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 (953 Responses)
  1. Zisseloh

    viagra or cialis or levitra trial cialis super active vs regular cialis side effects of cialis

    May 31, 2021 at 15:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. ZisseVed

    coupons for cialis cialis suppliers uk cheap how long before cialis takes effect

    May 31, 2021 at 15:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Luxury Van Repair Shop


    May 31, 2021 at 18:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. 2006 Sprinter 3500 Repair Near Me


    May 31, 2021 at 21:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. RV Generator Repair Near Me

    This site certainly has all of the information and facts I wanted about this subject and didn’t know who to ask.


    May 31, 2021 at 22:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Sprinter Repair Mechanics


    June 1, 2021 at 05:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Sprinter Repair Near Me


    June 1, 2021 at 05:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. MileSwa

    cialis dapoxetine original cialis uk discount generic cialis

    June 1, 2021 at 06:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Custom Van Repair Shop


    June 1, 2021 at 10:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. CrulkAsd

    cialis omline order online cialis with dapoxetine cialis dapoxetine canada

    June 1, 2021 at 10:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. maintenance shops near me


    June 1, 2021 at 11:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Leisure Travel Van Repair Shop

    Oh my goodness! Incredible article dude! Thank you, However I am having troubles with your RSS. I don’t know why I cannot join it. Is there anybody else getting identical RSS problems? Anybody who knows the answer will you kindly respond? Thanx!!


    June 1, 2021 at 13:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. toy hauler california

    Saved as a favorite, I like your web site!


    June 1, 2021 at 13:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Vicky Stallbaumer

    You made some really good points there. I checked on the net to find out more about the issue and found most people will go along with your views on this web site.


    June 1, 2021 at 13:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. EncoxDev

    canada pharmacy online.com online college for pharmacy tech viagra from canada

    June 1, 2021 at 13:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Candice Juliano

    I blog frequently and I truly thank you for your content. Your article has truly peaked my interest. I will take a note of your site and keep checking for new information about once a week. I opted in for your RSS feed as well.


    June 1, 2021 at 16:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. ZisseVed

    generic cialis site accept mastercard mexico cialis why does cialis use two bathtubs

    June 1, 2021 at 17:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. EncoxAni

    mexican pharmacy online reviews jan drugs canada pharmacy technician online course

    June 1, 2021 at 17:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Cargo Van Conversion Shop


    June 1, 2021 at 19:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Sprinter Van Body


    June 2, 2021 at 01:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Roadtrek Repair Shop Near Me

    Right here is the perfect website for everyone who would like to understand this topic. You understand a whole lot its almost hard to argue with you (not that I really would want to…HaHa). You definitely put a new spin on a topic which has been written about for ages. Great stuff, just wonderful!


    June 2, 2021 at 02:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. EncoxHtf

    buy brand cialis online usa cialis in manitoba cialis doesn\'t work?

    June 2, 2021 at 04:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Larry Schrenk


    June 2, 2021 at 07:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. EncoxGtv

    no prescription pharmacy official canadian pharmacy complaints prescription drugs available in mexico

    June 2, 2021 at 08:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. rvtv youtube


    June 2, 2021 at 10:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. rv solar installation near me

    Excellent site you have got here.. It’s hard to find good quality writing like yours nowadays. I seriously appreciate people like you! Take care!!


    June 2, 2021 at 13:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. trailer shops near me

    Hey there! I just would like to offer you a big thumbs up for your excellent info you have got right here on this post. I am coming back to your site for more soon.


    June 2, 2021 at 19:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. free gay vidioes


    June 2, 2021 at 22:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. MileSwa

    curved penis and cialis how can i get cheaper cialis cialis ordering australia

    June 3, 2021 at 00:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. bus repair shops near me

    Howdy, I believe your web site may be having internet browser compatibility problems. Whenever I look at your site in Safari, it looks fine but when opening in IE, it's got some overlapping issues. I just wanted to provide you with a quick heads up! Aside from that, wonderful website!


    June 3, 2021 at 02:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Mercedes Sprinter 3.0 Intake Runner Repair

    bookmarked!!, I love your web site!


    June 3, 2021 at 04:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. RV Leak Near Me


    June 3, 2021 at 05:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Local Marketing Near Me

    After looking over a number of the blog posts on your site, I honestly appreciate your way of writing a blog. I bookmarked it to my bookmark website list and will be checking back soon. Take a look at my website as well and let me know your opinion.


    June 3, 2021 at 06:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. EncoxAni

    Verapamil canadian pharmacy that accepts paypal pharmacies near me

    June 3, 2021 at 09:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. RV Restoration Los Angeles

    I was able to find good info from your content.


    June 3, 2021 at 11:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Social Media Marketing Firms Near Me

    Right here is the perfect webpage for anyone who wishes to understand this topic. You realize a whole lot its almost hard to argue with you (not that I really will need to…HaHa). You definitely put a new spin on a subject which has been discussed for a long time. Great stuff, just excellent!


    June 3, 2021 at 12:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. rv furniture companies


    June 3, 2021 at 14:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Chevy G20 Van Repair

    I’m amazed, I must say. Seldom do I come across a blog that’s both educative and amusing, and let me tell you, you've hit the nail on the head. The issue is something too few folks are speaking intelligently about. I am very happy I came across this during my search for something concerning this.


    June 3, 2021 at 15:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Mercedes Diesel Repair


    June 3, 2021 at 16:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. rv repair near here


    June 3, 2021 at 16:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Mercedes Sprinter Service Near Me

    An interesting discussion is definitely worth comment. I do think that you ought to write more on this issue, it might not be a taboo matter but usually folks don't talk about such issues. To the next! Kind regards!!


    June 3, 2021 at 16:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. mobile rv generator repair near me

    Hi, I believe your website could possibly be having web browser compatibility issues. Whenever I take a look at your site in Safari, it looks fine however when opening in IE, it's got some overlapping issues. I just wanted to provide you with a quick heads up! Besides that, excellent website!


    June 3, 2021 at 16:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. rv repair riverside ca


    June 3, 2021 at 16:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Content Marketing Consultants


    June 3, 2021 at 21:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. how to repair rv blinds

    This is a great tip especially to those fresh to the blogosphere. Simple but very accurate infoÖ Thank you for sharing this one. A must read article!


    June 4, 2021 at 00:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. dashboard repair shops

    Having read this I believed it was very informative. I appreciate you spending some time and effort to put this content together. I once again find myself personally spending way too much time both reading and leaving comments. But so what, it was still worth it!


    June 4, 2021 at 01:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. SEO Marketing Consultant

    Excellent web site you have got here.. Itís hard to find good quality writing like yours nowadays. I really appreciate people like you! Take care!!


    June 4, 2021 at 01:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. rv repair videos


    June 4, 2021 at 02:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Dodge Sprinter Vacuum Pump Repair


    June 4, 2021 at 02:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. ross near me


    June 4, 2021 at 02:04 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

Leave a Reply to Norwest


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.