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7/23/18news article

perplexed about protein powder?

what parents need to know about teens trying to bulk up

It may be trendy for a teen trying to bulk up to swig a protein powder shake, but it’s not the best way to make that muscle. Here’s what moms and dads need to know about the protein powder craze.

Way? Whey? What?

Whey protein comes from regular old cow’s milk. When milk is made into cheese, the whey is extracted as a byproduct. So rather than toss it, people started turning it into powder.

Is it bad?

Not necessarily.  It’s a natural food substance and is a source of complete protein – providing all the essential amino acids.  However, it can leave teens dehydrated, mess with their weight and cause them to lose calcium in their bones. When taken in excess over a long period of time, it can damage the kidneys and the liver.

Is it necessary?

Not usually.  Most teens want to use it to help build muscle. Muscles grow stronger when they are torn during a workout, then rebuilt stronger. Protein helps that process. So while teen athletes do need more protein than the average teen, they probably are already getting the right amount through the food they eat. In fact, studies show that young athletes are already eating 2 to 3 times the recommended dietary allowance for protein! Chances are your teen’s body doesn’t need the protein powder, won’t digest it, and you are, quite literally, flushing your money down the toilet.

How much protein does my teen need?

Average teens need .4 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day.  Teen athletes need more - .5 to .7 grams per pound of body weight per day. 

Where can I get natural protein?

So many of a teen's favorite foods are already jam packed with protein, so there is no need to get it from a powder.  

That’s not even counting the protein you would be adding in smaller amounts from fruits and vegetables that round out your meals! And keep in mind teens normally eat more than just one serving of meat or pasta in a sitting, especially active teens.

If you do go the way of the whey…

  • Drink a lot of water – this helps the kidneys avoid stress and avoids dehydration.
  • Don’t go crazy – some of the powders can have up to 80 grams of protein, which will most likely be wasted in the next trip to the bathroom.
  • Know the risks – Too much protein and not enough water can lead to extreme damage to your kidneys. Also, since the FDA does not regulate these powders, manufacturers can add things you don’t want, like steroids or hormones.

Bottom line:

Protein powders are not necessary for most teen athletes – but a normal, healthy diet is.  They can get all they need, even during intense training, from just eating the right foods. So save your money and take your teen out to a nice family dinner instead!