Assertion by Actress Blake Lively Incorrect Regarding Soy and Weight Loss
By Mark Messina, PhD, Executive Director, Soy Nutrition Institute
Actress Blake Lively says she got in shape for her new movie The Shallows by giving up soy and gluten. The 28-year-old actress, best known for her role as Serena van der Woodsen on the CW network's teen drama Gossip Girl, began filming her new bikini-clad surfer role just months after giving birth to a daughter.
I can’t say I devote much attention to celebrity diets, but the soy-free nature of Lively’s weight loss regimen caught my eye. I wondered why she would think that soyfoods aren’t compatible with weight loss. As it turns out, it’s not so much the soy that she was concerned about; it’s where soy ingredients are often found. Lively’s explanation? “Once you remove soy, you realize you’re eating no processed foods. So that’s basically what I did. No processed foods and then working out.”
So it wasn’t about soyfoods at all; it was about eating processed foods.
Since some “processed” foods are packed with refined carbs and calories, it’s possible that emphasizing whole foods in her diet helped Blake achieve her goal. But in her case, I doubt that what she ate even mattered. That’s because she was working out for 13 hours a day. At that level of physical activity, you can count on shedding a few pounds regardless of what you eat.
Blake Lively could have enjoyed a more varied diet by including soyfoods in her meals, and she would still have been able to shed weight. Since protein is better for blunting hunger, getting a little extra may be good for weight loss. And getting it from plant foods is good for health. Soyfoods are unique among plant foods because they’re high in protein and relatively low in carbohydrate. Even certain processed foods can be a good way to incorporate extra soy protein into a weight loss diet. And since the fat in soyfoods is polyunsaturated -- the type of fat that lowers cholesterol levels and heart disease risk -- including these foods in a weight loss plan provides an added health bonus.
It’s no surprise when a celebrity achieves a bikini body by cutting back to four small meals per day while pushing herself to the limits of exercise. Whether or not one eats soy has nothing to do with it.