16 High-Protein Snacks That Keep You Feeling Full Longer
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 like a necessity 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.
Related: A Guide to Protein Serving Sizes
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, 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), and because our bodies don't store excess protein — it's broken down and excreted if the body doesn't need it — you shouldn't overemphasize eating protein in your daily diet.
Pictured recipe: Apple with Cinnamon Almond Butter
Instead, 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 be better off incorporating 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 you give it.
Also, it's important to remember that many different sources of protein are out there. 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 in addition to protein.
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, etc.). Making your own snacks, as opposed 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. These 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 Tbsp. each whole almonds, pepitas, walnuts, dark chocolate chips, chopped dried apricot
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.
2. Yogurt Parfait
What you need: 1/2 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt, 1/2 cup berries, 1/4 cup unsalted sliced almonds
Why it's a winner: Strained yogurts, like Greek-style and skyr, pack more protein compared to 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.
3. Veggies & Hummus
What you need: 2 sticks celery, 2 carrots and 1/3 cup hummus
Why it's a winner: Every opportunity to sneak in veggies is a good one, especially since less than 10% of adults eat enough. 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, washing the veggies), you can have this snack out in a snap on weekdays.
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, and if you're unsure, our method ensures you get the perfect hard-boiled eggs every time. You can also find peeled, bagged hard-boiled eggs at some grocery stores. To jazz them up after peeling, sprinkle on some regular or fancy salt and fresh pepper or dab with your favorite hot sauce.
5. Peanut Butter with Apple Slices
What you need: 2 Tbsp. peanut butter, 1 apple
Why it's a winner: There is hardly a more classic combination than apples and PB. Dipping apple slices into gooey peanut butter tastes like an absolute treat. And you can't go wrong nutrition-wise. Eating fresh apples is associated with a healthier heart. Folks who eat apples daily have a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, lower blood pressure and total and LDL cholesterol, and less inflammation, research shows. When it comes to peanut butter, not only does it contain the perfect fill-you-up combination of protein and healthy fats, but consuming it regularly may also improve cognitive function, according to a randomized clinical trial (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.
6. String Cheese with Whole-Wheat Crackers
What you need: 1 low-fat string cheese, 8 crackers
Why it's a winner: The classic party food and after-school snack is back for your midafternoon bite. Going with 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 and has about 7 grams of protein. (Pulling off individual strings also makes the cheesy goodness last longer.) The mozzarella cheese is also a good source of calcium, a mineral required for keeping bones strong.
7. Cottage Cheese & Berries
What you need: 1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese, 1/2 cup berries
Why it's a winner: When you're looking for a protein powerhouse, try cottage cheese. 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.
What you need: 1 cup unsalted in-shell edamame
Why it's a winner: Edamame are young soybeans that you can pop out of the shell and eat. You can buy these at farmers' markets or in the refrigerated or frozen section of some grocery stores. To make, simply boil them in-shell on the stovetop or cook in the microwave. Toss with a bit of salt for flavor. Not only does a serving of edamame offer 20 grams of plant protein, but the soybeans are also an excellent source of fiber to benefit gut health and are a good source of iron to keep energy levels up.
9. Roasted Chickpeas
What you need: 1/2 cup chickpeas, 1 tsp. 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 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 until crunchy, about 30 to 45 minutes. Let cool, and then snack. Because you can use any seasoning or seasoning blend you enjoy, the chickpea customizations are endless.
What you need: 1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek-style yogurt, 1/4 cup low-fat milk, 2 cups unsweetened frozen fruit, 1 Tbsp. 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 not only high in protein, but has zero 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, too.
11. Waffle with Toppings
What you need: 1 toasted Kodiak Cakes Blueberry Power Waffle, 1 Tbsp. peanut butter, ¼ cup blueberries, 2 tsp. hemp seeds
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.
12. Cereal with Milk
What you need: ¾ 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.
13. Black Bean & Cheese Tortilla
What you need: ½ cup refried black beans, 1 corn tortilla, ¼ 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 healthiest things 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 with beans and cheese.
14. Hard-Boiled Egg with Hummus & Crackers
What you need: 1 hard-boiled egg, 2 Tbsp. hummus, 12 Mary's Gone Crackers Super Seed Crackers
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 and quinoa, plus a mixture of seeds, such as pumpkin and sunflower, which increases their protein and fiber. Hummus adds a bit more protein, too.
15. Berries & Yogurt
What you need: 5-oz. container 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; 1 cup of blackberries has nearly 7 grams of fiber.
What you need: 1 cup spinach, ¼ sliced avocado, 3 Tbsp. pumpkin seeds, 1 Tbsp. Gotham Greens Green Goddess Dressing
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 into 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.
Parts of this article originally appeared in EatingWell Magazine, January/February 2022.