Since I wrote the articles “My Thyroid Diet” and “Modified Thyroid Diet”, I’ve received a few questions about how much protein one should consume while on these diets. If you look at these diets, they definitely include a decent amount of protein. But I wanted to talk about this in greater detail, because without question you can consume too much protein. And while eating a lot of protein occasionally over a short period of time usually won’t be harmful, there are definite health consequences for those who eat too much protein regularly over a prolonged period of time.
So how much protein should one eat on a daily basis? And should people with thyroid conditions consume more protein than someone who doesn’t have a thyroid condition? To answer the first question regarding how much protein someone should eat, it depends on the source. In the past, numerous healthcare professionals would recommend that people should consume at least 120 grams of protein daily, which most experts now agree is definitely is too excessive.
On the other hand, some sources state we only need 40 to 60 grams of protein per day. Other sources will say about 60 to 70 grams of protein per day is ideal. So whom should you believe? My honest answer is that I don’t know which range is 100% accurate, but for my own personal health I try consume between 60 and 70 grams per day, as from the research I’ve done thus far I feel that 40 grams/day might be somewhat low for the following reasons:
Reason #1: Protein synthesis is essential for tissue growth and repair, the synthesis of enzymes, and has many other functions. This doesn’t mean all of these functions can’t be accomplished by taking 40 grams of protein per day. But once again, numerous sources claim that around 60 to 70 grams is ideal, and so until this is proven to be incorrect I will most likely stick with this range. I personally haven’t experienced any adverse effects with myself or my patients, but obviously if one day it is proven that taking more than 60 grams of protein daily is harmful, then I will stop recommending that people consume 60 to 70 grams of protein.
Reason #2: Many people can’t digest protein adequately. Since most people have screwed up digestive systems, I think this is yet another reason why it’s a better idea to caution on the side of recommending more protein intake than less. In other words, even if only 40 to 60 grams of protein is truly required, many of us aren’t digesting protein efficiently, and so in my opinion it’s better to “play it safe” and recommend the 60 to 70 gram range of protein consumption. Of course my goal for any new patient is to help improve their digestive health so they will eventually be able to digest protein adequately.
What Are The Potential Health Consequences Of Consuming Too Much Protein?
Since I recommend 60 to 70 grams of protein daily, you might wonder what the harm is in taking more than this. The problem with taking too much protein is that this can lead to calcium loss, which over an extended period of time can lead to osteoporosis. So because of this you definitely don’t want to consume an excessive amount protein. Once again, whether 60 to 70 grams of protein is too much is debatable. On the other hand, most experts do agree that consuming levels much higher than this is unnecessary, and can potentially be hazardous to your health.
Let’s get back to the articles I wrote entitled “My Thyroid Diet” and “A Modified Thyroid Diet”. While without question I do recommend to people a significant protein intake with these diets, and since I don’t specify exactly how much protein you should take, I understand how these diets can be perceived as consisting of well over 100 grams of protein. For example, I typically have two “protein” shakes daily, but it’s not as if I add 20 grams of whey protein to each shake. I do add a raw organic egg to the shake in the morning, along with one scoop of Standard Process SP Complete, which is not really considered to be a protein powder, as it provides about 5 grams of protein for the ½ serving that I add to the drink. Along with the egg we’re talking about around 12 grams of protein, and I usually don’t add an egg to my second protein shake.
So on average I probably do fall in the 60 to 70 gram range of protein consumed daily, although a couple of times each week I might admittedly exceed this if I eat a Standard Process protein bar, which does have 15 grams of protein. However, in an attempt to increase my vegetable intake, I usually will consume some vegetables instead, although I must admit that I prefer the protein bar. By the way, while no protein bar will be superior to any whole foods you eat, the Standard Process protein bar is pretty healthy, as unlike most other protein bars sold in retail stores it’s low in sugar (only 2 grams), has some healthy ingredients, and tastes pretty good.
As for whether people with thyroid conditions should consume more protein than someone who doesn’t have a thyroid condition, my answer is “no”. Truth to be told, everyone should be eating a balanced diet consisting of mostly whole foods, including plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, purified water, etc. And with regards to protein intake, just because someone has a thyroid condition doesn’t mean they need to consume more protein.
In summary, it definitely is possible to consume too much protein, and as a result you do want to be careful not to eat too much on a daily basis. At the same time, consuming quality protein is necessary for optimal health, which is why I recommend eating about 60 to 70 grams per day. Many sources will agree with me, while some sources will disagree. You obviously can make your own choices, but until proved otherwise I’m going to continue recommending the 60 to 70 grams of protein on a daily basis.
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