Protein is vital to the health of the body and brain. It is used to manufacture enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals. As any bodybuilder knows, it expedites the repair and building of muscle tissue. Besides water, protein accounts for the highest percentage of a healthy person’s body weight.
Neurologically, protein enables our brain to grow and function. Amino acids, the building blocks of protein, permit the development of neurotransmitters, which, of course, are involved in every thought and feeling we have.
Finally, protein gives us energy. That’s probably what you were waiting for. Quality sources of it can provide long-lasting energy and a quick energy boost. Contrast this energy effect with many of our favorite go-to choices, simple carbs, which provide an energy spike followed by a crash.
Here are 20 snacks full of protein:
“I find that protein wakes up my brain and gets me ready for the rest of my day.” ~ Marisa Tomei
1. Mixed Nuts/Trail Mix
Mixed nuts or trail mix are an enjoyable way to get your daily dose of protein. They’re also versatile; you can mix nuts or add some fruit for a kick of sweetness.
‘Eat This, Not That!’ ranked the top six jerky brands as Brooklyn Biltong, Think Jerky, The New Primal, Field Trip, Nick’s Jerky, and Country Archer. Better yet, all of these companies support various causes: using local farms, grass-feeding, no hormones or additives, and humane sourcing.
3. Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of fiber, zinc, and protein. Seeds that are washed, dried and roasted often provide the best benefits.
4. Homemade Shakes
This one requires some high-quality protein powder. A scoop of vanilla whey, a cup of orange juice, and a cup of ice blended make for a nice on-the-go protein drink.
5. Nut Butter Boat
Nut butter is delicious; add some to a few chopped celery sticks and top with almonds or raisins. If preferred, you may also use sliced apples.
6. Deli Rollups
A couple of slices of deli turkey, a slice of cheese, and a slice of tomato contain more than double the protein of a hardboiled egg. When choosing meat, purchase products that are low in salt (and, if possible, humanely sourced.)
7. Edamame Pods
Edamame is a great source of protein (and rather fun to eat!) One cup of edamame pods contains about 15 grams of protein.
8. Hummus and Veggies
Do you have a travel mug lying around somewhere? Do you like hummus? Put 1/3 cup of the stuff at the bottom of the container and stick a handful of vegetable sticks (carrots and celery work well) vertically in the hummus.
Who doesn’t like a good PB&J sandwich once in a while? Peanut butter, as you probably know, is a great source of protein. For a healthier choice, use all-natural PB, and add some low-sugar jelly onto a piece of whole wheat bread.
10. Vegan Popcorn
Popcorn is a very healthy snack when not doused with liquid butter (eww) or caramel. Adding some nutritional yeast, the vegan answer to parmesan cheese combines some good B vitamins and protein.
11. Protein Poppers
Mix 1 ½ tablespoons of nut butter, 3 oats, and ½ tablespoon dark chocolate chips. Roll into small, bite-sized balls. Enjoy!
12. Toasted Quinoa
Quinoa is a gluten-free superfood. Add a bit of variety by packing some quinoa on top of yogurt, or eat it by the handful. Whatever you prefer, toasted quinoa is an excellent on-the-go choice.
13. Chocolate Milk
Some athletes and competitors swear by chocolate milk. Do yourself a favor, and stay away from the crap in gallon jugs. You can find a low-sugar alternative, and keep a pack or two in your bag for a quick protein boost.
14. Fresh Fruit Parfait
Alternatively, use a transport-friendly container to layer ½ cup of Greek yogurt, 2 tablespoons of oats, and 2 tablespoons of blueberries and/or strawberries. Enjoy your protein and probiotics-packed snack!
15. Cheese n’ Crackers
Fill a small resealable container with 2% string cheese sticks, a few whole wheat crackers, and a handful of almonds. You have a delicious, ready to go cheese platter.
16. One Kind Plus Bar
Kind Plus Bars taste good, are gluten-free, and are made from non-genetically engineered ingredients. While a tad pricey, Kind makes up for it with both their quality product and generous humanitarian initiatives.
17. Chunky Monkey
Add one medium banana, a tablespoon of peanut butter, a cup of low-fat chocolate milk, and a cup of ice. Blend. Tastes a lot better than protein powder, huh?
18. T’giving Sando
On a piece of whole wheat bread, add 2 slices of roasted turkey, a slice of cheese, 1 lettuce leaf, 1 slice of tomato, 1 teaspoon of mustard and some dried cranberries. One bite and you’ll look forward to the fourth Thursday of November.
19. Tuna and Crackers
Tuna is rich in vitamin D, omega-3s and protein. It’s also delicious when eaten with some whole wheat crackers.
20. Mini Quesadilla
Put ½ cup of black beans and a slice of cheddar cheese onto a whole wheat tortilla. Bake until the tortilla is light brown. Add a tablespoon of salsa and put into a plastic bag. That’s some healthy Tex-Mex you got to snack on, there.