High-protein shakes for kids

Updated June 19, 2018

All human beings need adequate amounts of protein for good health. Protein provides amino acids for muscle growth, organ development and a healthy immune system. You can obtain protein from meats, tofu, dairy, beans, nuts, eggs and fish. If your child is resistant to eating regular food sources of protein, you might be concerned about his health. High-protein shakes may help kids get the protein they need in a more palatable form.

Average protein needs

Younger children need less protein than older children because of size and energy needs. Children between the ages of 1 and 3 years need just 13g of protein per day; 4-to-8-year-olds years need 19g; children ages 9 to 13 years need 34g; and girls ages 14 to 18 years need 46g daily, while boys ages 14 to 18 years need 52g daily. A 28g/1oz serving of chicken offers 9g of protein. Many high-protein shakes contain between 20 and 40g of protein, which may be more than some young children need.


Protein deficiency is rare, even in children who seem to eat very little high-protein foods. High-protein shakes may not be necessary for the average kid, but those suffering from cancer or other wasting diseases may benefit from high-protein shakes. Children with cancer may need more calories and protein to tolerate treatment and boost immunity. Often, these children have poor appetites and benefit from high-protein shakes. Before adding protein shakes to your child’s diet, speak to your health care provider.

Commercial options

Commercial high-protein shake supplements offer a convenient option. These shakes come in a variety of flavors that may appeal to your child. Many of these shakes are high in sugar, however, and include added vitamins and minerals rather than those that are naturally occurring. Check with your doctor before adding these as part of your child’s diet.

Homemade options

Make your own high-protein shakes at home with whole, natural ingredients to ensure minimal added sugar and maximum nutrition. Include high-protein ingredients such as whey or soy protein powder, milk, yogurt, nut butters and dry milk powder along with fresh or frozen fruit and juice. Usually, homemade high-protein shakes are high in calories as well.

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About the Author

Andrea Cespedes is a professionally trained chef who has focused studies in nutrition. With more than 20 years of experience in the fitness industry, she coaches cycling and running and teaches Pilates and yoga. She is an American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer, RYT-200 and has degrees from Princeton and Columbia University.