What Age Can You Start Taking Protein Powder?

It can be tempting for teens to add protein powder to their diet in the hope of improving athletic performance or gaining weight and muscle mass. However, HealthyChildren.org, a website of the American Academy of Pediatrics, discourages the use of sports supplements, which are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration for safety or efficacy and may contain harmful ingredients. Teens should talk to their pediatrician or a registered dietitian if they have questions about getting enough protein in their diet.

An assortment of protein powders and healthy seeds on a counter.
Credit: Marek Uliasz/iStock/Getty Images

Protein from Food Sources

Teens can get enough protein from whole foods like meat, eggs and nuts, as well as from milk, which is rich in the whey protein found in many protein powders. Drinking milk, even chocolate milk, after resistance workouts may increase lean muscle mass. Teen boys 14 to 18 need about 52 grams of protein daily, girls slightly less. Adding excessive amounts of protein to your diet will not by itself increase your muscle mass -- you need exercise for this. A well-balanced diet will nourish your body with more than just protein.

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