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I definitely consider myself a snacker, and I know I am not alone. Around 2:00 in the afternoon, I am often in need of something to tide me over. While it is tempting to give into cravings for some salty chips or a cookie as an afternoon pick me up, this sort of snacking is counterproductive; it won’t keep you full, will leave you wanting more, and doesn’t provide your body with beneficial nutrients. So if you must have a snack during the day, try to turn to snacks high in protein instead. Protein will help satisfy your appetite, hold you over until dinner, and keep you from eating more unhealthy snacks as the day goes on.
Ideas for snacks high in protein
Maybe you are starting to get hungry in the mid-morning, a few hours before your lunch break. Or maybe you’ve hit an afternoon slump and need a little food to boost your energy and tide you over until dinner. Whatever the reason for needing a snack, be sure to choose an option that gives you a healthy serving of protein. There are a variety of vegetarian and non-vegetarian options of healthy, protein-rich snacks. Try some of the following ideas:
- Plain yogurt, Greek yogurt, or kefir
- A few handfuls of nuts (try almonds, pecans, walnuts, or cashews)
- Celery with your favorite nut butter spread on top
- A slice of turkey breast
- A hard boiled egg
- Cheese slices
- Cottage cheese
- Hummus with vegetables
Personally, my favorite easy and satisfying high-protein snack is a handful of tree nuts. I keep large bags of various nut types in my freezer, as well as fun prepackaged nut mixes in my pantry and eat a small amount of them daily. Plus, nuts are very convenient; when I am going out for a long day away from home, I throw one of the nut mixes in my car or purse just in case. Read more about why nuts are good for you here.
Why is protein a good snacking option?
Numerous studies have examined the effects of high-protein snacking on food intake, appetite, and more. In a recent study published in the Journal of Nutrition, adolescents were given either a high-protein snack (26 g of protein and 6 g of fat), a high-fat snack (4 g of protein and 12 g of fat), or no snack. Appetite, mood, and eating habits were recorded during the study. The results showed the teens who ate high-protein snacks showed improvements in appetite control, feelings of fullness, and diet quality compared to the other groups. Specifically, the teens who ate protein as a snack ate more total protein throughout the day and less total dietary fat. They also waited longer to eat their next meal, and they showed less unhealthy evening snacking as well.
Similar results have been found in adults. Women who ate high-protein snacks had better appetite control, felt more full, and ate less food later in the day compared to women who ate high-fat snacks. One study found that Greek yogurt containing 24 g of protein as an afternoon snack was best at reducing afternoon hunger, increasing satiety, and delaying subsequent eating compared to yogurt snacks with lower protein content.
Stock your kitchen with high-protein snacks that you and your family enjoy, so that you can reach for these options when you need a snack. Avoid salty, sweet, and carbohydrate-heavy snacks. This will help you eat a healthier, more well-rounded diet.
To read about how a high-protein, low-carb diet can help you to lose weight, go here.
Share your experience
Do you have healthy snacking tips to share? In the comments section below, share with us your favorite snack ideas high in protein.