Rear view of young people running together on race track

Can Teens Take Protein Powder?

Protein powder is perhaps the most well-known and widely used fitness supplement on the market.

It’s recommended constantly by health experts, fitness gurus, and athletes due to its nutritional benefits and the fact that it can serve multiple purposes in one’s diet.

While it’s clear that protein is recommended for adults and is completely beneficial for their diets, parents of teen athletes often wonder whether it’s safe for their children to consume this supplement.

In this article, we’re going to talk about just that — is protein powder safe for teens, can they take it, and what’s the recommended daily dosage?

Additionally, we will discuss the different types of protein powders on the market and which ones might be more suitable for younger people.

So, if that sounds like something you want to learn more about, then keep on reading.

Chocolate Protein Shake Smoothie with Whey Protein Powder and Red Dumbbells

Can Teens Take Protein Powder?

If just a few years back it was only athletes who had a vast interest in supplements, now it seems like every other influencer is a dedicated gym-goer who’s giving advice on diet and nutrition.

Naturally, this has led to more and more teenagers having gym memberships and training regularly — so far, so good.

But along with regular training and healthy eating, the fitness culture comes with a sort of cult-like belief in supplements — starting from all kinds of protein powders to creatine, BCAA, and other types of pre and post-workout drinks. 

Thanks to the money and the effort put into marketing by all of these brands, many teenagers and young adults start to believe that their results in the gym depend entirely on whether they’re getting all of these supplements — a thought process that’s entirely incorrect.

However, the obsession with taking protein and other supplements has many parents wondering and questioning whether that’s safe for their children. 

To put it clearly — protein powders are safe for teens. However, they’re not always recommended.

Allow me to elaborate. There’s nothing inherently dangerous with protein supplementation — after all, it’s a vital macronutrient that our bodies need in order to grow muscles, strengthen our bones, and ultimately feel healthier and stronger. 

With that said the problem with a lot of the protein powders on the market is that they haven’t been third-party tested — thus, they’re not FDA approved, and most of the time, you cannot be certain that all of their ingredients are what one would define as healthy. 

For parents with teens who are regularly training or are athletes, it’s important to look for protein powders without sucralose or any other kind of artificial sweeteners and also for ones that are organic and FDA-approved.

However, if you manage to get the healthiest kind of protein powder out there, it’s still vital to regulate supplementation — meaning teens shouldn’t be overconsuming protein powder or choosing it instead of having protein from whole food sources such as fish, chicken, bean, and so on. 

Should Teens Be Drinking Protein Powder? 

Now, the fact that we’ve said that protein powder is safe for teenagers doesn’t necessarily mean they should be drinking it daily or using it in their diet instead of consuming whole food sources such as all kinds of meat, fish, beans, lentils and many other natural sources of this vital macronutrient. 

Protein powders can be extremely useful in cases where the kid lacks appetite, is very picky towards some foods (especially meat and dairy), or has to combine school and training, leaving it with little time to prepare and eat big meals throughout the day. 

How Much Protein Do Teenagers Need? 

For teenagers who train regularly, it’s recommended to eat about 1.0 to 1.4 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, which is a little higher compared to what non-athlete teens need.

This extra protein is required due to the fact that they’re building more muscle, and it can help them sustain development, growth, and muscle repair. 

It’s also good for fueling grueling workout sessions or two-a-day training.

If we take time to do the math, a 150lb athlete in their teens should consume around 80 grams of protein, or 20 grams more compared to their peers.

However, you probably won’t be surprised to learn that most young athletes nowadays consume almost double the recommended protein intake.

What are the Side Effects of Protein Overconsumption? 

Young athletes and teens in general should never be on high protein, low carb diets.

Too much protein can lead to many issues for training teenagers, as it can’t be stored in the body, so our digestive system has to work extra hard to process it — using energy and water, two resources that are vital for all athletes, regardless of their age.

Eventually, all of that protein that the body doesn’t need will turn into fat, and it can also cause loss of appetite, nausea, and extra stress to the liver and kidneys.

Basically, it’s vital to remember to do all things in moderation — a protein shake before or after a workout can be extremely beneficial if you’re hungry, short on time, and there’s nothing else to eat.

However, having shakes twice or three times a day and using them as a way to avoid eating whole foods is definitely detrimental and will not lead to any positive results. 

In Conclusion

Protein powders are an incredibly beneficial, safe supplement for adults, both for those who train and for those who want to live a healthier lifestyle.

They’re also incredibly well-marketed and often recommended at all times by all kinds of influencers and fitness gurus.

Having said that, when it comes to supplementation during someone’s teenage years, it’s generally recommended to consume protein from whole food sources instead of relying on powders.

With that said, FDA-approved protein powders are completely safe as long as they’re taken in moderation — not more than once a day and mainly on those days when you simply don’t have the time to eat or prepare a good meal.