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The Best Protein Powders for Teenagers And High School Athletes

Supplements Considered 16
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Connor Sellers
Published by Connor Sellers
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: November 5, 2021

A lot of my clients have kids in their teens who get into various sports where athletic performance and strong muscles are required.

These parents are concerned with the use of protein powders for weight management and exercise performance.

However, the best protein powders that are healthy for adults may not be suitable for teens at all.

So I sat down with my dietitian to identify what athletes in their teens need and to find out the best protein powder for teens.

Our Top Protein Powders For Teens (2021)

1 - Transparent Labs ProteinSeries (Editor's Choice)

Transparent Labs ProteinSeries with egg white protein powder and essential amino acids

Transparent Labs is a protein powder made 100% with grass-fed whey protein isolate that has become quite popular with many athletes.

With none of the common allergens, fillers, or artificial crap added, you have a sports supplement that delivers healthy ingredients.

Transparent Labs ranked top one of all the protein powders that do not contain gluten.

  • Calories: 120
  • Protein: 28g
  • Carbs: 2g
  • Fat: 0g
Pros
  • 28 grams of protein per serving
  • Has no fillers, artificial sweeteners or sugar
  • Low in carbs and calories means it may help with weight loss
  • Free of common allergens like soy and gluten
Cons
  • Some bulk size containers would be great

2 - Performance Lab Sport Protein

Performance Lab Sport Protein

Made from brown rice, Performance Lab protein powder has the benefit of making you feel full for longer.

Rice protein has also been clinically and medically tested and shown to help with building muscles [2].

  • Calories: 100
  • Protein: 20g
  • Carbs: 2g
  • Fat: 1.2g
Pros
  • 20 grams of brown rice protein per serving
  • Contains hardly any fat or carbs so it may not mess with your diet
  • As an organic supplement, it provides premium ingredients
  • Some reviews highlight that it may suppress your appetite
Cons
  • The texture could be a bit smoother

I just wasn't a big fan of the texture, so you may want to consider blending the powder.

3 - Ora Organic Vegan Protein

Ora Organic thumb

A lot of people prefer organic protein powders because the ingredients have fewer contaminants like pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics.

In addition, Ora Organic may be a healthy protein powder as it contains no sugar and little fat.

The only thing I would say about this protein powder is that it tastes better out of a blender.

  • Calories: 130
  • Protein: 22g
  • Carbs: 5g
  • Fat: 3g
Pros
  • 22 grams of plant protein per serving
  • Many people like that it works as a shake or by adding it to meals
  • Zero sugar and low-fat protein powder that helps with weight management
  • Available in chocolate and vanilla flavors
Cons
  • Try blending it before serving to get a smooth texture

4 - PaleoPro Protein Powder

PaleoPro Protein Powder

There's a very good reason why we list this paleo protein powder.

Not only does it contain enough protein to help build muscles, but it also lists collagen on the nutrition label which has been medically proven to help with joint repair and development [1].

  • Calories: 120
  • Protein: 26g
  • Carbs: 1g
  • Fat: 1g
Pros
  • 26 grams of protein per serving from grass-fed beef
  • Certified hormone and antibiotic-free
  • Contains natural collagen that may keep joints healthy
  • Available in multiple flavors
Cons
  • Make sure you shake it well before drinking to avoid a grainy texture

The only downside is that you may need to shake this protein powder for 20 to 30 seconds before drinking it. That's quite tedious in my opinion.

5 - Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Whey

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Whey Protein Powder

This popular protein powder was specially designed for performance athletes to help with muscle growth and recovery.

While there are loads of flavors available, we did find that some of them were a bit sweet.

  • Calories: 120
  • Protein: 24g
  • Carbs: 3g
  • Fat: 1g
Pros
  • 24 grams of protein per serving
  • Contains BCAAs that may help boost muscle performance and recovery
  • Easy to mix in a shaker without being clumpy
  • Comes in a great selection of flavors
Cons
  • Some of the flavors are a little sweet

6 - MyProtein Impact Whey Isolate

My Protein Iso Pro Whey Protein

What convinced us about this whey protein powder is that it's one of the lowest-calorie options as it contains no fat or sugar.

The only negative I would note on this particular protein powder is that it does use artificial additives for flavor.

  • Calories: 90
  • Protein: 22g
  • Carbs: 1g
  • Fat: 0g
Pros
  • 22 grams of whey isolate per serving
  • Low-calorie option helps to maintain weight
  • Many users highlight the smooth consistency
  • Contains no fat or sugar to make nutritional planning easier
Cons
  • The texture could be a bit smoother

7 - Amazing Nutrition The Family Whey

Amazing Nutrition The Family Whey

This one from Amazing Nutrition is a whey protein powder that's specifically designed for families.

This whey protein powder is suitable for kids and all ages and comes with a guide to work out what different age groups may need.

Just make sure you shake it well or use a blender to make it more appealing to kids and teens.

  • Calories: 100
  • Protein: 20g
  • Carbs: 4g
  • Fat: 1g
Pros
  • 20 grams of protein per serving
  • Suitable for children, teens and adults with recommended servings
  • Gluten-free and contains no artificial additives
  • Comes in tasty flavors that aren't too sweet
Cons
  • Needs to be shaken quite a bit to dissolve fully

8 - Sneaks Organic Smoothie Mix

Sneaks Organic Smoothie Mix

One of the easiest to mix protein powders we found is this Sneaks Organic one.

It does have a very smooth texture and doesn't require blending.

The main downside is that it contains quite a lot of sugar, which may explain why teens like it so much.

  • Calories: 130
  • Protein: 14g
  • Carbs: 16g
  • Fat: 1.5g
Pros
  • 14 grams of plant protein per serving
  • Low in saturated fat to reduce health issues
  • Easy to mix with water or milk
  • Provides a boost of iron as well
Cons
  • It's a bit high in sugar content

9 - Quest Protein Powder

Quest Protein Powder

This Quest protein powder is the only one on our list that's part whey and part casein.

This combination is interesting because casein has been clinically studied and shown to play a role in the development of lean muscle mass [3].

I did find that it tasted best out of a blender, which reduced the grainy effect.

  • Calories: 100
  • Protein: 24g
  • Carbs: 3g
  • Fat: 0g
Pros
  • 24 grams of whey and casein per serving
  • Contains no saturated or trans fats
  • Less than 1g of sugar in each supplement serving
  • Good selection of popular flavors
Cons
  • Requires blending for a fully smooth texture

10 - Origin Grass-Fed Whey Isolate

Origin Grass Fed Whey Isolate

And finally, our last recommendation is another whey protein powder.

This protein powder goes through a cold-processing to maintain protein structure without the use fillers or unnecessary ingredients.

It also has 24 grams of protein, while keeping it low-fat and sugar-free.

  • Calories: 100
  • Protein: 24g
  • Carbs: 1g
  • Fat: <1g
Pros
  • 24 grams of protein per serving
  • Low in carbs and fats to support different healthy diets
  • Uses cold processing which helps to maintain protein structure
  • Also available as unflavored to mix with other foods
Cons
  • It contains some artificial sweeteners

Why Is Protein Important For Teens?

Weight Machine & Brain Image

There are three main reasons why protein is critical for a teen's nutrition.

Muscle Growth

I'm not just referring to building lean muscle mass, as growing teens are naturally developing new muscles. Whey protein powder is specifically designed for this purpose.

This process in the body is heavily reliant on essential amino acids, which are available in all whey protein powders [4].

Weight Management

Most often than not, teenagers encounter significant weight management issues. All those hormone fluctuations can take a toll on a young adult (I remember it too well myself).

This is where some extra protein in the diet may solve a lot of problems, as studies have shown that it helps with weight loss and improved muscle mass [5].

Brain Development

For teens, this is a critical time of life where the brain goes through some significant changes. With the right protein powders, you may be able to supply the essential amino acids needed to support that brain development [6].

Be sure to check out this video to learn more ...

youtube

And without proper nutrition, the brain's ability to learn new tasks or skills decreases – certainly not good news for students.
- Samantha Costa Staff writer at US News

How Much Protein Powder Should A Teenager Take?

Scoop Of Protein Powder

The average teenager should take about 45 grams of protein per day. Most of this should come from the food you eat rather than protein powders.

However, for teens who are performance athletes or who exercise a lot, increasing that by 10 to 15 grams per day may be a healthy decision. This requirement can easily be addressed by taking a single serving of protein powder with the right of amount of protein from food every day.

This may not only support muscle recovery but may also help with gaining some lean mass as well.

Anything significantly more than that should be discussed with a dietitian or medical doctor as excessive amounts may result in some unpleasant side effects.

More on this shortly.

What Should Influence Your Choice Of Protein

Influence Your Choice Of Protein

It all comes down to the ingredients, so make sure you check the nutrition label for the following.

Protein Source

A good quality protein powder should come from quality sources. I generally look at these from an animal or plant-based point of view. Rice, pea, and hemp protein powders have become very popular, especially as a blend.

They tend to help with weight loss due to the higher levels of fiber [7].

A whey protein powder would be considered the best option to support muscle growth as they contain all 9 essential amino acids.

Range Of Essential Amino Acids

Protein is made up of 20 different amino acids, and some of those are classified as essential from a dietary perspective. That means your body cannot produce them, so you have to take them in through food or supplements.

This is why whey protein powder is so popular, as they contain the essential amino acids needed for healthy development in teens.

Dietary Restrictions

Some teens may be restricted in their choice of protein supplements due to allergies, intolerances, or choice of diet. Dairy and lactose intolerance is quite common, but so are soy and gluten.

It's important to check the nutrition label of your protein powder for any ingredients that may be best avoided.

High-Protein Foods For Teenage Athletes

While taking a good protein powder is a great way to boost protein consumption, it's always best to maximize your intake through the food you eat.

Here is a list of things you could add to your meal plan:

You can get adventurous with these things and add a small amount to each of your meals.

  • Chicken
  • Lean meat
  • Fish
  • Turkey
  • Eggs
  • Yogurt
  • Low-fat milk
  • Tofu
  • Black beans
  • Lentils
  • Chickpeas
  • Nuts and seeds

FAQ

Best Protein Powder For Teens FAQ

Is it OK for a teenager to drink protein shakes?

Yes, it is OK for a teenager to drink protein shakes. In fact, these supplements may provide a healthy boost of essential amino acids to support muscle and brain development in all teens.

Other recommended protein powders:

How much protein is too much for a teenager?

Protein intake above 80 g per day may be too much for a teenager. However, this very much depends on physical size and activity. Stomach cramps, nausea, and bloating are some side effects that may indicate that you need to reduce your protein consumption.

We’ve worked with a lot of teens on muscle building and weight loss. One of the best protein powders that have shown good results is Transparent Labs 100% Grass-Fed Whey Protein Powder.

With 24 g of protein, this whey protein powder promotes brain development while supporting joint health. It has no artificial sweeteners and is gluten-free.

Since it is low on carbs, it can promote weight loss if that is one of your goals. Order yours today and then let us know how it worked out for you.

Our #1 Shake for teens

Transparent Labs ProteinSeries

Transparent Labs ProteinSeries with egg white protein powder and essential amino acids
Protein per Serving
28g
Taste
5.0
Ingredient Quality
5.0
Price
4.5
Overall Score 4.8
4.8
Pros
  • 28 grams of protein per serving
  • Has no fillers, artificial sweeteners or sugar
  • Low in carbs and calories means it may help with weight loss
  • Free of common allergens like soy and gluten
Cons
  • Some bulk size containers would be great

About the author

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3 thoughts on “The Best Protein Powders for Teenagers And High School Athletes

  1. Hi! I’m a coach of teenage athletes. Thanks for providing people like me a list of the best weight gainer for teenage athletes. My students have always asked me if weight gainers are effective. I’ll just show this article to them. Thanks again!

  2. Hello, I am 14 years old, 5’5 and weigh 143 pounds. I began lifting weights last year, but it was sporadic. I’m still working out and seeing some results. Glad that you provided us some list of protein shakes for 14 year olds here. It seems like a taboo in other places.

    Grateful!

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