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
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.”
These healthy protein snacks all have a minimum of 8 grams of protein—many with much more.
16 high-protein snacks to try
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.”
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.”
Protein per serving: 10-11 grams