Whether you're a fitness buff or could stand to lose a few pounds, incorporating protein-rich foods into your daily snacks can help you reach your goals. Eating a high-protein snack after working out helps repair and build muscles. Snacks high in protein help you feel full, which can reduce the urge to snack on unhealthy foods. A 2013 study published in "Appetite" found that women who ate an afternoon snack high in protein felt fuller for a longer period than those who consumed no snack and those who ate a snack lower in protein.
If you typically think of meat as a strictly "meal food," you might want to change your perspective. A small snack that includes meat can help stave off hunger until your next meal, helping you keep control so you don't overindulge from feeling famished. Stick to lean meats, like turkey and fish, to keep calories and unhealthy fats low. Try spreading some tuna or salmon on whole wheat crackers or brown rice cakes. A 3-ounce serving of canned tuna contains 22 grams of protein per serving. Roll up some deli meat in a lettuce leaf or a whole wheat tortilla for a protein snack on the run.
Choose low-fat dairy products to get the benefits of protein without the extra calories. A 1-ounce slice of low-fat mozzarella contains just under 7 grams of protein, low-fat Swiss has about 8 grams per ounce and a 1/2-cup serving of low-fat, 1 percent cottage cheese has 14 grams. Include some cheese wrapped in a slice of deli meat or snack on a small bowl of cottage cheese with fruit. Yogurt is another good protein-rich snack. When eating yogurt, go for Greek varieties to add extra protein. A 6-ounce container of plain, nonfat Greek yogurt has just over 17 grams of protein.
Nosh on Nuts and Seeds
Nuts are satiating because they're high in protein, and they make a great snack when you're on the go or tied to your desk at work. Based on 1-ounce servings, peanuts contain 7 grams, and almonds, pistachios and sunflower seeds have 6 grams. Make sure to watch your portion sizes with nuts -- they're high in fat as well as protein. Separate servings into small bags you can grab quickly. If eating nuts and seeds plain isn't your thing, try sprinkling a few into yogurt or cottage cheese, or spread nut butter on apple slices or celery sticks.
Protein From Plants
Plant-based proteins are low in saturated fat. They're also alkaline, which may help reduce inflammation and protect your bones, explains "U.S. News & World Report." Snack on a cup of edamame for nearly 17 grams of protein with only 189 calories. Other beans and lentils are also high in protein and make good choices for snacking. Make a small bean burrito with a whole-grain tortilla or dip a wheat pita in hummus, which contains about 10 grams of protein per 1/2 cup.
- Washington Post: Nutrition: Best to Eat Before and After Exercise
- Appetite: Low, Moderate, or High Protein Yogurt Snacks on Appetite Control and Subsequent Eating in Healthy Women
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Tuna, Chunk Light, in Water, Canned
- Stanford Medicine Cancer Institute: High-Protein Foods
- U.S. News & World Report: Why and How to Consume Plant-Based Protein
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Cheese, Swiss, Low Fat
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Cheese, Cottage, Lowfat, 1% Milkfat
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Yogurt, Greek, Plain, Nonfat
- HealthAliciousNess.com: Top 10 Foods Highest in Protein
- Health: Best and Worst Nuts for Your Health