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. Sprinter V6 Return Line Repair


    June 4, 2021 at 04:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Repair Body Rust On Sprinter Van

    Good article. I certainly love this site. Keep it up!


    June 4, 2021 at 09:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. EncoxGtv

    Lincocin importing drugs from canada vipps certified online pharmacy list

    June 4, 2021 at 11:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. flooring repair near me


    June 4, 2021 at 13:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. furniture store near me


    June 4, 2021 at 13:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Sprinter Alignent Repair

    You've made some decent points there. I looked on the net to find out more about the issue and found most people will go along with your views on this site.


    June 4, 2021 at 13:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Sprinter Van Mechanic

    I couldnít refrain from commenting. Well written!


    June 4, 2021 at 14:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. emergency rv repair near me


    June 4, 2021 at 17:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. CrulkAsd

    cialis no script cialis online 365 pills wallmart cialis

    June 4, 2021 at 23:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. EncoxDev

    legitimate canadian mail order pharmacies how to apply at cvs pharmacy online cialis 5mg canadian pharmacy

    June 5, 2021 at 00:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Google Marketing Experts


    June 5, 2021 at 00:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Sprinter Van Repair Shop


    June 5, 2021 at 01:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. good paint shops near me

    Great post! We will be linking to this great post on our website. Keep up the great writing.


    June 5, 2021 at 01:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. appliance repair near me


    June 5, 2021 at 01:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Start Error Mercedes Sprinter Repair

    I truly love your website.. Great colors & theme. Did you make this amazing site yourself? Please reply back as Iím planning to create my very own blog and want to find out where you got this from or just what the theme is named. Cheers!


    June 5, 2021 at 02:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. 2010 Sprinter Seat Belt Buckle Repair


    June 5, 2021 at 03:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Sprinter Heater Valve Repair

    I blog quite often and I seriously thank you for your information. Your article has truly peaked my interest. I will bookmark your site and keep checking for new information about once a week. I subscribed to your Feed as well.


    June 5, 2021 at 19:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. rv body shop

    Great information. Lucky me I found your website by accident (stumbleupon). I've book marked it for later!


    June 5, 2021 at 20:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. optometrist near me


    June 5, 2021 at 22:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. remodel near me

    You are so interesting! I don't believe I've read anything like that before. So good to discover another person with unique thoughts on this issue. Really.. thank you for starting this up. This site is one thing that is needed on the web, someone with a little originality!


    June 6, 2021 at 17:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Sprinter V6 Return Line Repair

    I absolutely love your blog.. Very nice colors & theme. Did you develop this website yourself? Please reply back as Iím planning to create my own blog and would like to learn where you got this from or just what the theme is called. Kudos!


    June 7, 2021 at 01:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Sprinter Van Repair San Diego


    June 7, 2021 at 01:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. EncoxHtf

    10mg cialis price best time to take cialis 5mg cialis memes

    June 7, 2021 at 14:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. ZisseVed

    what does cialis cost what to do when cialis stops working cialis strength

    June 7, 2021 at 15:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Zisseloh

    ordering cialis online is generic cialis available now? genaric cialis with dapoxetine

    June 7, 2021 at 16:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. t-mobile near me


    June 7, 2021 at 16:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. travel trailer slide out repair

    That is a great tip particularly to those fresh to the blogosphere. Simple but very precise infoÖ Thank you for sharing this one. A must read post!


    June 7, 2021 at 22:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. camper furniture replacement


    June 7, 2021 at 22:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. national interstate rv insurance

    Can I simply just say what a comfort to discover somebody who really knows what they are discussing on the net. You actually know how to bring an issue to light and make it important. More people should look at this and understand this side of your story. I can't believe you're not more popular since you definitely possess the gift.


    June 7, 2021 at 22:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. RV Tires Los Angeles


    June 7, 2021 at 22:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. orange county body shop


    June 8, 2021 at 10:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. rv and camper repair near me


    June 8, 2021 at 14:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. EncoxAni

    ed Femara no 1 canadian pharmacy

    June 8, 2021 at 15:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. EncoxDev

    canadian pharmacy meds coupon canadian pharmacy eliquis Epitol

    June 8, 2021 at 15:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. RV Mattresses Orange County


    June 8, 2021 at 16:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. perris collision

    Hello, I do believe your website might be having browser compatibility problems. Whenever I look at your web site in Safari, it looks fine however, if opening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping issues. I just wanted to provide you with a quick heads up! Other than that, excellent site!


    June 8, 2021 at 17:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. ZisseVed

    cialis20mg online how long until cialis works does cialis help bph

    June 8, 2021 at 22:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. MileSwa

    generic cialis prices cialis\\ cialis 80 mg

    June 9, 2021 at 01:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. EncoxHtf

    cialis lasts cialis brand no prescription needed buy cialis from mexico

    June 9, 2021 at 02:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Digital Marketing Agencies


    June 9, 2021 at 03:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. CrulkAsd

    to buy cialis generic cialis price at walmart 20mg cialis online

    June 9, 2021 at 03:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Somer Extine

    This website was... how do I say it? Relevant!! Finally I've found something which helped me. Thank you!


    June 9, 2021 at 11:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Julius Chatmon


    June 9, 2021 at 11:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Eugenie Scurci

    I blog often and I really thank you for your information. The article has really peaked my interest. I am going to bookmark your site and keep checking for new information about once a week. I subscribed to your Feed as well.

    June 9, 2021 at 11:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Internet Marketing Agency Near Me

    An impressive share! I have just forwarded this onto a colleague who had been conducting a little homework on this. And he in fact ordered me dinner because I stumbled upon it for him... lol. So let me reword this.... Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending time to talk about this topic here on your internet site.


    June 9, 2021 at 16:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Jame Mcmakin


    June 9, 2021 at 18:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Joella Carboni


    June 9, 2021 at 22:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Branden Heelan


    June 9, 2021 at 22:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Fern Williby

    I could not resist commenting. Exceptionally well written!

    June 9, 2021 at 22:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. rv repair near me now


    June 9, 2021 at 23:49 | 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 At Home Care Services


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.

March 2011
  • An error has occurred, which probably means the feed is down. Try again later.