Snacking has a bad reputation, and that’s because so many “snack foods” are full of processed ingredients, sugar, additives and calories — and those store-bought packaged goods aren’t doing your health goals any favors. However, when done properly, snacking on healthy food is an excellent way to keep your energy up between meals, get in additional valuable macro- and micronutrients and make sure you don’t end up too hungry and overeat at your next sitting.
When you reach for a snack, look for a good amount of protein per serving, at least 6 grams or more. Not only is protein one of the building blocks of your muscles, hair, nails, bones and even blood, but protein also keeps you fuller longer and more satiated than just carbohydrates alone.
Here are some tasty and healthy higher-in-protein snack choices…
A small handful of raw almonds is a super convenient snack, which doesn’t require refrigeration and can be taken on the go in a bag or even a pocket. Almonds contain beneficial fiber, antioxidants, magnesium and vitamin E, and they are known to help with blood-sugar control too. There are 6 grams of protein and 160 calories per 1-ounce serving in an average handful of almonds. And because your body can’t break down a small portion of the nut, you end up absorbing slightly less calories.
Look for the single-serve bags of raw almonds at Trader Joe’s and other grocery stores, which will help you section out just enough for the perfect snack.
Cottage cheese is packed full of calcium to support your bones, selenium to support your immune system, vitamins and of course, protein. One cup of full-fat cottage cheese has approximately 25 grams of protein and a little more than 200 calories, so with just one serving, you’ll be getting in plenty of protein and a lot of nutrition, with a pleasing taste and texture.
Look for organic full-fat cottage cheese to get the most satiating and best quality snack.
Not just an appetizer at a sushi restaurant, edamame is a great snack, full of nutrients and protein. Edamame is whole, immature soybeans, with a pod-encased covering, which you don’t eat. One cooked cup of edamame can contain around 18 grams of protein, including all the essential amino acids, for very low calories. Edamame is also full of fiber and antioxidants that can help to lower cholesterol.
Look for edamame in your local grocery store’s freezer section. You can steam it, microwave it, pan-fry it or bake it. Once cooked, remove the pods, and add some sea salt for a bit of seasoning and enjoy.
A typical egg is only around 70 calories, but has approximately 6 grams of valuable protein (eggs are the gold standard for complete protein, because they have all of the essential amino acids). Eggs are a nutritional powerhouse containing many vitamins, selenium, healthy fats and even choline, which is an important nutrient that helps build cells in your body.
You can make your own hard-boiled eggs at home in no time, or pick up pre-made versions. The most important thing to look for is that your eggs have been pasture-raised, if at all possible, because hens raised on that diet tend to have more omega-3 healthy fats, so you get more nutrients from those eggs than other varieties. And if you want to add some flavor, sprinkle sea salt, black pepper or even some chili powder for a little kick.
Greek yogurt is dairy yogurt that has been additionally strained, so that it has less sugar, less lactose and a tart taste. Greek yogurt contains beneficial probiotics to support your gut health and digestion, and it also has calcium for your bones and of course, quite a bit of protein too. Just one cup of plain Greek yogurt has approximately 15 grams of protein and around 150 calories.
Be sure to check the labels of your Greek yogurt to make sure there aren’t too many fillers, and be wary of the fruit-on-the-bottom kind, which can be loaded with sugar. Look for plain full-fat Greek yogurt, and if you want to add some flavor, a little bit of honey, cinnamon or a handful of blueberries are great topping choices.