Pardon the pun in the title, but when it comes to teens and protein powder, let’s get right to the point.
The teenage years are when some people will start getting into fitness and their health. Teenagers have huge appetites (Why do teenagers eat so much?), they’re growing quickly, they have a lot of energy, and many teens start taking working out more seriously, especially in their later teens.
A teenager who starts weight training and doing other types of exercise can make some serious gains. One of the first things that gets hammered into your brain when you start lifting weights is that you need to eat a lot of protein.
The most common way for people to get a lot of protein, without adding tons of calories to their diet, in a quick and convenient way, is by using protein powder.
So, it’s no wonder that teens are looking into protein powder as an effective supplement. If you’re a teen and you want to be cautious about what you’re putting into your body, or if you’re parent whose teen is suddenly asking for protein supplements or powders on the grocery list, here’s what you need to know…
Can Teenagers Take Protein Powder?
Yes, teenagers can safely take protein powder.
Teens are growing and their bodies need protein to build muscle. Protein is also great to help satisfy their strong appetites.
Let’s rethink the phrasing of saying “take” protein powder in the first place. Protein powder is a food. It’s just food. You mix it in with water or milk, and it makes a protein shake. It’s not some type of intense or extreme bodybuilding supplement, it’s literally just a simple way to supplement protein in your diet via food.
The only time it might not be a good idea is if the teenager is taking insane amounts of protein powder instead of just a scoop or two each day. Can teenagers take protein powder? Absolutely! But like everything, you don’t want to go too crazy or over the top with it. Taking protein powder can be a good supplement to the protein that’s already in a teen’s diet.
Obviously, double check the ingredients if the teenager has allergies to certain things. There are protein powders that are made with milk products/whey, and there are protein powders that are made with vegetables and other natural plants. Pea protein is an option that’s growing in popularity, for instance.
If a teenager isn’t allergic to the ingredients, there’s nothing to worry about when they start taking protein powder.
If they’re getting into this level of nutrition, chances are they are going to be taking their health seriously, they’re going to want to hit the gym and work out, and they’ll develop some really positive habits along the way.
As a parent, you want to keep an eye on a few things, but you needn’t worry about protein powder:
If they start taking less common types of supplements: A teen doesn’t need a medicine cabinet filled with everything off the shelves at GNC, some of those products can start to get a bit weird once you go beyond protein/creatine (which are two standards that are heavily tested and safe).
If they’re developing body issues: The same way that some people will be anorexic and not see their bodies how they actually are, the same can happen when teens feel like they’re never big enough and they need to do anything they can to get bigger at the gym.
If you suspect they’re using other types of “supplements”: Sometimes, the progress at the gym slows a bit, and teenagers will start taking products to increase their testosterone levels or to help them train harder. This is a huge red flag, and they can cause serious harm to their bodies, their heart health, and more. At that point, it’s time to take a step back and realize tings have gone way beyond simple protein powder.
But protein powder is totally fine, totally safe, and a great way for teens to have a filling snack on the go or to work towards their muscle-growth goals.
How Much Protein Powder Should a Teenager Take?
A teenager should take as much protein powder as they need to meet their protein requirements.
If they also eat a lot of meat, or have other sources of protein, they won’t need to supplement as much with powder.
How much protein does a teenager need?
A teenage boy needs about 50-60 grams of protein a day, and a teenager girl needs about 40-50 grams.
This can vary. A larger teen might want to take a bit more protein, and someone very petite might need a bit less.
It’s really easy to get 50 grams of protein in a day, even without powder or supplementing it at all.
Most protein powders will have around 20-30 grams in a scoop or two, so check the label.
A scoop or two a day isn’t going to put a teenager overboard, especially if they’re exercising a lot and trying to grow muscle. If they start taking way more scoops, as well as eating a lot of meat, then that’s getting into overboard territory and not just diminishing returns but potential negative effects.
So, stick with a scoop or two of protein powder before a workout and a teenager will be in great form.
Protein Powder Is Just Fine for Teens to Take
Can teens take protein powder? Definitely! Just check for allergies, check how much protein they’re already getting in their diet, and try not to go too far overboard compared to what’s recommended.
Also, remember that someone who just turned 13 is in a much different stage than someone whose about to turn 20, so that impacts the recommended guidelines, too. An older teen will need more protein if they’re working out, compared to a younger teen.
That’s the answer to the question “Can teenagers take protein powder?”. The answer is yes, they can. Most teens will get as much protein as they need within a regular balanced diet, however a teenager who is working out and trying to build muscle could benefit from additional protein.