These healthy, easy snacks are chock-full of satisfying protein and are easy to pack and take with you. Protein-rich snacks have staying power in your tummy, which can help keep you from overeating between meals.
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We all know the feeling: 3 p.m. hits, and you suddenly desperately need a snack to make it to the end of the workday, let alone dinner.

The vending machine is calling out to you. Its sodium-laden potato chips and sugary chocolate candy seem necessary right now. But what happens when you eat these snacks? They certainly satisfy your craving (temporarily), but then you're hungry again in an hour or so. And what kind of nutrition did they really provide? Not much.

Now is as great a time as any to set new snacking goals—to step away from processed, low-nutrient snacks and instead reach for nutrient-dense, protein-rich snacks that will keep you fuller longer.

Dark Chocolate Trail Mix

Pictured recipe: Dark Chocolate Trail Mix

Why Is Protein Important for a Snack?

Protein is a big focus for dieters and healthy eaters because when you include it in a meal or snack, it helps you feel satiated. And any food that can keep you feeling fuller and longer, gets a thumbs-up.

But the truth is, we almost always get enough protein without even trying. In the U.S., the average woman eats about 73 grams per day, while the average man eats about 105 grams per day. Both of those amounts are higher than the recommended intakes (0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight).

apples with almond butter

The key is to distribute protein throughout the day and to focus on the type of protein sources you eat. We tend to load up on this macronutrient at dinner, but you may better incorporate protein into meals and snacks throughout your day. Doing so will help you remain fuller between meals, and your body will be able to more efficiently use the protein consumed.

Also, it's important to remember that there are many different protein sources. You don't just have to rely on a massive steak for dinner or a deli-meat-loaded sandwich for lunch. Switch it up—you can get protein from nuts, fish, dairy, legumes and even whole grains—and all of these offer other nutritional benefits besides protein.

Hard-Boiled Egg & Almonds

Pictured recipe: Hard-Boiled Egg & Almonds

16 Healthy High-Protein Snacks

Instead of relying on protein powders and shakes full of ingredients you can't pronounce, opt for protein-rich, nutrient-dense whole foods that offer much more nutrition overall (vitamins, minerals, fiber and more). Making your own snacks as oppose to relying on packaged snacks all the time, leaves you in control of the portion size and nutritional benefits. A small investment of time and effort on the front end will save you money and calories later on.

We have com up with a list of filling snacks—each have 6 to 20 grams of protein (for reference, an egg has 6 grams of protein). Our snack suggestions are also easy to prepare, completely packable, and can be carried with you—from the office to the ballpark.

1. DIY Trail Mix

What you need

  • 1 tablespoon whole almonds
  • 1 tablespoon peptias
  • 1 tablespoon walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon dark chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon dried apricots, chopped

Why it's a winner: The nuts and seeds not only provide a source of protein but also offer fiber to keep you satisfied. Plus, the sweetness from dark chocolate chips and dried apricot makes midafternoon snacking feel like a treat. Calories in pre-made trail mixes add up fast—and it's too easy to grab a few handfuls from a bag. By making it at home yourself, you'll be able to control the calories while still getting a nice, heaping 1/4-cup  portion.

Nutrition Facts

  • Calories: 230 kcal
  • Protein: 6 g

2. Yogurt Parfait

What you need

  • 1/2 cup plain, nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup beerries
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds, unsalted

Why it's a winner: Strained yogurts, like Greek-style and skyr, pack more protein than conventional varieties and are thicker and creamier, too. Flavored yogurts can contain a surprising amount of added sugar. By combining Greek yogurt with fresh berries, you'll add just enough sweetness to offset the pleasing tang of the yogurt without the added sugar. Unsalted sliced almonds add a great crunch and an additional source of plant protein. 

Nutrition Facts

  • Calories: 240 kcal
  • Protein: 17 g
hummus in bowl with herbs

3. Veggies & Hummus

What you need

  • 2 sticks celery
  • 2 carrots
  • 1/3 cup hummus

Why it's a winner: Every opportunity to sneak in veggies is a good one, especially when less than 10% of adults eat enough of them. The veggies offer fiber and a satisfying crunch, while the hummus (made from blended chickpeas) provides the protein and some healthy fat in the olive oil and tahini. Plus, this is one snack that's really refreshing—the raw veggies are rich in water, so they're a bit hydrating, too. With some weekend prep (making the hummus and washing the veggies), you can have this snack out in a snap on weekdays.

Nutrition Facts

  • Calories: 200 kcal
  • Protein: 8 g

4. Hard-Boiled Eggs

What you need

  • 2 large eggs

Why it's a winner: Is there anything more simple and classic than hard-boiled eggs? There are so many ways to hard-boil an egg; if you're unsure, our method ensures you get the perfect hard-boiled eggs every time. You can also find peeled and bagged hard-boiled eggs at some grocery stores. To jazz them up after peeling, sprinkle on regular or fancy salt, fresh pepper, or dab with your favorite hot sauce.

Nutrition Facts 

  • Calories: 140 kcal
  • Protein: 13 g

5. Peanut Butter with Apple Slices

What you need

  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 1 apple, sliced

Why it's a winner: There is hardly a more classic combination than apples and peanut butter. Dipping apple slices into gooey peanut butter tastes like an absolute treat. And you can't go wrong nutrition-wise—ating fresh apples is associated with a healthier heart. Research shows folks who eat apples daily have a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, lower blood pressure and total and LDL (bad) cholesterol and less inflammation.

When it comes to peanut butter, it contains the perfect fill-you-up combination of protein and healthy fats. A 2021 randomized clinical trial noted that consuming peanut butter regularly may also improve cognitive function—the researchers credit polyphenols—plant compounds found in peanuts. Feel free to sub in any nut or seed butter of choice, but go for choices that are made with only nuts and possibly salt. 

Nutrition Facts

  • Calories: 290 kcal
  • Protein: 8 g

6. String Cheese with Whole-Wheat Crackers

What you need

  • 1 ounce low-fat string cheese (individually packed)
  • 8 low sodium crackers

Why it's a winner: Cheese and crackers, the classic party food and after-school snack is back for your midafternoon bite. Going with low sodium, whole-wheat crackers over those made with white flour provides more fiber and protein. String cheese is also perfectly portioned, as each piece is a 1-ounce serving with about 7 grams of protein. Pulling off individual strings also makes the cheesy goodness last longer. Mozzarella cheese is also a good source of calcium, a mineral required for keeping bones strong.  

Nutrition Facts

  • Calories: 210 kcal
  • Protein: 10 g
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7. Cottage Cheese & Berries

What you need

  • 1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese
  • 1/2 cup berries

Why it's a winner: Cottage cheese is a protein powerhouse. That may be why cottage cheese has been found to be just as satiating as eggs, according to past research. Cottage cheese is tangy, so topping a bowl off with a variety of berries (e.g., sliced strawberries, blueberries, blackberries) adds just enough sweetness, plus fiber and antioxidants that have cancer-protective properties.

Nutrition Facts 

  • Calories: 100 kcal
  • Protein: 14 g

8. Edamame

What you need

  • 1 cup in-shell edamame, unsalted

Why it's a winner: Edamame is a type of young soybeans that you can pop out of the shell and eat. You can buy these at farmers' markets or in some grocery stores' refrigerated or frozen section. Getting them ready to eat is easy—simply boil them in-shell on the stovetop or cook them in the microwave. For added flavor, toss them with a bit of salt. Not only does an one-cup serving of edamame offer 18 grams of plant protein, but it also provides 8 grams of fiber, a benefit to maintaining a healthy gut. Last but not least, edamame are a good source of iron to keep energy levels up.

Nutrition Facts: 

  • Calories: 224 kcal
  • Protein: 18 g

9. Roasted Chickpeas

What you need

  • 1/2 cup chickpeas
  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • seasoning of your choice

Why it's a winner: Roasted chickpeas are delightfully crunchy—and they're a more nutritionally dense substitute for chips (and with far less saturated fat). To make roasted chickpeas, rinse a can of chickpeas and pat them dry with a piece of paper towel. Toss the chickpeas with extra-virgin olive oil and seasoning, such as salt and pepper, cumin or chili powder. Spread on a sheet pan and roast at 425°F for 30 to 45 minutes, or until crunchy. Let them cool and then enjoy. Because you can use any seasoning or seasoning blend you enjoy, the chickpea customizations are endless.

Nutrition Facts

  • Calories: 150 kcal
  • Protein: 6 g
Blackberry Smoothie
Credit: Fred Hardy

10. Smoothie

What you need

  • 1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek-style yogurt
  • 1/4 cup low-fat milk
  • 2 cups frozen fruit, unsweetened
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter

Why it's a winner: Whirling up a smoothie doesn't have to be complicated. This is the perfect formula for a simple smoothie that's a hit every time. By using plain strained yogurt, unsweetened frozen fruit and natural nut butter, you'll create a sip that's high in protein with no added sugar. Feel free to use any frozen fruit you have on hand and freeze leftover fruit that's almost past its prime for future smoothies. 

Nutrition Facts:

  • Calories: 300 kcal
  • Protein: 20 g

11. Waffle with Toppings

What you need:

Why it's a winner: Waffles aren't just for breakfast anymore. Kodiak waffles are particularly high in protein because, along with 100% whole-grain wheat and oat flours, these waffles are also made with whey protein. Slathering PB on top with blueberries makes for a fun twist on a PB&J-like treat. Hemp seeds add crunch and are also a source of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

Nutrition Facts

  • Calories: 278 calories
  • Protein: 12 g

12. Cereal with Milk

What you need

  • 3/4 cup Three Wishes Cinnamon Cereal
  • 1 cup low-fat milk

Why it's a winner: Some breakfast cereals are high in sugar, but Three Wishes is a grain-free, lower-sugar, higher-protein option compared to other varieties. So, where does the protein come from? This cereal is made with chickpea and pea protein, plus monk fruit for sweetness. Pairing a higher-protein cereal with the protein found in milk delivers a quick and easy snack option that tops off at an impressive 16 grams of satiating protein. 

Nutrition Facts

  • Calories: 222 kcal
  • Protein: 16 g

13. Black Bean & Cheese Tortilla

What you need

  • 1/2 cup refried black beans
  • 1 corn tortilla
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Why it's a winner: This is the perfect snack for a "non-snack-y" person because it feels pretty substantial. And beans are one of the nutritious foods that you can add to your diet if you're not eating enough of them. Research shows that beans pack certain plant compounds that can improve blood cholesterol, help with blood sugar management, improve heart health and reduce inflammation. They're also a source of resistant starch, which supports a healthy gut microbiome. Choosing a corn tortilla is key here, as they contain far fewer calories than flour varieties, which tend to be much larger in size. Heat up your tortilla in the microwave or char it a bit on the stovetop before topping it with beans and cheese.

Nutrition Facts 

  • Calories: 276 calories
  • Protein: 14 g

14. Hard-Boiled Egg with Hummus & Crackers

What you need

Why it's a winner: A hard-boiled egg is great, but sometimes you need a bit more to eat. That's why pairing an egg with hummus and crackers is a great idea. These crackers are made with brown rice, quinoa and a mixture of seeds, such as pumpkin and sunflower, increasing their protein and fiber. Hummus adds a bit more protein, too.

Nutrition Facts 

  • Calories: 332 kcal
  • Protein: 13.5 g

15. Berries & Yogurt

What you need:

  • 5 ounce low-fat plain skyr
  • 1 cup blackberries

Why it's a winner: If you've been eating Greek yogurt, it's time to try skyr. The Icelandic yogurt is a type of strained yogurt with a thick and creamy texture. It's also higher in protein compared to conventional yogurt. Berries, such as blackberries, happen to offer an excellent amount of fiber—one cup of blackberries has nearly 8 grams of fiber.

Nutrition Facts

  • Calories: 130 kcal
  • Protein: 15 g

16. Salad

What you need

Why it's a winner: Who says a salad can't be a snack? While most people save them for dinner or lunch, eating them between meals is a stellar way to add more vegetables to your day. Spinach, avocado and pumpkin seeds offer a dose of satisfying fiber, healthy fats and protein. A creamy dressing on top provides more fat that helps your body absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, E and K in the spinach greens. Salad hack: Make sure to mix your salad in a larger bowl so that each leaf can be coated in the delicious dressing, then add a sprinkle of salt and pepper on top. 

Nutrition Facts

  • Calories: 279 kcal
  • Protein: 11 g

Parts of this article originally appeared in EatingWell Magazine, January/February 2022.