For some of us adults, protein powders are a regular component of our diet. Whether you like to make a protein shake before a heavy gym session or you cook up protein powder recipes such as pancakes and cookies, protein supplements can be a quick and simple way of topping up your weekly intake.
However, the big question is – are protein powders healthy for children?
Parents often worry their youngster isn’t getting a sufficient amount of protein nutrition, especially if they have picky eating habits – so let’s discuss whether kids’ protein powder is a safe and healthy solution, for more information you can visit here.
How much protein does your child need?
In a nutshell, the amount of protein your child needs depends on their age, sex, and how active their lifestyle is. The Department of Agriculture suggests following these approximate guidelines:
- 1-3 years of age – 13 grams (per day)
- 4-8 years of age – 19 grams (per day)
- 9-13 years of age – 34 grams (per day)
- 14-18 years of age (female) – 46 grams (per day)
- 14-18 years of age (male) – 52 grams (per day)
However, if you have been advised by your pediatrician or dietician that your child requires additional protein in their diet, the powder can be used as a solution – but make sure it’s the best, most suitable type/brand.
Why might your child need extra protein?
As mentioned, there are some circumstances that call for your child to have additional protein in their diet. There are three main reasons why:
1. Your child has a chronic illness
Some metabolic illnesses may require you to consume more protein. Certain conditions may cause protein catabolism and wastage, meaning your diet should contain higher levels of protein to make up for the protein lost. If you’re concerned about your child’s medical condition, speak to your pediatrician to see if their diet requires any changes.
2. Your child exercises a lot
Additional protein may be suitable for your kid if they’re massively athletic, especially if they take part in vast quantities of physical activity pretty much every day. The AAP (The American Academy of Pediatrics) suggests 60 grams of it should be consumed for every 1000 calories burned. So if you’re in any doubt about whether they’re getting enough of it, track their calories to see!
3. Your child has poor weight gain
Poor weight gain may also be a reason to increase your child’s protein intake. Whether they’re underweight because they’re picky eaters or there’s a more serious reason why some pediatricians will suggest introducing additional protein to their diet.
What protein powder should I buy?
So what is the most suitable type of protein powder for your child? Well, most of them aren’t regulated by the FDA, so as a result, they contain additional ingredients such as sugars that may be unnecessarily calorific.
Try to look for a protein powder that contains the largest percentage of protein and serve it in accordance with your child’s age, sex, and how much protein they should be intaking. Also, buy a type that contains no added sugar and the fewest additional ingredients.
Let’s take a look at the three main types of protein powder that your child can consume:
1. Whey Protein
Whey comes from milk after separating the liquid part from the curds. Whey protein powders usually contain amino acids and are easily digestible by our stomachs to provide us with the protein needed for protein synthesis and muscle growth.
2. Soy Protein
It comes from soybeans after separating the protein from the rest. Like whey protein, soy protein can support muscle growth, but there are some concerns surrounding overconsumption so always make sure soy is only consumed in moderate amounts.
Casein has a similar effect to whey protein but it takes a lot more time to digest. Its slow digestion means more protein is absorbed into the body which makes it one of the best types of protein powders to get.
How can I use protein powder?
There’s plenty of recipes to choose from if your pediatrician has confirmed you can safely introduce protein powder to your child’s diet. One of the most delicious things you can whip up is protein powder pancakes. It’s quick and simple! All you have to do is whip up the following ingredients into a bowl and fry the mixture in a hot pan until fluffy and golden.
- 40 grams whey protein powder
- 1 large banana
- 2 large eggs
No need to add any flour. Instead, the whey protein works just as well for a soft batter! You can even add 1/4 tsp of cinnamon or a dash of vanilla extract for some extra delicious flavor. Enjoy!
What are the risks?
There’s been a range of studies that show an unnecessarily high intake of protein for long periods of time may cause certain health issues in adults, including kidney stones, liver dysfunction, and even some cancers.
Some experts also suggest that if a child has a regular high intake of protein, this unbalanced diet can cause bloating, diarrhea, and the potential development of problematic eating disorders in later life.
What are some alternatives?
Wherever possible, you should ensure your child’s diet is healthy and balanced without dietary supplements. There’s plenty of natural alternatives to protein powders that are nutritional, organic and so much healthier for your child’s important growth and development.
Whole foods that contain high amounts of protein include meats, fish, eggs, and vegetable products such as beans and pulses.
So, are protein powders healthy for children?
The simple answer is – it depends.
The majority of children who have a healthy and balanced diet do not need protein powder to increase their protein intake, especially if they are consuming healthy protein elsewhere in their diet. However, if your child has a diet that is significantly low in protein, powders can sometimes be a suitable solution, just as long as their consumption of it is controlled and managed responsibly in accordance with their nutritional needs.