If you're like most people, you lead a busy life. When you’re on the go and hungry, you may be tempted to swing into the nearest drive-thru or stop by a vending machine for a snack.
But most quick snacks are high in sugar, salt, and fat. Eating them can send your blood sugar crashing. You’ll end up feeling drained and hungrier than before.
Reaching for a snack rich in protein will help you get through your day without that nasty sugar crash.
It’s time you swapped out that bag of chips for something more substantial.
Snacks make up about one-third of the food we eat in a day. Snacks that contain protein will help keep you full longer.
Protein-packed snacks often leave out sugar, bad carbohydrates, and extra calories. A diet high in protein and low in processed foods can reduce body fat, lower high cholesterol, and even help manage type 2 diabetes.
The less processed the snack, the better it is for your health, and your waistline.
Types of Protein Snacks
Having a protein-packed snack doesn’t have to mean filling up on protein bars and shakes. With a little planning, you can get your necessary nutrients and a filling snack all in one tasty package.
Greek yogurt. A small container of fat-free Greek yogurt (about 2/3 cup) has up to 20 grams of protein. Eating Greek yogurt can help you control your appetite, making you less hungry at your next meal. Toss in some berries or fruit to amp up its flavor.
Hummus. Snacking on hummus can help control blood sugar and keep you feeling full. Enjoying a 1/3 cup of hummus with veggie stick dippers will give you about 7 grams of protein.
Edamame. Steam 1 cup of edamame in the shell and sprinkle it with sea salt. Pack it in a container for a ready-to-go snack that’ll add about 15 grams of protein to your daily roster.
Cheese sticks and grapes. With an ounce of cheddar cheese and a handful of grapes, you’ll get about 7 grams of protein. You’ll satisfy your savory and sweet cravings too.
Roasted chickpeas. Toss 3/4 cup of chickpeas in olive oil, sea salt, and cayenne pepper. Roast them for 20 to 30 minutes, and enjoy 9 grams of protein. You might find that chip snacks never tasted so good.
Cottage cheese. A 5-ounce serving has up to 20 grams of protein. Try this creamy, satisfying snack with blueberries for an extra punch.
Tuna and crackers. Try topping a serving of tuna on a serving of whole wheat crackers for a savory 12 grams of protein.
Turkey roll-ups. Sliced deli turkey rolled in a slice of cheddar cheese might easily satisfy your sandwich cravings. Throw in a slice of tomato, too, for a total of 12 grams of protein.
Hard-boiled egg. One egg packs about 6 grams of protein. Eat it solo, or use it as a topper for a mini-salad. Add 1/4 cup of beans (another 4 grams of protein) and a tablespoon of light dressing for a snack that eats like a mini-meal.
“Cheesy” popcorn. This is perfect for movie night. Air-pop 3 cups of popcorn and sprinkle on 3 tablespoons of nutritional yeast for a cheesy flavor. Add a sprinkling of salt for a flavor bomb that offers about 9 grams of protein.
Nut butter with apples or celery. Use any natural nut butter (read: no added sugar) to dip with apple slices or celery stalks. Add raisins for extra sweetness, and score about 8 grams of protein.
Kale chips. This snack offers 9 grams of protein and some extra greens. Cut 2 cups of kale leaves into bite-size pieces. Drizzle with olive oil and 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast. Bake in a 325-degree oven for 15 minutes. Stuff some in a sandwich bag for a portable snack.
How Much Protein Do You Need?
So how much protein do you need every day? It depends, mostly on your age.
If you’re 14 to 18 years old, you need about 46 to 52 grams of protein in your daily diet. If you’re 19 or older, you may need slightly more, up to 56 grams daily.
These amounts can also vary depending on your activity level. It’s best to talk to your doctor or a nutritionist about your exact needs.
You’ll find good sources of protein in foods such as roasted, salted nuts and full-fat dairy, but be aware of the extra fat and calories inside them. You may avoid weight gain by not making a habit of eating foods that have a high calorie count.