Protein is a nutrient that your body needs for a wide range of bodily functions, including building and maintaining healthy muscles, promoting proper hormone production and encouraging the transport of oxygen through your blood, according to the Harvard School of Public Health.
Without enough protein, you may feel fatigued and weak. By carrying high protein snacks with you everywhere you go, you can easily ensure that you are getting your daily quota for energy and good overall health. Here are some of the best protein snacks for on the go.
1. Air Popped Popcorn
Popcorn is considered a whole grain, which means it’s loaded with protein and fiber. By adding some chocolate and peanut butter chips to the popcorn, you further increase your protein intake while also satisfying your hunger and keeping your fat and calorie intake under control. Try to limit the amount of butter you drizzle on your popcorn because it can really turn a healthy, protein packed snack into a diet bomb that will do more harm than good. Take a bag of air popped popcorn along with you to work or when you go shopping and you’ll always have a protein snack you can feel good about eating.
2. A Greek Yogurt Smoothie
Greek yogurt is one of your best choices for increasing your protein intake. It’s much higher in protein than traditional yogurt. Opt for the plain variety to keep sugar calories under control. Adding Greek yogurt to a smoothie dramatically increases the amount of protein you get. Combine the yogurt with your favorite kinds of fresh fruit. Berries, kiwis, bananas and mango make healthy and nutrient packed choices. Add some 100% juice or low-fat milk to your smoothie to reach the desired consistency. Pour your smoothie into a travel mug and you have the perfect to-go snack for any busy day.
3. Nuts And Cheese
Both nuts and cheese are great choices when it comes to protein. In fact, both have some of the highest you can find. Combined, the combination of nuts and cheese give you a great combination of protein, healthy fats and carbs, which is the ideal mixture when it comes to the perfect snack. Add an apple to make it even better. This on the go snack can go to the office, school or just for a day when you know you’re going to be busy and won’t have time to prepare a meal.
4. Protein Bars
While protein bars can be a prime snack for your busiest days, you must use caution when choosing one. Unless it is replacing a meal, your protein bar should be low in fat, sugar and calories. Look for bars that contain less than 200 calories, but plenty of protein to fill you up and satisfy your hunger. If you can’t find a pre-made protein bar that fits your needs, consider making your own so that you can control the kinds of ingredients that make up the bars.
5. Hemp Hearts
It might sound strange, but hemp hearts are a great plant source of protein that also contains a good amount of omega-3 fatty acids. Eating them for a snack gives you something healthy and refreshing to look forward to when hunger strikes. In an interview with Livestrong.com, Kathy Siegel, M.S., RDN suggests pairing hemp hearts with a coconut bar to create a portable and easy snack that is low in calories, but high in protein.
6. Nut Butter In Celery
This snack from your childhood turns out to be an optimal choice when you want to get more protein. The combination of protein in the nut butter combined with the healthy carbs in the celery provides you with plenty of energy for your midday snack and lots of flavor to satisfy hunger. Peanut butter is the obvious choice, but you can also try cashew or almond butter if you prefer.
7. Cottage Cheese
According to the nutrition experts at Health magazine, a cup of cottage cheese is a protein powerhouse that you can pack in your lunchbox for a quick snack during the day. In fact, cottage cheese contains more protein than Greek yogurt. Sprinkle on a dash of salt and black pepper to give your cottage cheese some flavor. Alternatively, add some diced tomatoes and cucumbers to add crunch and fiber to your snack.
8. Roasted Chickpeas
This snack is super easy to make and loads you up on protein in a good way. To make roasted chickpeas, spread canned chickpeas on a baking sheet in a single layer. Spritz them with cooking spray and season with your favorite spices. Garlic and crushed red pepper make a great combination. Roast the chickpeas at 450 degrees until they are golden brown and crunchy for about 20 to 30 minutes. A single serving gives you five grams of fiber.
9. Turkey Roll-ups
Meat is one of your best bets when it comes to getting enough protein every day. Turkey roll-ups are an easy and portable snack that you can take with you anywhere you go. Inside a slice of turkey, layer a tomato slice and a smear of spicy mustard and roll the turkey up. You can also wrap the entire thing in lettuce to add even more nutrients.
A can or pouch of tuna is something you can never go wrong with when it comes to high protein snacks. The trick is to eat your tuna without all the added mayo you typically find mixed in. Not only does tuna pack a protein punch, but it also contains omega-3 fatty acids and other important nutrients. Pair your tuna with whole grain crackers to up the healthy carb content in your snack.
As you can see, meeting your protein needs can be delicious and easy, even when you’re on the go. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, the average woman should get about 46 grams of protein per day, while men need closer to 56 grams each day. To calculate your specific needs, consider that you need eight grams of protein per 20 pounds of body weight so your needs may be higher or lower than the average daily recommended intake. If you’re worried about your protein intake, talk with your doctor about what you can do to get more without compromising your health goals.
It’s also a good idea to mix up your protein options. In addition to the items listed above, meat, fish, dairy foods, nuts, seeds, eggs and beans are also prime sources of the nutrient. By mixing and matching your choices, you optimize your nutrient intake and cover a wide range of daily needs. In addition, most meats are your complete sources of protein, while plant proteins are typically incomplete, requiring you to pair them to cover all of your amino acid needs. If you’re still struggling with getting your intake adjusted, see a nutritionist to figure out your exact requirements and what you can do to satisfy them.