When you start a new exercise regime, the first change you’re likely to make to your diet is to increase your protein intake to help your body repair and rebuild muscles.
Most of your protein intake should come from your main meals, but eating snacks high in the stuff is a savvy move – not only because it will help you hit your daily targets but also because protein makes you feel fuller for longer. Biscuits might seem satisfying in the short term, but after half an hour you’ll be tempted to dip back into the pack for more, while a protein-rich snack will actually keep hunger at bay until your next meal.
Read on for a list of the best high-protein snacks, plus some recipes to make your own protein-rich nibbles.
RECOMMENDED: Low-Calorie Snacks
12 High-Protein Snacks (Protein Content Per 100g)
- Roasted soy beans (36-40g): If you can find roasted soy beans in your local supermarket it’s worth stocking up because they’re chock full of protein and fibre, which should ensure hunger doesn’t strike again before the next mealtime.
- Beef jerky (30-40g): These delicious dried strips of meat are the perfect high-protein pick-me-up, but it’s worth checking how much salt and sugar your favourite variety contains, since jerky can be alarmingly high in both.
- Pumpkin seeds (30g): Roasted and salted pumpkin seeds are a snack fit for a king – the high protein content is just a bonus. You can also eat them plain, if you want to be even more healthy.
- Peanut butter (25g): There are high-protein versions of peanut butter out there which contain over 30g per 100g, but even the bog-standard stuff is still rich in protein as well as healthy unsaturated fats.
- Almonds (21-25g): Almonds were reportedly President Obama’s snack of choice when in office, and for good reason. They’re high in protein, unsaturated fats and vitamin E, which helps keep your skin glowingly healthy.
- Hazelnuts (15g): As well as packing in the protein, hazelnuts contain around 10g of fibre per 100g.
- Brazil nuts (15g): Brazil nuts are one of the best dietary sources of selenium, which your body needs to support its immune system.
- Walnuts (15g): Another excellent nut that can fulfil your high-protein snack needs, walnuts also contain the essential fatty acid alpha-linoleic acid, which can help reduce the risk of heart disease.
- Boiled eggs (12.5g): Let’s be honest, you’re not going to make any friends if you start peeling an egg at your desk, but if you work from home or have your own office, they are a fine source of protein.
- Cottage cheese (10g): If you can handle the gooey/chunky texture, cottage cheese is a great low-fat pick for snack time. Spread it on oatcakes for some extra fibre.
- Roasted chickpeas (7-10g): Drain a can of chickpeas, sprinkle on some salt and pop them in the oven for half an hour at 180℃ and you have an easy snack full of protein and fibre.
- Greek yogurt (9-10g): Make sure you get proper Greek yogurt (Total is the most widespread brand), rather than “Greek style”, which contains half the protein.
RECOMMENDED: Peanut Butter Recipes
High-Protein Snack Recipes
Protein Balls Recipe
Nutritional information Per ball: calories 133, protein 5g, fat 8g, carbs 12g
Ingredients (makes 10-12 balls)
- 180g peanut butter
- 90g agave honey
- 1 scoop of vanilla protein powder
- 45g porridge oats
Peanut butter is a good source of monounsaturated fats, which are linked with improved cardiovascular health, and it’s also packed with protein and fibre. Oats are a source of beta-glucans, a soluble fibre that can lower cholesterol via its interaction with the bacteria in your gut. Agave honey adds sweetness, but it’s low-GI, so it doesn’t have the fat-storing effect of other sweet foods that contain sucrose.
Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and form into walnut-sized balls. Place the balls in the fridge for a couple of hours until they harden.
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Protein Squares Recipe
Nutritional information Per square: calories 308, protein 8g, fat 16g, carbs 35g
Ingredients (makes 8 squares)
- 170g almond butter
- 75g butter
- 100g honey
- 100g dried apricots, chopped
- 25g mixed seeds
- 1tsp cinnamon
- ½tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1 scoop of vanilla protein powder
- 100g wholemeal self-raising flour
- 150g porridge oats
Almond butter is high in monounsaturated fats, vitamin E and manganese. Seeds are rich in essential minerals such as zinc and copper, which play critical roles in energy metabolism.
Melt the butter, almond butter and honey in a large saucepan. Add the protein powder, apricots, seeds, cinnamon, bicarbonate of soda, flour and oats. Press into a greased or lined baking tray. Bake at 180˚C/gas mark 4 for 20 minutes until the edges are crisp but it is still soft in the middle.
Leave in the tray until completely cool, then cut into eight squares and refrigerate.
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Protein Mousse Recipe
Nutritional information Per serving: calories 294, protein 26.2g, fat 6g, carbs 32.5g
Ingredients (makes 4 servings)
- 175g dark chocolate (approx 80% cocoa solids)
- 350g soft tofu
- 1 scoop of chocolate protein powder
- Juice and zest of 2 oranges
- Grated orange zest and chocolate (to serve)
Flavonols in chocolate are thought to protect against the cellular and tissue damage caused by intense training. Tofu is a good protein source but don’t eat it too often because it contains phytoestrogens, which can affect your testosterone levels.
Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally. Allow to cool slightly. Blend the tofu, protein powder and orange zest and juice until smooth and creamy. Spoon into four dishes and chill in the fridge until set. Decorate with a little orange zest and grated chocolate.
RECOMMENDED: High-Protein Foods