbers per set. A control group from the class (N = 9) did the training, but did not consume either type protein bar.


Both the soy and whey treatment groups showed a gain in lean body mass, but the training-only group did not. The whey and training only groups, but not the soy group, showed a potentially deleterious post-training effect on two antioxidant-related related parameters.


Soy and whey protein bar products both promoted exercise training-induced lean body mass gain, but the soy had the added benefit of preserving two aspects of antioxidant function.