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Skip the afternoon chips or chocolate - empty carbs won't help your cause. Whether you're fueling up before hitting the gym or taking a midday snack break to avoid the 3 p.m. lull, high-protein snacks are your ticket to a lasting energy boost.
And if you think you're limited to boring hard-boiled eggs, think again. These 28 delicious, healthy, and easy options have even more protein than a large egg (which contains about 6 grams).
Nuts and seedy snacks
1. Nut butter boat (6.7 grams protein)Share on Pinterest
Any vehicle for nut butter is perfection in our book. Try loading a few celery sticks with a serving of any nut butter (like almond, cashew, or walnut) topped with a few whole almonds or raisins. If you're not a fan of celery, try scooping out the middle of an apple and filling it with your nut butter of choice.
Find your new favorite nut butter here.
Spread natural almond butter over 1 medium apple, sliced, or one medium celery stalk.
2. Mini PB&J (7.9 grams protein)
Sometimes, it's best to stick to the classics. Downsize this lunch box favorite to make it perfect for snack time - just make sure you use all-natural peanut (or almond!) butter and jelly to avoid trans fats and extra sugars.
Spread 1 slice whole-wheat bread with 1 tablespoon natural peanut butter and 1 teaspoon all-fruit jam.
3. Mixed nuts or trail mix (13 grams protein)Share on Pinterest
Mixed nuts provide an easy way to get a delicious dose of protein in a convenient, shelf-stable package. Try a mixed bunch for variety and a combo with dried fruit if you're craving sweetness.
The best bang for your protein buck? Almonds and pistachios. They're higher in protein than their nutty peers.
Mix about 10 almonds (3 grams protein), about 25 pistachios (3 grams protein), 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds (5 grams protein), about 7 walnut halves (2 grams protein), and a sprinkle of raisins or mini dark chocolate chips.
4. Toasted quinoa (9.4 grams protein)
Try this unconventional way to enjoy the gluten-free superfood: lightly sweetened, and toasted to crunchy perfection. Pack the toasted quinoa in a container on top of yogurt, or just eat it by the handful.
Mix 1/3 cup quinoa with 1 tablespoon shredded coconut, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, and 1/2 tablespoon ground flax. Toast at 425°F (218°C) for 10 minutes.
6. Pumpkin seeds (11.9 grams protein)
Those orange gourds aren't just for carving. Pumpkin seeds, scooped out to make room for spooky faces, can actually make a healthy little snack full of fiber and immunity-protecting zinc once they're washed, dried, and nicely roasted.
Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Separate the seeds from the pulp, rinse, and dry with a clean dish towel. Toss 1 cup pumpkin seeds with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 teaspoon curry powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Roast on lightly greased sheet pan for 20 to 30 minutes.
7. Homemade chia pod (4.9 grams protein)
This one requires some planning since it needs to be chilled for at least 4 hours, but we promise the effort is minimal and the wait well worth it. Mix it right in a portable container, and it'll be ready for grab-and-go.
Soak 2 tablespoons chia seeds in 1/2 cup almond milk blended with 1/2 tablespoon honey. Chill for 4 hours or overnight.
Shakes and smoothies
8. Chunky monkey shake (13.2 grams protein)
If protein powder is just not your thing, there are plenty of alternatives for creating a high-protein beverage, including this banana-y pick-me-up bulked up with chocolate milk and peanut butter, which provides healthy fat and cardiovascular benefits in addition to protein.
It's time to get funky, monkey!
Blend 1 medium banana, 1 cup chocolate milk, and 1 tablespoon peanut butter with 1 cup ice until smooth.
9. Shake it up (18 to 32 grams protein)Share on Pinterest
While getting your protein from whole food sources is ideal, an occasional dip into the protein powder canister is also convenient when your protein intake is low, and when it comes to protein shakes, the combinations are endless!
Blend 1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder (get some here), 1 cup orange juice, and 1 cup ice until smooth. Pour into a portable tumbler for a sippable on-the-go snack. The amount of protein will depend on the brand.
Beans, the magical fruit
10. Edamame poppers (18.5 grams protein)
The only thing more fun than how much protein you can get from a cup of edamame is getting to eat these little beans out of their bright green pods. Buy them fresh and steam them or use precooked frozen edamame and microwave to defrost before chowing down.
11. Basic burrito (12.1 grams protein)Share on Pinterest
When the mid-afternoon slump cries out for a spicy wake-up call, try this flavor fiesta. The bulk of the protein comes from the black beans and cheddar, while a spoonful of salsa adds a small but powerful dose of healthy lycopene.
Warm 1/3 cup cooked low-sodium black beans. Place 1 medium whole-wheat tortilla in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat, arrange 2 tablespoons grated cheese down the center, and cook for about 3 minutes, until cheese is melted.
To assemble, pour black beans over cheese, then spoon salsa over beans. Wrap in foil for easy eating. No utensils needed.
12. Hummus dippers (10 grams protein)Share on Pinterest
How's this for making the most of a mason jar?
Put 1/2 cup hummus in the bottom, stick in a bunch of vegetable spears (carrots, celery, and snow peas are a great mix), screw on the top, and go. Tip: Throw in a plastic spoon to get the last of the hummus.
14. Roasted chickpeas (11.9 grams protein)Share on Pinterest
There's so much more to chickpeas than hummus, and one of the tastiest ways to enjoy these fiber-rich beans is also the simplest. Roast them with some basic seasonings for an extra-crunchy, nutty bite.
Preheat oven to 450°F (232°C). Toss 1 cup cooked chickpeas with 1 tablespoon olive oil and a pinch of salt. Then sprinkle with cayenne pepper to taste. Roast on a lightly greased sheet pan for 30 to 40 minutes.
Let cool, then transfer to a zipper-lock bag or small container so you can pop a handful when you feel snack time coming on.
Yogurt, cheese, and chocolate milk
15. Greek yogurt and granola (20 grams protein)
Picture sitting on a Greek isle spooning this snack out of a wine glass. Along with having more protein than regular yogurt, the Greek stuff provides plenty of calcium and probiotics. Now soak in that (imaginary) view and enjoy!
Just sprinkle 2 tablespoons low-sugar granola over 8 ounces plain Greek yogurt.
16. Portable cheese platter (12 grams protein)Share on Pinterest
Who doesn't love a cheese plate?
Make yourself a mini version (or fill a food storage container) with a stick of string cheese, four 100% whole-grain crackers (like Triscuits) for crunchy carb action, and a dozen almonds for an all-around protein, healthy fat, and fiber upgrade.
17. Grape-and-cheese sticks (7 grams protein)
The sweet and savory contrast of cheese and fruit is yum, and the protein, fat, and fiber punch means long-lasting energy.
Dice 1 ounce cheddar cheese into cubes (you should end up with about 6) and alternate the cubes with grapes on toothpicks.
18. Perfect parfait (10 grams protein)
For this one, use a transparent to-go container for the bonus of visual appeal.
Alternate layers of a 1/2 cup Greek yogurt with 2 tablespoons fruit (either fresh or frozen and thawed). Then drizzle honey and sprinkle 2 tablespoons of any crunchy cereal onto this protein- and probiotic-packed treat.
19. Chocolate milk (4.1 grams protein)Share on Pinterest
No, we're not going back to preschool, but don't you sometimes wish you could? Chocolate milk is a great source of high-quality protein (it's a top post-workout drink), healthy fat, and hydration.
Keep a couple of single-serving (4-ounce), shelf-stable boxes in your gym bag or backpack for snack attacks or other chocolate-milk-appropriate emergencies.
20. Tuna and whole-wheat crackers (23 grams protein)
Along with protein, canned tuna adds some vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids to your mid-afternoon munchies. This simple mini-meal is super easy and satisfying.
Put the contents of a 3-ounce can into a small to-go container. Smash it up with some mayo and whatever else you like in your tuna. Throw some whole-wheat crackers (hello again, Triscuits!) in a zipper-lock bag for easy tuna scooping later.
21. Protein bites (10 grams protein)Share on Pinterest
No baking required, only four ingredients, portable, and it tastes like dessert? This is our kind of quick-fix treat!
Nut butter acts as the binder as well as the source of most of the protein in these bites, while oats and dark chocolate chips give them their cookie-like quality (and add some fiber and antioxidants).
Just combine 3 tablespoons chopped rolled oats, 2 tablespoons almond butter, 1 tablespoon dark chocolate chips, and 1/2 tablespoon honey. Wet your hands, roll 'em into bite-size balls, and refrigerate on a sheet of waxed paper for a few minutes.
22. “Cheesy” popcorn (19 grams protein)Share on Pinterest
When it's not doused in artificial flavorings, popcorn can be a healthy snack. Ratchet up its protein content by dusting the kernels with surprisingly delicious nutritional yeast, the vegan, B-vitamin-packed answer to Parmesan cheese.
Just coat 3 cups air-popped popcorn with 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast and a sprinkle of salt.
23. Healthier puppy chow for one (9.6 grams protein)Share on Pinterest
Yup, it exists! This version of the cavity-inducing sweet snack cuts down considerably on the sugar by replacing the powdered stuff with honey and adding protein powder to give it the staying power the original lacks.
While it's still not exactly health food, the single-portion yield is a great example of moderation without deprivation.
Coat 3/4 cup wheat Chex cereal with a melted mixture of 1 1/2 tablespoons peanut butter, 1 1/2 tablespoons dark chocolate chips, and 1/2 tablespoon honey. Dust with 1/2 tablespoon vanilla protein power and let set.
Turkey and jerky
24. Jerky (11 grams protein)
Be careful to avoid sodium- and sugar-filled varieties, but low-sodium, natural, or lightly flavored options are a great source of protein. This chewy snack also stays fresh for months when packed properly.
We like Hard Times Real Beef Jerky.
25. Gobble, gobble (14.2 grams protein)
It can be Thanksgiving any time of year with this favorite sandwich. This comforting combination of deli meat, cheese, veggies, and dried cranberries includes a bit of every food group, and the protein-packed final product is guaranteed to hold you over for a good few hours.
Slice one piece of whole-grain bread lengthwise and spread with 1 teaspoon mustard.
Top with 2 slices roasted turkey, 1 slice Swiss cheese, 1 lettuce leaf, 1 slice tomato, and 1 teaspoon dried cranberries.
27. Deli rollups (10.4 grams protein)
Consider it a sandwich without the bread! This paleo-friendly savory snack packs almost twice the protein of a hard-boiled egg and sneaks in a vegetable to boot! Remember to stick to a lower-salt variety of meat if you're trying to slash your salt intake.
Just roll 2 slices deli turkey with 1 slice cheese and 1 slice tomato.
28. “Cheesy” kale chips (14.6 grams protein)
What's kale doing in the jerky category? Well, it didn't fit in anywhere else. But if you think about it, isn't dehydrated and seasoned kale kind of like vegetable jerky?
Next time you need a big pile of something crunchy on the go, swap the store-bought spuds for a baked bunch of homemade kale chips instead.
While just as crisp as regular chips, this version of kale chips not only is rich in vitamin A and C but also has a nice dose of protein from the nutritional yeast topping.
Coat 2 cups washed and dried kale leaves with 1 tablespoon olive oil and 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast. Bake at 325°F (163°C) for 15 minutes.
Nutrition facts for this article came from:
Self Nutrition Data: //nutritiondata.self.com/
USDA Agricultural Research Service Food Data Central: //fdc.nal.usda.gov/index.html