The Most Important Nutrients for Kid Athletes’ Protein Shakes
Kid athletes need more nutrients than their non-active peers. Protein shakes are helpful because they’re easy to make and can be taken on the go. When you add veggies, fruits, and healthy fats, you’re also able to give your kid athlete everything they need to grow. A report, Sports Nutrition for Young Athletes, explains: “A well-balanced diet containing appropriate amounts of macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates and fat) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) is essential to provide enough energy for growth and activity. Fluids are also essential for hydration to support growth and athletic performance.”Empower your little one to push ahead in sports and in life. Keep these ingredients in mind as you make protein shakes for your young athlete.
Good source: protein powder
Protein powder is a great source of added protein, especially if your child isn’t a fan of meat or other important sources of protein, like nuts or dairy. Start by finding a great protein powder and look no further than Healthy Height. Made for kids and filled with ingredients you can trust. Even better, there are none of the ones you don’t, like gluten, rBST, artificial flavors, preservatives and corn syrup. It was tested and developed by pediatricians, so you can fuel your kid athlete with a Healthy Height protein shake with total peace of mind.
What’s more, Healthy Height’s shake mix is made with whey protein, which is found in most baby formulas and is also a complete protein. This means, it contains all the amino acids the body needs. The same can’t be said for any plant proteins, with the exception of soy. This makes whey a better nutritional choice than say, pea protein, from a fueling perspective.
Good source: milk
If your child can drink milk, use this simple ingredient to bolster their protein shake. Not only does it increase the protein content, but milk is also a rich source of calcium, vitamin A, potassium and vitamin D. Calcium is especially important for building strong bones that are less likely to break or fracture while playing sports.
Milk is also important for a well-rounded diet. It’s been shown to increase height in growing kids, reducing the likelihood of stunted growth: “In a cohort of children at age 4 years, the volume of milk consumed was associated with higher weight status and taller stature, while at 5 years, higher milk consumption continued to be associated with taller stature,” according to a report by the Division of Pediatric Endocrinology, Department of Pediatrics, University of Virginia.
Good sources: avocado and yogurt
Healthy fats are crucial for any protein shake because many nutrients in fruits and vegetables need fat to help them absorb properly within the body. This is especially true for kid athletes who need to fuel their next basketball game: when they run out of their carbohydrates store, their body’s turn to fat to fuel for longer events.
Blend in healthy fats like nut butters, avocado, coconut, and yogurt to boost the fat content while making the smoothie creamier. Remember, however, that fat has 9 calories per gram. This means that most sources of fat are very high in calories and the American Heart Association suggests that fat not exceed 25 to 35 percent of their daily caloric intake.
An 8 year old girl with a daily recommended caloric intake of 1,200 calories, then, should not exceed 420 calories in fat, or 46 grams, at the most. Want to do this math yourself? Find your child’s daily caloric intake at Heart.org and then use the following equation:
- Total caloric intake x percentage (25-35%) = daily calories in fat
- Daily calories in fat / 9 (total number of calories in 1 gram of fat) = grams of fat per day
Good source: spinach
Spinach is a great source of carbohydrates, one of the most important nutrients for your kid athlete. Carbohydrates are turned into glucose and stored as glycogen in the muscles and liver. This is the most readily available energy source for working muscles because it’s able to release faster than other sources of energy within the body.
Spinach is also high in iron, which helps deliver oxygen throughout the body. That extra oxygen can help your kids’ muscles recover, especially after long, endurance events. While spinach will turn the smoothie green—sure to earn an “Ew!” from your little one—the taste is barely detectable. Add flavored protein powder (Healthy Height offers vanilla and chocolate!) and some yummy fruit, and they won’t even know what it is.
Good source: celery
Water is critical for kid athletes and celery has plenty of it. Dehydration causes lack of energy, strength and overall ability to perform—not to mention, it could be dangerous if not addressed right away. You can avoid any issues by making sure your child has been hydrating before, during and after a sporting event, with both water and water-rich foods.
Out of 100 grams, the water in celery makes up 95.43 grams, with almost no sugar or calories. It blends into protein shakes easily, and has an undetectable taste. It’s also inexpensive, so you can always keep celery on hand for snacking and protein shakes.
Your kid athlete needs the right nutrients to grow strong muscles and fuel them while playing their favorite sports. Protein shakes are a great way to boost their nutrients, but they’re most helpful when you include these important ingredients. Get creative with flavors, choose protein powder wisely, and watch them grow to be strong and successful.
Nutrition to Help Kids Grow - and Sleep!
Every year our team of Pediatricians at Schneider Children's Medical Center have 20,000 visits from children with issues relating to growth. Our doctors wanted to find a non-invasive way to help children grow and the nutrition in our shake mix is the result of their efforts. The nutrition in our shake mix was shown in a clinical study to promote growth in 6 months, as well as improve sleep patterns in kids who take at least 1 serving per day.