Because it is a relatively inexpensive source of protein, soy is widely used to fortify many high-protein foods such as bars, cereals and shakes. However, as detailed on our website, the estrogen-like qualities of soy proteins (isoflavones) have a negative effect on masculinity.
A recent study by Wada et al. in the American Journal of Epidemiology (vol. 173, no. 9, pp. 998-1003, 2011) indicates that such demasculinizing effects can begin very early. The researchers collected dietary histories and urinary testosterone levels from 230 Japanese boys aged 3-6 years. When the boys were divided into 4 groups based on the quantity of soy they ate, the group that consumed the least soy had a notably mean higher testosterone level than the other 3 groups. The same was true when the grouping was made based on isoflavone consumption.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, but not the U.S. government, has recommended that infants who cannot be breastfed be nourished with formula based on cow milk rather than soy. Also, several countries including Israel, France, New Zealand, and Australia have officially recommended against soy-based baby formula. While the U.S. has made no such official recommendation, parents here would do best to avoid soy-based infant formula as well as soy-containing foods for their older children.
Men should carefully read nutrition labels and avoid foods containing soy or isolated soy protein. Preferable sources of protein include fish and lean meats, low-fat dairy products, and eggs in moderation. Acceptable protein supplements include whey protein and casein, both derived from milk. Some men avoid milk because they believe they are intolerant of lactose (milk sugar). Yet many of these men are not actually lactose intolerant. For those who really are, there are many alternatives. Whey protein and casein do not contain lactose, and have shown in studies to be very effective for muscle building. Most cheeses are made up mainly of protein and fat, with very little lactose, but should be eaten in moderation because of the high saturated fat and cholesterol content. Milk products should be of the low-fat or non-fat varieties to limit saturated fat and cholesterol. Lactose-free milk is also available in most supermarkets.