Good nutrition sets up a young athlete for success. Their growing body is the vehicle for their achievements so complete nutrition, including the best protein powder for kids, is a must.
But with so many varieties of protein powder available, how do you know that you’re fueling your child with the right one?
Today, we’re going to break down the big protein picture regarding kids: their nutritional needs, and how to meet them. That way, you’ll feel confident you’re shopping for the best protein powder for kids.
But before we dive into what makes one protein powder better than another for children, let’s answer the important question: Is it even safe?
Is protein powder safe for children?
As protein is a natural part of every child’s diet, protein in powder form is safe for children. Asking: “Can kids have protein powder?” is like asking if kids can have protein from their diet. The answer is yes.
Protein is the building block of life. All cells in the human body contain protein. Everyone, especially kid athletes, needs protein in their diet to repair body cells and make new ones.
Considering the rough and tumble lifestyle that young athletes go through, their bodies are constantly maintaining and upkeeping cells, reinforcing them using protein to make them stronger and more resilient.
We think of protein as being connected to just strong muscles and ligaments, but protein does all of that and more.
The function of protein
Protein is responsible for growth, so young athletes need to fuel up on protein to mature properly.
In addition, every cell in the body needs a strong structure, and depending on the function of that part of the body, that strength can take different forms.
Take the most abundant type of protein found in the body, collagen protein. Yes, collagen helps reinforce and build tensile strength in tendons, ligaments, cartilage, and muscle. But it’s also present in skin, organs, bones, and blood vessels.
Not only is protein powder safe for children, but it helps them get a vital nutrient that their body needs.
What happens if a child doesn’t get enough protein?
A lack of protein in a child’s diet can lead to health complications such as swelling, a fatty liver, skin degeneration, a higher risk of contracting infections, and stunted growth. Low intake of protein can also increase the risk of bone fractures.
Fortunately, protein is found in a wide variety of foods; particularly meat, fish, nuts, eggs, and dairy.
It’s important to note that protein deficiencies are rare given how easy it is to source protein in our diets. Nevertheless, a protein powder offers great peace of mind that your young athlete is getting the protein they need to be strong and resilient.
Can children consume too much protein?
Like anything in the human body, you can get too much of a good thing. Healthy nutrition is about balancing the micronutrients that your young athlete takes.
One of the drawbacks of too much protein includes a higher risk of kidney stones. The other main risk of a high-protein diet is connected to the fat content of red meats rather than the protein content itself. Still, once your body has all the protein it needs, there’s no continual benefit to taking more.
Overloading on protein isn’t recommended for anyone. Even the best protein for young athletes should be used precisely as directed on the packaging.
The recommended protein intake for kid athletes
As we’re all individuals with different sizes and circumstances, we shouldn’t use a one-size-fits-all approach to recommending a daily amount of protein.
If you’re looking for customized advice for your child, then seek out a reputable nutritionist or medical professional and follow their guidance. That being said, we can present some general advice for helping kids get the right amount of protein.
It’s probably best to aim for 0.7 grams of protein per pound of body weight for young athletes, to effectively assist recovery and rebuilding of muscle after activity.
When is the best time for kids to take protein powder?
Protein is best considered as a support to the kind of lifestyle a young athlete needs. Their day to day lives need a general level of protein, and it’s best for them to eat a diet that matches the amount of activity their body is going through. This usually means ample amounts of protein with every meal.
While exercising, the body has a much higher demand for protein. In these moments, a stockpile of protein is most useful as it’s needed for recovery and rebuilding. That’s where protein powder comes in. The body is refueled with the protein it needs when it needs it.
Young athletes can take protein powder before or after a workout, and this is often a personal preference. The protein demand mostly comes in after the workout, as their body uses what it has available to recover from the exertion of physical activity to their muscles and ligaments.
Of course, even if you have decided to give your child a protein supplement, and know how much to give them, you still need to understand which protein powder is best to buy.
What is the best protein powder for kids?
Here are a few things to consider when shopping for a protein supplement for your child:
The best protein powder for kids should be safe
Most importantly, the best protein powder for kid athletes should cause zero problems to a child’s health. That goes without saying.
Not all protein powders are the same, and there are just a few points to take into account when choosing the best protein powder for kids.
Firstly, avoid protein powders with excess added sugar. Some companies attempt to make a protein powder more appealing to children by adding sugars, colorings, and flavors.
The protein part of the drink is fine, but too much added sugar is detrimental to a young athlete. Sugar can cause energy levels to spike inconsistently, then crash, which is bad news mid-game!
You should make sure there aren’t any other questionable additives either, and choose a supplement from a trusted and well-reviewed company.
The best protein powder for kids should also avoid caffeine. Some protein powders add caffeine to help adults stay motivated through a workout, but caffeine isn’t suitable for children – they’re wired enough already! Therefore, when a supplement provider offers a caffeinated and a non-caffeinated option for their supplements: The best protein powder for kids is the non-caffeinated option.
The best protein powder for kids should be lactose-free
If you’re worried about a potential allergy or intolerance risk to protein supplements, then collagen protein is probably safer than other protein supplements like whey.
Regarding allergies, it’s worth remembering that collagen is already present in your child’s diet. The amino acids in collagen are fundamental to human development, so there shouldn’t be any allergic reaction to collagen protein.
Whey protein, on the other hand, can cause strong reactions and digestive issues in some children. This is because whey is a lactose product by definition, and many people are lactose-intolerant in varying degrees.
Whey can be considered as a bulkier protein as it fills out muscle whereas collagen is a resilient protein that provides tensile strength as well as muscle growth.
Young athletes are growing fast as it is, but coaches of some sports that involve pure strength may say that whey is the best protein powder for kids. Depending on your young athlete, that may be correct.
In the majority of cases however, we consider collagen to be a more complete choice, making it the best protein powder for kids.
The key benefit of collagen is the support it provides to ligaments. With injury concerns at an all-time high, every athlete’s priority should be joint health. Considering collagen is a principal component in ligaments because of its tensile strength and resilience properties, we too believe that collagen is the best protein powder for kids.
So, if you’re looking at collagen protein vs whey protein and wondering which is the best protein powder for kids, it’s probably safest to reach for the collagen.
The best protein powder for kids should be easy to absorb
A big concern surrounding collagen supplementation is how effectively the body can digest it and put it to use.
Naturally, collagen molecules are quite large, which is why hydrolyzed collagen is recommended as the best protein powder for kids.
What is hydrolyzed collagen? It’s collagen that has been broken down into smaller molecules through the chemical process of hydrolysis. This makes it so that the supplement can be digested quickly; allowing it to enter the bloodstream and get put to use.
Hydrolyzed collagen is smaller than whey protein, allowing it to be digested more easily. Some supplements, like Frog Fuel collagen, go one step further by nano-hydrolyzing collagen, reducing the size of the molecule even further and making it more efficient.
The best protein powder for kids should be practical
Kid athletes know the importance of good nutrition, but they don’t want to waste time when they’re focused on the big game. The best protein powder for kid athletes should be one that can be thrown in the sports bag last minute, and taken easily and quickly with no mixing required.
That’s why the best protein powder for kids isn’t necessarily a powder at all! Liquid collagen benefits include no mixing or carrying around large containers. Your young athlete can simply pop a single-serve liquid shot into their gym bag or pocket and take it when needed.
Of course, if your child does show an interest in preparing their own shakes using their favorite, healthy ingredients, there’s nothing stopping them from using liquid collagen shots in their shakes!
To that end, we explored some recipes for great protein shakes for kids. As a parent, just keep an eye on the ingredients to make sure your child’s protein shakes stay healthy and nutritious.
The best protein powder for kids should taste great
Last but not least, the protein supplement you give your child should taste good! If your kid won’t actually use the supplement, it’ll never make a difference.
Taking protein powder shouldn’t be a chore. The best protein powder for kid athletes can’t be some kind of nasty old-fashioned medicine that you have to force yourself to take. Kids can be picky, and a foul taste shouldn’t become a barrier to actually taking something that will do so much good.
The best protein supplement for kids
We’ve come at this from a bunch of different angles: safety, effectiveness, practicality, and taste. And from all avenues, we believe Frog Fuel hydrolyzed collagen protein is the best protein supplement for kids.
The single-serve liquid pouches are ready to throw into a sports bag to be taken before or after a workout, and the nutrition inside helps young athletes replenish easily after physical activity.
Frog Fuel goes the extra mile when it comes to nutrition. Instead of harmful sugars, the liquid collagen shots contain 22 amino acids; fortifying the protein further than other brands. Free of GMOs, sugar, fat, gluten, or lactose, it gives your growing athlete all the nutrients they need with none of the nonsense thrown in.
Collagen protein supplements are a great complement to a healthy diet for kid athletes. Taking a collagen supplement before or after physical exercise can provide your child with all the energy and protection they need – when they need it most.