Choosing healthy snacks when you are super hungry is hard to do. Chips, candy, and junk food are easy to grab, and tasty, but they're often packed with sugar, fat, sodium, and simple carbs that can ultimately leave you feeling worse (and even hungrier). Picking snacks high in protein is an easy way to fill you up and build muscles.
"The RDA (recommended dietary allowances) for protein is o.8 grams per kilogram of body weight," says Amber Pankonin, RD, the owner of Stirlist. "So, a person who weighs 150 pounds should consume about 55 grams of protein per day." However, if you’re recovering from an injury or if you’re an extremely active person, your protein intake might need to be higher than the RDA, she notes.
Plus, you can get tons of protein from plant-based sources, which have added health benefits. "Plant-based snacks are typically also higher in fiber, which promotes satiety and better gut health," says Rhyan Geiger, RDN, the owner of Phoenix Vegan Dietitian.
While there’s no standard definition of a high-protein snack, Monica Auslander Moreno, RD, the founder of Essence Nutrition, likes to use what you’d get in a handful of nuts or a hard-boiled egg as a good starting point—and that amounts to around six to seven grams of protein. “That may be enough for some or not enough for others, depending on individual needs, or that specific moment or day's hunger,” she adds—but it's still a useful baseline. And if you’re consuming protein snacks after a workout, Pankonin recommends aiming for about 10-15 grams.
However, it's worth noting that just because a snack has lots of protein doesn't mean it a healthy one. "Calories still matter. Just because a product might be labeled 'high-protein' doesn’t necessarily mean you should include it in your diet plan," says Pankonin. "Be sure to read the nutrition facts label and consider total calories and added sugar. If the snack also includes fiber and healthy fats, that can help contribute to fullness as well."
Here are the tastiest and most convenient options to you can bring with you to tide you over until your next meal.
Meet the experts: Amber Pankonin, RD, is a nutritionist and certified executive chef. She was named “Outstanding Dietitian of the Year” from the Nebraska Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in 2021.
Rhyan Geiger, RDN, is a nutritionist and online vegan nutrition coach. She is the author of the cookbook Vegan Slow Cooking For Two.
Monica Auslander Moreno, RD, is the founder of Essence Nutrition. Before starting her practice, she was the dietitian for the Miami Marlins. She is also an adjunct professor in the graduate dietetics and nutrition program at Keiser University.