Kids and protein

FORT MYERS, Fla. (SweepsFeed)- Athletes use protein supplements all the time, but now, more kids are also taking them.

Joe Orlando was a high school sophomore when he wanted to build muscle to improve his performance on the football field. So, he stepped up his workout routine, changed his diet, and took protein supplements.

“I wanted to make sure my body was healthy and could take all the impact that was going on throughout the season,” said Orlando. “When I started taking them, I did notice that I was getting muscle.”

It’s not just athletes adding on more protein supplements to their diet, experts say they are seeing more kids taking them. But do children who are still developing need protein supplements? Michele Chiaramonte, a registered dietitian, says no. Her first line of therapy is what she calls the good, old fashioned way: whole foods.

“For the average healthy adolescent and teenager, their protein needs can be met through the diet. Supplements are not really necessary,” said Chiarmonte.

Protein requirements largely depend on a child’s weight, age and activity level. According to the Institute of Medicine, on average, children nine to 13 need about 34 grams of protein daily. That jumps to 52 grams for boys 14 to 18, and 46 grams for girls in the same age range.

More athletic children should consume slightly more. Experts agree you can easily fulfill those needs through protein-rich foods.

Too much protein can make your kidneys and liver work harder than they should, which, in turn, can create health risks.

Ed Reardon, a certified nutritionist and certified trainer to athletes of all levels and ages, is a food-first fan too, but he thinks the busy lives many families live will impede even the best of plans.

“Kids always want to get all their protein from whole, regular and natural food. Great idea, great concept. Problem with it is it doesn’t match with reality. A lot of times without supplementing protein shakes, protein powders, etc., they’re going to have a very difficult time meeting the requirements,” said Reardon.

If you’re interested in protein supplements or discover your child is already taking them, experts encourage you to read labels, watch out for products loaded with sugar or other additives and keep track of total protein intake.


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