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Can Kids Have Protein Powder?

by Mara Welty October 13, 2023 7 min read

 Can Kids Have Protein Powder

When we eat high-protein foods like eggs, lean beef and peanuts, our bodies use the protein’s building blocks — also called essential amino acids — to make our muscles stronger, fortify the bones and regulate various hormones that control reproductive health, metabolism, blood sugar and growth.

Nutritionally, protein acts as one of the body’s long-term energy sources, used before fats and after carbohydrates. According to Harvard Health, it’s recommended you eat 0.36 grams of protein for every pound you weigh. For an 150-pound adult, that would be 54 grams of protein; for a 70-pound kid, roughly 25 grams.

That said, for those who eat plant-based diets or children who are picky eaters, a kid’s protein powder can be an excellent meal replacement to deliver needed macronutrients to the body. However, it is important to learn the differences between a protein shake vs meal replacement shakes to help you choose the best option for supplementation.

A Child’s Nutritional Needs

Like all of us, children need a healthy balance of macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates and fats) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). How much they require, however, often depends on their age and sex:

  • Ages two to four (female) – Toddlers require 1,000 to 1,400 calories depending on their growth and activity level. This includes two to four ounces of protein, one to one and a half cups of fruit and vegetables (separate), three to five ounces of grains and two to two and a half cups of dairy.
  • Ages two to four (male) – 1,000 to 1,600 calories; two to five ounces of protein, one to one and a half cups of fruit; one to two cups of vegetables; three to five ounces of grains; and two to two and a half cups of dairy.
  • Ages five to eight (female) – 1,200 to 1,800 calories; three to five ounces of protein; one to one and a half cups of fruit, one and a half to two and a half cups of vegetables; four to six ounces of grains; and two and a half cups of dairy.
  • Ages five to eight (male) – 1,200 to 2,000 calories; three to five and a half ounces of protein; one to two cups of fruit; one and a half to two and a half cups of vegetables; four to six ounces of grains; and two and a half cups of dairy.
  • Ages nine to 13 (female) – 1,400 to 2,200 calories; four to six ounces of protein; one and a half cups to two cups of fruit; one and a half to three cups of vegetables; five to seven ounces of grains; and three cups of dairy.
  • Ages nine to 13 (male) – 1,600 to 2,600 calories; five to six and a half ounces of protein; one and a half to two cups of fruits; two to three and a half cups of vegetables; five to nine ounces of grains; and three cups of dairy.
  • Ages 14 to 18 (female) – 1,800 to 2,400 calories; five to six and a half ounces of protein; one and a half to two cups of fruit; two and a half to three cups of vegetables; six to eight ounces of grains; and three cups of dairy.
  • Ages 14 to 18 (male) – 2,000 to 3,200 calories; five and a half to seven ounces of protein; two to two and a half cups of fruit; two and a half to four cups of vegetables; six to 10 ounces of grains; and three cups of dairy.

Additionally, children should avoid sugary drinks and snacks, as well as snacks high in unhealthy fats and sodium. 

All that said, can kids have protein powder? Let’s explore.

The Benefits of Protein Powder

Protein powder is a solid, powdered supplement that can be added to milk or water to craft a convenient, on-the-go protein source and other nutrients. While plant-based protein powders are available, the most effective are milk-based powders like whey protein and casein protein — specifically, in regards to muscle building. 

Although, whey may outweigh even its milk-based cousin. 

A study on young men found that whey protein was 31 percent more effective than soy (plant-based) protein and 122 percent more effective than casein protein when it came to supporting muscle growth following resistance exercise.

But how effective is it in supporting nutritional health? In general, whey protein powder, per data from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), contains:

  • 13 grams of protein
  • Three and a half grams of carbohydrates
  • 75 milligrams of sodium
  • One gram of sugar
  • One gram of fat

However, fortified whey protein shakes like the INVIGOR8 Superfood Shake, this organic superfoods powder contains additional micronutrients per serving, including vitamin A, vitamin C, iron and calcium, in addition to: 

  • Prebiotic-fiber complex, including chicory root extract
  • Green veggie complex, including chlorella algae, alfalfa grass, spinach leaf, kale leaf and broccoli head
  • Essential fatty acid complex, including flaxseed, chia seed and coconut
  • Digestive enzyme complex, including amylase, lactase, neutral protease, lipase, bromelain and papain
  • Immunity booster complex, including bovine colostrum
  • Cognitive enhancers, including L-theanine and bacopa monnieri
  • Probiotic complex, including lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidobacterium bifidum

Accordingly, protein shakes packed with both macronutrients and micronutrients can serve as an adequate meal replacement for those looking to bolster their nutrition without spending extra hours in the kitchen. 

Protein Powder, Kids and Safety Concerns

For children, protein powder is generally safe to take. In particular, the INVIGOR8 Superfood Shake is nutritionist-approved for kids six and older. And protein shakes can be especially beneficial for kids who are:

  • Underweight
  • Picky eaters
  • Vegan or vegetarian
  • Experiencing metabolic issues
  • Protein deficient

Protein deficiency in children can typically manifest as fatigue, trouble concentrating, stunted growth and/or lowered immunity. That said, it’s very uncommon, and in fact, excess protein can be dangerous.

Children who eat excessive amounts of protein can put added stress on their livers and kidneys. It may even contribute to dehydration. 

In addition to organ damage, excess protein can also cause:

  • Weight gain, due to extra caloric intake
  • Weakened immune function
  • Disrupted digestive system

To reframe the nutritional needs above, the Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine and National Academy of Sciences state that 10 to 30 percent of children’s total caloric intake should come from protein: 

  • Children four to nine should have 19 grams of protein daily
  • Children nine to 13 should have 34 grams daily 
  • Children 14 to 18 need between 46 and 52 grams of protein daily

To put that into perspective, one serving of the INVIGOR8 Superfood Shake contains 20 grams of protein, meaning it’s unlikely that children ages four to nine will require additional protein supplementation if they’re meeting their protein needs through whole foods. 

Accordingly, it’s important to research your child’s nutritional needs and monitor their protein intake before adding a protein shake to their eating schedule. 

How to Make Protein Shakes Fun To Drink

If your child is not getting enough protein through their diet, it’s still recommended to first bolster protein intake with whole foods, such as:

  • Eggs
  • Cottage cheese, milk and Greek yogurt
  • Lean beef, chicken/turkey breast, fish and shellfish
  • Lentils and quinoa
  • Almonds, pumpkin seeds and peanuts

However, if that method is ineffective and your kid is experiencing health concerns due to a protein deficiency, it’s likely safe to supplement their diet with a protein shake. It’s also one of the best ways to eat healthy while traveling and develop a healthy morning routine

For picky eaters, trying a new protein rich food might be a challenge, but you can make the process more enjoyable by introducing creative presentations and involving your child in meal preparation.

Here are several ways to make eating protein shakes more appetizing for your kid:

  • Add fruits – Experiment with various flavors by incorporating their favorite fresh or frozen fruits like bananas, strawberries, blueberries or mangoes.
  • Add nut butter – Peanut, almond and cashew butters add a silky consistency to protein shakes that some kids may like. They also add to the healthy fats and proteins within the shake.
  • Use milk alternatives – For some kids, the idea of downing a whole glass of cow’s milk might feel, just gross. Instead, conduct a fun taste test with your child to help them identify their favorite milk alternative, like almond, soy or oat milk. A lactose-free alternative can also aid digestion for kids with an intolerance to the sugar.
  • Incorporate yogurt – For additional creaminess and protein, add Greek yogurt to the mix. Then, try freezing it and adding fun toppings like peanuts and frozen berries for a soft-serve approach. To really create some excitement, you can also include sprinkles, cookie crumbles and whipped cream on special occasions.
  • Add something sweet – While we’re not recommending adding spoonfuls of sugar to a protein shake, honey, maple syrup and agave syrup are wonderful alternatives that can provide a touch of natural sweetness. Honey can also help support immune function, and agave can act as an antioxidant.
  • Incorporate themes – For children wanting a bit of ambiance with their helping of protein, consider creating shakes based on your child’s favorite TV character, book series or sports team. Incorporate fun straws, unique glasses and plenty of color coordination.
  • Create smoothie bowls – Turn a protein shake on its head…and into a bowl. Then, let your child add their favorite toppings like granola, fresh fruit slices and coconut flakes.

INVIGOR8: Protein Shakes For Kids

Protein shakes are generally safe for kids who are deficient in protein; however, they’re not recommended for children who are already getting their recommended amount through whole food sources.

That said, the INVIGOR8 Superfood Shake is features protein powder ingredients that are nutritionist-approved for children six and up, making it a safe addition to your family’s diet. What’s more, it is even effective for weight loss support


Sources:

  1. MBG Health. The 10 Best Types Of Protein For Hormone Balance
  2. Merck Manual. Carbohydrates, Proteins, and Fats
  3. Mayo Clinic. Nutrition for kids: Guidelines for a healthy diet 
  4. Healthline. The 7 Best Types of Protein Powder
  5. VeryWellFit. Whey Protein Powder Nutrition and Health Benefits
  6. WebMD. Is it Safe to Give a Child Protein Powder?
  7. Cleveland Clinic. Why Extra Protein for Your Child Is Unnecessary – and Possibly Dangerous
  8. Healthline. 16 Delicious High Protein Foods 

About the Author

 Mara Welty
Mara Welty

Mara Welty is a copywriter who specializes in health, wellness and CBD topics. With a background in journalism, she aims to deliver engaging, research-based content that builds trust and engages readers through informative storytelling.

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