Children of all ages need healthy nutrition to meet their daily needs for proper growth and development. Protein is of particular importance because of the wide variety of roles that it plays in the body.
Protein is a critical component of several hormones and enzymes, and also plays an important role in restoring and restoring skeletal muscles after exercise.
Because of the popularity of protein powder for athletes, especially among teenagers and young people, it may be tempting to achieve this hesitation so that your children get everything they need. But should protein powder be included in the list of other healthy after-school snacks? Let's take a closer look.
Why do children need protein?
In childhood, protein becomes incredibly important for maintaining the normal functioning of the body and creating building blocks to support growth. Since growth occurs at such a rapid rate throughout childhood, the amount of protein that a child swallows is absolutely critical. In fact, the consumption of protein proteins, as has been shown, leads to a decrease in growth compared with children with the same age.
On the other hand, it was found that protein intake, which is constantly too high throughout childhood, is associated with an increased risk of overweight or obesity in the later stages of childhood and in early adulthood. Preliminary studies seem to indicate that this risk is further increased with a higher consumption of animal proteins compared to vegetable proteins.[3,4]
However, it is important to keep in mind that this happens only when protein intake is exceptionally high, usually more than 20 percent of the total daily calories. Based on the literature, it seems that 12-15 percent of daily calorie intake for children should come from protein.
What is the best protein for kids?
When you are trying to decide which protein rich foods are best for your children, remember that as long as your child doesn’t have dietary restrictions, animal sources like meat and dairy products are better than their plant-based counterparts for promoting growth and development, and recovery after exercise.
One of the reasons for this is because of the amino acid, leucine. Leucine is the main regulator of protein synthesis. While most animal-based proteins contain more than enough leucine to stimulate protein synthesis, many plant-based sources do not. In addition, research has shown that even when compared to leucine, animal-based proteins, such as milk or beef, provide an excellent protein synthesis response compared to vegetable protein.[5,6]
Therefore, it is better to use animal sources such as milk, cottage cheese, yogurt, lean meat and eggs to provide the bulk of daily protein intake. Use healthy snacks, such as nuts, peanut butter and hummus, to fill other gaps in the diet, but not as the main source of protein. And although a milk or yogurt shake can be a healthy, protein snack, a balanced diet rich in whole foods should provide adequate nutrition for most children.
How much protein do children need?
So, how much protein does your child actually need every day? The answer depends on many factors, in particular on age, body size and level of activity. Large children need more protein than small children, and an active child will need more protein sitting in place.
However, adequate intake of macronutrients should always be based on total daily calories. Therefore, daily calorie intake is the best way to accurately determine protein needs.
According to updated nutritional guidelines published by the British Nutrition Scientific Advisory Committee, which advises the UK government on nutrition and health, men and women aged 4 to 6 should consume approximately 1,500 and 1,400 calories per day, respectively, However, between the ages of 16 and 18, this number is about 3000 calories per day for men and 2450 per day for women.
Based on the same nutritional guidelines, children aged 4 to 6 years should consume about 20 grams of high-quality protein per day, while adolescents should consume between 42 and 55 grams per day. This amount can be easily obtained using high-quality non-fat animal protein and common high-protein milk sources such as milk, Greek yogurt and cottage cheese.
This value increases for athletes due to the increased demand for amino acids to help the body recover from exercise. Despite this, even adolescents do not need more than about 1.4 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day.
Is protein powder safe for children?
One of the most important factors in determining whether you want to give something to your children is whether the food or the ingredient is safe for them.
In the case of protein powders, the answer to this question is unequivocal, yes. However, just because something is safe, it does not mean that it should be a regular part of the child’s diet. If protein intake is too high, it may increase the risk of obesity in the future.
Since the requirements for proteins in children are already relatively low compared with adults, the additional protein found in food substitutes can easily put even teens on the ideal threshold. Thus, while a protein shake is safe for children and is an excellent source of protein when used as a meal replacement, regularly adding a protein-rich shake to your child’s daily diet is probably not required if he or she does not get enough protein in their diet.
How many proteins does a teenager need to build muscle?
In adolescence, there is often an increase in physical activity due to increased participation in sports competitions and methods of physical activity, such as resistance training.
While increased activity and growth associated with puberty lead to an increase in protein demand, an increase in consumption still depends on the recommendations of 12-15 percent of the total daily calories. For most teenage athletes, this is 65-80 grams per day.
Most commercially available protein powders provide 20–25 g of protein per serving — about 25% of the RDA, even with the most generous protein ratings! Therefore, even among teenage athletes, probably the best option is to get to the storeroom than a protein bath.
If you give your child a protein shake? The choice is entirely up to you. Protein supplements are safe for consumption by people of all ages, but the protein requirements of children are so relatively low that all children can easily meet their protein requirements with a normal, healthy and varied diet.
If you decide to buy protein powder for your child or teenager, look for high-quality whey, vegetable or protein isolate with less than 20 grams of protein per serving, which will be used only after training. So, if your child is an athlete, it is safe to exchange fruit for protein bars and add protein drinks from time to time, but this is not necessary.
- Michaelsen, K.F., Larnkjær, A., & Mølgaard, C. (2012). The quantity and quality of dietary protein in the first two years of life due to the risk of NCDs in adult life. Nutrition, metabolism and cardiovascular diseases, 22(10), 781-786.
- Wright, M., Sotres-Alvarez, D., Mendez, M. A., & Adair, L. (2017). The relationship of protein consumption trajectories and age proteins occurs from 2 to 22 years old with a BMI in early adulthood. British Journal of Nutrition, 117(5), 750-758.
- Halkjær, J., Olsen, A., Overvad, K., Jakobsen, M.U., Boeing, H., Buijsse, B., … & Wareham, N.J. (2011). Consumption of total, animal and vegetable protein and subsequent changes in weight or waist circumference in European men and women: the project of Diogenes. International Journal of Obesity, 35(8), 1104.
- Lind, M.V., Larnkjær, A., Mølgaard, C., & Michaelsen, K. F. (2017). Consumption and quality of dietary protein in early life: effects on growth and obesity. Current view on clinical nutrition and metabolic care, 20(1), 71-76.
- Tang, J.E., Moore, D.R., Kujbida, G.W., Tarnopolsky, M.A., & Phillips, S.M. (2009). Ingestion of whey hydrolyzate, casein or soy protein isolate: effect on the synthesis of mixed muscle protein at rest and subsequent resistance exercises in young people. Journal of Applied Physiology, 107(3), 987-992.
- van Vliet, S., Burd, N.A., & van Loon, L.J. (2015). The skeletal muscle anabolic response to plant and animal based protein intake1. Journal of Nutrition, 145(9), 1981-1991.
- Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition. (2012). Dietary control values for energy. Office office.
- Boisseau, N., Vermorel, M., Rance, M., Duché, P., & Patureau-Mirand, P. (2007). Requirements for squirrels in adolescent soccer players. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 100(1), 27-33.