• Posted on Nov 6, 2017

How much protein do kids really need?  Why do we need protein? These are common questions a well check visits. The good news is that most kids are probably getting plenty of protein! Protein is crucial for building and repairing muscles and providing energy for growing kids, but really, every cell, tissue and organ needs protein to work properly.  There is such a thing as too much protein, and often this is more common than not enough. Protein isn’t stored in the body, so too much of it doesn’t make kids stronger, rather it is broken down and stored as fat. So how much do kids need? According to the AAP, kids 4-13 need about .45 g of protein for every pound of body weight. Generally speaking that is about 20-35 grams a day. Teenage girls should get approximately 46 grams per day and teenage boys 52 grams per day. (This ca vary depending on weight).  So, how much is that? Think of it this way. A palm size portion or meat or fish is amount 3 ounces or 20 grams. An 8 ounce glass of milk is 8 grams, and 1 tablespoon of peanut butter is 5 grams! The most common proteins are meat, poultry and fish. These are often called “complete proteins”, they have all the essential amino acids, the building blocks of protein.  For vegetarians, soybeans, quinoa and hemp are “complete proteins”. But nuts, legumes, seeds, dairy and eggs are also great protein sources especially when combined.  The key is variety and getting protein for “real food” and not processed or packaged foods. Most of our kids do not need a scoop of protein powder in their smoothies!

Missy Nicholson, CPNP

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