How Much Protein Does a Kid Need? (Plus Fun Recipes!)
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
- 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 ProteinYou 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
High-Protein RecipesMaking 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
- Oatmeal, Apple and Cinnamon Muffins
- Cinnamon Swirl Pancakes With Cinnamon Vanilla Icing
- Vanilla Cake Balls