Is Soy Making You Fat?


This post has been SOY long due! (Sorry, I had to go there!)  Soy has been a food that I once thought to be very healthy, in fact, I use to pride myself on trying to eat as much tofu as I could as a badge of honor.  The more I have studied soy, the farther I go to avoid it! I certainly am no expert on it, but there is lots of research to show that we really need to be careful with it.  There is also research to show some benefits to it as well, which makes it such a confusing topic!

Soy Bean Plant
Soy Bean Plant

I think many of the thyroid issues that are going on can be somewhat contributed to the increase in soy. Soy hasn’t been massed produced in America for all that long.  You might be wondering why we have been taught to believe that soy is so good for you.  The answer to that question is simple…  $$$$$$$$$$$ Our government, the media, and even some research is all run by how much money it can make.  Soy is a cash crop and a multibillion dollar industry. When so much money is at stake, of course there are going to be multimillion dollar campaigns to persuade American’s at just how great soy is… Do you remember this past year all those high fructose corn syrup commercials saying the HFCS is actually GOOD for you?? Man did that make me mad!

Since I am not the best person for this subject, I have asked my nutritional consultant that I work with and send my clients to, to write an article on it.  Tracie specializes in healing metabolism through natural foods and is awesome when it comes to weight loss.  She is having an 8 week seminar starting in mid July.  If you are in the Madison area I highly recommend you join.  It will be life-changing!

So here is her article!


To Soy or Not to Soy?

Can you believe that as a nutritional consultant, I actually warn my clients about the potential heath dangers that the consumption of soy can cause?

soy-beans-1_300You may be thinking to yourself, “What the heck? The media tells me that if I include a lot of soy into my diet, I will decrease the risks of cancer (especially breast and colon) and also reduce my chances of getting heart disease.”  Those sound like positive claims, right?  This is where the controversy begins: To soy or not to soy?

If you really read your food product and supplement labels, you will quickly discover that soy is everywhere.  Some examples of soy derivatives that you can run across while reading labels are hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP), vegetable protein concentrate, vegetable oil, MSG (monosodium glutamate), soy protein isolate, soy lecithin, TVP (textured vegetable proteins) and, the most prominent of all, soy oil.  Other popular soy products include: soy milk, soy yogurt, soy cheese, soy protein powders, soy baby formula, tofu, soy sauce, vegetarian burgers and meat alternatives.  According to the media and some health experts, this would be a good thing, but I would encourage you to think again!

What you aren’t hearing about is the potential dangers of eating too much soy. The following are just a few dangers researchers have found:

  • Soy contains high levels of phytic acid that can reduce absorption of calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and zinc.
  • Soy contains trypsin inhibitors, which hinders protein digestion. Digestive upset, including bloating is a common reaction.
  • Soy phytoestrogens disrupt endocrine function and have the potential to cause hormonal imbalances in both men and women.
  • Soy has goitrogenic effects—it impairs the body’s ability to produce thyroid hormones.
  • Soy foods increase the body need for Vitamin B12 and D.

So why is soy such a prominent part of our food supply? The answer to that is simple. The USA grows a lot of soybeans and the beans itself and the bi-products are cheap.  This equals big profits for companies that use soy as a filler in their products.  Therefore, we have been fed the story that soy is a miracle food that should be eaten in abundance.


I could go on for hours about this topic, but space and time are limited here, so if you’d like more information and a longer list the negative affects of soy click here.   There is also a great book that I recommend called the Whole Soy cheddarlStory, by Kaayla Daniel, that is worth checking out.  I want to share this information with you because the media has only told half of the story when it comes to soy.

Before you think that I have totally dismissed the consumption of all soy products, I do agree with including small amounts of fermented soy products (tamari, tempeh, miso and natto) into your diet.  This is how Asians have traditionally used soy for centuries. However, I urge you to start to question the beliefs that you have about what is healthy and what isn’t.  Soy is just one example of a nutrition myth that needs more explanation. I am starting an 8-week seminar series called “Change your plate. Change your life,” on July 15 that will be busting other nutritional myths and helping you learn how to eat to look and feel better.  If you want more energy, weight loss or better athletic performance, please check out my website for more information on this seminar series and other upcoming events.    What’s on your plate?

Tracie Hittman, MS                   608-213-2021

Now it is your turn!  What is your experience with soy?  Do you agree or disagree with this article?

For great recipes from previous posts, click the links below!

Healthy Potluck Foods,   30 Healthy Snacks, 21 Healthy SnacksChocolate Chip CookiesChocolate Tofu PiePureed Vegetables, Roasted VeggiesQuinoaChickenOmeletPizzaGuacamoleHummusCarrot Soup Campfire Food Protein Bars 7 Day Meal Plan


  1. Thanks Tracie, I’ve been waiting for this! And especially good is your website to check out-it has a huge list of additional reading resources to read about soy, disconnected from those who would gain from soy sales. But you started us off on enough facts to get us to reconsider its usage. I’m thinking of my daughter who uses a little soymilk on her cereal….almond or rice milk should be good alternatives, I’d think. And Eric likes edame in the pods occasionally-any problem with that, or are we talking “radical deceased usage” to ALL but the fermented forms??

  2. Joanne Woellner says

    Hmmmm. What to do? You present important information for me to digest! In order to figure out some health-related issues that I’ve had for over a year, I keep trying different approaches and the program I’m trying now is following the Quantum Wellness Cleanse, The 21-day Essential Guide to Healing Your Body, Mind and Spirit, by Kathy Freston. It includes eating lots of fruits, nuts,rice products & veggies but also many of the recipes include soy products. In this cleanse, you omit all caffeine, alcohol, animal products, gluten & sugar. I’m on day 12 and now I’m wandering if I should continue to day 21 with most of my protein intake is in the form of soy products?
    Are you familiar with this cleanse and do you have any recommendations? Thanks.

  3. Hi Joanne,

    Thanks for your comments. I am not familiar with the cleansing program that you are doing but I would have to say, that I would be careful about using soy as a main source of protein. In my experience small amounts of fermented soy (miso, tempeh, tamari, and natto)are okay to include in the diet but large amounts of processed soy products (even tofu) can lead to some of the health issues that were outlined in the blog. I am a whole foodist at heart…meaning eating as close to nature as possible. Many of the foods that contain soy ingredients are very processed and far away from being a whole food.
    Also, in my experience, many cleansing programs do not contain enough protein to support the liver in detoxification. The amino acids founds in proteins are essential for that to take place. Soy like all legumes, is deficient in sulfur-containing amino acids methionine and cystine. That fact in combination with the thyroid and potential hormonal implications, warrants questioning.
    The decision is up to you but I would encourage you to do a little research on soy, before making long-term changes.

    Be Well!

  4. Mom/Joy….

    Great questions. I really do not recommend soy milk for any reason. I will have to write a whole article in response your question about rice and almond milk. Even though neither of those are ideal I would choose them over soy…more on that later. Eric having a little edame every once and a while should not create any issues. The issues come with you are eating edame like popcorn on a daily basis.

  5. Moderation is the key. Eggs used to be good, then they were bad, now they are good again. Coffee was bad, good, bad, etc.

    Does anyone even believe anymore that basic item’s like cow milk are clear cut anymore? Hormone’s used to increase production, sick animals, etc. America uses tons of pesticides, etc.

    Plus, item’s like soy milk are still loaded with other “bad” things, coloring, sweeteners, etc.

    We try to pick 1 or 2 items out of a long list of things to evaluate to say whether something is good or bad nowadays.

    If soy truly were bad, I’d think there would be a bigger impact on some asian cultures that have been using it as a staple food for thousands of years. Yet, those people are thinner, healthier, have a higher life span than the US.

    I’m not a doctor, and not using anything except opinions here, but I would say the key is still moderation, pesticides, processed foods, etc.

    I eat edamame regularly during lunch, but I eat it in place of what I used to eat which was definitely less healthy. I don’t eat a processed version or with artificial ingredients. I feel full after eating a small bowl, and feel better after than with what I used to eat.

    Most of the other food we eat has been treated, heated, modified, etc in a way that reduces or eliminates most of the benefits that the food normally provides.

    Anyways, not trying to defend soy, it may in fact, be bad, but I’d rather focus on cutting out the truly bad junk I still eat right now and work on portion control and other things that are more harmful right now.

    I’m going to keep eating my edamame though…

  6. Great point! Moderation is a big key. When you bring up the Asian population use of soy we have to realize that they have been using the fermented forms of soy traditionally not processed soy milks and powers, like we do today. They realized that eating soy in an unfermented way is really hard for the body to digest ( is an
    article about the use of soy in the Asian diet). As I commented to Joy about Eric, eating edamame once and a while is not a big deal. The great suggestion that you made about eliminating process food and chemicals would get rid of any of the soy foods that were doing harm anyway. Great post…thanks for sharing!

  7. Jennifer says

    I think the key here is moderation but moderation with soy is VERY hard given that it is in EVERYTHING. The percentage of food in the regular grocery store aisles that contain soy is nearly 90%. I urge everyone to take a look through their pantry and look for soy (or vegetable) items in the ingredient list. I think you will be surprised. It is absolutely crazy! I became aware of this nearly two years ago when my son was born. He was extremely intolerant to both dairy and soy protein. Since I was nursing, I was told to cut it all out of my diet. At first I thought the dairy would be the hardest to avoid, but no, the soy is much more prevalent in everything! Just made me think twice about it for all of my family because I believe that too much of anything will mess a body up.

  8. Laurie Divine says

    Hi Dustin & Tracie,
    I totally agree with you on both the risks of excess soy useage and on the importance of moderation and am speaking from personal experience. As a vegetarian for the past 37 years, I’ve used all types of soy products to supplement my protein intake. For the most part, I’ve used it between 1 or 2 times per week to once every few months – not a whole lot, since I do eat dairy products and fish. But there was a period of 3 years where I developed a severe case of lactose intolerance. During that time, about 20 years ago, I consumed soy daily – in all forms, many times per day! A few years ago, I started having memory problems and felt exhausted beyond words. When I gained weight after backpacking across Southeastern Africa for 8 weeks, lugging 160 pounds or so of supplies around and not eating for days at a time (while using local transport), I knew something was wrong. One of my doctors insisted I have my thyroid checked – there was no other reason for me to have been gaining like that. Finally, two years ago I was diagnosed with a pretty bad case of hypothyroidism, or under-active thyroid. It’s taken close to 2 years to finally get it under control (right med.s and dosages…using Armour now) – but, thank God, I’m on the mend now and slowly beginning to shed some of those pounds. I do believe the soy usage was at least in part to blame, although it does run in my family as well, and commend you for informing everyone of the potential dangers of soy (especially in the more processed forms). Great job as usual, Dustin!
    I have one question for you, Tracie – what have you heard about the benefits of coconut oil in treating hypothyroidism?
    God bless you both!

  9. Hi Laurie,

    Thank you so much for your story. I hear this situation happening over and over again with many women. I will be writing a couple of blog posts next week about hypothyroidism. That is a topic that is near and dear to my heart and I spend most of my time researching it. More on that next week. Anyway, yes I do recommend using coconut oil to support thyroid function and stimulate the metabolism. Coconut has a thermometric effect on the body and can increase body temperature and support metabolism. According to Dr. Ray Peat ( coconut oil acts like an antioxidant in the body and therefore, can protect the thyroid from becoming damaged by polyunsaturated fats in the diet. I will make sure that I address your question more in depth in the thyroid blog post next week. Hope that is enough for now…Oh Dustin…looks like we are going to have a do a post on the benefits of coconut oil!

  10. Margaret says

    Apparently soy acts in many ways like estrogen. So while some may say that’s a good thing, its not for everyone. If you prone to blood clots (I had a pulmonary embulism at 42 from birth control pills), limit your intake of soy as it can have the same effects.

  11. Another thing that I think should be addressed is that soy is promoted as good for preventing breast cancer, some breast cancers are estrogen receptive. I had a close relative who was diagnosed with breast cancer before she was 40. There was no family history. But because it was estrogen receptive, after the chemo, surgery, and radiation, the doctors strongly recommended a full hysterectomy. including her ovaries, which she had.

    LIke Margaret, I, too, am prone to blood clots. Luckily, I know this through tests I had in a pre-pregnancy consult because of my lupus instead of the pulmonary embolism she had. I’ve questioned soy products from some things I’ve read, and although since I started drug-induced menopause for my endometriosis, I’ve increased my Omega-3 fatty acids, but have not tried to increase my soy intake. I’m now wondering about the Morning Star Farms Garden Veggie Patties that I have 2-3 times a week for lunch. Although vegetables are the first ingredient, textured vegetable protein is the second (soy protein concentrate, whey gluten, water for hydration). Although after visiting Tracie’s website, I see that many ingredients in them weren’t around 100 years ago, so they wouldn’t be recommended in her program.

    On another note, I did order some coconut oil from the website link on your site. He asked me if I used it last session and was really impressed with what he had learned from filming his DVD’s. I would love to see a blog about it too. Thanks!

  12. Hi Becky,

    I also suffered from endometriosis in my early 20’s. I went through drug inducted menopause…it was not fun (20 hot flashes a day). That experience with that lead me down the path to getting my master’s in holistic nutrition. I wanted to find out why this was happening to me and what was the TRUE cause. I have been drug and symptom free for years, just by changing my diet and lifestyle. Endo is also considered an estrogen dominate disease. This besides the thyroid issues that I have is one of biggest reasons that I avoid soy and all processed foods. It may be challenging at first to eliminate most processed foods…but soon becomes second nature. In the end the fuel that you put into your body does make a huge difference! I still stand by the recommendation not to eat foods that did not exist 100 years ago….and TVP is a perfect example (soy protein concentrate, whey, gluten, water for hydration). You could instead eat a grass fed burger from one of the local farmers on my website.

    Thanks Becky! More on coconut oil to come!

  13. appreciated your info on soy. at least 10 years ago i was having little “flutterings” in my brain area. needless to say, it concerned me. because of the potential of osteoporosis, i quit the soy protein and soy milk because i heard that excess protein caused bone loss. low and behold, the flutterings stopped. later i read an article from a study by dr. blaylock saying that processed soy produces seizures in the brain. at that point i even quit the liquid aminos as my salt substitute. i do use tamari. for what it’s worth…

  14. Laurie Divine says

    Thanks so much, Tracie, for confirming what I had heard about and experienced with coconut oil.
    In hopes that this will save someone from going through years of horrible craziness (like I did!), I’d like to share one other personal experience regarding undiagnosed hypothyroidism. Most people are aware of the weight gain and low body temperature associated with the disease, but I discovered that the severe asthma, allergies and migraines I’d suffered with for most of my life pretty much disappeared as soon as thyroid treatment began. For over 30 years I took handfuls of prescription med.s and inhalers DAILY for asthma & allergies, and lived with frequent, debilitating migraines. Two years ago, I threw out all but 2 of my allergy med.s. I only need them a few times per year now! And the migraines only occur with Armour dosage changes and extreme jet lag, so I rarely need those med.s, either. With SO MANY physical problems related to malfunctioning thyroids and so many misdiagnosed people suffering needlessly, it’s very encouraging to see you sharing your knowledge. I personally have a lot to learn and would love to hear more of your suggestions! Wish I didn’t live so far away (CT)!
    Thanks again & God bless you!

  15. Wow, is this ever an interesting discussion! I have been mistaken. At a recent tour led by Dustin at the local Copp’s grocery store, I was introduced to the health benefits of coconut oil. At some point in my life I remember either reading or being told that palm oil and coconut oil were bad (in the 70’s or 80’s). I’m willing to try it but I have no idea how I would use it! I happened to find a jar of it on the shelf at Copp’s grocery store and wonder if I can use that or if I really should order it? I have regularly been using canned coconut milk in Thai dishes and wonder if I might be gaining some of the same benefits from that source too? I’m looking forward to an article from Tracie on coconut oil!

    BTW-I just signed up for Tracie’s free class this coming Thursday 7/9 6pm at Whole Foods in Madison, WI called Fabulous Fats (see her website for more info: Can’t wait!

  16. Hi Tracie-
    I was very suprised to look at some of the protein I was getting that I thought was beneficial but is soy protein- for example I had been eating the south beach high protein cereal bars with 10g of protein but the first ingredient is soy nuggets ( soy protein isolate, tapioca startch, salt)- should I stop eating these? Also, I picked up a whey protein drink mix from body fortress but it also has crystalline taurine and creatine in it- should I keep taking this as a good source of protein? (26g per scoop).
    Thank you for your help- I’m new to Dustin’s program.

  17. Kris Knight says

    Shocked to read nary a thing about the fact that almost all soy is genetically modified. From what I’ve learned by reading a testimony in a hearing online, GM soy is 100X as estrogenic as regular soy, and that is before any of the other stuff that’s done to it!
    I also don’t recall reading anyone talking about the remaining preponderance of people still feeding their babies soy formula!!!
    So, good that you’re making people aware, but sure wish you were helping educate about the GM dangers, relationship to inflammatory processes, etc. TRemendous number of new and existing health imbalances have at their core an out of control inflammatory process.

  18. HI Kris,

    Thank you for bringing this up!! This is a huge issue and deserves a blog post of it’s own. I complete agree with the points you made and will write more about the topic in the future.

  19. I really think soy made me OBESE and caused thyroid issues and hormonal imbalance. I am known as the fat vegan . I had seen 7 Drs trying to lose weight with no success . In desperation I went to a weight loss retreat hoping they could help me . Even though I thought i ate really healthy only eating 900 cal a day SOY was in everything i ate !
    It was in my protein shake .
    In my hummus ( soy oil )
    In my corn chips .
    In my meatless burger .
    In my bread !
    Every box in my house had a soy based ingredient in it !
    Since cutting out all soy i have lost 10 lbs in 14 days !

    Read your labels !
    Soy oil , Vegetable oil is soy (margarine anyone ) . Vegetable protein . TVP . MSG . Etc ……

    • Thanks Cyndi for the reply… Have you tried to get rid of soy now? Any changes?


    • I agree completely with Cyndi. I too have gained weight recently, and I can definitely attribute it to soy! I started suffering with pre-menopause symptoms and started taking a very popular name-brand OTC supplement that contained soy. Immediately, my weight started creeping up. Thinking that the weight gain was yet another symptom of beginning menopause I started adding soy to my diet in the form of soy milk, and low-calorie soy protein bars, which I substituted for breakfast and lunch. I was only consuming between 1000 -1200 calories a day, which had been my norm, and I continued to gain weight. I was completely frustrated and I went to the doctor where I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and told to cut out the soy. When I cut out the soy, my weight went back to normal, and it did so fairly quickly.
      I am still slightly hypo, and on 25 micrograms of levothyroxine; I am convinced that the soy brought on my thyroid trouble.
      I wish you all the best.

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  1. […] weight gain.  Laurie Devine was kind enough to share her experience with hypothyroidism on the “Is soy making you fat” post comments.   She shared, “I discovered that the severe asthma, allergies and migraines […]

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