-by Coach Jill Whitesell

April 2018 marked three years for our CrossFit Kids Wylie program and I could not be more excited for the growth and development of each of the young athletes who participate in the program.  Just like our adult program, we are able to offer a strength and conditioning program for every fitness/athletic level — and we truly have kids of all abilities in the program. But what is really cool is watching them grow not only in their strength, but also in their confidence — watching a kid with zero body awareness, gain awareness, strength, and coordination!  It is so rewarding to watch these young kids grow and work hard and is definitely what keeps me motivated to continue coaching them!

As a kids coach, I often get asked about kids nutrition, how much protein they should consume, and if it is safe for kids to supplement their diets with protein shakes.  Many kids want to emulate mom and dad and have their “shaker of protein” after their workout. But when you consider giving your child protein, it is important to remember why you are giving it to them in the first place.  As most of us know, protein is the nutrient that helps promote the growth and development of muscles. In addition, according to Well Wisdom, whey protein can help children as they pass into puberty and begin to produce hormones; aid in weight loss for overweight children by helping speed up their metabolism, and can help boost immune systems.  All good things! So, is whey protein safe for children? Yes, but do they really need it, and how much do they need?

According to Kids Health, growing children between the ages of 6 – 15 do need protein but not as much as mom and dad.  Kids need no more than half a gram (0.5) of protein per pound of body weight per day and that is only for children who are very active. If you consider a 70 lb child, he or she only needs 35 grams per day.  Some powders may contain that much protein in one serving. The Ascent protein sold at CrossFit Wylie contains 25g per serving, so the 70 lb child would get almost their entire daily intake from one shake.

Just like adults, it is important for kids to get sufficient nutrients through a well-balanced diet vs. having to drink protein shakes.  Kids (and adults) should be meeting their protein needs by eating whole foods such as lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, cheese, yogurt, nuts, seeds, milk, etc. and using Protein Supplements as just that, a supplement to assist their nutrition, not replace it. That is the best way to ensure your kids are getting the protein they need along with the other essential vitamins, minerals and healthy fats the body needs to do its job.  As always, we recommend checking with your pediatrician or child’s nutritionist to be sure it is right for your child and his/her dietary needs and restrictions.

So, there is nothing wrong with supplementing a balanced diet with a scoop of protein powder here and there.  However, consuming too much protein can have some undesirable effects. Too much protein in a child’s diet could simply end up being stored as fat and may not lead to extra muscle mass as you might expect.  Additionally, it could have the undesirable effect of stressing the kidneys and liver and possibly interfering with the bodies ability to absorb calcium. So my best advice is to know your kids, know what they are eating and how much, calculate their activity level and supplement with protein shakes only if you feel they are not getting enough protein in their daily diets. And after all of that, if you do decide to supplement your child’s diet with whey protein, be sure you are giving them a high-quality, clean whey protein with few ingredients, additives and free of added sugar, artificial or harmful ingredients. Ascent Protein is safe for anyone. Even little Weston steels a sip of “Chocolate Juice” from Daddy occasionally.

If you have any concerns or doubts, check with your pediatrician or family doctor first!  Happy parenting!!

– Coach Jill

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