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June 26, 2023 8 min read

Are you feeling sluggish and tired all the time? Do you find yourself gaining weight despite eating a healthy diet? If so, you may be one of the millions suffering from hypothyroidism. This is a condition where your thyroid gland isn't producing enough thyroid hormones, which can lead to many symptoms that make it difficult to live your best life.

Fortunately, there are many ways to manage hypothyroidism and improve your overall health. One of the most important factors is ensuring that your diet includes enough protein. Protein is essential for maintaining muscle mass, keeping energy levels up, and supporting many other bodily functions.

Here's what you need to know about protein and thyroid health.

Is protein good for people with hypothyroidism?

Is protein good for people with hypothyroidism?

Amidst our daily activities, our body carries out numerous intricate functions - from preparing breakfast to hitting the hay at night. To optimize our body's performance, we all require a balanced intake of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.

Proteins play a crucial role as the building blocks of life, essential in maintaining the health of our tissues and organs. As large molecules are composed of amino acids, it's vital to consume at least 80-100 grams of high-quality protein per day to sustain optimal liver function. A well-functioning liver ensures healthy thyroid function by converting inactive thyroid hormone T4 (thyroxine) into the active hormone T3 (triiodothyronine). Moreover, the liver aids in the detoxification of estrogen and endotoxins.

Striking the right balance in protein consumption is key. A diet deficient in protein may significantly lower the metabolic rate. Thus, adequate protein intake is important. But can too much protein cause thyroid problems? Well, yes. Excessive consumption of specific protein types may impede thyroid function. Therefore, balance is the key.

Is there such a thing as high and low-quality proteins?

When dealing with an underactive thyroid or hypothyroidism, it's super important to keep an eye on the food you eat and the protein content in it. Don't forget that protein is the key nutrient needed for our overall health and keeping our thyroid happy and working well, which includes thyroid hormone production.

However, not all proteins are good.

Low-quality proteins, such as nuts, almonds, beans, lentils, peas, and soy products, may not deliver the protein content your body needs. These are more challenging for your digestive system to extract, and they often contain anti-thyroid substances like polyunsaturated fats and estrogen, which can contribute to inflammation. Additionally, low-quality protein sources, such as beans and lentils, contain indigestible fibers that promote the overproduction of endotoxins in the intestines. Also, soy protein acts as a goitrogen that can disrupt your thyroid function.

High-quality proteins offer a more balanced and healthy source of nutrition, primarily derived from animal sources, with a select few from plant sources. These proteins have minimal thyroid-suppressing polyunsaturated fats, with fatty fish like tuna and salmon being best avoided to this end. Adults who have ceased growing require less tryptophan and cysteine when compared to children, who require larger amounts of these amino acids.

It's essential to avoid or minimize non-ruminant animal meats like pigs and poultry, as their tissues may contain accumulated polyunsaturated fats from their feed. A high-quality protein diet should also minimize thyroid-suppressing amino acids like tryptophan and cysteine, which muscle meat—primarily in fish—is rich in. For a pro-thyroid diet, focus on consuming milk, cheese, eggs, shellfish, gelatin-rich ruminant animal meats, pure gelatin, and specific plant proteins.

High-quality, plant-based options


Mushrooms are a great source of high-quality protein, with a protein content similar to meat. Who would've thought?

On top of their high-quality protein, well-cooked mushrooms are packed with helpful nutrients and compounds that have anti-estrogenic, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties.

However, be careful, as mushrooms also contain some components that can be toxic to the liver. That's why it's super important to cook them well, as it helps to break down those liver toxins.


Besides mushrooms, potatoes are also vegetables that are easy to find and have good nutrition for your body's needs.

Potatoes are pretty unique veggies. Within the watery part of the potato (located between the starch grains), you'll find keto acids.

What's cool about keto acids is that your body can convert them into essential amino acids. This gives potatoes a protein value similar to milk, weight for weight. For vegetarians, potato protein is particularly essential, so enjoying well-boiled potatoes with some butter and salt can be a tasty way to get high-quality protein.

Keto acids can also be used as fuel by brain and heart cells, making them an ideal food for coping with stress-related health issues. If you ever find yourself in an emergency or stressful situation, concentrated keto acids can be super helpful since they provide energy and essential amino acids without triggering insulin secretion. You can juice the potatoes (using an electric juicer) to remove the starch grains and produce a keto-acid-rich drink. This juice can be cooked with coconut oil or butter to create something similar to scrambled eggs. You can even make it into a soup by adding extra water and boiling it with salt, onions, and spices.

What are the vitamins and minerals in protein-rich foods?

Many foods rich in protein that promote healthy thyroid function are also abundant in essential vitamins and minerals. These key nutrients found in protein-rich foods include:

  • B Vitamins (Vitamin B12, Vitamin B6, and Folate/Vitamin B9)

  • Iron

  • Zinc

  • Magnesium

  • Phosphorus

  • Potassium

For instance, eggs offer not only healthy protein but also cholesterol and vitamin A. Consuming calf liver once or twice a month can provide you with additional B vitamins, copper, and vitamins A, D, and K.

Shellfish, including shrimp, oysters, clams, and crabs, contain a powerful blend of high-quality protein and essential trace minerals, such as selenium, manganese, iodine, and copper. It's crucial to choose shellfish sourced from the sea, as farmed ones may lack these beneficial trace minerals. Additionally, dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cheese are fantastic sources of high-quality protein, as well as easily absorbable calcium.

You can obtain all the important nutrients from both animal-based and plant-based proteins. Animal-based proteins tend to provide complete proteins containing all essential amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. In contrast, plant-based proteins may be lower in specific nutrients, so it's essential to include a wide variety of plant-based protein sources in your diet.

Incorporating these nutritious, protein-rich foods into your diet will not only support your overall well-being but also contribute to maintaining a healthy thyroid function.

Does protein affect blood sugar?

Much like starch, proteins can promote insulin secretion. However, if consumed without carbohydrates, they leave the blood sugar levels too low. The body's response to low blood sugar is to activate stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol, to elevate blood sugar levels. The same response occurs when pure starch is consumed alone.

Consistently following a high-protein, low-carb diet, like the popular ketogenic diet, where there are insufficient good carbohydrates, may result in chronic overstimulation of cortisol secretion. Consequently, this can lead to the continuous breakdown of body tissues, and tissue protein could be converted into glucose, increasing blood sugar and possibly inducing diabetic symptoms. Therefore, it's crucial to consume proteins alongside good carbohydrates and healthy fats for a well-balanced, healthy diet.

Aside from affecting blood sugar, having a higher protein diet without enough iodine intake is not a good thing as it may lead to iodine deficiency and thyroid dysfunction.

Good protein to add to your diet

Protein is found in a wide range of food. To optimize a pro-thyroid diet, consider consuming high-quality proteins from the following sources. Adults should limit their intake of muscle meat and rely predominantly on milk, cheese, eggs, shellfish, gelatin-rich ruminant animal meats, pure gelatin, and plant proteins like potatoes and mushrooms.

  1. Cow or goat milk products:Low-fat and organic milk, cheese without additives, and Greek yogurt serve as optimal sources of high-quality protein. While natural ingredient-based ice cream also offers protein, lactose-free milk is a suitable alternative for those with lactose intolerance. Milk protein isolate can be an option as well.

  2. Gelatinous meat: Replacing some muscle meats with gelatin-rich meats, like oxtail soup and bone broth, can restrict anti-thyroid amino acids and help prevent degenerative and inflammatory diseases. Opting for pure gelatin powder without additives, derived from porcine or bovine sources, serves as an easy way to incorporate gelatin into your diet. It is crucial to dissolve the gelatin properly before consumption.

  3. Eggs: Organic eggs deliver a rich protein content. However, if the eggs taste like fish, it may indicate that they contain polyunsaturated fats, at which point you should consider switching to another brand of eggs.

  4. Shellfish and dry (non-fatty) fish: Shrimp, oysters, crabs, lobster, clams, cod, and other low-fat fish types are reliable protein sources. Ensure the shellfish and fish have lived in the sea rather than being farmed to retain their beneficial trace minerals. Note that fish meat, but not shellfish, is still considered muscle meat.

  5. Meat from ruminant animals: Ruminant animals, like cows, goats, sheep, and deer, possess tissues that do not accumulate polyunsaturated fats. Their bacteria-rich digestive systems convert these fats into more saturated forms.

Incorporating a diverse array of high-quality proteins in your daily diet can not only promote thyroid health but also support your overall well-being. A balanced protein consumption plays a vital role in maintaining metabolic rate while providing essential vitamins and minerals for a healthy lifestyle.

What about protein supplement?

Is protein supplement good for hypothyroidism?

Considering protein supplements and their impact on hypothyroidism, it's essential to evaluate how these supplements can affect hormone levels. For instance, whey proteins have been found to interfere with thyroxine absorption, a critical hormone secreted by the thyroid gland into the bloodstream.

Although the precise mechanism behind whey protein's interference with thyroxine absorption remains uncertain, research has indicated that it disrupts thyroid hormone transporters in the intestine. Additionally, it's worth noting that added ingredients may contribute to this issue, rather than the protein itself. For example, soy lecithin, a common additive in whey proteins, could also impair thyroxine absorption. Therefore, individuals with thyroid conditions should exercise caution when using protein powders or dietary protein containing food additives.

A growing collection of scientific research points to the potential negative effects of food additives on the endocrine system, which consists of hormone-producing glands. As the majority of protein shakes and powders contain additives, including emulsifiers, stabilizers, thickeners, sweeteners, flavors, and preservatives, and are regularly consumed by many people, there is a cause for concern. The primary reason behind food additives influencing hormone levels is their ability to disturb the hormone-gut microbiome axis, a critical two-way biochemical communication link between the microorganisms within the digestive tract and the endocrine system.

In essence, a balanced gut microbiome plays a vital role in maintaining a healthy hormonal environment, and any disruptions may lead to hormonal imbalances. Food additives have been found to be damaging to gut health, and consequently, can negatively affect the endocrine system. This situation is especially critical for people dealing with hormone-related conditions, such as hypothyroidism.

Don't forget your thyroid hormone replacement therapy

Preventing protein deficiency is crucial for overall health; however, it is equally important to prioritize thyroid hormone replacement therapy, particularly for individuals with hypothyroidism. In fact, nothing will alleviate hypothyroid symptoms as effectively as thyroid hormone replacement therapy.

Thyroid medication, an integral part of managing thyroid disease, works by regulating thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) levels. The proper balance of TSH is essential in addressing the negative effects of an underactive thyroid and ensuring optimal well-being.

As hypothyroid symptoms can significantly impact one's daily life, it's indispensable to recognize the importance of thyroid hormone replacement therapy and adhere to the prescribed treatment plan. For those interested in natural options, NDT (natural desiccated thyroid) may offer an alternative, as it contains a combination of T4 and T3 thyroid hormones sourced from pig thyroid glands. NDT is available in both medication and supplement form. VitaliThy, a natural desiccated thyroid you can buy online, is a great option if you want to try NDT.

Wojciech Majda
Wojciech Majda

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