Athletes and fitness enthusiasts are very familiar with protein powder, a supplement they commonly use to support their protein intake. Its benefits range from aiding muscle recovery and growth to improving immune function.
However, while its advantages for adults are known, many ask the question, is protein powder good for kids? and if so, how much protein is enough protein for children? Let’s shed some light on this topic.
Why an Adequate Protein Intake Is Crucial for Active Kids
Proteins are required for children to have healthy growth and development. This is especially true for very active kids, as they tend to burn more energy during physical activities.
The amino acids contained in proteins are the building block of bones, muscles, and other tissues. They also play an essential part in the process of repairing damages caused by intense effort.
Protein Rich Foods Are Important for Kids
Moreover, children that consume protein-rich food regularly can reinforce their immune system, as well as regulate hormone production.
There are also studies suggesting that an adequate protein intake can lead to improved cognitive function and increased concentration in kids. Getting enough protein in a child’s diet has many benefits, but how many grams of protein does a child need?
How Much Protein Do Kids Need?
So what is the recommended daily allowance for kids?
The amount of daily proteins that kids need to take varies depending on age, sex, and how active they are. Here is a breakdown of the recommended protein intake by age, according to the Children’s Hospital of Orange County.
Protein Dietary Intake
Here are the dietary guidelines recommendations doe giving children protein powders:
- Toddlers (1 to 3 years): 13g
- Children (4 to 8 years): 19g
- Children (9 to 13 years): 34g
- Teens (14 to 18 years): 52g (boys)
- Teens (14 to 18 years): 46g (girls)
Providing children with protein foods as part of a balanced healthy diet will usually ensure your child’s protein intake is satisfactory.
The Importance of Getting Proteins From Natural Sources
To support healthy growth, children must get most of their proteins from natural sources. Fish and lean meat are good examples of foods with high protein content. The same goes for soy milk, beans, nuts, and whole grains. These protein-rich foods all contain a wider range of essential amino acids and are essential for a child’s diet.
The above whole foods are also a great source of vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients that can help active children stay healthy.
If you’re looking for a high protein breakfast why not try this recipe for Chocolate Peanut Butter Overnight Oats. The kids will love it!
You can also feed your children high-protein snacks and cook balanced meals with protein as a main ingredient.
Cooking High-Protein Meals for Kids
One of the best things you can do to add more protein to your child’s diet is to cook healthy meals. Check out this list of High Protein Instant Pot recipes. These are easy to cook and great for the picky eater.
Do Kids Need Protein Supplementation?
In some cases, protein powders can be beneficial for kids as an extra protein boost after strenuous physical activity.
Some children may suffer from protein deficiency and this is where protein powder supplements can come in useful.
However, children should not be reliant on protein powders alone, as protein supplements often lack the nine amino acids. Moreover, protein powder can contain other ingredients which may negatively impact a child’s health.
Some examples are added sugars and preservatives. Also, excess protein can lead to excess calories and weight gain.
When Can Kids Take Protein Powder?
So can kids have protein powder? There are certain scenarios in which it can be advisable for kids to use protein powder. For example, some kids find it difficult to consume the right amount of protein from natural sources.
This could be due to different reasons, such as following a vegetarian or vegan diet and not consuming enough proteins from animal products. In this case, protein powder can help them meet their daily protein needs.
Another scenario is that of children who engage in a lot of physical activity, such as playing competitive sports at or after school. In this case, protein powder can effectively support muscle recovery and growth.
Ensure Your Child Has a Balanced Diet
Parents should always consult a paediatrician before giving protein powder and similar supplements to their children. This way, they can ensure that doing so is safe and appropriate for the kid’s individual needs.
A paediatrician or specialized doctor can help parents establish the correct dosage of protein powder for kids. Parents should be aware of any potential side effects, to ensure the child protein powder does not interact with any medication the kid is taking.
Types of Protein Powder for Children
There are various types of protein powder that children can take safely, provided the dosage is correct:
Whey Protein for Kids
Whey Protein is made from milk and Made from milk. This complete and easily digestible protein contains all nine essential amino acids. Whey protein is also low in lactose and fat, making it an ideal choice if your kids have sensitive stomachs.
Casein Protein for Kids
Casein Protein is also derived from milk. However, it’s slower to digest than casein protein.
Soy Protein for Kids
Soy Protein is a complete protein, and it’s full of fibers and antioxidants. It’s a very good choice if your kids are allergic to dairy or follow a vegan diet.
Pea Protein for Kids
Pea Protein is a vegan and hypoallergenic option that is often recommended for children with food allergies.
Rice Protein for Kids
Rice Protein is a gluten-free option made from brown rice, and it’s very gentle on the stomach.
To encourage your kids to eat protein powder, you should consider products that make it tastier and more inviting. Examples are ice cream powder and protein shakes. A protein shake can be a great protein supplement for picky eaters as kids protein drinks can come in delicious flavours, such as chocolate and strawberry.
Risks of Giving Protein Powder to Children
When considering giving your kids protein powder, you should also take into account the risks. Here are the most significant ones.
- Excessive Protein Intake – Over-consumption of protein should be avoided, especially in those children whose bodies may not be able to metabolize it. Too much protein can put a strain on the kidneys, as well as leading to bloating and dehydration.
- Digestive Upset – Added sweeteners found in child protein powders and thickeners may cause digestive complications such as gas, bloating, and diarrhoea.
- Allergic Reactions – Kids with food allergies may be negatively affected by protein powders containing common allergens, such as soy or milk.
- Unhealthy Additives – Artificial sweeteners, flavors, and colors can lead to health issues such as weight gain, obesity and heart disease, particularly in children.
Ensure Your Child Enjoys Protein
Nutrition is essential for children’s growth and development. It’s important to make sure kids are getting the right amount of protein from natural sources, however, if there is a lack of protein in your child’s diet or you simply need to increase your child’s daily protein intake there are supplements and powders available to ensure you have healthy kids.