16 High-Protein Snacks To Keep You Full Between Meals
Despite what you may have heard about snacking, it can actually be a very important part of maintaining a healthy diet. People often discuss it with a negative connotation because depending on what you're snacking on, it can potentially cause you to go overboard on calories, sugar, or fat. And, if you're snacking on items high in added sugar and low in digestion-slowing nutrients, you may find yourself hungrier and with more cravings than before. Thankfully, healthy snacking is possible. For example, choosing a high-protein snack between breakfast and lunch or before dinner can help keep you full and satisfied.
Although everyone's daily protein requirements are different and depend on the individual's needs and current health situation, Harvard Health says that a good place to start is by multiplying your body weight by 0.36 to determine how much you may need. However, the number you get is a rough estimate, so make sure to talk with your doctor or dietitian about your specific goals and requirements.
Once you know how much protein you need, the real challenge can be in finding foods you love that can help you get there. While it's certainly important to focus on protein at mealtimes, having high-protein snacks to grab in between meals can be helpful, too. To help you reach those protein goals, here are 16 high-protein snacks to try, recommended by dietitians.
Benefits of a high-protein snack
So what exactly is the benefit of a snack that's higher in protein? For one, "Protein-powered snacks can help you manage portion sizes at the next meal and snack," says Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD author of The Sports Nutrition Playbook and member of our Medical Expert Board.
In fact, according to a study published in Nutrition Journal, when compared to high-fat snacks, high-protein snacks are able to provide more satiety and hunger control, and overall, participants consumed less food and fewer calories after eating snacks high in protein. Another study, which was published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, found similar results, concluding that consuming high-protein foods can help improve fullness more than other types of snacks.
Although protein-heavy snacks provide a ton of benefits on their own, many dietitians suggest coupling proteins with some fiber, too. "The key to a satisfying snack to help keep you full between meals is to power it with both protein and fiber," says Goodson. "Both of these slow down digestion and help you get full faster and stay full longer."
16 high-protein snacks to try
These healthy protein snacks all have a minimum of 8 grams of protein—many with much more.
Cottage cheese, chia seeds, and strawberries
Protein per serving: 14-16 grams
Cottage cheese is an often-overrated snack, but this cheese packs a protein punch and can go with fruit, nuts, jam, etc. According to Goodson, a great protein combination is a 1/2 cup of cottage cheese, 1 teaspoon of chia seeds, and 1/2 cup of strawberries.
"This snack packs 14-16 grams of protein, based on your cottage cheese brand choice, in addition to approximately 5 grams of fiber, so this one will keep you full between meals," says Goodson. "It also contains omega-3 fatty acids from chia seeds and the antioxidant anthocyanins from the strawberries. This is a snack you can mix together in a container in the morning and have ready for mid-morning or mid-afternoon."
Beef jerky, almonds, and mandarin oranges
Protein per serving: 20 grams
Beef jerky is a great way to add protein in between meals, but Goodson suggests taking it one step further and adding in almonds and mandarin oranges to balance it out with fiber and antioxidants.
"If you are looking for a snack that's non-perishable and on the go, this is it," says Goodson. "It packs about 20 grams of protein and approximately 4 grams of fiber, and it's perfect for a gym bag, a computer bag, or a road trip, and a simple way to add protein midday."
Pistachios, hummus, and baby carrots
Protein per serving: 10-11 grams
If you want a snack that isn't meat-based or an animal product, nuts and vegetables are a great solution. "Pistachios are one of the highest protein snack nuts, and with 6 grams of complete plant-based protein per ounce, 3 grams of fiber, and healthy fats, pistachios provide a trio of nutrients that can help keep you feeling fuller longer," says Goodson. "Pair with 1/4 cup hummus and colorful, crunchy baby carrots, and together, this snack provides approximately 10-11 grams of plant-based protein and 6-7 grams of fiber, and is sure to help keep you full."
Protein per 2 hard-boiled eggs: 12 grams
Sometimes you don't have the time to make yourself a snack and need to reach into your fridge and grab something quick. For a quick high-protein snack, grab two hard-boiled eggs. "Hard-boiled eggs are a convenient and portable snack that are high in protein and easy to prepare," says Trista Best, MPH, RD, LD at Balance One Supplements. Even if you're only hungry for one egg, "A large hard-boiled egg still contains about 6 grams of protein."
Aside from protein, eggs offer other health benefits as well. According to Lisa Young, PhD, RDN, author of Finally Full, Finally Slim and member of our Medical Expert Board, "Eggs contain selenium, which is a cancer-fighting antioxidant, zinc, which helps with immunity, and phosphorus, which aids in healthy bones and teeth."
Avocado toast topped with a sliced egg
Protein per serving: 14 grams
If a hard-boiled egg or two isn't enough on its own, Young suggests avocado toast with sliced egg on top.
"Avocados are loaded with monounsaturated fats, which can help reduce LDL cholesterol and lower your risk of heart disease or stroke, and pairing avocado with a piece of toast and an egg makes for the perfect snack, as you are eating a whole grain carbohydrate, a healthy fat, and protein," says Young. "This snack can also help support weight loss, as it increases the content of both fiber and protein."
Greek yogurt, blueberries, and whole grain protein granola
Protein per serving: 20 grams
Just because a snack is sweet doesn't mean it can't be loaded with protein. Goodson suggests grabbing about 6 ounces of Greek yogurt and topping with 1/2 cup of blueberries and 1/3 cup of whole grain protein granola.
"With 14-17 grams of high-quality protein from Greek yogurt, depending on the brand, plus 5 grams of protein from whole grain protein granola, this snack boasts around 20 grams of protein," says Goodson. "Plus, the blueberries and granola add about 4 grams of fiber, which means this snack contains three food groups and is both satisfying and quick to eat."
Protein per 1-cup serving: 17 grams
Another plant-based high-protein snack option is a salty bowl of cooked edamame. "Edamame is a type of soybean that is a good source of protein and fiber," says Best. "In fact, one cup of cooked edamame contains a whopping 17 grams of protein."
Cheese and apple slices
Protein per serving: 14 grams
If you're craving a combination of savory and sweet, Goodson suggests two cheese sticks and an apple for a protein and nutrient boost. "With 14 grams of high-quality protein plus calcium, cheese is an excellent way to get protein at snack time, and paired with a large apple that contains 4-5 grams of fiber, the snack packs two food groups and will help you stay satisfied," says Goodson. "Plus, cheese sticks are individually packaged and easy to eat on the go."
Peanut butter on apple slices
Protein per two-tablespoons of peanut butter: 8 grams
Apple slices with your favorite nut butter can be a comforting, nostalgic snack that offers you a mid-afternoon protein boost. While you can choose any type of nut butter, Best suggests a classic peanut butter.
"Peanut butter is a delicious and filling source of protein, and pairing it with apple slices adds some fiber and nutrition," says Best. "Two tablespoons of peanut butter contain about 8 grams of protein."
Turkey roll-ups (3 oz turkey)
Protein per 3-ounce serving: 24 grams
One of the snacks with the highest amounts of protein and the easiest to make is a simple turkey roll-up. Just grab sliced turkey, roll it up either on its own or with lettuce and cheese, and you're set!
"Turkey is a great snack to opt for since it is loaded with protein, and turkey is considered a complete protein because it supplies all the essential amino acids our body needs," says Young. "Not only that, but turkey contains a great source of B vitamins such as B3, B6, and B12, which are essential for energy production, brain function, and the formation of red blood cells. Turkey is also rich in minerals such as selenium, iron, zinc, and phosphorus, which all promote thyroid function, immunity, energy production, and bone health."
Cottage cheese on a rice cake
Protein per 1/2 cup of cottage cheese: 14 grams
We talked about how you can mix cottage cheese with fruit, but if you're in the mood for a little bit of a crunch, you can add cottage cheese to some rice cakes for a high-protein snack.
"Cottage cheese is high in protein which can promote satiety and fullness, as well as weight loss, and it also contains B vitamins, calcium, phosphorus, and selenium," says Young. "A particular protein in cottage cheese, known as casein, is slowly absorbed in the body, which promotes metabolism and muscle synthesis."
Mixed nuts and beef jerky
Protein per serving: 14 grams
For a dose of healthy fats and protein, Young suggests a handful of mixed nuts. Along with protein and fat, "Nuts are also high in antioxidants, which can neutralize free radicals in the body," says Young. "This means they can contribute to reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and metabolic syndrome." If you need even more protein, grab an ounce of your favorite type of beef jerky for an even more satiating snack.
Tuna and crackers
Protein per 3-ounce serving: 20 grams
When it comes to protein, don't forget about canned fish as an affordable, effortless option. For a high-protein snack that doesn't require any cooking, grab a can of tuna and some crackers, and voilà, a snack with 20 grams of protein.
Protein per one 88 Acres Protein Bar: 12 grams
When you're in need of something you can take on the go with hardly any effort, a protein bar can be a helpful option. However, not all protein bars are created equal, and some are made with more sugar than anything. One protein bar we love is the 88 Acres Banana Bread bar, which has 12 grams of protein and only 4 grams of added sugar.
Protein per serving of Peanut Butter Overnight Oats: 15 grams
Oatmeal doesn't have to only be enjoyed in the morning. With just a little prep the night before, you can make yourself some overnight oats for a protein boost during snack time. If you need inspiration, try our Peanut Butter Overnight Oats recipe for 15 grams of protein per serving.
Protein per serving of Smoothie With Granola and Protein Powder: 38 grams
Smoothies can be a wonderful snack in the morning or the afternoon, and depending on what ingredients you include, it can also help give you a fiber, vitamin, and antioxidant boost, too. We love our Paleo Smoothie With Granola, especially when you add a scoop of your favorite protein powder.