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 in excess of the recommended intakes, 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.
- DIY Trail mix-1 Tbsp. each whole almonds, pepitas, walnuts, dark chocolate chips, chopped dried apricot; 6g protein, 230 calories
- Yogurt parfait-1/2 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt, 1/2 cup berries, 1/4 cup unsalted sliced almonds; 17g protein, 240 calories
- Veggies and hummus dip-2 sticks celery, 2 carrots and 1/3 cup hummus; 8g protein, 200 calories
- Hard-boiled eggs-2 eggs; 13g protein, 140 calories
- Peanut butter with apple slices-2 Tbsp. peanut butter, 1 apple; 8g protein, 290 calories
- String cheese with whole-wheat crackers-1 low-fat string cheese, 8 crackers; 10g protein, 210 calories
- Cottage cheese and fruit-1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese, 1/2 cup berries; 14g protein, 100 calories
- Edamame-1 cup unsalted in-shell edamame; 20g protein, 200 calories
- Roasted chickpeas-1/2 cup chickpeas, 1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil, seasoning of your choice; 6g protein, 150 calories
- Smoothie-1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt, 1/4 cup low-fat milk, 2 cups unsweetened frozen fruit, 1 Tbsp. almond butter; 20g protein, 300 calories
- Waffle with toppings-1 toasted Kodiak Cakes Blueberry Power Waffle, 1 Tbsp. peanut butter, ¼ cup blueberries, 2 tsp. hemp seeds; 12g protein, 278 calories
- Cereal with milk- ¾ cup Three Wishes Cinnamon Cereal, 1 cup low-fat milk; 16g protein, 222 calories
- Black bean and cheese tortilla- ½ cup refried black beans, 1 corn tortilla, ¼ cup shredded Cheddar cheese; 14g protein, 276 calories
- Hard-boiled eggs with hummus and crackers- 1 hard-boiled egg, 2 Tbsp. hummus, 12 Mary's Gone Crackers Super Seed Cracker; 12g protein, 277 calories
- Fruit and yogurt- 5-oz. container plain low-fat skyr, 1 cup blackberries; 16g protein, 162 calories
- Salad- 1 cup spinach, ¼ sliced avocado, 3 Tbsp. pumpkin seeds, 1 Tbsp. 88 Acres Green Goddess Dressing; 12g protein, 313 calories
Parts of this article originally appeared in EatingWell Magazine, January/February 2022.