When it comes to eating for weight loss, incorporating all three micronutrients is essential! This includes healthy fats, complex carbohydrates, and protein. You might think that protein is only necessary for those looking to build muscle mass – and while that is a significant benefit of consuming protein, it’s also necessary for those looking to lose weight. However, knowing what type of protein is best for your fitness goals and how much to consume can be overwhelming. So before we dive into some delicious high-protein snacks that can aid in your weight loss journey, let’s first talk about why protein is essential and how much you might need in order to reach your goals!
Protein and The Body
Protein can be considered the building block for everything in the body. From muscles to hormones, protein is necessary for how well the body functions. Protein can come from both animal and plant sources and are an ideal source of nutrition in terms of helping to keep you full and maintaining a healthy weight.
Still not convinced that protein can help with weight loss? Research from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that over a three-month span of time, a diet high in protein led to a decrease in body distribution of fat throughout the body and overall body mass.
For most healthy adults, dietary guidelines recommend 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. For example, if someone is 150 pounds, then 55 grams of protein would be the goal each day (150 pounds/2.2=68.18, then multiply that number by 0.8 to give accurate grams per day). The amount of protein needed for each person will vary depending upon fitness goals, lifestyle factors, and health considerations, but this guideline is a good starting point.
According to the American Council on Exercise, the overall daily recommendation for protein intake is anywhere from 15-35% of all of your calories consumed during the day. Still, to get a specific recommendation for your particular goals, it’s best to speak to a nutritionist or dietician who can narrow down the percentages of each macronutrient for you to reach your goals healthily and effectively.
Think of it this way – the more protein you consume, the less likely you’ll be to snack on processed or packaged foods. As a result, you’ll also contribute to building muscle, which keeps your metabolism running around the clock and burns more calories!
Now that you have a general idea of how protein works within the body, let’s look at five high-protein snacks that can aid in weight loss (when combined with a well-rounded diet and appropriate exercise, of course!).
5 High Protein Snack Ideas
Snacks nowadays are typically eaten on the run; between going to work, school, practices, the gym, and even just shuttling around between all the activities, it’s definitely easy to grab something quick and head out the door. Unfortunately, many snacks, even high protein ones, are overly processed and contain more sugar or fat than you’d probably prefer. While convenience is key, spending some time prepping snacks for the week can help keep you on track to reach your wellness goals. Here are some high-protein snack ideas that can power you throughout your day!
An excellent source of high-quality protein, eggs are the perfect on-the-go snack if you hard boil them ahead of time! Depending on the size of your eggs, you can aim to consume anywhere from 4-8 grams of protein. You’ll get protein from both the egg white and the yolk, so if you only prefer one or the other, rest assured you’re still getting a bit of protein!
Perfect for adults and kids alike, energy balls are quick and easy to make and are super convenient for those busy days when you might not have access to a fridge. Energy balls can be made of whatever ingredients you have on hand, so long as there’s a binding agent to hold them together. An example would be combining flaxseed, dates, nut butter, honey, oats, and banana chips – a perfect combination that tastes like peanut butter bananas and gives you a healthy boost of protein and energy!
Vegetables and hummus
While vegetables by themselves are great, they don’t give you a ton of protein; however, dip them in some hummus, and you’ve got a fantastic snack that will fill you up and power you throughout the afternoon. Chop up carrots, cucumbers, celery, and any other favorite veggies, and then make your own hummus or find some pre-packaged cups on the go (just look at the sodium level and make sure it’s not too high!).
An excellent portable snack, pumpkin seeds are loaded with vitamins and nutrients, as well as a hearty serving of protein. You can expect 5-8 grams of protein in a serving size. These can be made at home, or you can purchase pre-roasted pumpkin seeds. But, again, be aware of added sugar, salt, and other ingredients when purchasing from the store!
An affordable and convenient protein choice, canned tuna offers approximately 6 grams of protein in one ounce. Pay attention to what the tuna is canned with (i.e., water, oil, etc.) because some brands will include more salt than others. Pair it with some avocado (which gives you about 2 grams of protein in half of an avocado) and put it on top of some whole wheat crackers for a filling and healthy snack!
While this is by no means a definitive list, it can help give you a head start regarding what type of snacks will provide you with the most bang for your buck when you need some high-protein snacks for weight loss. As always, speak with your physician if you have questions, and consult with a nutritionist or dietician to break down the nitty-gritty details of macronutrient intake to reach your weight loss goals safely.