Eating smart and being active are the best ways to improve your health. One of the most effective ways to eat ‘smart’ is to focus on the amount of protein you consume. Instead of the outdated notion that fruits and veggies are best, take a more moderate approach and combine those with protein-centered snacks and meals. In fact, according to an article by Healthline: protein is the single most important nutrient for weight loss and a better looking body. So, as we own ‘hot mom summer’ the next few months, try these five delicious and protein-packed snack and meal ideas.
The protein difference
Before we dive into our favorite snacks and meals high in protein, let’s understand why eating protein is so important and how much of it to eat daily. First up, protein helps with the following bodily functions and performance:
- A high protein intake boosts metabolism. In fact, digesting and metabolizing protein-based foods takes more energy than other food types.
- Eating more protein also helps keep you fuller longer, helping to reduce craving sugary sweets.
- Protein also changes several weight-regulating hormones that can ultimately help you consume less calories.
So now that we know the importance of eating protein, how much should you eat daily? And can you eat too much protein? The answer, of course, depends on your particular body and your daily calorie intake. The general rule of thumb is that between 10-35% of your daily diet should be protein based, which is about 50-175 grams of protein daily. While there is certainly no “one size fits all” formula for protein-intake, a rough estimate is that women should aim for ~100 grams of protein daily.
Lastly, yes you can eat too much protein—when you do, your body stores the excess protein as fat and there can be negative consequences like higher risks of heart disease. Remember that not all protein is good for you, avoid red meats and aim for a plant-based or meals focused on white meats.
Below are our favorite protein-dense snacks for easy grab-and-go noshing. With an average of 10-15 grams of protein in each item, these snacks will keep you full longer and help you burn more calories. Add these to your list for your next grocery run and start snacking!
Cottage cheese is a fan favorite for healthy-eaters. Try mixing it with some chia seeds for extra protein and strawberries for some sweet flavoring. Add some spices and toppings like the popular Trader Joe’s ‘Everything but the bagel’ seasoning blend. Mix it up and enjoy a fresh, healthy snack!
Lean jerky can give you 20 grams of protein in just one strip. Add some nuts like almonds or cashews and pair it with a potassium-rich banana. This pairing is sure to keep you full for hours and it tastes pretty dang good. Give it a try and let us know what you think!
Hummus is made from a puree of chickpeas, and chickpeas are a great, healthy, plant-based source of protein. Add some delicious pistachios and some crisp, freshly cut carrots and you’ll have a snack that’s creamy, salty, and sweet.
Looking for an easy way to meal prep your protein-packed snacks? Then boiled eggs need to be on the list! Add these to your daily snacks for an easy way to get 10-15 grams of protein per egg. Add some salt and pepper or some hot sauce to make these even tastier.
Did you know cooked edamame is an excellent source of protein? Who knew these tasty soybeans could pack such a high protein punch? We love eating these with some coarse sea salt for a delicious snack that will feel as indulgent as it is healthy.
Cheese slices or string cheese mixed with some apples make for a filling and sweet snack. We love mixing some natural peanut butter on the apples to get even more protein and to offset the sweet taste of the apples.
A treat even your kids will love? Try turkey and cheese roll ups. Just spread out some thinly sliced turkey, layer on a slice of your favorite cheese and then roll these into thin strips. Add a toothpick to keep these in place. These make for a great snack to store and keep all week long.
Avocado toast may get made fun of more than any other food, but it’s popular and well-known for a reason: it’s deliciously tasty! Add a sliced or hard boiled egg on top of your next slice for a protein-packed snack.
Now this snack is one you have to be careful about picking the right brands/versions—yogurt and granola can contain a lot of sugars depending on the ones you pick. Go with the low-fat, low sugar version of greek yogurt. This might be more tart but you can add sweetening with fruit like blueberries. And, pick the same for granola—go with the natural kind with high protein and low sugar.
We love a good protein bar or shake! Depending on the brand, you can easily squeeze in 20-25 grams of protein with this tasty snack. The best part is most protein bars or shakes are made to taste like dessert: think chocolate, peanut butter, and cookies delight. Get your fill of these flavors while getting all the benefits of a protein-packed snack.
Ready for more lifestyle articles, product features, and healthy living tips? Check out the other articles in our HAPARI blog. We feature special product spotlights, healthy eating and fitness advice, and exclusive insider deals on our swimwear.