21 High Protein Snacks to Add To Your Meal Plan
No matter what type of exercises you do, there’s nothing better than a good workout session that makes you sweat. Whether it’s increasing the intensity of your weight training using occlusion training bands or adding in some dumbbells to your squat exercises, the feeling of getting stronger is the absolute best.
But in order for you to make any gains, you need to fuel your body with the right kinds of food. In the world of fitness, it’s commonly known that protein is one of the best types of food to eat before and after you workout.
If you’re struggling to think of some healthy protein snacks or aren’t sure about what snacks are high in protein, then you’ve come to the right place! In this article, we’ll give you 21 high protein snacks that you can add to your meal plan and eat before or after you exercise.
What is Protein?
Before we get into some of the best high protein snacks, let’s talk about what protein is and why we need it in our diet.
Protein is an essential macronutrient that’s made up of amino acids, which are the building blocks of muscles, bones, cartilage, and skin. There are two types of protein that are classified based on their sources: complete protein and incomplete protein. Complete protein comes from animal sources while incomplete protein comes from plant or vegetable sources, which need to be paired with another source of protein. To give you the best of both worlds, we’ve included a mix of both types in our list of high protein snacks (which we’ll dive into later).
While each person’s weight and health conditions vary, for gaining muscle our bodies generally need around one gram of protein per pound (2.2 grams per kg) of body weight on a daily basis. Eating moderate amounts of protein daily comes with a range of health benefits such as:
- Reduced appetite and hunger
- Increased muscle mass and strength
- Better bone health
- Increased metabolism
- Decreased blood pressure
- Helps repair your body after injury
Now that you know about the health benefits of eating protein, you might be wondering about the weight loss benefits and asking yourself, “Does protein help with belly fat?”
The short answer is yes! Protein helps to reduce appetite and hunger by releasing appetite-suppressing hormones to slow your digestion and make you feel full faster so you eat less. With a reduced caloric intake and increased metabolism, the amount of belly fat you have may be decreased. In fact, one study reports that people who eat more and better protein have less belly fat.
What is a Good High Protein Meal Plan?
A good high protein meal plan is one that includes a variety of foods tailored to your specific health needs. To help give you some ideas of healthy options, below are 21 high protein snacks that are perfect for weight loss, bodybuilding, and when you’re on the go.
High Protein Snacks for Weight Loss
- Peanut butter with celery sticks: This classic combo gives you 4 grams of protein per tablespoon of peanut butter and serves as a good high protein pre-workout snack.
- Veggies and hummus: Hummus is essentially made from cooked and mashed chickpeas which are rich in protein. Typically, a ⅓ cup serving of hummus gives you 4 grams of protein. Pair this with a veggie of your choice and you’ll be ready to snack!
- Oatmeal: Oatmeal isn't just a breakfast food. It's great as a snack in between workouts and is high in protein and loaded with vitamins and minerals. It also keeps you full longer and reduces hunger.
- Cottage cheese: One cup (226 grams) of low-fat cottage cheese gives you 28 grams of protein to fuel your body. And, it’s rich in calcium and good for your bones.
- Protein pancakes: If you want to bulk up your normal pancakes with protein, throw in some of your favorite protein powder.
- Hard-boiled eggs: Eggs are full of protein and other nutrients that your body needs, like B vitamins and trace minerals. One hard-boiled egg gives you 6 grams of protein, so these make a great high protein pre-workout snack.
- Greek yogurt parfait: Greek yogurt is high in protein (20 grams per cup) and calcium. If you want to make this snack more filling with some extra protein, add a cup of granola and berries.
High Protein Snacks for Bodybuilding
- Apples and peanut butter: This quick and easy snack combo gives you fiber, antioxidants, a natural anti-inflammatory, and 4 grams of protein per tablespoon of peanut butter.
- Jerky: Jerky is dried meat that’s been cut into strips and trimmed of fat. It’s a great source of protein, containing 9 grams per ounce (28 grams). However, many store-bought jerky contains artificial ingredients and preservatives, so it’s best to make your own.
- Protein smoothies: Protein smoothies are great for keeping yourself full and away from the snack cabinet. Just try to use quality protein ingredients, such as Greek yogurt, milk, or natural peanut butter.
- Turkey roll-ups: If you’re looking for some high protein snacks after a workout, then add this easy low-carb option to your list. All you need to do is roll up some veggies and cheese in a slice of turkey!
- Black bean dip with whole grain crackers: Beans are another good source of protein (especially if you’re a vegetarian or vegan) and taste even better as a dip.
- String cheese: Regardless of whether you peel or bite your string cheese, this snack gives you 7 grams of protein per stick and plenty of calcium for your bones.
- Chia pudding: It’s time to hop on the chia train and try out this high protein snack. With 4 grams of protein per ounce of chia seeds, you’ll be fueled and satisfied.
Healthy Snacks on the Go
- Protein bars: This high protein pre-workout snack is a classic food option. If you want to avoid the added sugars and artificial ingredients in store-bought protein bars, you can always make your own at home.
- Roasted chickpeas: Chickpeas give you 7.5 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber for a half-cup serving (82 grams). And, you can snack on them wherever you go!
- Pumpkin seeds: Pumpkin seeds are high in protein, fiber, and healthy fats. Prepare a savory snack on the go by tossing some pumpkin seeds in olive oil, salt, and pepper, and bake them in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes at 250 degrees.
- Trail mix: Pack some protein into your meal plan with a handful of trail mix. You can add in your own selection of nuts and fruits to customize your snack!
- Homemade granola: Most granola gives you 4 grams of protein per ounce. However, store-bought granola often has added sugars and preservatives, so it’s best to make your own at home.
- Egg muffins: You’ll definitely want to add these to your list of high protein snacks after a workout. Made with eggs, veggies, and seasonings, this baked savory snack is tasty and healthy.
- Cheesy popcorn: Compared to snacks like potato chips, popcorn is a healthier and more filling alternative. And, it’s rich in B vitamins, magnesium, zinc, and fiber. While it’s not incredibly high in protein on its own, you can always add some low-fat Parmesan cheese, which has 10 grams of protein per ounce.
Best High Protein Snacks: Final Thoughts
Whether you’re looking for a pre-workout snack or quick after-workout bite, these 21 high protein snacks are perfect to add to your meal plan. And best of all, they’re simple and easy to prepare. So the next time you’re looking for something to eat that will keep you satisfied until your next meal or workout session, protein is the way to go!
Contributing Writer: Rebecca Lee