Whey Protein for Kids – Benefits and Food Ideas
Protein shakes are all the rage these days. You can’t walk into a gym without seeing dozens of people gulping down chocolate, vanilla, and fruit-flavored protein drinks. Supermarket health aisles are seemingly stocked with enough protein powders to feed a small nation. Stores like GNC and Whole Foods cater to adults looking for the best protein powders for their health.
But while adults consume protein powder by the truckload, what about children? Should they add a bit of protein powder to their diets? Are whey protein shakes for kids a good idea? Are you doing them harm by allowing them to consume protein powder, or does it offer awesome benefits? Read on to find out the truth about protein powder for kids…
Should Kids Drink Protein Shakes?
If you are considering whey protein or protein shakes for kids, it’s important to remember the reason why you are giving them extra protein in the first place.
Protein is the nutrient that promotes the growth and development of muscles. Growing children (between the ages of 6 and 15) do need some protein, but no more than half a gram of protein per pound of body weight. (Example: a 70-pound child needs about 25 grams of protein per day—and that’s only for very active children.)
The truth is that protein shakes for kids, though delicious, aren’t usually necessary. Most children don’t need to add protein powder to their lives. If you are feeding them a balanced diet, buying whey protein for kids is a waste. They can get enough protein from the meat, poultry, fish, eggs, cheese, yogurt, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, and whole grains that they are eating. In fact, most kids in developed countries like the United States eat more protein than they actually need.
There are a few exceptions to this rule:
- Children with nutritional deficiencies – If your child is suffering from a protein deficiency, it may be a good idea to consider giving them protein powder. Short term supplementation using protein powder can help them to get the proper nutrition without adding too many calories to their diet (leading to obesity). However, protein deficiency is very rare in Western countries, so if you’re concerned that your child isn’t eating enough protein, be sure to speak with a pediatrician or dietitian.
- Children who don’t eat well – Do you have a picky eater on your hands? Many children are very particular about what they eat, and they don’t handle certain foods well. If you find that your child is hard to feed, adding protein powder to what little they do eat can help make sure they’re getting enough nutrients. Whey protein for kids in this instance can be an easy way to help make up for anything lacking in the child’s diet.
- Children of vegetarian parents — Although a well-planned plant-based diet can be nutritionally adequate for children, it’s important to make sure they are meeting their nutrient needs by offering a wide variety of healthy foods. Adding protein powder (soy, pea, or egg for vegetarians) to the child’s diet can ensure that they get all the amino acids they need to grow healthy and strong while still staying true to the plant-based lifestyle and diet.
- Children who are very active — Is your child an athlete that competes at a junior level in their school? Child athletes may need to follow special diets recommended by coaches or nutritionists, and adding a bit of whey protein can be a quick and easy way to help them get more nutrients without adding a ton of extra food.
If your child falls under any of the above categories, it may be a good idea to consider feeding them some whey protein for kids, and protein shakes are a great way to do that. Whatever you choose to do, it’s all about giving them the right balance of nutrients!
Benefits of Whey Protein for Kids
Here are some of the reasons that taking whey protein for kids can be a good idea.
Benefits of whey protein for kids:
- Promote growth — Protein powders (whey protein in particular) contain the amino acids that are needed to keep your kids growing healthy and strong.
- Conducive to hormone production — As your children pass into puberty, their bodies will begin to produce hormones. Protein is needed for the production and distribution of those hormones.
- Aid in weight loss — Many children are suffering from obesity today, but adding protein powder to your child’s diet can help them to lose weight and maintain a healthy weight thereafter. Not only can it speed up their metabolism, but it can help keep them full between meals. Remember though, that too much whey protein can lead to an excess of calories and protein, and lead to weight gain in kids.
- Boost immune system — Not only will whey protein for kids help to develop strong muscles, but it can boost their natural defenses against infections and support a healthy immune system.
Just like it can be useful for adults, protein powder for kids can offer a wide range of benefits.
Is Whey Protein for Kids Safe? How Much?
Now we come down to the million dollar question: is whey protein for kids safe?
The answer is simple: in the right dosage, absolutely! The recommended protein needs according to the United States Dietary Guidelines are as follows:
- Children between the ages of 1 to 3 need up to 13 grams of protein per day
- Children between the ages of 4 to 9 need up to 19 grams of protein per day
- Children between 9 and 13 need up to 34 grams of protein per day
- Teenage boys can take up to 52 grams and teenage girls up to 46 grams
Note that the numbers above are for total protein in their daily diet, which may or may not include protein powder for kids.
It’s important to make sure you’re not overloading your child with protein, as this can also be harmful. Studies have shown that adults who consume too much protein can be at an increased risk for problems with their heart, liver, kidneys, and bones.
One problem with whey protein for kids (and other protein powders) is that they don’t usually taste all that great. However, they can definitely be flavored to taste great, and it’s actually a lot easier than you’d think. Here are some ideas that your kids may already eat and enjoy!
- Make hot chocolate with protein powder
- Bake cookies or brownies with protein powder
- Add fruit-flavored protein powder to juices
- Add flavorless protein powder to soups and stews
- Mix protein powder with yogurt, oatmeal, applesauce, or pudding
- Make muffins, breads, and doughs with protein powder
The truth is that it’s VERY easy to hide protein powder in the right recipes. Your kids don’t have to know that they are eating it, and they won’t mind the taste, as it often blends right in.
However, keep in mind that your child doesn’t really NEED protein powder. It’s likely that they eat a lot of protein foods in their diet as it is. For instance, natural, whole-food sources of protein include:
- Tofu/Soy Products
The bottom line is that you can easily make sure that your child gets plenty of protein without using protein powders, simply by offering him or her a variety of healthy, protein-rich foods. But if you choose to use protein powder, it can be a great alternative for kids.
Which is the Best Whey Protein for Kids?
If you are going to give your kids protein powder, whey protein is probably the best option for kids. Not only is it much easier on their digestion, but also it will boost their immune system and give them all the nutrients they need quickly.
Casein protein is a bit harder to digest and the amino acids work more slowly, but it’s another good option. Egg and non-GMO soy protein powders do taste a little different than the milk-derived protein powders, but they offer many of the same health benefits.
Note: Your child may be sensitive to gluten, eggs, nuts, and/or dairy products, and taking protein powder may cause an allergic reaction. Monitor them after giving them their first dose of protein powder. If they exhibit any signs of allergies (like a rash or welts on their skin, respiratory problems, or digestive upset), stop giving them the protein powder immediately and call your healthcare provider for guidance. And of course, if you notice a severe reaction, treat it as an emergency.
If you are looking for a high quality protein powder for kids, consider Well Wisdom’s Vital Whey. Not only is it 100% natural, but it’s a whey protein powder for kids and adults alike. Our products are made with only the finest and least amount of ingredients possible. Your child can safely use our whey protein powder as part of their regular diet, without worrying about artificial or harmful ingredients. Plus, they will get all the protein they need to stay healthy and develop into strong young men and women.