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10 Best Weight-Loss Snacks That Help You Build Muscle

A dietitian says eating these foods can help you reach your fitness goals.
FACT CHECKED BY Alexa Mellardo

Do you want to shed pounds and pack on muscle simultaneously? If so, you're in the right place. Although snacking often gets a bad rap, it can be a powerful tool for weight loss and muscle growth when done correctly. However, determining which snacks support your fitness goals can seem impossible—especially with the inundation of snack options claiming to be healthy being shoved down our throats (no pun intended) every day. That's why we spoke with Destini Moody, RDN, CSSD, LD, a registered dietitian and sports dietitian with Garage Gym Reviews, who shares the 10 best weight-loss snacks that help you build muscle while succeeding in your fat-loss journey.

Weight loss and muscle-building may seem like they're on opposite ends of the fitness spectrum. But from a nutritional perspective, high-protein snacks are your best bet for reaching both these goals. Protein is the most satiating macronutrient, making it an essential weight-loss nutrient. Consuming protein-rich foods can help you slim down by increasing feelings of fullness, reducing overall calorie intake, and preventing overeating. Additionally, protein's high thermic effect means your body expends more energy to digest and metabolize it than other nutrients, helping you burn more calories while at rest.

Everyone knows you need adequate amounts of high-quality protein to build muscle. Protein is made up of amino acids, which are essential for building and repairing muscles. Small tears occur in your muscle fibers when you engage in physical activities like strength training. Consuming adequate protein is crucial as it provides the amino acids necessary for muscle protein synthesis and repair.

Keep reading for Moody's 10 best weight-loss snacks to build muscle and shed unwanted pounds. And when you're done, be sure to check out A Trainer's #1 Weekly Workout to Lose Weight & Build Muscle.

Whey Protein Shakes

ingredients for protein shake

You'd be hard-pressed to find a quicker, more convenient source of high-quality protein than a whey protein shake.

"Having a protein shake with at least 20 grams of protein is a great snack between meals because whey protein shakes and powder tend to be low-calorie but very filling," explains Moody. "Some dietitians even recommend that those trying to lose weight should have a protein shake before eating at a restaurant to help prevent overeating."

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Roasted Chickpeas

chickpeas on sheet

Roasted chickpeas are a crunchy, satisfying snack that combines plant-based protein, fiber, and essential nutrients to support muscle growth and weight loss.

"Chickpeas are a rich source of fiber and plant-powered protein, which help control hunger for not a lot of calories and promote weight loss and muscle gain," says Moody. "They're also easy to roast and are very affordable."

Boiled Eggs

hard-boiled eggs

Hard-boiled eggs are a nutrient-dense snack rich in protein and healthy fats. With minimal calories and high satiety, they're an ideal option to fuel your weight loss and muscle-building goals.

"Boiled eggs are a portable snack packed with the high-quality amino acids needed to put on muscle mass," Moody tells us. "Also, one large egg is only 70 calories, so that they can be appropriate for weight loss."

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Cottage Cheese

cottage cheese with berries

Cottage cheese is a versatile snack that provides a good balance of protein and fats for muscle development. Plus, its slow-digesting nature helps keep you full, preventing overeating.

Moody points out, "Cottage cheese is an underrated lean protein source. One cup can pack as much protein as a protein shake, containing all the essential amino acids critical for muscle growth. Add some fruit to make a complete, low-calorie snack perfect for managing weight, as long as it's non-fat."


edamame with sea salt

Edamame is a plant-based protein powerhouse that supports muscle development. It's a nutritious snack that's low in calories and high in essential amino acids.

"Edamame in a shell is a brilliant snack for weight loss as the presence of the pod makes it hard to consume too much too fast," says Moody. "Edamame is made from soy, one of the few vegan sources of protein that is complete, meaning it contains all essential amino acids."

Beef Jerky

organic beef jerky

Beef jerky is a convenient, protein-packed snack that can support muscle growth when enjoyed in moderation.

"Being virtually fat and carb-free, beef jerky is almost pure protein; a bodybuilder's dream. However, beef jerky has a long shelf life and can be taken anywhere. Meaning, when premature hunger strikes, you can keep it at bay with beef jerky without sacrificing too much of your calorie goal," says Moody.

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oatmeal with berries

Oatmeal is a complex carbohydrate source that provides long-lasting energy to fuel your workouts and keep you satiated.

"Oatmeal can be tricky because it can rack up the calories quickly," cautions Moody. "However, if you have a small portion in snack form, you can have a snack full of soluble fiber. Soluble fiber forms a gel in the gut, which not only helps lower cholesterol but also slows down digestion to control hunger. Oatmeal is also high in carbs, which can spare the muscles from breakdown."

Tuna and Crackers

tuna salad crackers

Tuna paired with whole-grain crackers is a delicious high-protein snack. It's also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which support muscle health and can aid in weight loss when incorporated into a well-balanced diet.

"Tuna is a low-fat source of protein that can also fit in most food budgets," states Moody. "One can of tuna packed in water averages about 120 calories, and if paired with some whole wheat crackers, can make a balanced snack to keep you going until dinner."

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Baby Carrots with Greek Yogurt

baby carrots

Pairing baby carrots with Greek yogurt offers a satisfying blend of crunch and creaminess. This combo delivers a mix of fiber and protein to help support weight loss and muscle maintenance.

"Ever sprinkled plain, nonfat Greek yogurt with ranch powder? You should start. It makes a delicious, guilt-free dip without the saturated fat and extra calories but with all the protein to help keep you full. Using baby carrots as the vessel for the homemade sauce is great for weight loss as baby carrots are very low-calorie, but high volume due to their water content," says Moody.

Protein Chips

beet chips

Protein chips made from pea or whey protein provide a crunchy alternative to traditional potato chips. Beyond satisfying your snack cravings, they also boost muscle protein synthesis for added gains.

"If potato chips are your Achilles heel while trying to lose weight, consider switching to some protein chips," Moody recommends. "Potato chips are such an enemy to weight loss because they are addictively salty but lack the fiber or protein needed to keep hunger under control. This means you end up eating them almost endlessly and still feel unsatisfied. With protein chips, you get protein and carbs to fuel muscle gain while biting into a much more manageable alternative snack."

Adam Meyer, RHN
Adam is a health writer, certified holistic nutritionist, and 100% plant-based athlete. Read more about Adam
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