Illustrated by Sydney Hass.
Whether it’s fueling up before hitting the gym or taking a mid-day snack break to avoid the 2 p.m. lull, high-protein snacks are the tastiest way to keep on going. Protein snacks are the perfect way to fill up just enough, and give us longer-lasting energy than the usual, carb-heavy options. Here are 31 of our favorite protein-packed snacks — one for every day of the month! We promise you won’t get sick of any of these choices.
1. Cottage-Style Fruit: Top 1/2 cup cottage cheese with 1/2 cup of your favorite fruit. Why not try some superfoods? Bananas, mixed berries, and melon are some Greatist favorites!
2. Beef or Turkey Jerky: Be careful to avoid sodium- and sugar-filled brands, but low-sodium, natural, or lightly-flavored options are a great source of protein. And this chewy snack is super-portable and keeps fresh for months when packed properly. A one-ounce serving (the size of most single-serve packs) contains about nine grams of protein!
3. Mixed Nuts & Trail Mix: This is a favorite in the Greatist office. Mixed nuts are an easy way to get a delicious dose of protein in a convenient, shelf-stable package. Try a mixed bunch for variety and a combo with dried fruit for some added sweetness. The best bang for your protein buck? Almonds and pistachios are high up there in protein while comparably lower in saturated fat than their nutty peers.
4. Pumpkin Seeds: Those orange gourds aren’t just for Halloween. The pumpkin's insides can actually make a healthy little snack once they’re washed, dried, and nicely roasted! Just 1/2 cup of pumpkin seeds has about 14 grams of protein — the perfect pre-workout snack!
5. Hard-Boiled Egg: Inexpensive and loaded with nutrients, eggs are one of the best ways to get a healthy dose of protein. Try hard boiling and pre-peeling a dozen at the start of the week and throw one in a small Tupperware container each day for an easy on-the-go snack. (Feeling extra famished? Slice the egg and place it on a piece of whole-wheat bread.)
6. Deli Rollup: Top two slices of low-sodium deli meat (turkey, chicken, or roast beef work great!) with 1 slice of low-fat cheese and a shake of pepper. Add a slice of tomato or some lettuce for extra veggie points!
Illustrated by Sydney Hass.
7. Nut Butter Boat: Any vehicle for nut butter (almond, peanut, or cashew, perhaps?) is perfection in our book. Try loading a few celery sticks with one tbsp of any nut butter topped with a few whole almonds or raisins (oh yeah, we went there). If you’re not a fan of celery, try scooping out the middle of an apple and fill it with a nut buttery surprise!
8. Mini Bean & Cheese Quesadilla: It might take an extra minute to prep, but combining these two high-protein treats is worth it! Fold 1/2 cup black beans, one tbsp salsa, and one slice cheddar cheese in a small soft tortilla. Cook in a dry nonstick pan until cheese is melted and tortilla is lightly browned. Wrap in foil and stick in a plastic baggie for easy transport.
9. Shake It Up: The combinations are endless with protein shakes. And one scoop can go a long way! Our favorites? The "Protein Creamsicle" — one scoop vanilla whey protein powder, one cup orange juice, and 1 cup ice blended until smooth — (thanks @JCDFitness!), and the "Star-buffs Shake" — 1 cup iced coffee (with ice) and 1 scoop chocolate whey protein, blended — a caffeine-filled creation from Greatist's fitness editor, Jordan Shakeshaft.
10. KIND Bar: We're not huge supporters of prepackaged bars, smoothies, and the like, but we make an exception for KIND bars. Their classic varieties are a great source of protein from the all-nut base (coming in at around five grams per bar), but for an even higher dose of the good stuff, try KIND Plus varieties with added protein. (An office favorite is Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein — one bar has seven grams!)
11. Easy Oatmeal Raisin Cookie: Flash back to elementary school snack time with this sweet (but still healthy!) treat. In a microwave-safe bowl (or mug), mix 1/4 cup oats, one tsp brown sugar, one tbsp flour (of your choice), one egg white, 1/4 tsp vanilla extract, 1/4 tsp baking powder, one tsp cinnamon, and one tbsp raisins. Flatten mixture into bottom of bowl and microwave on high for 45 seconds. Cool, pop it out of the bowl, and enjoy!
12. Tofu Sticks: This soybean-based protein bomb isn’t just for stir-fry and Asian takeout menus! When sliced into sticks and baked, firm (and smoked!) tofu can make a great snack food, especially if it’s served with a side of homemade tomato or teriyaki dipping sauce — just don’t overdo it!
Illustrated by Sydney Hass.
13. Chunky Monkey Shake: It’s time to get funky, monkey! Blend one medium banana, one tbsp of peanut butter, and one cup of low-fat chocolate milk with one cup of ice for a protein-packed pick-me-up.
14. Edamame Poppers: The only thing more fun than how much protein you can get from a serving of edamame is getting to eat these little beans out of their bright green pods. One cup of the pods offers about 17 grams of protein. Buy them fresh and steam for about six minutes, or use the pre-cooked frozen variety and briefly microwave to defrost (about two minutes) before chowing down.
15. Hummus Dippers: How’s this for an unconventional use of a travel coffee mug: Put two tablespoons of a favorite hummus in the bottom of the container. Stick a handful of vegetable sticks (carrots, celery, and snow peas are a great mix!) vertically in the hummus, screw on the top, and throw in a purse or gym bag for an easy, on-the-go, super-healthy snack.
16. Soy Milk Smoothie: Time to take a break from the moo-juice! While cow’s milk does have it’s nutritional benefits (calcium and vitamin A, to name a few), soy milk wins in a few categories (vitamin D and iron), and they’re nearly comparable in terms of protein. Try blending one cup of your favorite flavor of soy milk (vanilla and chocolate are Greatist favorites) with one cup of frozen blueberries or raspberries (for added fiber and antioxidants).
17. Portable Cheese Platter: Everyone wants to feel classy every once in a while, right? Make yourself a mini cheese plate with a reduced-fat cheese stick (or two slices of cheese), two whole-grain crackers, and a few roasted almonds.
18. Banana Nutter: Few pairings are more comforting than a classic peanut butter and banana combo. Top a rice cake (brown rice for extra fiber points!) with two tablespoons of your favorite nut butter and half a banana, sliced. Sprinkle with cinnamon for some extra healthy benefits!
19. Silver Dollar Protein Pancakes: Props to Greatist contributor Laura Skladzinski for this killer recipe. Mix four eggs, 1/2 cup of rolled oats, 1/2 cup of low-fat cottage cheese, 1/8 tsp of baking powder, and 1/2 tsp of pure vanilla extract. Cook on a preheated griddle (medium-low heat) until mixtures bubbles, flip and cook for another 60 seconds. Top with fresh berries or sliced banana.
Illustrated by Sydney Hass.
20. Chocolate Milk: No, we're not going back to preschool. Low-fat chocolate milk is actually a great source of high-quality protein (especially post-workout)! Try keeping a single-serving, shelf-stable box in your gym bag (or purse) for snack attack emergencies — just try to find one that’s also low in sugar! (I’m a huge fan of Horizon Dairy's single-serve, low-fat chocolate milk boxes.)
21. “Get Greek” Berry Parfait: Just imagine sitting on a Greek isle with this snack in hand. Top 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt with 1/2 cup fresh berries and 1 tablespoon sliced roasted almonds.
22. Grape-and-Cheese Sticks: This is my childhood favorite! Dice a half-inch thick slice of cheddar cheese into squares (you should end up with about 6 small pieces, equaling about one ounce) and rinse six grapes. On six toothpicks, stack the grape and cheese, and enjoy! Just one ounce of reduced-fat sharp cheddar offers eight grams of protein, and the contrast with sweet grapes is super sophisticated (and delicious).
23. Almond Butter Toast Sticks: Here’s another one to fit in that travel mug or mason jar. Toast (or bake) 2 slices of whole-grain bread, and cut into 1/2-inch strips. Place 2 tbsp of almond butter (or another nut butter) in the bottom of a container with a top, stick the toast sticks in vertically, and sprinkle with cinnamon. Screw on the top and head out the door!
24. A Little Lentil: We know what you’re thinking: “Lentils? As a snack?!” Yes! Don’t worry, we’re not talking about a bowl of the bland ol’ green things. Lentils are great protein-packed legumes that are easy to turn into super, shelf-stable salads. One cup has a whopping 22 grams of protein in just 300 calories! Not sure where to start? Try this lentil tabbouleh or this simple veggie and lentil mix.
25. Perfect Little Parfait: Top 1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt with a handful of fruit (fresh or frozen) and a drizzle of honey. Add two tbsp of toasted oats for a protein-packed crunch.
For even more high-protein snack ideas, head on over to Greatist.