Free Access
Publication ahead of print
Journal
Mov Sport Sci/Sci Mot
DOI https://doi.org/10.1051/sm/2020002
Published online 26 March 2020

© ACAPS, 2020

1 Introduction

According to numerous authors application of useful plants is valuable in both: nutrition enabling active and healthy life (e.g. Hever & Cronise, 2017), as well as in modern technology allowing sustainable development and production of environmentally friendly energy (e.g. Hood, 2016). The group of plants with versatile application is represented among others by soybean (soy) Glycine max (L.) Merr., which is a major leguminous crop of global importance and economic value of its products in both national and global markets. The total world production in the year 2017 amounted to over 352 million tonnes (Faostat, 2017), accounting for 56% of total global oil seed production (Wilson, 2008). Cultivation of Glycine max is very popular because of its high nutritional-value components such as proteins, oils, saccharides, minerals and phytochemicals (Garg et al., 2016). Furthermore, soy foods receive significant attention to support the health improvements or health risks observed clinically or in vitro experiments in both animal and human. Soybean has a beneficial influence inter alia on osteoporosis and menopause, blood pressure and endothelial function, platelet aggregation and fibrinolytic activity (Messina, 2016). Soybean has antioxidant and antimicrobial properties (Ponnusha, Subramaniyam, Pasupathi, Subramaniyam, & Virumandy, 2011), as well as a beneficial influence inter alia on osteoporosis and menopause, blood pressure and endothelial function, platelet aggregation and fibrinolytic activity (Dixit, Antony, Sharma, & Tiwari, 2011; Messina, 2016). Due to their nutritive value, soybean-based products are recommended for vegetarian or vegan athletes (see e.g. Gupta, Prakash, & Gupta, 2016). Furthermore, soya oils, unsaponifiables and sterols are widely applied in the cosmetic industry as ingredients of emollients and skin conditioning products (Lin, Zhong, & Santiago, 2018). Moreover, soybean fibre can be used in the textile industry (Rijavec & Zupin, 2011). As reported by Li (2004), the soybean protein fibre, with its good affinity to human skin, has positive health effects. The fabric which uses soybean protein fibre has a soft handle and light texture, its moisture absorption performance is equivalent to cotton, and its permeability is also greatly better than cotton, ensuring comfort and health while being worn. Furthermore, it is worth mentioning that soy derived oils are widely used in the chemical industry. According to Nwokolo (1996), refined soybean oil may be converted into a wide range of important industrial oil products such as epoxy resins, esters, fractionates, alkyd resins, urethane and co-polymer oils and printing inks. Soybean oil is also used industrially in the manufacture of lubricating oils, lubricating greases and as plasticisers. Moreover, soy derived oils might be used to develop renewable fuels, replacing petroleum-based fuels in transport vehicles (Channi, 2016).

Considering the wide spectrum of industrial uses of soybean, the present paper reviews the studies on the application of soybean-derived products for sportsmen, including (i) nutritive food, (ii) clothes and (iii) other products.

2 Material and methods

2.1 The morphology and constituents of soybean Glycine max

Soybean Glycine max (L.) Merr. is an erect annual herb reaching 30-100 cm (Pladias, 2014-2019) and creating pinnate, 3-foliolate leaves. Soybean inflorescence is a raceme bearing 5-35 white, pink or violet self-pollinated flowers blooming in July and August. The pendulous, oblongated, brown, hairy pods measure 3-8 cm and grow in clusters of 3-5. The pods contain 2-4 ovoid or subspherical smooth seeds rich in oil and protein (Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, 2019).

Soybean represents an excellent source of high quality protein and contains all eight essential amino acids such as cysteine, tryptophan, leucine and lysine (Kovalenko, Rippke, & Hurburgh, 2006). According to Dixit et al. (2011) the principal soluble carbohydrates of mature soybeans are disaccharide sucrose, trisaccharide raffinose and tetrasaccharide stachyose. Oligosaccharides, raffinose and stachyose are non-digestible sugars, so contribute to flatulence and abdominal discomfort in humans and monogastric animals. The insoluble carbohydrates in soybeans, consisting of complex polysaccharides cellulose, hemicellulose and pectin, are classified as dietary fibre. Moreover, soybean contains monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (omega-3 and omega-6). Moreover, it contains phytosterols (β-sitosterol, campesterol and stigmasterol). Soybean also consists of phospholipids such as lecithin. Because lecithin possesses both a hydrophilic and a hydrophobic side chain, it serves to facilitate the bringing together of immiscible materials through, for example, the formation of emulsions. Apart from the aforementioned constituents, soybean also contains minerals (calcium, copper, iron, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium), as well as flavonoids (i.e. isoflavones, flavones, flavanols, aurones, chalcons, as well as red and blue anthocyanin pigments).

2.2 The literature survey

For this survey, a systematic approach for synthesising information through a dedicated step-wise process for selecting available peer-reviewed literature sources was applied. The author searched for peer-reviewed original full-text articles, dissertations and patents about the application of soybean-derived products for sportsmen using the ISI Web of Science (All Databases) and Scopus-indexed publications. These search engines were selected as they provide a comprehensive all-encompassing database for various interdisciplinary domains. The review focused literature documenting the application of soybean was published over the time interval from 1970 to 2019. Moreover, publications were searched for by browsing the Google Scholar internet search engine. The author used factorial combinations of the following keywords in the searches: (‘Glycine max’ or ‘soybean’ or ‘soy’) and (‘athlete’ or ‘sport’ or ‘diet’ or ‘food’ or ‘nutrition’ or ‘wear’). The selection terms were examined from the title, abstract and keywords of the articles. The results included 153 hits from the ISI Web of Science (All Databases), 13,101 hits from Scopus, and 10,972 hits from the Google Scholar internet search engine on 7 May 2019. After the manual removal of grey literature (blog posts, letters, commentaries, reports, conference proceedings and meeting notes) from the lists of searches, the patents and peer-reviewed publications were selected. Then, the Abstracts were screened for relevance and eligibility. The only inclusion criterion of patents was their usefulness for sport practitioners. The inclusion criteria of articles were as follows: (i) investigations are relevant to the main subject of presented review, (ii) participants are people (clinical trials), (iii) no limits in age, weight, sex, nationality and number of participants, (iv) no limits in geographical location, as well as time period of investigations. The exclusion criteria of articles were as follows: (i) studies irrelevant to the main subject, (ii) investigations conducted on non-human species, (iii) repetitive publications (different parts of a single study were presented in two or more papers or studies based on a population that was part of an earlier publication). Finally, the author selected publications based on the scope which resulted in 26 records through the ISI Web of Science, 75 through Scopus and 53 from the Google Scholar internet search engine. Following the removal of duplicates (publications indexed in at least two databases) from all searches and an initial screening of full-texts, a final total of 101 records were selected to be reviewed. The inclusion criteria of articles were as follows: (i) observational, descriptive studies (case report/case series), (ii) observational, analytical studies (case–control studies, cross-sectional studies, cohort studies), (iii) experimental studies (randomized controlled trials). The exclusion criteria of articles were as follows: (i) meta-analyses and (ii) review articles. The chart detailing search results is presented in Figure 1.

The normal distribution of the untransformed data was tested using the Kolmogorov-Smirnov one-sample test at the significance level of P < 0.05. Subsequently, the variance homogeneity was tested using the Brown-Forsythe test at the significance level of P < 0.05. As the distribution of characteristics in some groups of data was not consistent with the normal distribution and the variance was not homogeneous, the statistical analysis was based on the nonparametric Kruskal-Wallis H test for multiple comparisons was used to check the statistical significance of differences among the numbers of records in particular decades.

thumbnail Figure 1

Simplified PRISMA flow chart detailing search results (after Moher, Liberati, Tetzlaff, & Altman, 2009).

3 Results

The overview of the literature from 1970 to 2019 showed that the number of records including experimental papers and patents referring to application of soy-based products by sportsmen gradually increased in consecutive decades and was the greatest in the years 2010-2019 (Tab. 1). The greatest number of authors or inventors was affiliated in the United States of America, China and Japan (Tab. 2). Altogether, 66 patents and 35 experimental articles referring, among others, to dietary supplements and sportswear products were recorded.

Table 1

Number of experimental publications and patents connecting with application of soya products for sportsmen in particular time periods.

Table 2

Geographic distribution of literature.

3.1 Food supplements

The performed overview showed in total 56 soy-based food supplements in a variety of forms (bars, tablets, powder and beverages) improving muscle and cartilage performance (39.3%), supplementing energy losses (26.8%), contributing to fatigue relieving and improvement of endurance capability (19.6%), as well as regulating rehydration and lipid metabolism (14.3%).

3.1.1 Products improving muscle and cartilage performance

Numerous researchers have patented nutritional compositions in both solid and liquid forms containing soy proteins contributing to skeletal muscle adaptation to training (Brantman, 1987), optimising muscle performance during/after exercise (Bell, Forse, & Bistrian, 2001; Portman, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2010; Constantine, Dixon, Kramer, & Varhol, 2009), as well as promoting muscle wound healing (Fu, Liu, & Wei, 2017). Other authors have invented food supplements enabling effective lean body mass gain (Gardiner, Woodgate, Gilbert, & Thoburn, 2004, 2010; Weaver, 2007), enhancing the development of cartilage and muscle tissue (Berry et al., 2014, , 2017; Fritz, 2004; Jenkins, 2015; Naito & Miura, 2011; Sagiya, 2012; Stone, 2002), strengthening the muscles (Ariga et al., 2000, 2001; Berry et al., 2014, , 2017), as well as shortening the time of physical recovery time, and enabling protection of myocardium, bone and muscle from injury, particularly in young people (Qiu, 2018). Furthermore, it should be added that Smith (2012) invented a recipe for an organic vegan protein shake mostly dedicated for athletes and body builders. Characteristics of products improving muscle performance are given in Table 3.

Table 3

Characteristics of products improving muscle performance (in order of appearance in the text).

3.1.2 Products relieving fatigue and improving endurance capability

Several authors invented recipes for products relieving sports fatigue. To the aforementioned belong dairy food products (Jiao, Yang, Bao, & Zhu, 2013; Wang, 2014), milk containing, among others, soluble soybean polysaccharides (Li, 2014; Wu et al., 2017), powder containing soy peptide (Li, Liu, Niu, & Wang, 2017), as well as astaxanthin wine (Zhu, Yu, Zhu, Li, & Liang, 2016). The exercise-enhancing food tablets containing soy proteins and increasing physical fitness were invented by Cresta (2009) and He (2018). Other inventions improve the endurance capability of the human body during motion (Nakajima, Murakami, & Sekiguchi, 2001; Sakamoto et al., 2000; Zhang, Zhou, Geng, Yi, & Zhou, 2010). The characteristics of soy based products relieving fatigue is given in Table 4.

Table 4

Characteristics of soy based products relieving fatigue (in order of appearance in the text).

3.1.3 Products supplementing energy losses

Several authors invented nutritional bars comprising soybean protein, which might be used as meal replacement energy useful for sportsman (Cao, He, He, Huang, & Xu, 2017; Guo, Lv, Peng, Huo, & Xu, 2018; Michnowski, 1989; Palmer, Rudan, Gautam, Dagerath, & Patrick, 2005) St. Cyr & Johnson (2000) patented compositions for increasing energy, Orlando (2002) invented soy-based pasta low in fat and carbohydrates and high in protein, while Stein (1996) and Muraoka, Nishi, Nakamura, & Sakata (2010) patented a recipe for a soy protein-containing food dedicated to persons with high caloric needs such as athletes. Tsukuda, Hoshii, & Gottemoller (2003, 2008) invented a method of preparing easily dispersible granules comprising powdery soybean protein recommended particularly for athletes, while Zhou, Zeng, Jiang, & Wang (2010) invented a mode of preparation of acid-resistant and non-bitter soybean oligopeptide. Additionally, it is worth noting that recipes for preparation of soy-based dairy products (also based on traditional medicine) providing nutritional supplement and preventing anaemia and suitable for people after any exercise were patented by Zhou (2015) and Zhu et al. (2019). Apart from these, the patented functional food paste which can be used in a ready-to-eat form or as filling (Smith, Brown, & Holt, 2011), as well as a gel-like food supplement (Toyooka, Hamada, & Saitoh, 2019) should be mentioned. The characteristics of products supplementing energy losses are given in Table 5.

Table 5

Characteristics of soy based products supplementing energy losses (in order of appearance in the text).

3.1.4 Products regulating water-salt balance and fatty acid metabolism

Several authors patented recipes for conditioning drinks containing soya protein suitable for amateur and professional athletes, regulating the physical capabilities of the body and compensating for salt loss (Wiesenberger, Kolb, & Engelhardt, 1984), enhancing fast rehydration (Jendrysik, Skrypec, & Kappes, 2007, 2010), or supplementing loss of water and energy (Sheldon, 2000; Zhang, 2016). Furthermore, a nutrient hydration bar containing soy proteins suitable for sportsmen was patented by Tobin & Tobin (2012).

Misawa, Takigawa, & Murase (2016) invented an extract of a tempeh-fungus-fermented soybean product, which is effective, amongst others, for activation of fatty acid metabolism, promotion of body fat burning, and prevention of obesity, while Lan (2018) patented a high protein dietary composition useful as sports diet food substitute and reducing blood lipid level. Characteristics of products regulating water-salt balance and fatty acid metabolism is given in Table 6.

Table 6

Characteristics of products regulating water-salt balance and fatty acid metabolism (in order of appearance in the text).

3.2 Quality of soy-based products

The observations of de Penna, Bunger, Sansur, López, & Santana (1993) showed that the quality of soy-based candy bars for athletes packed in an aluminium foil performed at room temperature remains without significant changes over 30 days for the nut candy, and at least 60 days for the almond candy bar. Yanaka et al. (2010) evaluated the respective soy protein and isoflavone contents in 10 health foods and observed that the contents reported on the labels frequently exceed the actual values. Garg & Brar (2017) evaluated the plant-based bars for gym trainers and found the substantial content of amino acid and proteins in peanut and soya bars. Consequently, they recommended them as being more cost effective and more nutritious than commercial bars for increasing muscle mass.

3.3 Experimental investigations of the effect of soybean derived products on athletes’ health

Altogether, 26 publications were devoted to experimental investigations of effects of soybean derived products. The majority of investigation focused on the effect of soy proteins on the health of athletes. Observations were carried out inter alia in population of canoeists and rowers (Drăgan, Stroescu, Stoian, Georgescu, & Baloescu, 1992), runners (Jiang, 2015; Wang, Li, Yang, Zhou, Gao, Xu, Fang, Gong, Gao, Wu, Cai, Shi, & Ge, 2004), cyclists (Shenoy, Dhawan, & Sandhu, 2016; Yeh, Chan, Hsu, & Liu, 2011), boxers (Shenoy et al., 2016), swimmers (Xiaolu, 2013), taekwondo players (Son et al., 2011), judo players (Bae et al., 2012; Laskowski & Antosiewicz, 2003), gymnasts (Stroescu, Drăgan, Simionescu, & Stroescu, 2001) and others. At the same time it is worth mentioning, that the greatest number of investigations (58.3%) referred to activity of proteins, while lower number of studies denoted to activity of fats, fatty acids and oils (25.0%) or other constituents (16.7%).

3.3.1 Effects of proteins

The investigations evidenced that the soy protein supply contributes, among others, to a decrease of muscle damage and/or their recovery (Jiang, 2015; Shenoy et al., 2016; Son et al., 2011; Wang et al., 2004), fatigue elimination (Drăgan et al., 1992; Jiang, 2015; Stroescu et al., 2001; Wang et al., 2004; Xiaolu, 2013), an increase of lean body mass (Drăgan et al., 1992; Wang et al., 2004; Jiang, 2015), and protein synthesis (Drăgan et al., 1992; Jiang, 2015). Moreover, soybean proteins intake induces the increase of strength indexes (Drăgan et al., 1992), improves adaptation to training and/or athletic performance (Laskowski & Antosiewicz, 2003; Yeh et al., 2011), improves aerobic energy supply and metabolic function (Berg et al., 2012), as well as effect on blood profile and inter alia hormones contribution (Bae et al., 2012; Burke et al., 2012; Kraemer et al., 2013; Malik & Parvinder, 2018). Apart from these, Wada et al. (2013) observed that a breakfast containing inter alia soy-derived products, morning sunlight and evening-lighting seems to be effective for athletes to maintain higher melatonin secretion at night, inducing easy onset of night sleep as well as a higher quality of sleep. Lai (2015) investigated the antioxidant properties of sports food soybean peptides and found that highly effective antioxidant soybean peptides products can be obtained through screening hydrolysis conditions. The review of investigations of the effects of the soy protein-rich food consumption on athlete health and endurance is given in Table 7.

Table 7

Review of investigations of the effects of the soy protein-rich food consumption on athlete health and endurance (in order of appearance in the text).

3.3.2 Effects of fats, fatty acids and oils

Several researchers studied the effect of soy derived fats, fatty acids, oils on health of rowers (Takeuchi, Kasai, Taguchi, Tsuji, & Suzuki, 2002), ski jumpers (Chen, Robbins, & Zhang, 2017), soccer players (Kingsley, Wadsworth, Kilduff, McEneny, & Benton, 2005) and others. Takeuchi et al. (2002) noticed that soybean oil may have a lower potential (compared to medium-and long-chain fatty acids) to prevent hypertriglyceridemia and obesity caused by consumption of a high-fat diet. The investigations of Chen et al. (2017) showed the beneficial effect of administration of glucosamine and chondroitin sulphate in combination with avocado/soybean unsaponifiables in an elite group of young ski jumpers, with chronic pain or discomfort due to chondral injuries of the knee or ankle suffered during years of training and competition. Udani, Singh, Singh, & Sandoval (2009) found, that the intake of capsules containing soy oils resulted in a significant reduction in standardised measures of tenderness (pain or discomfort when an affected area is touched) and pain (perceived without touching) post-eccentric exercise. On the other hand, other investigations showed that supplementation with soy-derived phosphatidylserine was not effective in attenuating the perceived muscle soreness, as well as markers of oxidative stress and acute inflammation following exhaustive running (Kingsley et al., 2005, 2006a), but it improves exercise capacity (Kingsley et al., 2006b). The review of investigations of the effects of consumption of the soy-derived fats, fatty acids and oils on athlete health and endurance is given in Table 8.

Table 8

Review of investigations of the effects of consumption of the soy-derived fats, fatty acids and oils on athlete health and endurance (in order of appearance in the text).

3.3.3 Effects of other constituents

Moreover, other researchers observed the effect of saccharides and dietary fibre. Yang, Tso, Huang, & Huang. (2015) showed that supplementation of Okara (soybean residue from soy milk production containing mostly crude fibres, proteins, lipids, and starch or simple carbohydrates) is beneficial to university baseball players who experience exercise training-related fatigue and muscle damage. The investigations of Upshaw, Wong, Bandegan, & Lemon (2016) showed, that post-exercise ingestion of chocolate soy beverages enhances glycogen resynthesis.

The effect of soybean isoflavone reducing the risk of estrogen-related diseases such as menopausal symptoms, breast cancer, osteoporosis, and cardiovascular disease has also been studied. Sato et al. (2000) found the positive result of vitamin K2 and soybean isoflavone supplementation in elite Japanese female long-distance runners. The authors observed, that supplementation may help reduce the risk of bone fracture. Investigations conducted in a group of Japanese collegiate athletes (Takeda, Ueno, Uchiyama, & Shiina, 2018) found evidence that consumption of soy isoflavones premenstrual symptoms such as anxiety or tension, fatigue, insomnia or hypersomnia, depressed mood and many others. The review of investigations of the effects of consumption of the soy-derived saccharides, dietary fibre and isoflavones on athlete health and endurance in given in Table 9.

Table 9

Review of investigations of the effects of consumption of the soy-derived saccharides, dietary fibre and isoflavones on athlete health and endurance (in order of appearance in the text).

3.4 The evaluation of acceptability and use of soy-based nutritional products by athletes

The investigations of Alberti, Sirtori, Iriti, & Arnoldi (2008) showed that soy-based food products are generally accepted by sportsmen regarding a sense of satiety, sense of energy and a desire to exercise. Therefore, they may provide a good way of pre-exercise nutrition in competitive athletes. The investigations of Bordi et al. (2003) conducted in a group of student athletes showed no remarkable differences in taste of a carbohydrate-protein beverage containing the isolated proteins from soy or from whey. Hayman (2008) evidenced the positive influence of an athlete nutrition education programme conducted in collegiate female athletes, which reflected in increase in knowledge about the relationship between nutrition and athletic performance. On the other hand, the investigations of Markowitz (2011) carried out in collegiate athletes from Coastal Carolina practicing different sport disciplines showed rare use of soy food products.

3.5 Other products

Ding (2015) patented a waterproof moisture-permeable sport suit comprising inter alia soybean fibre fabric layer. Ding (2016) invented a thin comfortable sportswear combination of wind-proof layer and warm-keeping layer that make it not only sportswear warm and ventilating, it is also light, comfortable to wear, suitable for making the running easier and with activity. Wang (2016a) patented a waterproof ventilated shirt for outdoor sports which is made of soybean fibre and bamboo coal fibre, assuring good water resistance and air permeability. Moreover, the aforementioned author invented a breathable sport suit equipped with soybean fibre Wang (2016b), which has good moisture absorption performance and keeps the human body dry, a particularly important feature for outdoor sports. Wu, Zhang, & Li (2009) conducted investigations on improving the thermal-wet comfort of clothing during exercise. These authors noted that soybean fibre shows a lower damp sensation as well as a moderate sticky sensation during an exercise trial compared to other fabrics.

The majority of researchers patented sportsman-protecting inventions such as a disposable protective tooth movement set for use on the sports field (Yu et al., 2014), a composition for reducing sports injury, especially for protecting cartilage tissue and skeletal muscle fibres (Yang, Bao, Liu, Zhu, & Jiao, 2013), a device covering the front portion of a hockey player’s foot for protecting sportsman during play (Salama, Holden, & Kreisel, 2011), pads used among others in a bicycle seat and also for protecting an athlete against injury caused by pressure, shearing, friction, vibration and shock during athletic activities (Spence & Gardiner, 1988). Moreover, Barnes (2006) invented a ski vax formulation comprising soy wax appropriate for use on cross-country skis and downhill skis. Jiang, Zhang, & Zhang (2013) invented a material suitable for the covering of a sports floor surface comprising, among others, epoxidised soybean oil. Wood, Kirwan, Maggs, Meredith, & Coles (2015) tested the combustion performance of biodiesel containing soy oil for its potential application in motorsports and observed that its application enables the achievement of higher peak power outputs, a shorter ignition delay and more rapid combustion compared to other fuels.

4 Conclusions

The greatest number of publications focusing on application of soy-based products by sportsmen were published in the years 2010-2019, mainly by researchers affiliated in the USA, China and Japan. The inventors patented food supplements (in the majority), sportswear and devices enhancing protection of athletes during their sport activities. The greatest number of experimental articles was devoted to the impact of soy-based products use on athletes’ health, the evaluation of quality of the products, as well their acceptability by sportsmen.

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Cite this article as: Kostrakiewicz-Gierałt K (2020) An overview of soybean derived products for sportsmen. Mov Sport Sci/Sci Mot, https://doi.org/10.1051/sm/2020002

All Tables

Table 1

Number of experimental publications and patents connecting with application of soya products for sportsmen in particular time periods.

Table 2

Geographic distribution of literature.

Table 3

Characteristics of products improving muscle performance (in order of appearance in the text).

Table 4

Characteristics of soy based products relieving fatigue (in order of appearance in the text).

Table 5

Characteristics of soy based products supplementing energy losses (in order of appearance in the text).

Table 6

Characteristics of products regulating water-salt balance and fatty acid metabolism (in order of appearance in the text).

Table 7

Review of investigations of the effects of the soy protein-rich food consumption on athlete health and endurance (in order of appearance in the text).

Table 8

Review of investigations of the effects of consumption of the soy-derived fats, fatty acids and oils on athlete health and endurance (in order of appearance in the text).

Table 9

Review of investigations of the effects of consumption of the soy-derived saccharides, dietary fibre and isoflavones on athlete health and endurance (in order of appearance in the text).

All Figures

thumbnail Figure 1

Simplified PRISMA flow chart detailing search results (after Moher, Liberati, Tetzlaff, & Altman, 2009).

In the text

Current usage metrics show cumulative count of Article Views (full-text article views including HTML views, PDF and ePub downloads, according to the available data) and Abstracts Views on Vision4Press platform.

Data correspond to usage on the plateform after 2015. The current usage metrics is available 48-96 hours after online publication and is updated daily on week days.

Initial download of the metrics may take a while.