Q: My child isn’t a huge meat eater; how can I make sure she’s getting enough protein?
A: Great question and an important one, as protein is the key macronutrient—a type of food required in the human diet—for growing muscles to both recover and repair after a practice.
Ellie Kempton, MSN, RD, owner of Simply Nourished Nutrition in Denver, Colorado, recommends that young athletes have protein in most of their snacks and meals.
“Aim for about 10-15 grams of protein for a snack, and 20-25 grams of protein at a meal,” she suggests.
Some good options to help reach these amounts are:
- Cottage cheese: 25 grams of protein per cup
- Greek yogurt: About 15 grams of protein per serving
- Hardboiled eggs: 6 grams of protein per egg
- String cheese: About 6-7 grams of protein per 1-ounce serving
- Black beans: 6 grams of protein per ½ cup
- Pancake mixes like FlapJacked or Kodiak, which have extra protein (about 20 g per serving)
Try to maximize protein intake in the morning and afternoon for picky eaters. “At the end of a long day, kids want to eat what they like—they’re just like adults in that respect,” Kempton says.
Here are a couple of other quick protein-packed recipes you can prepare for your athlete to snack on: