What is protein and why is it so important? Protein is arguably the most important part of your daily food intake. Protein provides your body with 4 calories per gram and is made up of 20 amino acids. There are 9 essential amino acids that your body is unable to create, therefore you have to consume these through food or supplementation. Throughout this article, we’ll be discussing a wide range of topics. From what high protein snacks to buy, to what’s the best snack for your current lifestyle.
How much protein to consume on a daily basis
Whether you hit a regular spin class, smash the gym five times a week or just walk the dog every day, everybody needs protein.
To maintain muscle mass when dieting down or to build lean muscle mass when consuming more calories, aim for one gram of protein per pound of body weight and leave your other daily calories for carbs and fats.
Weight loss on a high protein diet
Just because you begin to eat a diet that is higher in protein does not necessarily mean weight loss will happen. Weight loss will always come down to one thing and one thing only, a calorie deficit. So even if you have a high-protein diet and your other macronutrients (carbs and fats) are not well controlled, meaning you overeat in these areas, then you will not achieve fat loss.
A higher protein diet (1 gram per pound of body weight) is only suggested so that you can maintain your precious muscle mass whilst in a calorie deficit to lose weight. Simple.
High protein snacks are everywhere
These days you can’t turn the corner without a shop or a supermarket displaying a ‘protein’ based food. It is more than likely, that if something has protein in its title, people assume it’s healthy and the correct choice. But this isn’t always the case. Some of these foods can also be loaded with high amounts of sugar and high amounts of unwanted saturated fats. Here’s a list of some good high protein foods that can be consumed as part of a balanced lifestyle.
A side note: assuming your goal is fat-loss, these are ideal, as they are not too calorific. If your goal is to build up/gain weight, then you perhaps wouldn’t mind some higher calorie protein snacks.
- Protein bars (for good balance, around 220 calories and 20 grams of protein per serving is a solid ratio)
- A handful of nuts (provide high amounts of fat too, good fats but still be aware)
- 0% and full-fat Greek yoghurts (depending on the number of calories you are after)
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Beef jerky
- Peanut butter and spreads (again provides high amounts of fat too, good fats but still be aware)
- Protein crisps
High protein snacks for diabetics
You’re diabetic? No worries, you can still enjoy protein!
Now your aim as a diabetic should be to consume snacks that are high in fibre, protein and healthy fats. Foods made up mainly of these three things will help keep your blood sugar levels under control.Nuts are an excellent choice! Providing you with good healthy fats and omegas. However, be aware, as nuts do provide high amounts of fat, good healthy fats I may add, but even so, a handful at a time is plenty!
Again, like nuts, these green power foods do come with plenty of calories. However, when controlled they provide your body with essential healthy fats, as well as a solid amount of fibre. These two factors may help towards preventing your blood sugar from spiking.
Cottage cheese. An excellent source of protein and a food that provides very little in carbs. Even better when combined with other foods such as nuts! Choose a reduced-fat cottage cheese and then throw in some walnuts for example. The reduced fat cottage cheese will make a little more room for other fats, namely nuts! Now creating a great combo bowl of high protein, healthy fats, as well as other vitamins and minerals too!
High protein snacks for Vegans
Vegan-friendly foods are becoming more and more popular. And because of this, there are a lot of high protein vegan options on the market! Similarly, to diabetics, nuts are again are on the list of top protein snacks: vegan-friendly and if you feel one kind of nut just isn’t enough, why don’t you go for a trail mix!? Almonds, pistachios, brazil nuts, walnuts…take your pick to help increase your level of healthy omegas, increase your bodies vitamin and mineral intake and to also help lower bad cholesterol.
Vegan protein bars – some are extremely satisfying. Muscle Food has a wide range of vegan-based bars. Including brands such as Meridian, Nakd and Kind. These bars tend to hold high amounts of fibre as well as the protein hit. Double win. High fibre and high protein foods will keep you feeling fuller for longer. Perfect when dieting in a calorie deficit.
High protein snacks for kids
When it comes to choosing snacks and foods for your kids, the choice is huge. Sometimes people chose the ‘lesser healthy’ options because they tend to be the cheapest. However, health is important and needs to be considered. Especially as this is a great opportunity to teach children at a young age the importance of healthy eating which will help them grow up knowing wise food choices.
Calcium-rich foods are always a good choice when choosing snacks for children. As this will be the years when the bones are growing and the body, in general, is developing. Milk, yoghurts and Greek yoghurts are fantastic choices in snacks. One, because of the high levels of calcium and protein, and two, because these are foods that can be consumed at any time of the day. A yoghurt with breakfast, a Greek yoghurt for dessert or a glass of milk before bed. It’s a simple and convenient choice.
On the other hand, peanut butter is a solid protein choice and a food that delivers some good healthy fats in a child’s day. It’s also very rare to come across someone who doesn’t like peanut butter unless of course, they have a nut allergy! It can literally be added to anything: oats, yoghurts, rice cakes and an old favourite, peanut butter sandwiches. Bare in mind the calories in peanut butter though! Be careful not to overdo the portion size.
High Protein Snacks for Pregnancy
During pregnancy, some foods are said to be avoided. Such as certain cheeses. However, there’s always a snack out there for you, no matter what your current situation is. If you are pregnant, make sure you do your research to be even more aware of the best snacks for you!
Avocado has already been mentioned in this article but it really is a wonderful product. One, because of its health benefits, and two, because in this day and age, nearly everyone loves an avocado! Whether it’s chopped up in a salad, smashed onto toast or even just eaten as it is! They will provide you with fibre, potassium and healthy monosaturated fats! Next time you’re on the go, why not smash up some avocado on some rice cakes or crackers. An easy snack and one that’s going to benefit your health.
Greek Yoghurts are very high in protein and if a 0% fat one is your choice, the calories will sit quite low too! A perfect snack any time of the day, morning, noon or night! It provides good amounts of calcium to aid with bone density and a food that helps with vital organ function.
Hard-boiled eggs and cottage cheese are also great snacking choices here. They are the best high protein snacks. Pretty simple.