Is your child’s Protein sufficient for the 2nd and the last Growth Spurt ?

Children grow up very fast.Their energy and protein needs  vary with age .The second growth spurt comes and goes, and mothers are left wondering whether child will grow any taller .Some children ,grow taller than their classmates.That’s  because their moms took care of their protein needs at the right time.The second growth spurt is often missed due to less awareness about it.Click here to know more about it .

But that’s the last time  when what your child eats ,can change his/her life.

Mothers are perennially on a tight  rope .Balancing between fears of too much and too little.Both undernutrition and obesity related malnutrition is a cause for worry .High calorie diet where the energy comes from refined sugars of processed food is bad for overall health .High quality protein and matched energy is needed for the increased  energy requirement during this age.They go through tremendous,physical,hormonal and emotional growth phase ,where a balanced diet is important for their complete growth.

Children need good quality protein during second growth spurt

According to this article Linear growth increases markedly during puberty in both sexes from approximately 5 cm/year in prepubertal males and females to 8.3 cm/year in pubertal females and 9.5 cm/year in pubertal males. Weight velocity increases from 3 kg/year in prepubertal males to 9 kg/year during puberty; the gain is composed almost entirely of lean tissue.

When does the protein requirement peak?

Diet during prepuberty years is very important because that’s when the body is getting ready for the second growth spurt

So just increasing total calorie and protein should do right?

Not really .

The problem is both with  quantity of protein,as the quality of protein.When the diet is plant based and protein source is plant based, a gross deficiency occurs in the quality of protein the child receives.

This deficit will have a lifelong effect and probably the reason why the optimal height and intellectual potential is not reached.

What should moms do ?

Moms make meal plans.Moms cook ,Moms shop for food (Sometime Daddy does too)

Moms also know exactly how fast their child is growing and what are his/her daily activity level.

Nutrition Requirement during  second growth spurt

Nutrient requirements increase during adolescence to support rapid growth. Inappropriate nutrition can create a lasting impact on the growth, development and physical fitness of an adolescent. Nutrients of significance during this period are:

  • Proteins: To support increase in muscle mass and promotes the hormone Insulin like Growth Factor-1 (IGF-1) concentrations which aids in growth.

Protein should account for 15-20% of total calories.The quality of protein becomes important specially if a vegetarian or a vegan diet is followed.

What is the role of protein ?
Protein influences the production and action of factors involved in growth.The growth hormone (GH)-insulin like growth factor 1 (IGF 1) system are most important.

Liver produces IGF-1 under the influence of dietary proteins.IGF-1  is essential for longitudinal bone growth that is increase in height, skeletal maturation and bone mass acquisition .Decreased levels of IGF-1 have been found in states of under nutrition.

Calcium: To support bone growth.

Vitamin D: To facilitate absorption of calcium in bones

  • Iron: To support blood formation and improve physical performance of child.

Are we taking sufficient protein in diet?

According to the National Nutrition Monitoring Bureau report (India), the intake of protein was found to be low across the the prepubertal age group.Its because of lack of awareness.Even before the time of second growth spurt, children do not consume enough protein and calorie intakes to get the maximum boost to their height .

What happens if protein deficiency persists?

When protein intakes are not right ,the child never grows to their maximum.


Child needs good quality protein in the right amount

Does the quality of protein consume also exert an impact?  
Indian diets derive almost 60% of their protein from cereals such as wheat, rice, jowar, bajra etc. The proteins found in these cereals are of an inferior quality. The National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO) survey in India, which uses household food expenditure to arrive at nutritional intakes, also indicates that about 66% of the protein in the rural population and 56% of the urban population is derived from cereals. When the main sources of their protein were plant based  ,there is a bigger need of health drinks providing the right amount of protein   supplementation.

What are the sources of good quality proteins in the diet?
Good quality proteins are proteins that contain all the essential amino acids. Some sources of good quality proteins are:

  • Fish, Chicken, Mutton, other flesh food
  • Milk and milk products
  • Egg
  • Soy protein(should only be taken under doctors supervision)


Protein in your breakfast: What you must know

Proteins play an extremely important role during the second growth spurt , which is the last chance for your child to grow tall.Growth mediators such as IGF-1 help in the utilization of the dietary protein for your child’s needs.

The inadequacy of proteins in the diet may lead to stunting in children. Since Indian diets are mainly cereal-based, it is essential that both quality and quantity of proteins in the diet is maintained.

The second growth spurt is a period of rapid growth, with increased nutritional needs. Growth during this period is faster than at any other time in a child’s  life except in the first year. It offers the last window of opportunity to give your child nutrition needed to embrace a healthy adult life.This is also the last chance to cover the nutritional deficits due to picky eating in childhood.Facing this challenge of increased nutritional demand in this will help your child achieve  optimal growth.


  • Cut out the junk food.Occasional treats are okay.
  • Milk and milk proteins both increase IGF1 so can be used as a source of first-class protein in the diet .
  • Fish is a very healthy protein source and is highly recommended.
  • Other animal flesh sources of protein are balanced against need and ease of availability.

When your child needs more protein and the diet needs supplementation a health drink with the right amount of protein is needed to meet the challenges of second growth spurt head on.

Disclaimer: This post is written for information and education.All opinions are mine written after researching adequate sources.The work has been done in association with the brand .All health decisions about your children should be taken after professional medical consultation.


  1. Holick, M.F.;Dawson-Hughes, B. Nutrition and Health. Humana Press 2004
  2. Bonjour JP, Schürch MA, Chevalley T, Ammann P, Rizzoli R. Protein intake, IGF-1 and osteoporosis. Osteoporos Int. 1997;7 Suppl 3:S36-42.
  3. Swaminathan S, Vaz M, Kurpad AV. Protein intakes in India. Br J Nutr. 2012 Aug;108 Suppl 2:S50-8. doi: 10.1017/S0007114512002413
  4. Kulsum A Jr, Lakshmi JA, Prakash J. Food intake and energy protein adequacy of children from an urban slum in Mysore, India – a qualitative analysis. Malays J Nutr. 2008 Sep;14(2):163-72. Epub 2008 Sep 15. PubMed PMID: 22691773
  5. Diet and Nutritional Status of Rural Population, Prevalence of Hypertension & Diabetes among Adults and Infant & Young Child Feeding Practices -Report of Third Repeat Survey. NNMB  technical report26. 2012

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