Does Whey Protein Hurt the Thyroid?

Whey protein is a type of animal protein that is popular with bodybuilders. It is commonly available in health food stores as a powder supplement. Whey protein does not hurt the thyroid -- a small gland in the throat that controls the production of hormones that regulate your metabolism. Weight gain is a possible side effect if your thyroid is not working properly.


Close-up of a pile of whey protein powder, with a scoop on top of it. (Image: keldererik/iStock/Getty Images)

Whey Protein

Whey protein is one of the two main proteins in cow's milk. It is present in any food containing milk products or derivatives. Whey is actually a group of proteins that also contains water, fat, lactose, magnesium, phosphorus and calcium. It is a complete form of protein, meaning that it contains all of the essential amino acids. According to Ladd R. McNamara, M.D., whey protein boosts athletic performance, has antiviral and antibacterial properties, and can increase muscle strength and mass when used along with strength training. Dr. McNamara is an author and speaker who specializes in nutritional supplementation.


You do not have to avoid whey protein completely if you want to stimulate your thyroid. Combining the two types of protein allows you to receive the muscular development benefits of whey protein and increase thyroid output with soy protein. Mix the two supplements using twice as much whey protein as soy. Before taking any supplements, obtain permission from your doctor.

Thyroid Cancer

Whey protein may be the best protein choice for people with thyroid cancer. The A.P. John Institute for Cancer Research recommends a food program for thyroid cancer patients that advises consuming whey protein at breakfast. This helps you meet your daily requirement of amino acids, which your normal cells need to stay healthy.

Whey protein also helps you keep a normal appetite and prevents edema, which is a swelling or water buildup in the body. Eat around 10 to 12 grams of whey protein supplements if you are 150 pounds, or ask your doctor for a recommendation.

Other Types of Protein

There are other types of plant proteins besides whey that people with thyroid issues may consume without issues, for instance, pea protein and hemp protein. However, people diagnosed with thyroid problems should consult with their doctors before consuming soy protein.

REFERENCES & RESOURCES Ladd R. McNamara: Soy vs. Whey Protein: Confused Over Which One is Better? A.P. John Institute for Cancer Research: What is Thyroid Cancer Dairy Council of California: Whey Protein: Nutritional Powerhouse (PDF) Journal of Nutrition: Whey Protein but Not Soy Protein Supplementation Alters Body Weight and Composition in Free-Living Overweight and Obese Adults