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March 25th, 2011
08:48 AM ET

Should I give protein shakes to my 8-year-old daughter?

Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. On Friday, it's Dr. Melina Jampolis, a physician nutrition specialist.

Asked by Michelle, Kentucky

My 8-year-old daughter is about to begin the "Girls on the Run" program (a program where they train girls between third and eighth grade to run a 5K,) at her school. She would like me to make her the same protein shake after practices that I have myself after my workouts. (I make an 8-oz smoothie of skim milk, fat free vanilla yogurt and vanilla flavored natural whey protein powder. I do a combo of yoga, pilates and strength training.) I am not sure if this is something she needs or should have, nutritionally. Any advice or alternatives for her after her practices? She is convinced she needs something more than water because she does experience muscle cramps and has had shin splints before.
Expert answer

Hi Michelle,

I think it's terrific that your daughter is not only exercising regularly, but also thinking about good nutrition and how to fuel her body at such a young age. Without knowing more about her (height, weight) or the workouts (duration, intensity), I will do my best to give you a few tips. If her runs last longer than one hour, she would probably benefit from some type of sports drink containing 6%-8% carbohydrates and electrolytes during the run, particularly if she experiences muscle cramps. During runs less than 60 minutes, water is fine.

After a longer workout (over one hour), a combination of carbohydrates and protein in a 4:1 ratio is recommended for recovery. Your smoothie sounds like it has too much protein to meet this recommendation so I would take out the whey protein and add in half a banana for your daughter (You may want to cut back on the protein and increase carbs slightly too in your post-workout shake as well since you are getting protein from the milk, the yogurt and the whey protein powder.) The milk and yogurt are good sources of calcium, which is important for bone health, especially in young athletes who may be at higher risk of overuse injuries, and good quality protein for muscle building and recovery. Other good post-workout snacks include peanut butter and jelly sandwich on whole-grain bread, string cheese and an apple or orange, or yogurt with berries.

If it has been more than 3-4 hours since she has eaten, make sure that she gets a snack 30-45 minutes before her run. Fruit or whole grain cereal bars are easy portable choices.

As a young athlete, it is also important that she get adequate amounts of dietary iron and B vitamins. Fortified cereals and grains, lean red meat, and spinach are good foods to include on a regular basis. And make sure she eats plenty of vitamin C-rich foods too (citrus, strawberries, green and red peppers) to ensure adequate iron absorption.

Finally, make sure that she drinks plenty of water, as younger athletes are at higher risk of dehydration and do not instinctively rehydrate as well as adults. Roberta Anding MS, RD, CSSD, CDE, LD who is a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association and director of Sports Nutrition at Texas Children's Hospital, adds the following suggestions:

Teach her to check the color of her urine in the morning when she gets up. If it looks like apple juice, then she is likely dehydrated and this may be the source of her cramps. If her urine looks like lemonade in morning, then she probably is doing fine with her hydration. Fruits, vegetables, milk and yogurt contain 80%-90% water -  think of them as time-released fluid. Also, since she is at school all day, have her "give you eight" which means eight big gulps of water every time she passes the water fountain.

Cramping is caused by dehydration and loss of sodium in sweat. So if her hydration is fine, then consider having a salty snack before her run, such as a handful of pretzels about 30-45 minutes before the run.

Follow Dr. Melina on Twitter


soundoff (100 Responses)
  1. td

    good article, makes you wonder if julia is getting enough protein

    March 25, 2011 at 09:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sean

      Bad advice. Her daughter should not be dissuaded from taking a protein shake immediately after a workout. The shake is a great way to give her body what it needs to repair muscle after a workout. Should she have three 30 gram shakes a day? No, but one shake with 20 grams of whey protein will help her grow stronger.

      It will also make her feel full longer, so she will not be as inclined to snack later on.

      I take a protein shake every morning for breakfast. Helps start my day out on the right foot.

      March 25, 2011 at 10:39 | Report abuse |
    • Over_Ed

      @Sean – and where, pray tell, did YOU graduate from Medical School?
      @Chris – she is not a Nutritionist – she is a Physician that specializes in Nutrition (a considerable difference)

      March 25, 2011 at 12:32 | Report abuse |
    • kdw31

      Sean the yogurt and milk have protein in them. There is this stuff called food and it has nutrients in it. You don't need to add powdered fake food to your diet to get adequate nutrition. Also the protein requirements for a child are not the same as an adult. There is more than likely enough protein in the yogurt and milk to satisfy the needs of the girl. If the parent wishes to increases the daughters protein level she could use Greek yogurt.

      March 25, 2011 at 15:01 | Report abuse |
    • Matt-C

      Correct that the milk and yogurt or Greek yogurt offer an 8 yo girl plent of protein. What is far more important than protein is eating regularly, getting lots of fruits and vegetables, sleeping and not over training. As an adult bodybuilder I could never over estimate the importance of protein in my diet, however an 8 year old runner's needs require a far different nutritional philosophy. And no mom is getting enough protein dirtbag.

      March 25, 2011 at 16:56 | Report abuse |
    • WKW5297

      Sean ... You write quite well for an eight year old girl.

      March 26, 2011 at 11:30 | Report abuse |
    • Health Teach

      Consistently acquiring too much protein is hard on the body, mom should listen to the expert.

      March 26, 2011 at 13:20 | Report abuse |
    • Gretchen

      fr Sean:

      >...I take a protein shake every morning for breakfast. Helps start my day out on the right foot.<

      But (hopefully) YOU are not an eight year old child. There is NO reason a young kid should be getting "protein shakes", unless they are SPECIFICALLY prescribed for her by her pediatrician. Healthy eating, meats, fruits, vegs, starches is a much better way to go.

      March 26, 2011 at 20:47 | Report abuse |
    • the only person who knows what he is talking about

      This person who wrote this article has no idea what they are talking about. Of course it is alright to give your eight your old child protein shakes, what do you think protein will do? What are you going to not allow your child to consume any protein? Protein is essential for muscle growth without which your child would never be able to grow. Whey protein found in protein shakes is only isolated from milk is not some sort of steroid and absolutely nothing to worry about. Whey protein is the fastest digested protein which is why it is best after a workout. Before a workout ie a run, one would want to consume a fast digesting carb such as dextrose or maltodextrin which can be digested and almost immediately used as energy. Post workout one would want to consume protein, whey would be omptimal, to help the muscles which have suffered from micro tears to recuperate and grow. A fast acting carb again will help to boost the process of glycosis. All this 4 to 1 ratio of proteins to carbs is the biggest bunch of crab ever. Dont ask this fool what to do ask people who actually understand muscles and exercising namely someone like Lanyne Norton ( i am not him, i just read some of his stuff) who has advanced degrees and expertise in this particular area. Be smart, not dumb, give your kid a shake, its common sense.

      March 26, 2011 at 22:34 | Report abuse |
    • sockpuppet

      Sean said: "It will also make her feel full longer, so she will not be as inclined to snack later on." That statement alone makes everything else he said absolutely invalid. This little 8 year old girl is not dieting or trying to lose weight. Why does she need to worry about fullness or snacking later on? doofus.

      March 27, 2011 at 06:41 | Report abuse |
    • Greg

      Protein supplements are not well regulated. When you buy supplements those supplements could easily be snake oil. That drink claiming to contain 30 grams of high quality protein may only contain 10 grams of quality protein and high levels of lead. A pint of low fat milk might be a better idea (at least you know the 8 grams of protein per serving is accurate)

      August 13, 2015 at 09:30 | Report abuse |
  2. Kevin

    I wouldn't limit the protein intake at all, with the exception of making most of it come from legitimate food sources. While I do supplement a decent portion of my protein intake, MOST of my 150-200g of protein per day comes from meat. It is also important to consider the quality of your meat (what it is fed, etc.).

    March 25, 2011 at 09:27 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bingo

      Kevin hits the nail on the head, regarding the QUALITY of the meat. I really recommend the "most popular" article on noshmeat.com about this - sums it up well, and a good perspective.

      March 25, 2011 at 13:33 | Report abuse |
    • 7down

      Tru. Good to see someone mention noshmeat. That site got a nice facelift. It's about time too, maybe more people will take it seriously. Good advice there.

      March 25, 2011 at 13:35 | Report abuse |
  3. BK

    "Shin-Splints" is mainly caused by improperly fit shoes. Make sure your daughter has a good pair of running shoes & that she is fitted properly. This makes all the difference in the world. She also has to make sure that they are tied snug to her feet, but not over tight.

    These two tips helped with my running.

    March 25, 2011 at 09:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. L

    Why would people be concerned about taking protein? Especially that smoothie doesn't have that much of protein anyway (maybe 35-40g?) depriving athletes with protein doesn't sound like a good idea to me.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:10 | Report abuse | Reply
    • MoodyMoody

      Excess protein is hard on the kidneys. The girl needs a little more protein than her sedentary peers, but most of her increased caloric intake should probably be healthy carbs.

      March 25, 2011 at 15:20 | Report abuse |
    • Joe Smith

      It's a myth about too much protein being hard on the kidneys!!!!

      March 26, 2011 at 14:45 | Report abuse |
  5. Rick

    All protein powder does is make the supplement industry rich.

    There is little if any regulation in the supplement industry. All you need are some bottles, a label maker, and a few illegal aliens to fill the bottles with some bulk powder you buy overseas and you have a business.

    Only idiots drink that stuff, you can get everything you need from real food.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • zhen geng

      let's see how fit you are.. probably not and two, grats on watching "bigger faster stronger" and magically thinking you're an expert /golfclap tard

      March 25, 2011 at 14:34 | Report abuse |
    • SAM DACOSTA

      Rick, your ignorance of the Sports Nutrition industry is obvious from your statement. I'll also make an eductaed guess that your not athletic inclined and definitely do not understand the supplement industry. You would be better served to consult with a Sports Nutritionist to debunk your thoughts.

      March 25, 2011 at 14:49 | Report abuse |
    • Go Gators!

      I played collegiate Div I football and these supplements are a money making joke. Aside from genetics, it is about eating right, working out hard, and recovery. The only supplements that make a real difference are roids and HGH, the shakes aren't going to make you a better athlete.

      March 25, 2011 at 15:55 | Report abuse |
  6. Debbie

    I work as a nurse and have seen athletes drink way too many protein drinks, they spill 4+ protein in their urine, this is dangerous to the kidneys, be careful

    March 25, 2011 at 10:24 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kevin

      As in high protein intakes are bad for the kidneys?

      March 25, 2011 at 10:45 | Report abuse |
    • Cole

      Yes, too much protein (of anything) is bad. In this case the metabolic byproduct has to be cleaned up by the kidneys. I wouldn't necessarily say it's dangerous, but it ain't a good thing either.

      A lot of people completely missed the point – The advice wasn't to avoid protein, but to focus more on carbs, which is what the body needs more of after a 5k, than protein. Protein is good. Carb is good. One is better than the other in some situations. This is a situation where carbs are more in demand.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:04 | Report abuse |
    • Kevin

      I read that study, increased protein intake doesn't harm the kidneys unless there is already something wrong with them. They adapt along with every other body tissue.

      I understood the point of the article, I was just sharing my opinion.

      March 25, 2011 at 13:10 | Report abuse |
    • zhen geng

      what in the world are you talking about? a normal kidney's glomerulus function will always keep protein from leaking out to the urine. if you have leaky nephral cells, then there will be a problem. quit making non-justified associations and learn some science

      March 25, 2011 at 14:32 | Report abuse |
    • MannyHM

      Amen to that. I heard a line that American athletes have the most expensive waste products because of the excessive protein intake. All that the body need for adults is 1 gram of protein per kilogram body weight. For growing folks perhaps twice that.

      March 26, 2011 at 09:27 | Report abuse |
  7. Chris

    Nutritionists are scared to give advice about protein shakes because they don't know anything about them...Do your own research...The internet has pretty much EVERYTHING you need to know, and 3 different nutritionists will give you 4 different opinions...If your daughter is CRAVING protein, she probably needs protein...It MAY be because she's seen you taking it, but it sounds like she's trying to model herself after someone who is living a healthy lifestyle. It's ALWAYS best to get nutrition from whole foods, but protein shakes are DEFINITELY good to add, especially for a mom who's got stuff to do besides making meals every day...One shouldn't REPLACE meals with protein shakes, one should COMPLIMENT meals with protein shakes...BALANCE my friends!

    March 25, 2011 at 11:14 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Troll

      I am SO glad you used CAPITAL letters so I could UNDERSTAND the imporant parts.

      /tard

      June 28, 2012 at 16:27 | Report abuse |
  8. Tom

    I'd be cautious eating 30-45 minutes before a workout. The food basically doesn't have time to get absorbed and is still in the digestive tract as you're working out (a similar reason to why you don't need a sports drink if your workout is less than one hour).

    Also, shin splints can sometimes be a sign of poorly fitting shoes (as was mentioned) or of improper mechanics while running. Depending on how serious she is about running, she should have a coach who knows what they're doing look at her form.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Seth

    This whole article is debunk with the fact that you literally get next to nothing of calcium from milk.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Health Teach

      While it is true that we don't absorb near the amount of calcium that we ingest in basically any form–food or supplement–I wouldn't say that we get "nothing" from them either. As you are probably aware, it depends on other vitamin and mineral ratios in the body, but young people–especially young girls, much like pregnant adult women–have natural metabolic properties which cause them to absorb higher percentages of calcium than do "average" adults.

      March 26, 2011 at 13:27 | Report abuse |
  10. Shirley U Jest

    That protien shake sounds more like a tasty snack than something healthy for after a workout. The growing girl needs this more than her mommy, she is growing, building bones muscles organs and brains. My advice is give the protein shake you your little girl and mommy, stop drinking them yourself because you don't need them. Eat some fresh celery and carrots instead. Even with an extremely high work out ( 6 hours of hard labor or more) you do not any more than 3000 calories a day and probably less. The protein shake sounds like it could be close to 1000 calories by itself.

    March 25, 2011 at 12:18 | Report abuse | Reply
    • lolwut

      An 8oz smoothie with the listed ingredients (skim milk, low fat yogurt and protein powder) is not going to come anywhere NEAR 1000 calories. Something like that would come in closer to 250-350 calorie range; hardly overeating by any standard.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:32 | Report abuse |
    • Cole

      Spoken like a true Internet genius.

      First off, it's 1 freakin' drink, not an entire diet. 3k a day? Please. I eat over 3k a day and I don't even put in 6 hours of intense exercise. By the way, since you don't exercise, you should know this: Intense exercise can easily burn off 1k calories per hour. 6 hours... Do the damn math. Actually, scratch that. Probably a bit too complex since you somehow got: skim milk + yogurt + whey = 1k calories. You can replace the skim milk with heavy cream and it still would be way shy of 1k.

      March 25, 2011 at 12:46 | Report abuse |
    • Health Teach

      FYI: Although I completely disagree with your math, please know that 1,000 calories would be way more than half of an average child of that age's daily needs, even if it was an especially active child.
      (Now, that all depends on height, weight, BMI, puberty, etc., so I will totally agree that there could be exceptions to that statement, but my point is that 1000 calories wouldn't ever be a "snack" for this child or any of her peers.)

      March 26, 2011 at 13:33 | Report abuse |
  11. DB

    The standard rule of thumb for strength athletes has for years been one gram of protein per pound of body weight per day. Serious gym rats, body builders, football players, MMA fighters etc. etc. normally round that figure up to 1.5 grams to facilitate muscle building. I's suggest she do up a standard food log for what her daughter is eating during the day and break the items down into their protein and carbohydrate totals and compare to her body weight, this should give her a pretty good idea if she needs to add extra protein to her daughter's diet. While she's at it, she should run the figures for her daughter's metabolism to determine her daily caloric needs and compare this to the food log as well.
    Although, as others have suggested, the ideal method for getting your daily nutrition intake be it carbs OR protein is whole foods, for the fast majority of people its simply unrealistic due to time and cost constraints. Meat is the ideal protein source, but be very careful what kind of meat it is. The regular 'beef' (and I use the word very loosely) found in the supermarket comes from cows whose diet consists mostly of corn, a food they do not naturally eat. As a result, the meat contains elevated levels of unhealthy fats. Most of us cannot afford grass-fed beef (much more expensive), so the protein shake is a convenient and quick replacement.
    Cover your pre, peri, and post workout nutrition needs, stick with a daily multivitamin, and things will sort themselves out nicely.

    March 25, 2011 at 12:47 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Barbara

      The protein requirements for children are quite different than those for adults. .45 grams per lb of body weight is the recommendation for 7-14 year olds. And always read the warning labels on products to make sure they are recommended for children, which whey powder is NOT.

      March 25, 2011 at 13:35 | Report abuse |
    • farmlgirl

      @Barbara, finally someone who read the questions instead of just sounding off. The question was regarding the requirements for an 8 year old – much, much different than for an adult. Both my girls ran track at that age and their needs were quite different from an adults, still are even though they are in their early teens. Michelle, you asked an expert, heed their advice, see a specialist for your daughter if she has any other problems, she may want to 'be just like mom' but her nutritional needs are not 'just like mom's'.

      March 25, 2011 at 14:23 | Report abuse |
  12. James Vond

    Hey look another stupid and misinformed artcile. DO NOT DRINK PROTIEN SHAKES IF YOU ARE NOT BUILDING MUSCLE!!. When jogging you need carbs not protien, you know that girl at the gym who has a protien shake while she's jogging? Yea she's fat too.

    Protein shakes are for muscle workouts, not cardio!

    March 25, 2011 at 13:01 | Report abuse | Reply
    • zhen geng

      best response yet

      March 25, 2011 at 14:35 | Report abuse |
    • SAM DACOSTA

      However, within 30-60 minutes after training, the body needs protein and carbohydrates for repair and recovery. The ratio mentioned in the article was a 4:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein. An 8 year old should probably have only a 20g. carbohydrate to 5g. protein ratio smoothie immediately after training.

      March 25, 2011 at 14:56 | Report abuse |
    • Barbara

      @ Sam DaCosta: Your "average" 8 year old girl only needs about 27 grams of protein total PER DAY.

      March 25, 2011 at 15:03 | Report abuse |
  13. Bob

    I started running at the age of 13 in 1972. I ran for the next 35 years doing a lot of distance running. Now my feet are shot and I can't run more than a mile without pain. For anyone with youngsters starting to run, get good shoes. And encourage them to keep runs under 6 miles. I did lots of runs over 10 miles. It's too much.

    March 25, 2011 at 13:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. entropyhome

    Alot depends on how LONG she exercises, the INTENSITY of it, and how many calories are burning. Under 30 minutes activity OR low intensity and you really don't need 'recovery drinks'. Once you go over 30 minutes or intensity is high( heart rate more than 70% Max or percieved exertion high), recovery drink with some protein will help, the science of this is explained below...so alot depends on how hard your daughter is training, so go along and watch to try to assess this.

    Science is fairly clear on this one ( for once!) . Running predominately uses glycogen stored in muscles and liver. Post training you want to replace that glycogen ASAP because it will speed recovery. If you don't, you risk breaking down muscle to replace it ( gluconeogenesis ), also your immune system will be supressed because a hormone called cortisol rises during exercise over 30 minutes or higher intensity, and only way to bring it down is to eat, carbs will do it faster than eating fats or food sources of protein.

    You don't need much protein in the recovery drink, the 4:1 ratio is fine ....the main point is the protiens need to be rapidly digested hence why protein shakes are better for recovery than 'food' ( in every other way, food is superior and prefered except post exercise). You also want to avoid much FAT in the drink, because it will SLOW digestion.

    So post exercise ( assuming you need to replace glycogen) is time its good for body to eat high gylcemic rapidly absorbed carbs ... actually cholcolate miilk does well in studies, honey also shown to be helpful ...fruit not so much due to fructose.

    In summary – you want rapidly digested carbs, 4:1 ratio protein powder, little fat .....( fat is very important but no in recovery drink)

    Some numbers ( which article failed to give) – IF she runs for 60 mins ( varying intensity) i'd estimate 300-500calories burned ...for her age/size that's eqivalent to adult burning 600-1000cal –
    – at 300cals, 4:1 ...thats 240carbs: 60 protein i.e. 60grams carbs: 15grams protein (there's 4calories per gram)
    – at 500cals 4:1 ...thats 400carbs: 100 protein ie. 100grams carbs: 25grams protein.
    *Typically 1 Scoop of protein is approx 20-25grams.

    Personally, as I lifetime athelete with kids who are athlete's, I prefer to not give so much dairy – if you use Whey protein, perhaps use rice milk or fruit juice . I actually mix vegtables smoothie with spinach, celery (which is great electrolite replacement i.e. salts/minerals) ...you can sneak these in there as don't have much flavour, and protein powder/sugar mask flavour ...though the green color is a giveaway lol

    March 25, 2011 at 13:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Ituri

    Your child isn't in the fifth grade (estimate) and has already had shin splints? Does NOBODY have any common sennse? If your CHILD is injuring herself, she is doing too much. Why does a fifth grader need to run 5K?

    Get her into a regular sport, running will destroy her body before she's 30. And you're asking about a milkshake, honestly... absurd.

    March 25, 2011 at 13:08 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bob

      I don't know if there is much research on children running that far at that age. Usually the training runs would be shorter. You could train for a 5 k race doing just two miles as a regular distance with one or two longer runs a week. That level of training seems reasonable for someone that age. But then I have not seen any research on it (I don't have the time or inclination to do so either). Go to Google Scholar and do a search on bones and joints and running and elementary school all within the search and see what you come up with.

      March 25, 2011 at 13:25 | Report abuse |
    • Ituri

      I don't need to do a google search, because I've researched this before. Parents today are of two extremes, too lazy or too pushy. No 8 year old needs to be running a 5K. Running a mile or 2, great! Good job, your kid is active.

      However, growing kids are *extremely* susceptible to early and PROLONGED damage, since they are still growing. Joints can't take the same stress an adult can manage, their bodies structure is literally unbalanced and NOT meant for extreme sports or long distance running. We're talking about an 8 year old who has already had shin splints, I never had one, even leading an active sports life, until I was 25, and even then it was my mistake for letting someone push me too hard too fast when I full well knew my limitations.

      An 8 year old doesn't even have a fully developed brain, and likely can't imagine the damage she could be doing to her body. No doubt she idolizes her "healthy and fit" mother, but that doesn't mean she and mom need to be running side by side. The very idea this mother is more worried about a protien shake than long term damage to her daughters body is absurd.

      March 25, 2011 at 16:21 | Report abuse |
    • JR

      A voice of sanity in the wilderness. What EIGHT year old needs to be running a 5k, and what adult would encourage that?

      There is a serious amount of ignorance regarding healthy child development and physiology in this topic. Children are NOT mini-adults. The mother is an idiot, whomever is sponsoring this idea are idiots, and the whole thing could have long lasting ramifications.

      March 26, 2011 at 08:53 | Report abuse |
    • Health Teach

      What is the big deal, a 5k is only 3.1 miles and when I was a kid in the 80's kids routinely walked/ran a mile to the school each morning and then walked/ran a mile back from the school every afternoon because there was no bus service for kids that lived with a one mile radius of the school. It was nothing for a kid to walk to school in the morning, then that afternoon take littler siblings home and then run straight back to meet up with friends. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a child that age running a 5k if they want to, our ancestor's certainly did. The real problem is everyone acting like our are too "fragile" to use the bodies they were given. Kids will stop when they're tired. Let them run and be kids!

      March 26, 2011 at 13:43 | Report abuse |
    • Health Teach

      And yes, I realize that there was a break in between walking to school and then walking home, but I can't tell you how many times I was with a friend (in the days before cell phones) where we ran home after school to tell her/our parents that we were going back up to the school to play at the park with friends and then ran back to the park and then ran around the park the entire time playing whatever game we wanted until we realized that it was getting dark and we had to run back home so that we'd be there in time for supper.

      March 26, 2011 at 13:47 | Report abuse |
    • sockpuppet

      Ituri I agree–I was surprised that this mom s more worried about a shake than the fact that her little girl is in shin splints. Yes, kids could potentially run around and play more than a 5k in one day, but they typically don't do it all at once, in a dead run. That seems excessive. But even if it's not, the fact that she is injuring herself is the proof in the pudding that THIS little girl is doing too much. Also ITURI, for the record, and 8 year old is not even in 5th grade-that's usually about 3rd grade!

      March 27, 2011 at 06:55 | Report abuse |
  16. Barbara

    My container of whey protein specifically says, "NOT INTENDED FOR USE BY PERSONS UNDER 18."

    Parents should read the labels on the products they consider giving to their children.

    There is such a thing as too much protein. The daily recommendation for adults is 65 – 80 (you can be more specific by calculating based on body weight). Children need 0.45 grams per lb of body weight for 7-to-14-year olds daily (be aware that your child is probably already getting that amount of protein if he or she is eating a balanced diet).

    Too much protein can damage kidneys.

    March 25, 2011 at 13:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kevin

      No, it can't. Read the *actual* research, which I summarized above.

      March 25, 2011 at 13:39 | Report abuse |
    • lolwut

      There seem to be a lot of people that quickly jump to the conclusion that an increased workload on the kidneys automatically equates to kidney damage. This is entirely untrue and there is no research showing that a higher protein diet will result in kidney damage. There is no question that it makes your kidneys work harder, but that's pretty much the end of it; kidneys doing what kidneys are supposed to do.

      March 25, 2011 at 14:07 | Report abuse |
    • Barbara

      I see your point.

      However, given the recommended protein amount for a child of this age and the warning on the container, would you say that it's a good idea to give protein shakes to an 8 year old girl?

      March 25, 2011 at 14:10 | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      Kevin, you should read the research. The maximum protein intake for anyone not suffering from a medical condition is on the range of 1.4 to 1.6 grams of protein per kg. Unless you weigh close to 300 pounds you are getting too much.

      March 25, 2011 at 14:12 | Report abuse |
    • lolwut

      That would be entirely dependent on the result of comparing the intensity of her training sessions with the current overall protein intake of her diet. If all she had for breakfast was toast with jam and a glass of milk (approx 10-12g protein) and then worked very intensely prior to eating anything else then I would say a protein shake would be appropriate. Though, as always, whole food is preferable to any supplement. Unfortunately due to time, location or budget restraints that might not be possible.

      March 25, 2011 at 14:22 | Report abuse |
    • Barbara

      The "average" weight of an 8 year old girl is a little less than 60 lbs. That would make the daily protein requirement 27 grams. Could be a little higher or lower based on the individual height/weight.

      And she's participating in an after school sports program, not training for the Olympics.

      March 25, 2011 at 14:23 | Report abuse |
    • lolwut

      Regardless of whether she is training for the Olympics of not is irrelevant. The point is that a question was asked and the simple answer to that question is that a protein drink after exercising is not going to harm anyone that is eating a relatively balanced diet. It's very likely not necessary, but adding 20 grams of a dairy byproduct to a healthy child's diet is not going to hurt. It might even be considered helpful in the long run if it facilitates increasing interest of the child in her sport and/or nutrition. As you so aptly pointed out, the average weight of a child her age *should* be about 60 lbs. Unfortunately my daily observations tell me that the number of children that fit into the "average" category is dwindling by the day. As a parent, i would personally find it encouraging if my child were more interested in running and protein shakes than Halo and Pizza Hut . . .

      March 25, 2011 at 15:04 | Report abuse |
    • Barbara

      The question asked was actually whether the protein shake is something she "needs" (no) or should have (questionable).

      Adding 20 grams of a dairy byproduct that isn't recommended for children and contains nearly the entire daily dietary requirement of protein just in that one drink (if you add in the protein from milk alone) is something I would think carefully about as a parent. That could potentially have the effect of doubling her daughter's protein intake.

      One could also consider the message one sends by having such a young child, especially a girl, start using nutritional supplements instead of eating, and learning about, an overall healthy, balanced diet.

      It's wonderful that this girl wants to be active and eat a healthy diet and that her mom is supporting her efforts. I applaud her mother for seeking accurate information towards this end.

      March 25, 2011 at 15:33 | Report abuse |
    • lolwut

      The impact of this shake on her overall caloric intake is much more important to consider than whether or not it puts her over the recommended daily protein intake guideline. You have to remember that these recommendations are nothing more than very loose guidelines that point more at a minimum requirement than a maximum requirement, and in terms of growth and development, protein is much more useful than any carbohydrate. A carbohydrate cannot grow or repair skin, hair, organs or muscle tissue. Excess protein is not stored as body fat like a carbohydrate is AND it does not typically invoke nearly as high of an insulin response. Not saying that carbs (or fats) are useless, but when speaking in terms of any caloric excess, protein is very unlikely to have any negative effect, instead erring to the possibility of utilizing some of that minor excess. Again, she probably doesn't *need* a protein shake, but if a couple of hundred calories from milk, yogurt and whey still keeps her within a calorie range that fits her metabolism and activity level, then again there is literally zero harm, and may even yield some minor benefit. Also, as I mentioned earlier, whole food is always a better choice and there is a LOT of other information being left out of the original question that would have a lot of impact on getting a correct and precise answer; I am speaking very generally here.

      March 25, 2011 at 15:51 | Report abuse |
  17. Brett

    Performance athletes do this stuff in order to break records and win races. Why, all the sudden, does every person who runs a few miles need to worry about optimizing recovery drinks for carbs and protein? This is obsession bordering on neurotic fixation. Yes, your daughter will have to eat and drink something (duh). Yes, it's good that your daughter is running (should be limited distance until growth plates fuse). But all of the nutrition "science" is big ongoing experiment and evidence for efficacy goes both ways.

    Don't pass your dietary obsession to your girl. Teach your daughter about food, but there is no need to get a food journal and analysis of metabolic rates unless she is (right now) a world class athlete.

    March 25, 2011 at 13:57 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sebastian

      Exactly, all these people above are talking about as if she were an Olympian, she's a damn kid trying to have some fun with a run. She's not trying to compete.

      March 25, 2011 at 14:07 | Report abuse |
    • Barbara

      Very well said.

      March 25, 2011 at 14:13 | Report abuse |
  18. Sebastian

    Everyone needs to remember that this is a child. Some people are talking about intensity and how long she is doing something. First of all she's running a 5k, she's not running a marathon. It should be fun for a child, no need to call it a workout. She doesn't need to be doing sprints nor interval training, nothing to crazy. She's not training for the olympics. Her body is still developing.

    As far as protein, the child doesn't need 1 gram per pound of weight, she's not a weight lifter, a football player, a fighter. She's just a little kid trying to do a simple run. I don't know why people are commenting about what they take since they are adults engaged in more rigorous activity then a child running a 5k.

    March 25, 2011 at 14:06 | Report abuse | Reply
    • lolwut

      Regardless of whether she is training for the Olympics or not is irrelevant. The point is that a question was asked and the simple answer to that question is that a protein drink after exercising is not going to harm anyone that is eating a relatively balanced diet. It's very likely not necessary, but adding 20 grams of a dairy byproduct to a healthy, active child's diet is not going to hurt. It might even be considered helpful in the long run if it facilitates increasing the interest of the child in her sport and/or nutrition. As Barbara so aptly pointed out, the average weight of a child her age *should* be about 60 lbs. Unfortunately my daily observations tell me that the number of children that fit into the "average" category is dwindling by the day. As a parent, i would personally find it encouraging if my child were more interested in running and protein shakes than Halo and Pizza Hut . . .

      March 25, 2011 at 15:20 | Report abuse |
    • Barbara

      I would certainly question whether potentially doubling my child's protein intake is going to help or hurt. 20 extra grams of protein might not be a big deal for an active, adult male, but as a parent I would want to be certain that it is appropriate for my 8 year old daughter. Mom is asking a smart question.

      March 25, 2011 at 15:41 | Report abuse |
  19. Karin

    It is sad to see how few comments seem to take the girl's age into account. Shouldn't an 8 year old be able to PLAY instead of 'train'? I am a certified athletic trainer and understand the importance of being physically fit but an 8 year old that is already experiencing shin splints should be a HUGE red flag for any parent. This child is on her way to years of chronic (overuse) injuries. Not to mention the likelihood that she could experience burnout at a much earlier age. Research that examines child participation in youth sport consistently finds that enjoyment has a direct relation to attrition. Is a child that at age 15 has experienced one chronic injury after another going to really enjoy running?

    March 25, 2011 at 15:27 | Report abuse | Reply
    • KT

      For those of you who are worried about an 8 year old running a 5K, Girls on the Run is a program for pre-teen girls (3rd to 8th grade) that is intended to help them build self-respect and healthy lifestyles through running. The program addresses their emotional, mental and social as well as physical development. It is a 'fun run' that they train for over a period of about three months while completing both the physical training and curriculum with coaches. It is not rigorous by any standards and 5K is certainly not an unreasonable distance at that age. In the area where I live they meet after school at many of the local elementary schools and are facilitated through the YMCA although it is not a Y program. The kid wants to be like her mom (typical) and mom wants to find out whether that is a healthy choice (responsible). Good grief let's not make this more than it is!

      March 26, 2011 at 22:57 | Report abuse |
  20. JN

    Let's talk about the real world. My doctor put me on protein shakes to help put on "muscle mass" because I have a high metabolism and need to gain weight. He said they were healthy and that I would pee it out.

    My urologist/kidney specialist has since explained to me that the "extra" protein comes out in your urine. If you are prone to kidney stones, which some people ARE, you get kidney stones. And let me tell you, the extra protein may not harm your kidneys, but the kidney stones sure will. At the minimum you are on morphine in the hospital for two days. At the maximum you are losing a kidney. Protein supplements may work for some body builders, but please PLEASE do not come down on this mother for checking this first. If her child is prone to kidney stones and ingests extra protein, she may get them. And no one wants a kid to experience that.

    March 25, 2011 at 18:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • JN

      I should add too that I was doing a regular muscle-training regime at the gym during this time. It wasn't wasted protein. It was just too much, too fast. According to my specialist there IS no healthy rate at which I can ingest powder protein or it over uses my kidneys and causes the stones to form.

      March 25, 2011 at 18:14 | Report abuse |
  21. T

    I agree with a lot of others, "bad advice" loading up on carbs post workout has always been standard practice to help feed the muscles and replenish depleted glycogen in the blood stream. HOWEVER, when you dont add a fast digesting protein, like whey, you almost defeat the purpose of the post workout insulin spike all together. Yogurt and milk are both slow digesting proteins which will still give "fulness" but by the time they have digested the simple carbs intended to feed the muscle have long been used up by the body to replenish glycogen and the insulin spike has been wasted, little muscle and cell repair was done. But thats just MY opinion 🙂

    March 25, 2011 at 21:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. MoRon

    All the other moms give their kids shakes with added sugar and fat and those never run in their life.

    So it doesn't matter how many grams of protein, it's just better than the alternative.

    March 26, 2011 at 12:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Eric

    The girl is training for a 5K, not a marathon. The mother should be worrying about hydration and decent shoes, because a properly fed person doesn't need a sports nutritionist to run 3.1 miles.

    March 26, 2011 at 15:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Aaron

    The best post workout routine I have found is to immediately get 40 grams of protein (quick digesting) and 20 minutes later eat fruits with simple sugars like pineapple to take care of utilizing an insulin spike directed toward the target muscles.
    However, as some other posters expressed, I would be careful with high protein diets in children.

    March 26, 2011 at 22:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. ARNOLD

    YES. DO IT. PROTEIN MAKE STRONG, UGLY WOMAN FOR ARNOLD.

    March 27, 2011 at 02:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Claire

    Additives?

    March 27, 2011 at 10:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Brassky

    I checked my urine. It looks like a Bloody Mary. Should I stop drinking?

    March 27, 2011 at 21:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Lopine

    WTH does an 8 year old need to run a 5K for? What is wrong with this picture? I'm all for kids moving, playing, getting outside and off the computers and TV, but this is ridiculous! Sounds like abuse.

    March 27, 2011 at 23:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. CB

    Protein is just another way of putting calories into your body. This is a much better solution to improving one's diet over increasing sugar intake.

    March 28, 2011 at 19:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. christian

    Sould I give protein shakes to my ten year old boy?My son is a young athele so I wanted to know if he could drink protein shakes

    May 27, 2011 at 18:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Dr. Knowsbest

    I can't believe this so called professional would even suggest that an 8 year old should take in protein shakes. A child can dehydrate very quickly and protein shakes given to someone so young can also cause kidney damage. Unless there is an underlying medical problem the child should not be taking protein supplementation. She should be getting her protein from food. I would be curious is this Dr. is endorsing a supplement company. This advice is completely irresponsible.

    June 25, 2011 at 21:06 | Report abuse | Reply
    • detlef

      You are an absolute idiot. Dr-sucked-at-sports-and-now-my-kids-suck-at-sports.

      December 13, 2011 at 22:06 | Report abuse |
  32. Andy

    I understand that shin splints are a sign of overuse, but I did want to mention that our 7 year old son HAPPILY did a 5km run this summer with us (and our 3 1/2 year old did a 2.5 km fun run with some piggybacking). He did fantastic and walked when he wanted and ran when he wanted. We had a hard time keeping up. At the end of the run he was "SO tired", but 5 minutes later (after ensuring he rehydrated and had a healthy snack) he was running around on the playground. Just thought I'd point out it is reasonable for some kids. And well you might say "put him in organized sports" my son has some difficulties with coordination and attention; he's still participating in those types of things but it is quite challenging and therefore not always so fun for him. He LOVES to run and does great at it, so why would we not encourage that too! It is awesome to see his confidence and pride after completing a run. That and he never complains when we bike or walk in the community that our destination is too far! And yes...both of the kids had very good shoes for their run.

    August 31, 2011 at 00:17 | Report abuse | Reply
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