Kids need balanced nutrition in order to grow and be healthy. We know they should limit sweet treats, which tend to have a lot of sugar and fat and aim to eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables each day.
We also need to pay attention to how much protein our kids are getting, especially in the morning. Protein is broken down in the body when we sleep, so kids should have at least 7 grams of milk-based protein at breakfast, which can help recover that overnight loss and restore protein balance better than a no-protein breakfast. There are several strategies to pump up the protein as part of a healthy breakfast or snack, and drinking protein shakes for kids can be one of them.
Why Do Kids Need Protein?
Protein is important for building muscles, strengthening bones, and keeping the immune system healthy. And, you know those raging hormones that run rampant in the tween and teen years? You can thank proteins for producing those chemical messengers – which are actually quite important for things like appetite regulation and stress reduction.
How Much Protein Do Kids Need?
Because protein is so critical for muscle and bone growth, it’s important that kids get enough of this nutrient in their growing years. A person’s protein needs depend on their gender, age and developmental stage, and how active they are:
Males and females ages 4-8 need at least 19 grams per day;
Males and females ages 9-13 should aim for at least 34 grams per day (nearly double the amount as before!);
Females ages 14-18 need at least 36 grams per day; and
Males ages 14-18 should have at least 52 grams per day.
Protein Shakes for Kids Deliver Essential Nutrients
For kids on the go, it might be hard to get them some quality protein into their bodies, especially at breakfast. Ready-to-drink shakes for kids that contain the right amount of protein, such as Carnation Breakfast Essentials®, make it easy to get important nutrients for growing bodies. Look for a balanced nutritional drink that has:
Protein to help get the day started off right
Calcium for strong bones
Vitamins C and D to support a healthy immune system
Iron, which carries oxygen in the blood to the body
No artificial flavors, colors or sweeteners
The benefit of ready-to-drink shakes is that you can take them with you and have at any time. They’re nutrition when you need it. When deciding on a protein shake for kids, consider how much protein and calories your child needs, and whether the shake is meant to be part of a meal or as a between-meal snack.
How To Make Protein Shakes for Kids
It’s also easy to make your own protein shake at home. All you need is a blender or food processor (a high-speed blender will give you a smoother result) and a few ingredients.
To make sure your kids are getting a variety of nutrients, try to include as many foods from the five food groups as you can:
- Milk (dairy) is a good base for protein shakes. One cup provides 8 grams of protein, as well as calcium, vitamin D and other nutrients that kids need.
- Fruits and vegetables add flavor and nutrients to shakes. A handful of spinach plus some berries, or apples and carrots are all great flavor combinations.
- Uncooked oats or wheat germ are great grain foods that provide texture to protein shakes, plus fiber and vitamins.
- Feel free to add in some additional sources of protein, like peanut butter or chia seeds.
To make it even more fun for kids, serve up their protein shakes in a fun glass, or use a silly straw to slurp down their drinks. Before you know it, they’ll be off to play and ready for their next protein fix in no time!
Stay up to date with our Insights!