23 High-Protein Snacks To Stay Full & Energized All Day
Despite what you may have heard about snacking, it can be an essential 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 23 high-protein snacks to try, recommended by dietitians.
Benefits of a high-protein snack
Gone are the days of thinking protein is only for bodybuilders wanting to bulk up. But what exactly is the benefit of a higher-protein snack?
For one, "Protein-powered snacks can help you manage portion sizes at the next meal and snack," says Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD.
In fact, according to a study published in Nutrition Journal, when compared to high-fat snacks, high-protein snacks can 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."
And for more tips on eating healthy proteins, read up on these 10 Unhealthiest Proteins to Avoid.
The best high-protein snacks to try
These healthy protein snacks all have a minimum of eight grams of protein—many with much more.
Tuna & crackers
- Serving size (tuna): 3 ounces
- Calories: 168
- Protein: 24.7 grams
Whether you pair it with crackers, throw it on a bagel slice, or just eat it straight out of the can, tuna makes for the perfect healthy, high-protein snack.
"Tuna is rich in lean protein, renowned for its ability to promote a lasting feeling of fullness. The convenience of it allows for easy portability and consumption on the go, catering to the needs of busy individuals," says Trista Best, MPH, RD, LD at Balance One Supplements. "Furthermore, tuna serves as a valuable source of omega-3 fatty acids, delivering supplementary health benefits such as inflammation reduction and support for heart health."
- Serving size: 1/2 cup of cottage cheese, 1 teaspoon of chia seeds, and 1/2 cup of strawberries
- Calories: ~127
- Protein: ~15.3 grams
Cottage cheese is flying off shelves because of its low-fat, high-protein nature, as well as the fact that it's versatile enough to be the base of everything from bread to ice cream. Whether you're using it as a base for a recipe or just diving into it on its own, your body will be grateful for the 14 grams of protein it yields per serving.
"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 Lisa Young, PhD, RDN. "A particular protein in cottage cheese, known as casein, is slowly absorbed in the body, which promotes metabolism and muscle synthesis."
If you're looking for the best way to eat cottage cheese as a high-protein snack, Goodson suggests having 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."
- Serving size: 2 large eggs
- Calories: 143
- Protein: 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 is high in protein and easy to prepare," says Best. Even if you're only hungry for one egg, "A large hard-boiled egg still contains about 6 grams of protein."
- Serving size: 6 ounces of Greek yogurt, 1/2 cup of blueberries, 1/3 cup of granola
- Calories: ~291
- Protein: ~22.7 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 it 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 five 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 four grams of fiber, which means this snack contains three food groups and is both satisfying and quick to eat."
- Serving size: 1 ounce of beef jerky
- Calories: 80
- Protein: 10 grams
Beef jerky is a great way to add protein in between meals. "If you are looking for a snack that's non-perishable and on the go, this is it," says Goodson.
For a bigger protein boost, Goodson suggests taking it one step further by adding almonds and mandarin oranges to balance it out with fiber and antioxidants. When paired with these two additional items, "this snack packs about 20 grams of protein and approximately four 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."
- Serving size: 1 cup
- Calories: 269
- Protein: 14.5 grams
Most known for being used to make hummus, "Chickpeas are an excellent high-protein snack due to their significant protein content, which helps promote a feeling of fullness," says Best.
If you have a can nearby and feel that making hummus will take too long for your relentless cravings, you can roast some chickpeas ahead of time and keep them on hand for a quick high-protein snack. "They also offer a satisfying crunch, making them an enjoyable snack option. The addition of fiber available in chickpeas will improve the satiety factor of this snack as well," adds Best.
Peanut butter and apple slices
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 eight grams of protein."
- Serving size: 1 cup
- Calories: 188
- Protein: 18.4 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. One cup of cooked edamame contains about 18 grams of protein, along with eight grams of fiber and less than 200 calories.
- Serving size: 2 ounces of turkey
- Calories: 62
- Protein: 12.4 grams
"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."
To add even more to your turkey snack, make 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!
Refried black bean dip & chips
- Serving size: 2/3 cup
- Calories: 133
- Protein: 8 grams
When you need a savory snack that contains both fiber and protein to keep you full, try some refried black beans with a side of crunchy tortilla chips or veggie sticks! In two-thirds of a cup of refried black beans, you'll get 8 grams of plant-based protein and 8 grams of fiber.
If you're not used to eating beans or legumes regularly, you may want to ease into incorporating black beans into your diet. This is because eating too much fiber at once can cause bloating and stomach discomfort.
Cheese and apple slices
If you're craving a combination of savory and sweet, Goodson suggests two mozzarella 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 four to five 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."
- Serving size: 1 bar (55 grams)
- Calories: 260
- Protein: 12 grams
When you need 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 four grams of added sugar.
- Serving size: 1 jar made with 1/2 cup of oats and 1% milk
- Calories: ~330
- Protein: ~14 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 14 grams of protein per serving.
- Serving size: 1 smoothie (per recipe)
- Calories: ~373.7
- Protein: ~15.2 grams
Smoothies can be a wonderful snack in the morning or the afternoon, and depending on what ingredients you include, they 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.
Mixed nuts and beef jerky
- Serving size: 1 ounce of beef jerky and 1 ounce of mixed nuts
- Calories: ~284
- Protein: ~14.3 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.
- Serving size: 3 ounces
- Calories: 71.4
- Protein: 9.2 grams
Fried or baked, tofu makes a delicious high-protein snack for those who want a vegan or vegetarian option. Along with providing over nine grams of protein per serving, tofu also comes packed full of vitamin A, manganese, and calcium, making it a heart-healthy treat, according to the American Heart Association.
Pistachios, hummus, and baby carrots
- Serving size: 1 ounce of pistachios, 1/4 cup of hummus, baby carrots
- Calories: ~333
- Protein: ~10.5 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 six grams of complete plant-based protein per ounce, three 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 six to seven grams of fiber, and is sure to help keep you full."
- Serving size: 1 jar (per recipe)
- Calories: 360
- Protein: 10 grams
Chia seeds are packed full of protein and fiber, with 1 ounce having around 10 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein. To incorporate chia seeds into a healthy, high-protein snack, you can make chia seed pudding. We love making our Overnight Chia Seed Pudding because not only does it provide 10 grams of protein, but you can make it ahead of time and just grab it from the fridge when you need a filling snack!
Smoked salmon toast
- Serving size: 1 slice of toast, 2 ounces of salmon, 1 tablespoon of cream cheese
- Calories: ~159
- Protein: ~16.5 grams
For a boost of healthy fats, fiber, and protein, try a slice of whole grain toast topped with cream cheese and smoked salmon. You'll get 13 grams of high-quality protein from the salmon and 3.5 grams from a slice of whole-grain toast, plus the toast provides a small amount of fiber as well. With a total of around 16.5 grams of protein, you can't go wrong with this snack.
- Serving size: 1 cup
- Calories: 159
- Protein: 9.7 grams
Lentils are a fiber-heavy, protein-filled legume that can make for a great base to a multitude of recipes, including a snack like lentil soup. In an average cup of lentil soup, which is often made with lentils and vegetables or meat (or both), you're getting almost 10 grams of protein and about 8 grams of fiber, for only 160 calories. As you cook lentils, they often break down into a thick, soup-like texture, meaning you won't normally need to add broth.
Serving size: 1 cup (cooked)
Protein: 8.1 grams
It may not feel like much of a snack on its own, but quinoa is a protein-packed, fiber-filled base for a multitude of snack options. "Quinoa is a complete protein source, providing all essential amino acids to keep you feeling full and satisfied," says Best. To get these benefits, toss quinoa up with some chopped cucumbers, peppers, parsley, lemon juice, and olive oil.
Avocado toast topped with a sliced egg
- Serving size: 1 slice of toast, 1/2 of an avocado, 1 egg
- Calories: ~284.9
- Protein: ~13.7 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."
Dried beans and nuts
- Serving size: 1/3 cup
- Protein: 6 grams
While it doesn't meet our 8 grams of protein minimum, a snack mix of dried beans and nuts is still a good source of portable protein. Make your own with roasted chickpeas, nuts, and some seasoning, or check out a store-bought brand like Sahale Snacks.
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