Getting Enough Protein for Kids
We all know that protein is an important nutrient for our kids’ bodies, but what do we really need to know about protein, and how much protein for kids enough?
Protein is found in many different kinds of foods. It can be found in meat, dairy products, and many vegetables. Protein that comes from animal sources are called “complete proteins” because it has all nine essential amino acids. Protein from plant sources (like beans, legumes, broccoli, etc) are called “incomplete proteins” because they lack one or more of the essential amino acids. The amazing thing about our bodies and incomplete proteins is that if you eat a variety of protein-packed foods that contain incomplete proteins, your body can actually combine the incomplete proteins so to ensure it gets all of the essential amino acids it needs! Lean cuts of red meat, fish, poultry, beans, nuts, and low-fat dairy products are just a few foods that are great sources of protein for kids.
Benefits of Protein
Protein for kids is essential for building, maintaining, and replacing the tissues in their bodies. Muscles, organs, and the immune system are mostly made up of protein. Whether your children are running around, or sitting in class, protein is doing important tasks like moving their legs, moving their lungs and protecting them from disease! Protein helps bodies grow and move so growing children need more protein than adults do. Growing kids need about 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight while adults only need about 1/2 gram of protein per pound of body weight.
It’s not hard to get enough protein for kids because it is in many foods and adds up quickly! For example:
- 2 tablespoons peanut butter: 7 grams protein
- 1 cup low-fat milk: 8 grams protein
- 1 ounce or two domino-sized pieces of cheddar cheese: 7 grams protein
- 1.5 ounces chicken breast: 10.5 grams protein
- ½ cup broccoli: 2 grams protein
You can always choose your own combination of protein-filled foods that you know your child will love!