Friday, 10 January 2014 04:47

Should Kids Be Consuming Protein Shakes?

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Should Kids be consuming Protein Shakes?






Protein is an important part of a child’s growing body and helps develop bones and muscles and works to keep their immune system healthy. Kids shouldn’t require any extra protein via protein shakes because their daily diet should provide the protein necessary for them to perform their daily functions. The foods that make the best source of protein for kids include lean meats, eggs, chicken, legumes and nuts. If your kids however aren’t eating these foods on a daily basis, then a protein supplement may be an option that you may need to consider. If you are considering this, it is recommended that you speak to a nutritionist or dietician before you progress.


Protein supplementation comes in many different varieties including protein shakes, protein powders, and protein food bars. With a protein shake you usually purchase a tub of powder and then premix the powder with a milk or juice substance to the size and consistency you require. Most protein supplements contain whey or soy which can cause allergies especially if a child has lactose intolerance to soy products. It is important to stress that protein shakes should only be included in a well balanced diet that includes the different type of food proteins identified above. It is not recommended that a protein shake be the sole source of protein for your children.


Protein and Amino Acids


Amino acids play a central role, both as building blocks of proteins and as intermediates in metabolism. Amino acids can be divided into three categories: essential amino acids, non-essential amino acids, and conditional amino acids. Essential amino acids cannot be made by the body, and must be supplied by food. Non-essential amino acids are made by the body from essential amino acids or in the normal breakdown of proteins. Conditional amino acids are usually not essential, except in times of illness, stress, or for someone challenged with a lifelong medical condition.


Essential amino acids include leucine, isoleucine, valine, lysine, threonine, tryptophan, methionine, phenylalanine, and histidine. Non-essential amino acids include alanine, asparagine, aspartic acid, and glutamic acid. Conditional amino acids include arginine, cysteine, glutamine, glycine, proline, serine, and tyrosine (United States National Library of Medicine, 2009).


There are 20 amino acids that are found in a protein and of these 20 amino acids, the human body only produces 10. Therefore it is imperative that the food your children eat provides the other 10 amino acids. Failure to obtain enough of even 1 of the 10 essential amino acids, those that we cannot make, results in degradation of the body's proteins—muscle and so forth—to obtain the one amino acid that is needed. Unlike fat and starch, the human body does not store excess amino acids for later use—the amino acids must be in the food every day (


The concern for kids just consuming protein shakes is that they may not be consuming all of the 10 amino acids needed from food on a daily basis. Most protein shakes only contain some of the essential amino acids needed from food and thus must be complimented with protein based foods.


Protein amounts that Kids Need


It is firstly important to stress that kids don’t need as much protein as their parents. Smith, Gropper and Groff (2009), note that children between 1 and 3 should be eating 13 grams of protein per day. Children between the age of 4 and 8 should be eating 19 grams of protein per day. For teens, they note that the amount of protein can vary depending on sex and the amount of physical activity being done. As a guide boys may need around 52g per day whereas girls may require 46 grams per day. Your typical protein shake has around 20 grams of protein in each service which is above the daily requirements for a 4-8 year old child. 


Can Kids Consume Too Much Protein


If a child consumes more protein then the body requires it simply secretes the excess protein out of the body. It should be noted that too much protein over an extended period of time can cause harm to the body. It has been found that consistently high animal protein intake in healthy individual’s increases the probability of forming kidney stones by 250 percent (Elliott et al, 2006).



In conclusion, kids should be eating a balanced diet of protein from foods like fish, chicken, lean meats, legumes and nuts. Protein supplements including protein shakes should not be consumed unless they are used sparingly as part of a balanced diet. With 10 essential amino acids needed by the body each day, protein supplementation will not provide these nutrients on their own. Therefore, the best form of protein for your kid’s body is a well balanced diet of rich protein foods.






Elliott, P. and Stamler, J. and Dyer, A. R. and Appel, L. And Dennis, B. and Kesteloot, H. and Ueshima, H. and Okayama, A. and Chan, Q. and Garside, D. B. and Beifan, Z. (2006). "Association between protein intake and blood pressure: the INTERMAP Study". Archives of Internal Medicine 166 (1): 79–87.




Protein in diet. United States National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. 2009.


Smith, J. L. and Gropper, S. A. S. and Groff, J. L. (2009). Advanced nutrition and human metabolism. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.


Read 3238 times Last modified on Friday, 07 March 2014 02:23

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