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Hybrid protein shake lowers estradiol

The launch of BdM Nutrition's Fast Matrix Protein Blend [] has taken hybrid protein mixes a step further in the sports nutrition world. Improved technology has all but removed the differences in taste between the newcomers and regular protein supplements, and the new hybrids are cheaper – and in some respects even a little better.

April 2011 something weird happened. During a hamburger taste test a panel of experts from the Dutch meat industry awarded the highest score to a hamburger that wasn't even 100% meat. About a quarter of the protein in the winning hamburger came from wheat protein produced by the Dutch company Meatless. [] Meanwhile 'light hamburgers' and sausages 'enhanced' with Meatless vegetable proteins are already on supermarket shelves. These products are low in fat and cholesterol and high in protein and fibres.

Another example: the Dutch supermarket leader Albert Heijn received a prize in 2010 for its 'Extra Lean Meat' products. These products are in the meat section of the supermarket, but they contain up to 30% vegetable protein. They contain less saturated fat and more protein than their regular counterparts, yet they taste the same.

All over Europe foods are starting to appear in which vegetable-based proteins have replaced animal proteins. In German supermarkets you can now buy Lupinesse Eis [ice cream] that contains no dairy products, but is based on a lupin-derived protein developed by Fraunhofer. []

The biggest driver in the popularity of vegetable protein is the protein crisis. As food prices continue to rise, the price of animal protein is projected to go through the roof. For this reason alone vegetable proteins are the key to the future. But it's also becoming clear that, by substituting plant proteins for animal proteins, the meat industry can not only save on its production costs, but it can also improve its products. This is also the case for Fast Matrix Protein Blend, produced by BdM Nutrition.

Fast Matrix contains 67% soya protein isolate, and the other proteins are derived from whey. BdM markets the product as a pre- and post-workout preparation. That's hardly surprising, as both soya and whey are 'fast' proteins – the amino acids are absorbed quickly into the blood.

A source of concern to some, however, is that soya proteins contain mildly oestrogenic isoflavones. According to some studies, high doses of these could lower men's testosterone levels and raise their oestrogen levels. Although meta-studies have shown that this is not the case, some strength athletes are still not keen on the idea of using soya proteins. In 2008 the results of a study were published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, and they indicated that hybrid preparations like Fast Matrix at least do not have this side effect. According to the study, soya-whey combinations lower oestrogen levels and raise testosterone levels.

In this study 20 young men did weight training for 12 weeks. They drank two protein shakes a day, one an hour after finishing training and one later in the day. In total the shakes provided the men with 50 g protein extra each day.

Some of the men were given a soya-protein isolate [SI]; others were given a soy-protein concentrate [SC]. Yet another group were given a preparation containing 50% soya-protein isolate and 50% whey [SW]. A fourth group were given a whey preparation [WB]. Fast Matrix’ composition is similar to that of SW.

The table below shows the nutritional value of the proteins that were tested. The graphs below show that each of the preparations resulted in approximately similar increases in lean body mass in the men.

Hybrid protein shake lowers estradiol

Hybrid protein shake lowers estradiol

Hybrid protein shake lowers estradiol

Hybrid protein shake lowers estradiol

The soya isolate and the hybrid mix both boosted the total testosterone level, but the effect was not significant. The decrease in estradiol level in the hybrid group was significant though. The researchers suspect that the combination of the whey proteins and isoflavones causes the enzyme aromatase to work more slowly. Aromatase is the enzyme that converts testosterone into estradiol.

It's quite possible that the study underestimates the positive effect of the whey-soya combination on the testosterone level. During the experiment the energy intake of the SW group went down by over 1500 kcal/day. A drop like this usually also means a drop in the testosterone level.

Soya producer Solae financed the research.

J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2007 Jul 23;4:4.

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