Protein is a topic that is often commonly discussed when it comes to nutrition for adults. However, protein is just as important for kids — if not more so. Children are growing and developing at a rapid rate during childhood and adolescence. Protein helps build and repair muscles and bones and makes hormones and enzymes needed for many processes in the body.
Getting your child to eat enough of the right things can be difficult, especially if you have a selective eater on your hands. Whether your child refuses to eat a variety of protein-containing foods or doesn’t drink milk, as a parent you want to see your child growing and developing appropriately.
How Much Protein Do Kids Need?
How much protein an adult needs compared to a child will vary. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the recommendations for daily protein intake for children are as follows:
|Age||Amount of recommended |
daily protein in grams
|1–3 years||13 g|
|4–8 years||19 g|
|9–13 years||34 g|
|Girls 14–18 years||46 g|
|Boys 14–18 years||52 g|
About 10-30% of your child’s daily caloric intake should come from protein. Keeping in mind that serving sizes are smaller for children depending on age, two servings of dairy and 1-2 servings of lean protein satisfy their protein requirement.
Up to the age of 8, if your child is drinking the recommended amount of cow’s milk daily, they’ll be getting most of the protein they need. If your child has a dairy allergy or is lactose intolerant, soy milk is the most nutritionally comparable of the plant milks. Other milks like almond and cashew milk are low in protein and won’t help your child meet their protein needs.
If your child eats meat products, beans and legumes, oatmeal and dairy products like yogurt, they are likely consuming enough protein from these foods.
What Can Happen if They Don’t Eat Enough Protein?
You might be surprised to hear that one in seven school-aged kids in the U.S. don’t get enough protein every day. It might be less surprising when you learn that 30% of most kids’ total daily calories come from low-nutrient snacks, desserts and candy.
If your child is not getting enough protein in their diet, it can lead to more serious side effects as time goes on. This essential macronutrient is so important for kids, as it affects every single part of the body.
Protein provides important essential amino acids that contribute to the mental and physical health of your child. If your child’s protein intake is inadequate, they may experience fatigue, poor concentration, slowed growth, decreased immunity, bone and joint pain, constant hunger, and more.
Your child’s growth is genetically predetermined. If your child gets adequate nutrition each day, including protein, they will grow and develop appropriately.
Are Some Types of Protein Better for Kids Than Others?
The best sources of protein come from whole foods. This may not always be what your kiddo is eating, especially if they have a limited set of foods they will eat. Your child may prefer to eat chicken nuggets and hotdogs over grilled chicken or fish. While these foods are okay in moderation, your child would benefit from a wide variety of protein sources.
Plant-based sources of protein include:
- Beans: Mix beans into meals or offer up hummus to dip veggies
- Nut butters: Reach for peanut butters and other nut butters that don’t have added sugar
- Nuts: Peanuts, almonds, pistachios and walnuts are great sources of protein
- Whole grain bread: Swap white bread for whole grain slices
Animal sources of protein include:
Start introducing small servings of new foods to your child’s diet to help them acquire a taste, or at least a tolerance, for these foods. If your child’s protein intake is inadequate and they refuse to eat any of the above foods, you may want to consider a protein powder supplement.
This chocolate protein shake powder from Naked Nutrition is a great option because it is vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free, and soy-free, making it perfect for any child, even those with allergies and intolerances. It has a great flavor your child will love but with no sugar added, unlike many of the smoothies that juice bars have to offer.
How to Make Protein Fun and Tasty
There are plenty of ways to help your child increase their protein intake by making it fun and tasty. Protein powder can easily be added to pancake mix, cookie dough, shakes and smoothies. What kid doesn’t love pancakes, cookies and milkshakes?
Protein intake is just as important, if not more, for kids as it is for adults. While there are a variety of both plant-based and animal-based proteins, if you have a selective eater, it may be difficult for them to meet their daily protein requirements.
You can support your child’s growth and development by ensuring they meet their protein needs. Offer your child a variety of different foods, and you can supplement with protein powder if needed.
At Naked Nutrition, we strive to help you and your family meet your nutrition and fitness goals by being transparent about what we sell. That way you know exactly what’s going into your body – and what’s more important than that? We strip away the marketing and gimmicks that many companies use and instead sell products with only the purest ingredients. Have a look at https://nakednutrition.com/. For questions, check our frequently asked questions, call us at 855-964-0970 Monday through Friday, 6 am – 2 pm PST, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.