Best Protein Powder for Teenagers: What to Look For (and Avoid)
What's the Best Protein Powder for Teenagers?
Between school, sports, and social activities, it can be challenging for teens to get enough protein to support their growth, development, and overall health. Thankfully, we live in an age where there are numerous options when it comes to protein powder for teens.
However, with myriad protein powders on the market, from whey to plant-based varieties, navigating the protein powder aisle at the local supplement store can be daunting for both teenagers and their parents. Each type of protein powder comes with its own set of benefits and considerations, so how do you choose the right one for your teen?
Read on as we discuss the importance of protein for teenagers, how to identify the best protein powder for teens, and the safe use of protein supplements.
The Importance of Protein for Teens
For teenagers (and all humans), protein serves as a fundamental building block of life, essential for tissue growth, maintenance, and development. Moreover, the (essential) amino acids in dietary protein support muscle building, tissue repair, immune system functioning, neurotransmitter production, and much more throughout our lifespan.
Teens who don't eat enough protein may experience slower growth, delayed puberty, weakened immunity, and even behavioral issues . To ensure your teenager is getting adequate protein, it’s important to include a variety of protein-rich foods in their diet, such as lean meat, poultry, eggs, seafood, Greek yogurt, and protein powder (if needed).
If your teen struggles to meet their daily protein requirements through whole foods, adding protein powder to their routine can be a game-changer. A high-quality protein powder makes it easier for teens to consume ample protein every day for muscle growth, recovery from physical activity, and healthy development.
Protein powders for teens come in various flavors and types, making it pertinent to find a product that suits their taste and dietary preferences. Whether your teen is hitting the gym to improve for a sport or is regularly involved in athletic competition, protein shakes can help fuel their success.
With that in mind, here are the two key questions to consider when purchasing protein powder for teens:
"What Are Their Dietary Preferences?"
While whey protein powder is arguably the best option for teens who tolerate milk-based products, there are also protein powders for teens with dietary preferences/restrictions, such as vegans and those with food allergies. Meeting daily protein requirements can be especially challenging for teenagers who don't consume animal products, but the right vegan protein powder can help close the gap.
So, how much protein do teenagers actually need, particularly if they're active and want to build/maintain muscle mass? The recommended minimum daily protein intake for adolescents (~10-19 years old) is 0.4 – 0.45 grams of protein per pound of body weight (or 0.8-0.9 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight) . This means a 130-lb teen should eat no less than ~52 grams of protein per day.
We can reasonably infer that a slightly higher protein intake is beneficial for muscle growth, especially in active teenagers who lift weights . Thus, increasing daily protein intake to 0.5-0.6 grams of protein per pound of body weight may be prudent for teens.
Carefully selecting a protein powder will pay dividends towards your teen getting enough protein daily, no matter how busy their schedule gets.
"What Are Their Taste Preferences?"
As any parent knows, children can be picky eaters. If your teenager hates the taste of something, odds are they're not going to be consistently eating it (even if you tell them it's for their health). Naturally, finding a protein supplement that doesn't trigger your teen's gag reflex will help them reach their daily protein quota.
Fortunately, protein supplements have come a long way regarding flavor and mouthfeel, so it's not hard to find something palatable for even the pickiest tastebuds.
Transparent Labs Protein Powder Options for Teenagers
The process of selecting the right protein powder for your teen necessitates a careful assessment of their protein requirements, dietary restrictions (if applicable), and flavor preferences. By considering these factors, you can rest easy knowing you're selecting the best protein powder to support your teenager’s health and wellness goals.
The following sections will help you decide which Transparent Labs protein powder is best for your teen:
Transparent Labs Grass-Fed Whey Protein Isolate
Transparent Labs Grass-Fed Whey Protein Isolate is the top choice for teens without a dairy allergy, offering high-quality whey protein, natural ingredients, and a variety of flavors. This 100% grass-fed whey protein powder provides a whopping 28 grams of protein from whey protein isolate per 32-gram serving while being virtually lactose-free. Importantly, the product contains absolutely no artificial ingredients.
And about those flavors, your teen will appreciate the 15 mouthwatering options, like cinnamon french toast, oatmeal chocolate chip cookie, cereal splash, and chocolate peanut butter.
Transparent Labs Organic Vegan (Plant-Based Protein Powder)
Plant-based protein powders, like pea protein and rice protein, are a fantastic option for vegan/plant-based teens and those with food allergies. Transparent Labs Organ Vegan protein powder fits the bill as it's made with hypoallergenic rice and pea protein to provide a complete profile of essential amino acids while being free from animal products/ingredients. Even better, it contains absolutely no GMOs, soy protein, added sugar, or artificial junk.
Each 37-gram scoop of this product packs 24 grams of protein and comes in rich chocolate and French vanilla flavors.
Specialty Protein Powders: Casein Protein and Mass Gainers
For teens with specific dietary preferences and goals, specialty protein powders like casein and mass gainers may be beneficial. Transparent Labs 100% Grass-Fed Casein protein, for example, is an excellent "nighttime" protein powder for teens since it provides pure micellar casein protein that digests much slower than whey protein powder.
Likewise, if your teen is very active and struggles to ingest enough protein and calories to support (muscle) growth, they may be a good candidate for a mass gainer. Essentially, mass gainers are calorie-dense protein powders thanks to the inclusion of carb and fat sources. Transparent Labs Mass Gainer (which is also available as a vegan formula), unlike most mass gainers, contains grass-fed whey protein concentrate plus whole-food ingredients that provide quality fats and complex, easy-to-digest carbohydrates.
What About Collagen?
Unless your teenager has a condition that perturbs collagen production, they shouldn't need—nor are they likely to benefit from—a collagen supplement, as collagen production is naturally elevated during adolescence.
Protein Powder for Teens: Is it Safe?
Protein powder can offer significant value to your teen’s diet, but it’s vital they consume it safely (i.e. not in excess). This may involve consulting a healthcare professional (e.g. a dietitian) and balancing wholefood protein sources with protein shakes. Taking these precautions will support your teenager’s health and wellness goals without exposing them to potential risks associated with excessive protein intake.
Avoiding Excessive Protein Intake
Consuming excessive protein over long periods can make it harder to stay hydrated, and it may place added stress on the kidneys while hindering calcium balance .
Being vigilant about your teenager’s protein intake will set the foundation for their eating habits into adulthood and help them understand how much protein is necessary for their specific body.
Balancing Whole Foods and Supplements
Protein powders present a convenient option for supplementing your teen’s protein intake, but they are not intended to replace whole foods and a balanced diet. Some foods that are rich in protein include:
Ensuring your teen eats several servings of protein-rich foods daily will go a long way in helping them grow and develop appropriately.
Protein Powder for Teens: Key Takeaways
Choosing the right protein powder for teens can be a little tricky, but it's not as complicated as it may seem. By considering factors such as protein needs, ingredient quality, and flavor preferences, you can make an informed decision and provide your teen with a convenient way to meet their protein requirements.
A key takeaway from this article is the importance of balance and education. Protein powders should not replace whole food sources of protein but rather supplement them. Parents play a crucial role in guiding their teenagers so they understand the value of wholesome foods and a balanced diet.
Moreover, teens looking to take protein supplements should be aware that "more" isn't necessarily "better." Consuming excessive amounts of protein won't lead to "extra" muscle growth and may cause other health issues.
But with the right approach, protein powders can be a safe and effective tool to encourage proper growth and development during adolescence.