How Much Protein Does a Kid Need? (Plus Fun Recipes!)
Protein is just as important for kids as it is for adults—if not, more-so. Protein provides kids’ growing bodies with the building blocks needed to become strong, smart and healthy. If you’re unsure about how much they need and whether they’re getting enough, you’ve come to the right place. Dive into the details to learn how much protein your kid needs, and don’t miss our favorite recipe collections to get plenty of inspiration for high-protein snacks and meals.
The Importance of Protein For Kids
Children often crave sugary foods and carbohydrates because our bodies are biologically wired to crave sweets. That means, you may have trouble getting your little one to eat enough protein, which they’re likely to get from meat, nuts, seeds and beans.
Yet, protein is crucial for their growth, both mentally and physically, according to The International Food Information Council Foundation. They explain:
“Adequate protein is essential for maintaining the body’s protein stores and keeping many bodily functions running smoothly. Due to the demands of growth and development, getting adequate protein is particularly important during infancy, childhood, and adolescence. Protein is one nutrient that is especially well-characterized as a building block. It is stored primarily in muscle and collagen, but it is not just a supporting player. Protein and its component amino acids function as hormones, enzymes, and transporters of other nutrients.”
That’s why supplementing protein can be important for helping your young child grow if they’re not getting enough. One way to supplement is with a protein powder like Healthy Height Shake Mix, which is tasty, nutritious and versatile.
It was developed by pediatricians and clinical studies found that there were significant improvements in both height and weight for children using Healthy Height, but no increase in body mass index (BMI). This tells you that growth was proportional, not obesogenic, which is exactly what you want for your kid.
Many Healthy Height customers are happy to report seeing these benefits for themselves:
“My boys (5 and 8) love the taste and they are the world’s pickiest eaters. They are both smaller on the percentile chart as far as weight. A month in and they both gained weight, the pediatrician was thrilled. I will definitely be buying this again and again!” - Angel, Amazon Customer
Getting enough protein, whether you’re supplementing with shake mix or modifying your child’s diet, is also critical for brain health. “Proteins in our diet affect brain performance because they provide the amino acids (simply put, protein is made of amino acids) that make up our neurotransmitters,” suggest experts at Memory Foundation.
But what are neurotransmitters and what does that mean? Memory Foundation continues, “Think of neurotransmitters as biochemical messengers whose job it is to carry signals from one brain cell to another. These brain cells then transmit various signals to the different parts of the body to carry out their individual tasks. The better these messengers are fed, the more efficiently they deliver the goods.”
Now that you know the importance of protein for your thriving child, the question remains: how much?
How Much Protein Do Kids Need?
Make sure your child has enough protein in their diet by getting familiar with their RDA:
- Ages 2 to 3: 2 ounces
- Ages 4 to 8: 4 ounces
- Girls ages 9 to 18: 5 ounces
- Boys ages 9 to 13: 5 ounces
If you’re not sure how much protein equates two ounces, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Use a food weight to get familiar with how much each portion looks like for the foods your child regularly eats. Eventually, you’ll be able to eye it confidently.
- Check out this helpful protein portion size guide from The Kitchn.
- Do the math: 1 ounce = ~28 grams
The Best Sources of Protein
You may be surprised to learn how many foods are high in protein other than meat, beans and seeds. Here are some surprising high-protein foods to include in your child’s diet:
- Sweet potato: 4 grams per cup
- Spinach: 5 grams per cup
- Whole wheat pasta: 7.5 grams per cup
- Peas: 8 grams per cup
- Raw oats: 16 grams per half cup
Don’t forget all the usual high-protein foods too, including fish, quinoa, lentils, cow dairy, and sheep/goat dairy. Now, it’s time to find meals and snack ideas that boost your child’s protein intake.
Making time to shop for healthy foods and cook nutritious meals is hard when you’re busy chasing around kids, going to work, and somehow making time for yourself. Don’t stress over cooking elaborate, high-protein meals. Instead, check out some of our favorite recipes and recipe collections.
- 5 High-Protein Meals Kids Love (And Can Cook With You!)
- 10 Family Blogs for Quick, Healthy Dinner Ideas
- Healthy Homemade Snacks for Kids
- 10 Easy and Kid-Friendly Smoothies for Kids
If you’re using Healthy Height’s Shake Mix, remember: you can make so much more than shakes and smoothies. Here are a few high-protein snacks made with Healthy Height:
- Oatmeal, Apple and Cinnamon Muffins
- Cinnamon Swirl Pancakes With Cinnamon Vanilla Icing
- Vanilla Cake Balls
Protein for Kids: Is Yours Getting Enough?
If your child isn’t getting enough protein based on their specific RDA, it’s time to consider supplementing with a protein powder like Healthy Height. It comes in vanilla and chocolate, perfect for delicious, high-protein snacks like Vanilla Cake Balls. You can also incorporate more high-protein foods in your favorite meals too. Toss some extra spinach in their whole wheat pasta or some nuts in their yogurt. Remember: it doesn’t have to be time-consuming to ensure your child is getting enough protein. When you know what they need and how to get it, you can keep them healthy and happy, regardless of your busy life. Please remember: always check with your child’s doctor before making any changes.