Research has demonstrated that women gain weight as they age (sometimes referred to as the “midlife spread”) (Medical References 1, 2) — a negative phenomenon that many will experience. The Healthy Women’s Study reported menopause weight gain during the first three years of research (Medical Reference 3). In addition to weight, it has been reported that postmenopausal women gain more fat mass than premenopausal women (Medical Reference 4). These changes appear to be the result of reductions in metabolic rate and physical activity (Medical References 3-6).
Soy protein contains less fat and fewer calories than many other sources, and research suggests that such nutrition may help to fight menopause weight gain. One cross-sectional study (Medical Reference 7) reported that higher consumption of the isoflavone genistein (considered a phytonutrient) was related to lower body weight, fat mass, and waist size. Similarly, it was reported that higher isoflavone intake was associated with a lower body mass index (BMI) (Medical Reference 8). This relationship between isoflavone consumption and body weight suggests beneficial effects of soy on menopause weight gain.
Recent clinical trials have also described the weight loss benefits.* In one study (Medical Reference 9), subjects receiving high soy protein diets lost more weight and fat mass compared to subjects receiving lifestyle education only. Two other trials reported significant reductions in body weight, fat mass, and waist circumference with soy protein-based meal replacement plans (Medical References 10, 11). A review of structured weight loss programs (Medical Reference 12) suggested that the soy protein and very low energy diets provided more weight loss than the meal replacement and energy restricted diets.
Soy nutrition is an excellent part of any weight loss program designed to reduce menopause weight gain for a number of reasons. Research suggests that soy protein helps you feel full (Medical Reference 13, 14), which helps reduce the urge to snack between meals and late at night. Additionally, soy products typically have a low glycemic index (Medical References 15, 16), which would lead to fewer blood sugar spikes and hunger cravings — benefits for women looking to stave off menopausal weight gain. Overall, studies on soy protein for weight loss and dieting suggests that such nutrition may be an effective way to reduce menopausal weight gain.
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