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March 27, 2014: Any problem with protein bars and protein powders for children?

introduction to Nutrition at Lake Mary Preparatory school

Yesterday, I was the speaker at Lake Mary Preparatory, all day, to enlighten kids about nourishing food. The goal from the athletic coaches at LMP was to have kids listen to an expert on nutrition and healthy Living in the hope they’ll be more receptive to “food talks’. Well, we covered lots of topics such as making healthier choices and an  introduction to the 3 macro nutrients that should be in their plate daily (health fats, complex carbs, and a blend of plant base and animal proteins). Inevitably the topic of the growing popularity of protein bars and protein powders came up:

Parents and kids feel they finally have a solution having a smoothie on the go, packed with nutrients. I have to admit that is way better than sugary cereals or skipping breakfast, but I wanted to suggest that there are many points to consider before you make a habit of grabbing a protein bar or having a protein shake daily! (discussion on Protein Bars will follow in another blog!)

What’s wrong with protein supplements for children?

Do not consume protein supplements (bars and powder) if:

  1. Under 14 years of age
  2. Issues with liver and kidney
  3. Lactose intolerant
  4. Poor quality of protein powders

1.Protein powders, while great for athletes and those participating in strenuous exercise, can be dangerous for children under the age of 14.

For children over 14, protein supplements can be appropriate (we’ll discuss later other options for supplementation others than powder and bars).The US Institute of Medicine states that the recommended dietary allowance of daily protein intake for children ages 1 to 3 is 13 grams, children ages 4 to 8 is 19 grams and children ages 9 to 13 is 34 grams. By these numbers, children under 14 do not require protein powders.

2. Too much protein will put strain on your kidneys and liver since protein is broken down by those organs.

Rule of Thumb: Take your body weight in kilograms (1 kilo = 2.2 pounds). You need that number in grams of protein a day. Ex: If your body weight is 56 kilograms (125 pounds), you need 56 grams of protein a day. Now that is the rule for adults!

3. Is your kid lactose intolerant? Whey Protein powders contains lactose, a milk sugar. If you’re lactose intolerant, consuming it can result in gas, bloating, or nausea.

4. Did you do your research on the quality of your whey protein powder? Since whey protein comes from milk, did you wonder: Were the cows grass fed? Were the cows injected with rbJH, steroids, growth hormones?

Problems with Protein Powder













Consuming protein powders or bars have its protein content denatured, devalued with a changed natural composition since processed, and thus will be less nutritious.


Animal and Plant ProteinAnimal Protein: such as poultry (turkey, chicken), meats, eggs, fish (salmon, tuna, sardines, halibut…)

Plant protein: all soybeans products (non GMO) such as Tofu, soymilk. Even better, incorporate fermented soy products such as tempeh, miso, or fermented tofu since they yield more nutrients such as beta-glucan, glutathione, and good condensation of B-vitamins.

You can also use Mutual supplementation by combining partial protein-food (missing Amino Acids) to make complementary proteins. For instance when you combine rice and beans, they form complete protein.

You can combine beans (or other legumes) with:

Brown rice – Corn (non-GMO) – seeds – wheat – nuts – seeds

You can combine brown rice with any of those:

Beans (legumes) – seeds – nuts

Remember to eat your LEGUMES, they are colorful, versatile, and packed with fibers. Think “kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas, lentils, navy beans, peas, Indian dal, etc…)

Basically, a combination of any grains, any nuts and seeds, any legumes, and a variety of mixed vegetables will make a complete protein.