In the vast majority of cases, children do not need a high protein diet plan. The amount of protein children need is only .55 grams per pound from ages 1-3, .5 grams per pound for children ages 4 to 6 and .45grams per pound for kids 7 to 14 years old. This means a 3 year old who weighs 28 pounds needs 15.4 grams of protein per day. Considering there are 7 grams of protein in each ounce of meat, and 8 grams in ounces of milk, getting the right amount of protein in your child’s diet should not be difficult.
Some great sources of protein include meat such as chicken, fish, beef and pork. Dairy products children usually like are milk, cheese and yogurt. Tofu and soy products, beans, legumes and nut butters are also high protein foods you may want to give your child.
To create a high protein diet plan for your child, include one protein containing food in every meal or snack and she will get all the protein she needs. A sample high protein diet plan could look something like this:
Breakfast: 1 egg (7g protein) 1 slice whole wheat bread (2 grams protein) 4 ounces milk (4g protein)
Snack: 1 apple 4 ounces milk (4g protein)
Lunch: 1 ounces turkey on 1 slice whole wheat bread (16g protein) .5 cups carrots 4 ounces yogurt (4 grams) 4 ounces milk (4g protein)
Snack: 2 ounces hummus (4g protein) 1 cup cut up vegetables
Dinner: 3 ounces chicken (21g protein) .5 cups broccoli 4 ounces milk (4 grams) .5 cups pasta (2 grams)
This high protein diet plan contains 72 grams of protein, far more than what children need. Most toddlers are able to easily get their protein needs from milk and very small amounts of protein containing foods such as cheese, yogurt or meat. The average toddler needs 15 to 20 grams of protein per day. If they are getting 16 to 18 ounces of cow’s milk or soy milk they will get ~14 grams from milk. Throw in 1 egg or 1 ounce of meat and you have an additional 7 grams, making the total protein intake for the day 21 grams. This is without extra grams they get from vegetables and whole grains!
Children with failure to thrive or ones who are below the growth charts need slightly more protein than healthy weight children. The difference is minimal however, and again a child drinking cow’s milk or some type of high protein milk or yogurt usually does not have a problem meeting this need.
To calculate protein needs for underweight children you take the difference from their current weight and their weight at the 50th percentile. Add this to their current weight and multiply it by the number recommended for age. This calculates needs for catch up growth.
For example, if you have a 2 year old who weighs 19 pounds and is below the 3rd percentile weight for age but 50th percentile height for age, her weight at the 50th percentile should be 26.5 pounds. The amount of protein needed for catch up growth would be calculated as follows:
26.5 (desired weight) -19 (current weight) = 7.5 pounds (difference).
7.5 X.5= 3.75pounds (Halfway between current weight and desired weight).
19 pounds (current weight) + 3.75 pounds = 22.75
22.75 pounds x .5g protein/pound = 11.3 grams of protein per day. It’s still not much over the course of a day, but instead of .5 grams per pound of actual weight she needs .6 grams per pound, which is 20% more protein then if we based it on actual weight.
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