By now, you probably know how important it is to get enough protein in your diet. If you’re in any doubt or would like to read more about the reasons why it’s so super important check out our article 5 Reasons You Should Probably Eat More Protein. Then read on to find out how you can get more protein in your diet with snacks.
Just to recap, some of the many benefits of protein in the diet include:
- It has a high satiety effect, so you feel fuller for longer
- It helps to repair muscle after exercise
- It is a vital building block for your bones, muscle, cartilage, skin and blood
- It’s essential to the repair and regeneration of all the cells in the body
- It has a high thermogenic effect, meaning that around 25 per cent of the calories in protein are burned off just in its digestion (the numbers are much less for carbohydrates and fat).
A simple way to ensure that you’re getting enough protein is to aim for a serving in each meal throughout the day. A visual serving of protein is one palm size portion of meat or fish for women, and a 1.5-2 palm-sized portion for men. That’s around 20g if you’re a woman, and 30-40g if you’re a man.
However, many people struggle to get enough protein in each meal, especially the earlier meals of the day – breakfast and lunch – and so they find it helpful to increase their protein intake by eating protein-based snacks as well.
Some people like to have a snack in between meals because they need the extra calories, so it’s great if you can base these around protein too. Some people are busy rushing around all day and eating on the go means they sometimes miss meals, so having a protein snack to hand will help to keep you feeling fuller for longer as well as boosting your overall protein intake.
Whatever your reason for snacking it can be tricky to find tasty and easy protein-based snacks so we’ve got some ideas for you.
Most of the ideas below are for snacks of roughly around 200 calories – some a bit more, some a bit less. For those looking to lose weight, this is generally a good amount of calories to aim for in between meals. For those looking to gain muscle, you may want to increase the portion sizes here to suit your need for higher calorie and protein levels.
We’ve broken the ideas down into different categories to cover various situations:
- Portable / ‘On-the-go’ snacks – you can take them with you when out and about and they don’t perish or damage easily
- Homemade snacks – you can make them at home and eat them wherever you like!
- Shop snacks (other than protein bars) – they can be found in supermarkets and some shops.
- Protein bars
There are loads of options when it comes to protein bars these days, so it’s mainly down to taste preference and what’s available in your local supermarket or store. If you find a particular brand that you like, it’s often cheaper to order online and in bulk.
Grenade do all kinds of tasty protein snacks, including Carb Killer high protein bars in a wide selection of flavours – from Banana Armour to Dark Chocolate Raspberry to White Chocolate Salted Peanut, and loads of other tasty flavours in between!
If you are partial to a bit of chocolate but you’re watching your calories, Carb Killer bars are an ideal chocolate bar alternative. They are packed with up to 23 grams of protein and contain less than 2g of sugar per bar.
As there is so much choice (and they’re all pretty delicious) Grenade offer a selection box of 12 bars on its website for £29.88 (it’s worth looking on Amazon too as prices vary and there are often offers on certain products). Or sign up for Grenade’s newsletter to get 20% off your first order and offers sent to you by email.
Other easy-to-carry snacks that Grenade do include Reload protein flapjacks and Carb Killa biscuits.
The Reload high protein bars are handmade, baked flapjacks packed with protein and slow release carbs from jumbo and rolled oats. They come in four flavours – Chocolate Browning, Coconut Chaos, Fused Fruit and Chocolate Orange. Each bar contains 15g of protein and a ratio of 2:1 carbs to protein.
The Carb Killa biscuits are a bit lower in protein, containing 6g of protein per biscuit and 0.8g of sugar. They come in two flavours – Salted Caramel and Double Chocolate.
Quest is another brand offering protein bars that come in a number of indulgent-sounding flavours, such as White Chocolate Raspberry and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. Quest is an American brand so buying from its website directly is more tricky, however they are available to buy on Amazon.
Trek is another popular brand of protein flapjacks, nut bars and energy bars sold by Sainsburys, Tesco, Waitrose, Asda, Morrisons, Amazon, and other shops and online retailers. Its protein flapjacks are pretty delicious and come in four flavours – Cocoa Coconut, Original Oat, Banana Bread, and Cocoa Oat. Each flapjack contains 9g of protein.
Its protein nut bars come in four flavours – Blueberry and Pumpkin, Coconut and Raspberry, Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt, and Chocolate and Orange. Its protein energy bars come in four flavours – Cocoa Chaos, Peanut Power, Berry Burst and Banana Blast.
Compared to some protein bars, Trek bars contain less protein, more carbs and fat and slightly more calories. But the ingredients are natural and high quality, they taste good and should keep you pleasantly full until your next meal.
There are plenty of other brands out there selling similar offerings so it really is a case of what’s on offer in your local store and testing some different brands and flavours to find out what tantalises your taste buds.
Just be aware of the marketing on the packets though, as some bars are higher in calories and may not be as great as they sound. Check the nutrition label and look for something around 200 calories and 20g of protein.
- Protein shakes
You can buy ready-made protein shakes or take your whey powder with you and add water or milk to mix in your protein shaker when you’re out and about.
If you’re taking your own, measure out your scoop of protein powder before you leave the house and make sure you know how much liquid to add, then you’re good to go. Just add your milk or water when you’re ready and give it a good shake.
There are so many whey protein powder brands out there that it’s difficult to even know where to start. Again, it all comes down to taste preference and what’s available to you locally unless you choose to order online.
As for ready-mixed protein shakes more and more shops are stocking these now as demand is growing. Sainsburys stock, amongst others, For Goodness Shakes high protein shakes, in Strawberry or Chocolate flavour – a low-fat high protein shake with 25g of protein. And Weetabix On the Go Breakfast protein drinks, Vanilla flavour. Each 275ml bottle contains 21g of protein and 208 calories.
Tesco and Marks and Spencer stock ready-to-drink Ufit protein shake drinks, which come in Chocolate, Strawberry and Coffee Iced Latte. A 310ml bottle contains 22g protein and only 170 calories.
Grenade also feature highly as a popular brand offering some tasty high-protein, low carb shakes in a variety of flavours, such as Strawberries and Cream, Fudge Brownie and Chocolate Mint. Each 330ml bottle contains less than 211 calories and around 25g of protein. They are available to buy online and in some shops.
Again, it is a case of trial, error and availability to find a protein drink that you like.
- Two boiled eggs and a handful of berries
The berries can be blueberries, raspberries, strawberries or any other kind of berries that happen to be your favourite. This makes a healthy and nutritious snack, containing protein, healthy fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals all in one for around 200 calories.
- Hi-Lo protein toast
Hi-Lo bread is bread that is higher in protein than normal bread and available in most supermarkets now. Have one slice toasted with one poached egg, or two slices with jam. One slice of Hi-Lo bread contains 84 calories and 8g of protein, so you’ll get a good amount of protein with either of these options.
- Greek yogurt with berries
Individual pots of Total 0% yogurt or Arla protein yogurt are a decent size and pretty filling for the amount of calories. Total 0% individual yogurts are 97 calories and work well with berries (blueberries, raspberries, strawberries) to add flavour. Arla yogurts are 140 calories and come in strawberry or blueberry flavour, so they taste fine on their own.
- Protein brownie
A protein brownie is a real treat for around just 160 calories, and they are really easy to make. All you will need is one scoop of whey protein powder, around 60ml or 1/4 cup of almond milk, a square of dark chocolate broken up into pieces and 1/2 a tsp of baking powder. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and microwave for 30-40 seconds or until it starts to rise then leave it to set for a couple of minutes. You could serve with a couple of spoonfuls of low fat yogurt or Yoo Moo vanilla frozen yogurt to really top it off. Yummy!
- Warburtons Sandwich Thins
Each sandwich thin contains just 100 calories, so you can make a small sandwich with a good protein filling for around 200 calories. Ham, chicken, tuna and smoked salmon all work well, perhaps with a few spinach leaves for added nutrition. To keep calories low opt for low fat Philadelphia/ wholegrain mustard/ low fat mayo as your spread if you need one.
- Chicken or lentil soup
Soups are a great filling option and you can either make your own or buy a decent fresh one in the supermarket. Having a soup with a good amount of chicken or lentils (especially puy lentils) will keep the protein content high.
- Protein ice cream
Yes, it exists! Halo Top is a popular brand of choice, stocked by Sainsburys, Tesco, Asda and other supermarkets. Halo Top protein ice cream comes in many delicious flavours so you’ll just have to try them all to find your favourite. It also comes in dairy-free flavours so there really is something for everyone!
Just to get your taste-buds tingling the flavours include: Cinnamon Roll, Seasalt Caramel, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Red Velvet, Peanut Butter Cup, Birthday Cake, Cookies and Cream, and Candy Bar. Each 118 ml serving contains around 5g of protein and 80 calories.
Ok, so it’s more of a treat than a snack but we couldn’t help but let you in on the secret!
- Packet of cooked chicken/ meat
While this may sound a little strange to some people there’s nothing wrong with buying a pack of chicken, ham, turkey or beef and eating it all as a snack (depending on how much is in the packet). Choose a good quality meat if you can and have a look at how many calories and how much protein is in the pack. This is a much better option than the chocolate bar/ pastry/ flapjack/ crisps that everyone else is having for a snack!
- Snack Pot of Greek Yogurt
As mentioned above, Total 0% and Arla protein yogurts both come in individual tubs found in most supermarkets. You will probably also need to remember to take a spoon with you though if you’re out and about!
- Beef jerky
Most supermarkets stock this and it’s a great high protein snack option.
- John West Light Lunch
The tuna options contain less than 250 calories and make an easy portable snack option, or a light lunch.
Hopefully this post has given you some ideas and inspiration on how to get more protein into your snacks but if you have any ideas that we haven’t included please get in touch and let us know.