Can kids eat protein bars?
In this article, we will address the query “Can kids eat protein bars?” Additionally, it presents relevant information regarding the role of proteins in children, what you have to take into account regarding safety of protein bars in children, and what options you can consider as a replacement of protein bars.
Can kids eat protein bars?
Yes, kids can eat protein bars. In fact, some food manufacturers are starting to promote high-protein bars and snacks for alleviating malnutrition worldwide (1).
Protein bars are high energy dense snack foods that contain approximately between 20 and 50 % protein, 30 to 40 % carbohydrates, and normally no more than 15 % fats. Normally, protein bars are related to sports performance and muscle gain (2).
Besides, protein bars are normally elaborated with Whey protein isolate or Casein; these are milk’s proteins with high biological value. The high quality of milk’s proteins make them suitable for improving kids’ growth and development (3).
What is the importance of protein in children’s development?
Overall, protein is an essential nutrient in the human diet for the correct functioning of the metabolism. Proteins are needed for creating tissues, cells (such as immune cells), hormones, muscles, and organs (4,5).
In children, the protein deficiency has several drawbacks not only in growth, but also in the whole development of children. For example, protein malnutrition could impair the correct functions of organs like the liver or the heart (4,5).
Moreover, protein malnutrition can also increase the risks of infectious diseases, which can be deadly for children. In fact, gastrointestinal infections are one of the main causes of death in children under 5 years old (4,5).
How do protein bars compare to other snack options for children?
Popular snack options for children include high sugar beverages, industrialized juices, industrialized bakery products with high sugar and high saturated fat, salty fried chips, and cereal bars with high sugar content (6).
Snacks with high sugar and high saturated fat content are associated with a higher risk of overweight and obesity (6).
In contrast to high sugar and saturated fat snacks, protein bars can provide better nutrition for kids. If the kid is physically active, proteins can be used for muscle development; on the other hand, sugars and saturated fats are mainly stored as energy (7).
Are there any potential risks or drawbacks associated with kids eating protein bars?
Yes, there is an increase in milk’s protein allergy, mainly in children under 5 years old. Allergic reactions could present a wide range of symptoms, from abdominal discomfort like inflammation or flatulence to severe reactions like anaphylaxis (8).
An alternative for kids with milk’s protein allergy could be soy protein bars or bars with hydrolyzed whey protein. The best and the safest option is to choose a soy protein instead of a milk derivative protein (8).
What are some alternative protein-rich snacks for kids?
If you do not want to give a protein bar to your child, another alternative of high-protein snacks is Greek yogurt (9).
Greek yogurt contains high protein concentration (9 %) and it also provides high quality proteins (10). You can incorporate nuts into the Greek yogurt to improve the protein content and add some healthy fats (Omega-3) and fiber (7).
Here are some recipes for desserts with Greek yogurt that you can try!
In this article, we addressed the query “Can kids eat protein bars?” Additionally, it presented relevant information regarding the role of proteins in children, what you have to take into account regarding safety of protein bars in children, and what options you can consider as a replacement of protein bars.
- Ananthan P, Sharma GK, Semwal AD. Energy bars: A perfect choice of nutrition to all. In: Advances in Processing Technology. 1st Edition. London: CRC Press; 2021. p. 309–32.
- Jovanov P, Sakač M, Jurdana M, Pražnikar ZJ, Kenig S, Hadnađev M, et al. High-protein bar as a meal replacement in elite sports nutrition: a pilot study. Foods, 2021;10(11):2628.
- Batista MA, Campos NCA, Silvestre MPC. Whey and protein derivatives: Applications in food products development, technological properties and functional effects on child health. Cogent Food Agric, 2018;4(1):1509687.
- Otiti MI, Allen SJ. Severe acute malnutrition in low- and middle-income countries. Paediatr Child Health, 2021;31(8):301–7.
- Rodríguez L, Cervantes E, Ortiz R. Malnutrition and gastrointestinal and respiratory infections in children: a public health problem. Int J Environ Res Public Health, 2011;8(4):1174–205.
- Blaine RE, Kachurak A, Davison KK, Klabunde R, Fisher JO. Food parenting and child snacking: a systematic review. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act, 2017;14(1):146.
- Rehm CD, Drewnowski A. Replacing American snacks with tree nuts increases consumption of key nutrients among US children and adults: results of an NHANES modeling study. Nutr J, 2017;16(1).
- Dahdah L, Roelofs M, Knipping K, de Vries E, Rijnierse A, Garssen J, et al. Hypoallergenicity assessment of an extensively hydrolyzed whey-protein formula in cow’s milk allergic infants. Pediatr Allergy Immunol, 2022;33(6):e13814.
- Marette A, Picard-Deland E. Yogurt consumption and impact on health: focus on children and cardiometabolic risk. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 2014;99(5):1243S-1247S.
- FoodData central [Internet]. Usda.gov. [cited 2023 May 23]. Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170903/nutrients