Episode 10 – Protein For Kids With Dr. Davis
In this episode, Dr. Chana Davis (a Stanford Genetics PHD) joins me to talk about how much protein kids really need and the best way to get it. She dispels a few common myth surrounding protein, we debate quality versus quantity and she gives us an inside view on what her kids eat to hit their protein intake.
- Chana Davis Introduction (1:26)
- How Society Shifts The Perspective (4:54)
- Developing Kids Taste Buds (6:03)
- A Note On Dairy & Balance (7:35)
- What Are Proteins (9:06)
- Why Do We Need Protein (11:38)
- How Much Protein Do Kids Need (15:12)
- How Many Calories Do Kids Need (18:16)
- How To Avoid Weighing Food (18:46)
- Kids Who Love Veggies
- Quality Versus Quantity (23:30)
- Plant-Based Protein Versus Meat Proteins (24:42)
- Quality Supplements (26.22)
- Soy As A Protein Source (27:42)
- Non-Dairy Milks & Yogurts (29.47)
- How Do I Know My Kids Are Getting Enough Protein? (32:05)
- The Best Proteins Choices For Kids (34:42)
- Whole Grain Pastas (42:20)
- Healthy Food For Kids (44:45)
- Wrap Up (47:51)
- Mentioned In The Podcast
- Connect With Chana
Protein For Kids With Dr. Davis
Welcome to the fit of the mama bear podcast. I’m Shelby, a certified strength coach, nutrition coach, mama to two and all-around health gut. This show is about a little bit of everything, healthy, fit and natural related. So, if you’re striving to smash gold, eat better and feel better and enjoy the occasional mom rant. This is the place for you. You’re listening into episode 10 today where I’ll be chatting with Dr. Shauna Davis, a Stanford genetics PhD, mom of three and the founder of the blog Fueled by Science.
All right, thanks for listening in today everyone as I sit down and pick the brain of an amazingly awesome researcher, Dr. Davis. The funny thing is her and I met online and I became an avid follower of her Instagram page, mainly because she’s a scientist and I fully respect that. I adore people like her because reading research reviews kind of puts me to sleep.
So, having someone I can bounce questions off of and ideas and ask for advice when I’m a bit overwhelmed with the entire world of nutrition and who also believes in healthy eating is amazing. We kind of go back and forth on the gram and I truly love her content. Check her out.
Before we get into today’s topic and which I’m really excited about to be honest, although I do have 1,001 questions for and we can only answer so many. Dr. Davis, why don’t you tell us a bit more about yourself, how you got where you are, and give a brief summary on why you believe healthy food choices are crucial, especially when it comes to our kids.
Okay. That’s a lot of questions to question number one, but let’s go. A bit about myself and how I got to be where I am. So I guess I consider myself sort of like you. A mom first and foremost, I have three kids. I boy who’s eight and twin girls who are three and a half.
And as you know, once you become a mom, everything else kind of pills in comparison when you sort of your self identity. Before having kids, I probably would have said first and foremost, I’m a scientist, so now I’m guessing I’m a hybrid of the two. I’ve always loved genetics.
Even in high school that was clear it was going to be my focus. I did my undergraduate in genetics here in Vancouver where I’m from at UBC, and then I moved to California and did my PhD in genetics at Stanford.
I met and married a fellow science nerd and then dragged him back to Vancouver. So after, after we had our first, we decided to move closer to my family. I joked that it was part of the prenup that he had to be willing to move back to Vancouver. Even though it was tough for this very sun loving beach volleyball player to move up here. It’s been great in Vancouver, but there isn’t as much biotech up here. That’s kind of what I was doing previously. After my PhD, I worked at Genentech and cancer research, particularly on the personalized medicine side of it. So pairing drug with a diagnostic.
My first job up in Vancouver, I worked at genome BC, a research founders are looking at opportunities for genomics and personalized. So, I did that for for a while and then I got pregnant with twins and after they came along I thought; “I don’t know if I want to go back to doing what I’m doing”.
I also turned 40 around that time. So, I was really just reflecting on what’s important to me that brought me into this new chapter in my career. This new chapter of my career, my tag or handle is fueled by science. And really, I have two different focuses that are very much overlapping.
One is to support, just very broadly to support people and especially parents in making science- based fact-based decisions. I see a lot of my friends struggling with fears, basically getting messages from media that there’s arsenic in my oatmeal or my kids rice cereal. Should I stop feeding them all of these? It’s hard to know what to believe. And you just feel paralyzed.
So, I want to help people make science-based decisions. Especially parents because that’s who I assort with. And then secondly is just plant-based nutrition.
So I happened to have been raised vegetarian and then I shifted towards vegan in my thirties. Then I sort of went back and forth between vegetarian and vegan.
Right now I’m plant-based and my kids are vegetarian and I want to help others who are interested in being more plant-based but have concerns such as, “am I going to get enough protein?”. “Am I going to get enough iron?”. “How do I meet my needs without meat?”.
I want to help people to do that., I don’t want to see people holding back from going more plant-based because of nutritional concerns because those can be addressed.
I love that. We personally eat well. Actually, that’s a lie. I eat very plant-based and my husband eats the exact opposite of me. But it makes it kind of funny. And my girls are awesome eaters just because that’s all they kind of know.
But it’s true, even as a nutrition coach, you’re bombarded with messages about everything that is wrong with food and it’s petrifying and it’s hard to sort through everything.
And then when you become a mom, it makes it a hundred times worse because you want your kids to be healthy. And there’s about 82,000 paths to that.
And a lot of people want you to buy their products and they try and make you buy their products by making you scared of other products.
It’s overwhelming, I think. And so just one quick word on like your last question. I think the last part of the first question was why are healthy choices important?
I mean, when I think about I, I joke that my job is chief nutrition officer of the household. When I think about that job, one of my roles is literally fueling the growth of my children. But the second and equally important role is shaping their pallets and shaping their mental concept of what a meal is.
Oh my gosh, I am so happy that you mentioned pallets! It’s not even funny because that’s one thing I rant about quite frequently in my house is that you only have so much time to me to kind of shape their taste buds and get and see what kids enjoy.
And if they just get used to all the healthy things and they’ll gravitate towards them.
Totally. My husband is pescatarian and he loves dairy. And so it’s a bit of a sore point sometimes because I’m becoming more and more ethically uncomfortable with dairy, but yet he’s takes a very firm stance that we will have cheese in this house.
And so, I provide my kids with both vegan cheese and cow cheese so they get a taste for vegan cheese. My son actually prefers vegan cheese. He will eat both, but he, he sees no problem with it where my husband is literally spitting it out and disgusted by it.
Yeah. We are in the exact same situation because I’m now dairy free. I never used to be. So I think that’s a little bit of a hard adjustment for everyone. It’s not that I’m fully against dairy, I just don’t see it that it needs to be there.
I guess is the biggest thing is that it’s just a want. And so, we have both cheeses also. My husband is a really, really big dairy person. And when we get into, and I have to remind him that you can get around the dairy thing, it’s not crucial for kids.
My husband grew up drinking bottles of milk. And my kids drink soy milk almost exclusively. But my husband is usually out of town. So I get to basically offer non-dairy during the week. And then on the weekends, if he’s sitting there having life cereal with cow milk they want to have some of what he’s having and so they can have it.
I don’t want to make a huge deal out of it, but I, but kids just view soy milk and cow milk as two different options. They don’t really think about one being inferior. They definitely have a taste for soy milk because that’s their main option. But they also enjoy it when they want to have what he’s having.
We’re trying to find a little bit of a balance rate there right now just with my oldest wanting to eat daddy’s food. I twitch a little bit in the corner. It’s a little bit of a balancing act in our house.
So why don’t we get into the biggest topics today? As I mentioned, we are going to talk about protein and kids, most specifically, their needs. I want to set the record straight on what they really need and the reason I asked Dr. Davis on here is because she gives a new perspective and genuine knowledge to questions everyday moms have.
And one of those questions is always about protein! So, protein and kids is a hot topic and while I’m all for kids developing and boosting their immune systems and growing, I also don’t think that they need to be pounding back chicken breasts and broccoli every couple of hours. What is your stand on why kiddos need protein?
I think this is a actually a great question to start with. First of all, what does protein do in your body? Protein is a major actual building block of your body. What is your body made up of? Your body is mostly water, but then the next biggest chunk is actually protein. And within those proteins, you know which proteins are in your body as building blocks. Your muscles have a lot of protein in them, but also your skin, your blood and other parts of you already have a lot of protein in them as well. Your number one protein just by, by the numbers and by mass and your body is collagen.
So the protein in your skin and that’s the most abundant protein in your body and myosin and muscles is the next most abundant, followed by hemoglobin in your blood.
Proteins are literally building blocks of your body in the case of collagen,mice and building muscles. But they also have a second role. A funny picture that I paint is there sort of like little info Pez inside yourself, inside your cells. They do all sorts of amazing jobs. They are involved in your cell membrane and deciding which things can enter the cell, which can exit the cell.
They are involved in enzymes that are a type of protein that are involved and transformations inside yourself. Catalyzing chemical reactions. They are antibodies or proteins. There they are hormones and building blocks for hormones or being hormones directly.
They serve these little magical functions inside your body, but they are also the bricks and mortar of your body.
So they really do a bit of everything.
Yeah. I think just from biological perspective, it’s quite telling to appreciate that DNA is the genetic material. It’s the information molecule in your cells. DNA is sort of the cornerstone of life and that’s what you get from your parents.
And what does DNA do? It is basically a recipe book for proteins. And that is sort of the underlying basis of all life is DNA encoding proteins and proteins. They’re the ones that get the job done in your body.
I like the Oompa Loompa visual. That’s super helpful to tell you the truth.
Why do we need protein? When you’re growing, which kids are of course, if you think of the bricks and mortar rule, you need more bricks and mortar. You need protein to build that body, which is why sort relative to their weight, children need more protein than adults.
We always talk about needs proportional to your weight or gram. Grams of protein per pound that you weigh or grams of protein per kilogram that you weigh. Children need proportionally more than adults because they are growing.
But everyone, even adults, when they’re not growing, they still need protein. The reason they need it is because your body is constantly recycling. Even within yourselves. You do recycling of old proteins and build and build new ones. And you also just recycle whole tissues, like the way that you know that your hair falls out, which is has keratin proteins and you grow new hair.
All that sort of cellular recycling happens. And for that reason, even adults who are not actually growing need to replace their protein losses.
I love that.
So, the best way I ever had to explain to me that kind of stuck in my head is that there is a protein sink and it basically does not have a plug in it. You constantly have to be filling the sink with water, with proteins and keep taking them in so that you keep replenishing your stores basically, always turning over. We’re always using them. They’re always going somewhere.
Yeah. And, but I think that I think a lot of people don’t appreciate that you actually have a lot of proteins already because you’re constantly recycling. You actually have quite a robust pool of protein building blocks.
So the building blocks of proteins are amino acids, right? You can think of a protein as basically beads on a string and all of those beads are different amino acids and there are 20 of them. Those beads are floating around in your blood and in yourself cause you’re constantly breaking them down and recycling.
An average adult would have about a hundred grams of beads in their body at a given time.
So for your average 70 kilogram male that amount of protein that’s just already available because you’re sort of a snapshot of mid recycling helps you appreciate that. You can go a day without eating any food, right? You’ve got these building blocks in you, and you’re not going to necessarily break down muscle just because you’ve got those building blocks available.
And when people are obsessing about having a complete protein, you have to have every essential amino acid at every meal. You don’t because you have this pool, this bag of beads that’s in all yourselves and it’s in your blood. And so you already have a big buffer.
And not to mention you don’t need to have every amino acid, every single meal because you do have multiple meals a day. You do tend to balance out if you eat a varied diet.
Exactly. But if you’re thinking about, “Oh, well what about the protein that I’m trying to build at this moment, I need to fuel that protein growth”. No, you don’t because you have this pool because of the constant state of recycling that your body is, is in.
There’s always some floating around.
There’s a hundred grams of in an adult.
All right. So growing children need protein simply because growing is the biggest thing. They’re going to need a little bit more. But is there a specific amount that they need to achieve there?
For adults, the typical baseline number that you’ll hear is about 0.8 grams per kilogram that you weigh or about 0.4 grams per pound that you weigh for children.
When you look at the actual scientific studies that estimate the needs for children, what they do is they take the adult need and they do some some calculations. They look at basic cellular functions.
You have the same needs as adults, but because you’re growing, let’s add some on top of that to support how much bone and how much skin and everything that they’re growing. And so the number that’s out there for children is, I think it’s 0.45, so it’s maybe 10 to 20% higher proportional to their weight. I think it’s 0.4 or five is a little under, a little under per pound. So a little under half of a gram.
I’d like to just remind listeners that that is again per pound. So, your protein needs are relative to how much you personally weigh. There’s not one generic for kids or for males. It goes based on your own personal body weight. Just one thing to keep in mind.
So that’s, that’s the official recommendation. However, if you look at it, the number hasn’t really been updated in maybe a decade.
If you look at the latest literature on scientific studies, I did that relatively recently and I found one study that was using a different technique and it came up with a considerably higher number, closer to 0.7 grams per pound.
So not quite double but close to double that. But it was a study with only seven children. And it was a study that used a technique that may be more accurate, but it was a very small study.
So, my personal conclusion is that somewhere in between that is probably a good number. So let’s say, for example; my boy weighs about 70 pounds and I’m going to take about two thirds of his weight. So if he weighs 70 pounds he needs between 40 and 45 grams a day. My twins, they weigh about 35 pounds. And so they might want 20 grams of protein a day.
Okay. So fairly basic. It’s funny when I think about because I used to coach figure competitors and body builders, which is a whole other realm of life. It’s funny because one of the things you focus on at that time is hitting their protein. And intakes get bigger and bigger.
I love going back to protein and kids because yes they need more calories because they’re growing, but it doesn’t always necessarily have to come from protein. It’s still relative to their body weight.
In fact when you talk about proteins the other way to look at it is what percentage of calories. And because it’s children, they do need more protein per weight, but they also need more calories per weight. So the percentage of the calories stays the same. It’s actually only between 10 and 15%.
So it’s low. Compared, well compared to bodybuilding.
Some body builders are going to be aiming for 20 to 30%. Right? Sometimes even higher. It gets interesting.
So it may sound like a lot, but I think one of the things moms freak out about, and I do want to touch on this, is no one wants to grab a scale and weigh out their plant based proteins all days. How can they kind of find a balance to know their kids needs?
I actually have an article on this and I like thinking about what the percent is. It just depends which way you like to think about it.
If you look at whole foods and you say what percent of their calories are from protein? Now, this is where it’s really useful to just think like a scientist. If you’re eating a living organism, every organism on the planet works in the same way. They have DNA, and that DNA encodes protein.
If you’re eating a living organism, you are eating protein, right? Plants can’t survive without protein. So all plants have protein. The exception though is that if you’re eating predominantly whole foods and living organisms all of them are going to have protein.
So basically every living organism and even rice.
If our target is 10 to 15% protein, even rice, which is a relatively low protein, is a little bit below, it’s slightly below 10% of calories from protein. Brown rice is slightly above 10% of calories from protein. If you look at quinoa, that’s maybe 15% of calories from protein.
Let me just walk you through percentages of calories by food.
Whole grains tend to fall between 10 and 15%. So if you’re eating a whole grain, you’re eating like in the right protein range. If you’re eating beans, you’re eating closer to 20, 25% of protein you’re eating above your target range.
And so the way that I think about it is if you eat mostly foods that are in your target range, even if your kid ate only quinoa, they would get enough protein.
You’re going to balance out. The key is to minimize how many foods you’re eating that are really low in protein.
It’s harder to find the foods that are below this 10 to 15% than it is to find foods above it. Again, in the range of got whole grains and above the range you’ve got like your legumes and beans and tofu and so on.
So which ones are low in protein? The answer there is fruit.
Fruit is only about 5% protein. I’m not saying don’t eat fruit, I’m just saying when you’re eating fruit, you have to sort of be aware to balance it out.
An all fruit diet would not be a good thing. Balancing that with beans and nuts and whole grains that are more on the rich side. But if you’re eating only fruit plus white rice, you’re going to be in trouble.
So I’ll make a note to my kids that they can not actually live off of an only fruit diet. I really think that they would try if given the chance to be perfect.
Yes. We have three as fruit addictions in this house now.
Actually, I love having twins as a scientist because they have very different tastes. And one of them would love to live off of fruit, although thankfully we found some bean salad she likes. Her sister on the other hand she’ll have a broccoli fest with me.
She’ll just grab the broccoli dip in the sauce and go to town. So the differences are neat. It really, reinforces to me how much parents really are working with different children and different challenges because of those inherent tastes.
And it would be easy to say, “Oh, just feed your kids bean’s”. But you hear; “well my kid doesn’t like beans!”. You might have to work a little more with some kids, but you can always find some non-fruit choices that do work.
Sure. I think my girls went through a phase where they, they were obsessed with broccoli and cauliflower, like obsessed. And I think cauliflower was $8 per head at the time. But, you can’t say no to your child when they’re asking for cauliflower.
They got to the point that they were fighting at the dinner table over who is getting more. And I was like, I’m going to film this because if children are fighting over broccoli, this is just hilarious.
That’s amazing. How are you preparing it?
They both love cauli- rice or roasted in the oven with a curry powder on top. Really random. Broccoli they will eat any possible way you imagine. I don’t personally like it raw. I’m not sure why but both my girls will eat it raw they just prefer it boiled with lemon or it steamed with lemon. That’s their favorite.
The other green vegetable that both my girls love is green beans. They both love it. So we love, we’ll usually serve it with peanut sauce. B
Green beans are a favorite in this house too. They’ll just walk by and grab them raw actually. Because they’re crunchy.
Peas are surprisingly high in protein. A lot of people don’t realize that. So they’re not quite in the same league as edamame, but they’re pretty good.
I guess when it comes down to when we’re talking about protein and kids is quality versus quantity. If we look at the actual amounts in food they can get enough protein from non-meat sources. If you choose quality foods. Am I correct?
I agree in general, focusing on high quality foods is a wonderful thing to do, but when it comes to kids and protein needs, as long as you’re getting enough total protein, you are going to be meeting your essential amino acid needs.
So when people say plant-based proteins are inferior, they’re not complete etc. That’s what I think of when I think of quality.
With quality there’s two things: the distribution and amounts of the essential amino acids and number and then the digestibility and absorption of those proteins. So it’s true, there are some differences between plant and animal sources when it comes to the distribution of essential amino acids and the digestibility.
But those differences are relatively minor. So whey protein for example, people talk about whey protein is the best. It’s the most complete, and bodybuilders love it.
Whey does have a very good score when it comes to your distribution of essential amino acids. But even though with plant proteins and soy or pea, the actual distribution of amino acids would be a little bit worse than whey, it’s not worse enough that it actually means anything.
This one amino acid is a little bit lower than the rest. It doesn’t mean I’m going to become deficient in it. It’s still there. What rubs me the wrong way is when people talk about missing amino acids, there are no missing amino acids from any organism on the planet.
The analogy I think of is that every kid, every class in school has the shortest kid. Every protein has a shortest amino acid. It’s not missing, it’s still there. It’s just there always has to be a shortest kid and when you look at plant proteins, the shortest kid might be a little bit shorter then the shortest kid in a meat protein, but it’s still there.
As long as you’re eating more of a very diet diversity, whether it’s plant-based like me, you’re going to hit them if you keep a nice variety of everything.
Okay, so it can be done either way. You can rock proteins or dairy or you can rock protein through plant-based options. Just go with a variety. And you’ll hit all of your amino acids.
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Yeah, just quickly on dairy. one thing that I’ll say in favor of dairy is that it’s convenient way to get a lot of protein, and also a lot of vitamin D and calcium.
which plant protein is best? Soy is leagues better than all the other plant based proteins. And the reason is it has the exact same amount of protein as dairy. It has the exact same amount of calcium, it has the exact same amount of vitamin D. it also was supplemented with vitamin B 12.
So, for all those nutrients that you’re, that you’re turning to dairy to get soy has them all.
And for anyone who has a lot of questions about this, I know you have a lot of links regarding soy quality and how it actually breaks down.
So, I’m going to leave those in the show notes because I love reading those because it’s a crazy hot topic right now about “it’s so terrible for you”.
You have dispelled that myth entirely. And I love reading those. They are absolutely fantastic. For anyone who is on the fence about soy, please go check out the links in the show notes because they will, I don’t want to say completely change your mind, but they are very eye opening and I loved reading them.
Yeah, I will say that some people ask about soy allergies. You could say that about anything people were practicing. There are more far more people allergic to dairy and allergic disorders. Quite a few. If you are allergic to soy, I feel sorry for you first of all.
Your second best choice would be oat milk. It’s more nutritionally dense than all of the nut milks. The rest are distant. Third, the thing that the nut milks are good for if you buy a fortified one is they will give you the 12 and vitamin D and calcium because they add them. So I just look at them as basically vitamin water.
So when it comes to trying to shop for a non dairy milk, what would you look for on the label?
Yeah, I would read the label, look up the mineral content and see did they add vitamin D, did they add calcium, did they add B12? If you’re plant-based, those are helpful things to have and if you’re not eating dairy, those are helpful things to have.
And I’m going to just keep you on this dairy topic cause it’s obviously a hot one of mine. I’ve been dairy free for a year and a half or two years now. When it comes to yogurt, because that’s another one that’s a really big one that moms go to for because it’s quick and simple. And they’re getting all of those healthy nutrients.
What would you swap in for yogurt? I’m a coconut yogurt fan just because it’s yummy.
Personally, I consume coconut yogurt but it doesn’t have protein. Taste wise I think coconut is your best option. But nutritionally soy is probably your best option, although they usually highly sweetened.
There are some unsweetened slim ones that are okay, but I find the soy ones taste a bit funky. But again, it’s a matter of taste. As I’ve said, when your kids are young there’s an opportunity to expose them to it.
They are probably going to be less biased and more accepting than I am. And I have done some dairy, and non-dairy testing with my kids and generally the opinions are all over the map. I actually brought in a neighbor kid once along with my son and, and my twins to do a tasting and we actually wrote down or taste. There were some of them that were literally spitting them out and then the other person is like, Oh, this is good.
So it’s just hit or miss with them. It’s worth trying. I would look at the graph. Basically when I’m shopping for yogurt, I look at the grams of protein and I looked at the grams of sugar. If your sugar is off the charts ignore it.
I like unsweetened coconut milk, but you just have to know that that’s not going to be a protein source. That said, you don’t need yogurt as a protein source. The soy milk is basically our no-brainer. If my kids have a cup or two a day, that’s 10 to 15 grams of protein and they only need 20 grams in a day.
So when I did that math, I thought, Oh my God, are they getting too much? Because they could cover their protein needs in their milk alone.
With the accumulation of everything else,
How would I know if my kid’s getting enough protein? Let’s talk about protein deficiency and the fear that comes with that because I think that’s a fear-mongering message too with that. Do this, or you’re not going to get enough protein and everything terrible.
Yeah, it’s pretty funny. There’s a physician I follow on Instagram and she had this humorous posts where there a picture of a bunch of empty beds. Like this is the protein deficiency board.
It’s basically unheard of. The only time that you see protein deficiency on our planet is in people who are malnourished. So people who are not eating enough calories, period.
Completely. Just in general, they’re not ingesting enough.
Exactly. So for that reason know, I think that it’s most important to just get healthy food in your kid period.
That has some nutritional density. For a lot of kids it takes them half an hour to eat 50 calories. So even with my kids I think it’s just helpful to focus on calorie dense foods.
Giving your kids rice cakes, that’s fine. But if they’re going to spend 15 minutes eating one rice cake and get 30 in calories, I’d rather give my kid nuts and then they’re going to down a hundred calories in five minutes.
They just want to get out there and play, I literally have to drag my son inside to sit down and eat and all he asks is: “When can I go play, when can I go”? Oh my gosh. And that’s my kid’s mindset. So I just want to give them the most calorie dense foods and then I know they’re getting their basis coverage.
So for, that’s funny because for us, my girls are foodies and ask for a snack every 30 seconds. I think I counted the one day and we had nine snacks. How am I supposed to come up with nine snack ideas and day guys?
They’re crazy foodies, but I’m the exact same. We focus more on calorie dense and nutrient dense foods we love. They’re fruit addicts, I’m not going to sit them down with just a plate of a couple of vegetables because that’s not going to tide them over for very long and there has to be more to it than that.
But they actually really like rice cakes for some reason. They call them rice pops. I don’t know why. But if they’re going to have one they’re going to have some with a bunch of nut butters. And hemp hearts on them so that there’s actually some sort of sustenance in this. It’s our go to.
So, what are, aside from soy milk, some other staples when it comes to feeding your kids protein?
I would say it’s the whole grains and those are in very underappreciated source of proteinWe buy this super seedy bread from Cobb’s bread which has tons of seeds and tons of fiber. I think it’s almost five grams of protein a slice and he’ll have two slices in the morning.
And if you buy whole grain bread, look at the, at the protein content, you can actually get some that have almost five grams? I will say the whole grains are a very underappreciated source of protein.
What would you look for on the bread label?
Honestly I read the labels and I look at the protein content and I look for no added sugar. Because the reality is in terms of breads are going to have like two grams of sugar added. So it’s not huge. But I do feel like it’s shaping their palate. If they expect bread to be sweet.
The main thing I look at when I shop for bread is the fiber content.
So what’s a good fiber content?
So you look the ratio of total carbohydrates to fiber. If a slice of bread has 20 grams of carbohydrates, you want to have at least two grams of fiber. If you divide the carbohydrates by 10, you want the fiber to be at least that number.
Okay. And that’s going to help them get a better protein source.
In general that will be linked because it just means you’re getting the fiber. Fiber and protein are obviously different things, but they tend to be directly linked. I think the fiber to me, those are equally important metrics when I’m shopping for bread is how much protein and how much fiber.
Okay. So we have bread, oatmeal, quinoa was another one. What other options?
I’d say in the morning they get a bit of protein from either oatmeal or whole grain bread. As for lunch, my husband always criticizes my lunches because he wants a hot lunch and I want it to be one thing.
Whereas my kids’ lunches have like five things. They have a little container of tofu, a little container of edamame, a little container of some kind of whole grain leftover from last night where I threw in a couple of beans into it. And then seeds and nuts.
Their lunches are usually just little bites of something. There’ll be a grain leftover from last night. A little veggies. Hummus is a big one that we do during the day.
And then whole grains.. So it will be whole grain breads or we’ll pack some tofu or I’ll use nut and seed butters. My kids are funny. They actually will do shots of hemp hearts. So I’ll some of them in because you can’t pack nuts in the lunches. So I give a trail mix, but I do like a seed trail mix and my son will just like knock it back out of the little packages. Hilarious.
If we look at nuts then, because I always use nuts more of as, as a healthy fat versus a protein. But what would be the nuts highest in protein?
It depends if you’re counting grams or if you’re counting proportionally because of course the more fatty or nuts, the lower the protein look, unfortunately. I don’t think the difference is huge enough so make a choice based on that.
I do think seeds are very much underappreciated as a protein source. But you’ve got to find your ways to incorporate them. I think both are equally good protein sources, but seeds are just are school friendly, which is the awesome thing about them. And that’s what we have as an after dinner snack. If my son’s still hungry before bed probably five days a week.
We all make his own trail mix and we include walnuts for the Omega threes. We include almonds. He loved the tamari almonds are a little bit salty. We’ll throw in peanuts just because they’re cheap. And then cashews and we add a bit of cranberry or something.
They choose like three or four nuts and then like one sweet add in. That’s actually go-to so you don’t have to cook, right?
It is. And you know what, my toddler is obsessed with nuts. She’s a nut fiend. It doesn’t even matter what kind of nuts. She just loves them.
Whenever she asks for a snack and she’s already just had one and I’m like, do we really need another snack? She’s like, Oh, I’ll just have some walnuts Mom. What kid asks for this?
On instagram, I just converted the bottom two drawers of our wine fridge into a bedtime snack door, including tons of snacks, tons of jars of nuts.
We have a bulk barn drawer that’s right beside our freezer with all of our jars. And when they want a snack they get their own. You just have to be careful because my youngest is a year and a half and now it gets a little messy.
I keep the seeds out of that., I focused on the bigger ones that are easier to clean up when they inevitably spill.
Oh, I know. When you spill chia seeds in your heart cries a little bit because they’re a little bit pricey too. Chia seeds are another one that my girls would just eat all the time.
Yeah, that’s awesome. I’ve been really into Omega threes and they are one of the most potent sources.
Beautiful. Because we have chia pudding probably twice a week.
Awesome. Well I’m so sorry we didn’t finish the go to sources.
Just a word on beans. That’s another go to source. We incorporate. We use beans a lot. We were in California when my son was born and we had a nanny from El Salvador, so she made rice and beans for him and she made just homemade bean soups and Cuban black beans, soup. Just traditional rice and beans. So now we do quinoa and beans.
We do love quinoa and I’ve seen that quite a few times on your Instagram.
I have an awesome white bean dill salad that’s probably my most popular recipe. We also do chickpeas. I don’t actually have a real a chickpea salad, but we incorporate them a lot. We eat a lot of hummus.
That’s another obsession actually of my toddlers. She has some funny food preferences to be perfectly honest. When I say them out loud, they make me smile.
Have you ever mixed pesto into your hummus? It’s really good.
Yes, I have! As long as I have made it because most pestos have Parmesan.
I’ve found some vegan brands actually.
I haven’t been able to find any in our stores, so I do make it myself without parm. It’s just sometimes you’re in a rush and that’s not going to happen.
This one is not even labeled vegan. It’s funny.
Oh, that’s weird. But we have done pesto hummus. That’s a popular one.
The other tip about protein is to try whole grain pasta does.
I know they’re kind of hit or miss. I haven’t had a huge amount of success with like the quinoa pasta and the black bean pasta, but sometimes just the whole wheat ones if you use like a creamy sauce or a thick tomato sauce. They will accept the whole week. Just the wheat ones and those have a lot more protein than the refined ones.
We love the quinoa noodles. Those are probably our favorite. I liked the chickpea ones if it’s a linguine, but the quinoa macaroni ones we love them.
You have to tell me your brand because I have not had good success.
I honestly think we just get them at the bulk barn in a big bin. It’s tri-colored. We call them Brown. My daughter calls them Brown noodles.
She freaking loves both.
They have soba noodles apparently.
Soba noodles are another favorite. Those just good with everything. I think I could eat those all day.
All of those whole grains do have more protein than the refined versions, which I love. I love this actually, just for people in general. I’d like to point out not just for kids.
You don’t need to be scared of whole grains. It is okay to consume them because they do have a lot of other nutrients that your body will kind of thrive off of.
Sorry, I guess I missed the memo: Why are people afraid of whole grains?
Have do you have been on any kind of fitness account? My whole Twitter is a about that.
You mean the whole lectins thing?
Not the lectin thing. I’m more of a keto thing.
Oh, just carbs. Carbs in general. I thought you were saying people were preferring refined grains to whole grains.
No. Grains and carbs in general.
You know this from following precision nutrition, that weight loss in the longterm there’s no difference depending on your macronutrient. Basically like low, low fat, low carb. They all do the same in a long rest.
It’s more of a finding what works for you and just how does your body thrive. I’d like to point that out. I’ll get into all my weight loss, crazy diet stuff later.
Don’t hate everything that you put in your body, or everything you do. It just doesn’t make anything fun. But especially for kids, whole grains are an amazing option, which I’m really happy to hear, to be honest, because we eat a lot of those and a lot of those options my daughter loves.
I was chatting with a girlfriend of mine who was telling me that she serves her daughter eggs for breakfast. She’s got so upset that her daughter won’t eat her egg at breakfast and I’m like; “okay, well let’s talk about what your daughter will eat”.
Did you know that a piece of whole grain slice, whole grain bread plus peanut butter is plenty of protein. Did you know that? I feel like there’s such an opportunity to embrace full grains and to realize that you don’t have to fight with your kid to add the egg or to add meat to everything. You don’t need to add protein when you’ve already got whole grain base in your meal.
I love that and it’s true because it’s not it’s truthfully not worth the fight in all honesty. It’s not a fun one. Especially when there’s other options, it’s just choose your battles I guess.
I’m all about reducing the stress of parenting because I see so many, including myself, like “Oh, this has to be perfect”. Well, no, this is definitely good enough. There is no doubt that your child can thrive on a predominantly full grain diet. You don’t have to add protein on top of that.
I think it’s just a matter of, again just having a nice variety in there, which you’re going to want to do anyway because who wants white rice every single day for X amount of time.
So as long as you’re getting a variety, you’ll probably hit your intake with you. That’s my theory. Iss there any other tips you want to share?
I guess the only other tip is when we talked about: enough protein. I like to flip this question on its head and say, what could you possibly do to not get enough protein? How could you not get enough?
One way to not get enough is to only eat fruit. Fruit is low in protein. If your daughter only east fruit, gosh, I’m sorry, but she wouldn’t get enough. The other way is to only eat oil because oil has no protein. So if you literally were on an all fat diet, you probably wouldn’t get enough protein.
And the other way to not get enough protein is from processed foods. They’re high in poor fats, like fried foods. If you go to McDonald’s and you get French fries, like potato on its own has almost 10% protein.
And depending on the potato, some actually have more. So if you only ate all potatoes by the way, you would probably get very close to enough protein.
That’s a really neat fact.
So remember that, did you know there was a potato man, like this guy that ate potatoes only for a year? No, there was actually. And he has this whole diet like potato diet, cause he lost me was like 300 pounds and he lost 200 pounds or something. Those aren’t the right numbers. He lost a huge amount of weight only eating potatoes because potatoes, most starches are in the like 10% ish range of protein.
So he’s fine for protein. But if you go and add, make half of that potato fat, which is what a French fry is, then cutting that protein proportionally in half. And so again, the raw foods of nature gets you there, but when you start to have processed foods that are mostly fat, then you start to get any trouble.
Okay. Noted. I think that actually about sums it up for today. Obviously, I can’t thank you enough for jumping on and letting me pick your brain. Although I have a zillion more questions about every other area of life for you.
I do hope you will come back again at some point in time so I can keep asking you all of my questions. But for all of you that enjoy the recordings today, please if you have further questions or just want to follow along with the tips that were provided, please check out fueledbyscience.com. I’ll let you drop your Instagram handle too because I adore your Instagram and it’s probably where I learned the most fun facts about everything.
It’s awesome to watch you and your kids kind of go through it.
We’ll check her out on Instagram and if you have any questions, please shoot off a message. I will drop as many links as I can in the show notes.
Please include a link to the article about the myth of incomplete proteins. I’ve actually published it on one article on medium and then I also published the same article in impact magazine that vegetarian Canadian magazine.
Perfect. That is one of my favorite facts to be perfectly honest.
And I can still remember the day that I found that because it’s just one of those common things that you’re like, “that’s not a complete protein, so yada yada”. And it just made my heart swell when I learned that.
I mean that’s a wonderful thing for just taking the pressure off. If you want to have a bowl of bean soup, you don’t have to have rice with it.
I’m not vegan. But for anyone who’s entertaining the idea of vegan, I think that’s where a lot of people get very, very stuck is they think that their meals have to be so calculated. All of the time because they’re “missing a protein”. They’re not and you don’t. Again, it just comes down to eating a variety of things and you’re probably going to hit your targets.
So I think that’s just, it’s one of those stress less things.
It’d be my biggest.
So once again, I can’t thank you enough for listening into the episode today. Remember if you are in need of fitness tips, workouts and amazingly healthy recipes, check out my website at www.fitasamamabear.com and you can also hear the show notes on my website to find and connect with this episode.
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Note: edited for grammar
Busting The Myth Of Incomplete Proteins– A Blog Post
Soy, To Fear Or Not Fear – A Blog Post
How Much Protein Does My Child Need – A Blog Post
How To Meet Your Protein Needs At Any Age – A Blog Post
Favorite Soy Milk (Silk) Original or Unsweetened (*affiliate*)
Favorite Bread (Cobs)
Favorite White Bean Salad –A blog Post