When training, you need to take in enough protein to build muscle. Working out breaks down your muscles, and protein helps repair your muscles after your workout. Aside from meals, you can eat protein snacks before or after your workout. Here is an in-depth guide on why protein is essential, how much protein your body needs, and 15 healthy protein snacks you should try.
Importance of Protein
It is recommended that bodybuilders take in more protein, be it soy, milk, or whey, but why? Protein produces muscles, hormones, cellular messengers, enzymes, and immune system components. Therefore, your muscles may heal slower from workouts without enough protein in your diet, resulting in injury when training. Here are four reasons why protein is important;
- Helps Increase Muscle Mass
Your muscle tissues help boost your metabolic rate and circulation of blood and oxygen around your body. They also help support your physical structure and slow down the aging process. Protein provides your body with the necessary amino acids to build muscle mass and maintain it.
- Manage Your Appetite
You can never outrun a bad diet. Therefore, no matter how hard you train, you will hardly meet your goals without adhering to a proper diet. If you are always hungry, it will be hard to lose weight or keep it off. Protein curbs appetite and manages cravings by reducing ghrelin levels, the hunger hormone. Besides, it has a high thermic effect, keeping you fuller for longer.
- Build Bone Density
As we age, we lose our bone density, especially women. Ensuring you add enough protein to your diet, cells responsible for creating bone tissue also help to build bone density.
- Keep Weight Off
Losing weight required discipline and consistency. After working hard to achieve your goal weight, it is important to stay mindful of not gaining it back. Protein increases your metabolic rate even without working out. Additionally, since it curbs cravings, it ensures you intake fewer calories, maintain weight loss, and stay fit.
There are numerous benefits of consuming protein, and since protein isn’t something the body stores like it does sugars and carbohydrates, you need to ensure you get sufficient protein every day. Read on for our protein snacks to keep your body strong and healthy.
Which Protein Should I Take?
There are different protein sources like whey, casein, milk, and soy. So, which protein should you take? Here is a brief guide on the three common types of protein to help you decide which is better for you;
- Whey Concentrate- is a basic form of protein contained in most supplement stores. If you need an inexpensive source of protein, whey concentrate will do. Additionally, it is excellent for beginners and is best used during the day, either pre or post-workout, to prevent feeling gassy or bloated.
- Whey Isolates- this is among the fastest absorbing proteins, although it may be more expensive than whey concentrate. It is ideal if you are on a low-carb diet and can be taken pre or post-workout.
- Casein- if you prefer a protein that takes time to break down, try casein protein. You can take it before bed and remain anabolic all through the night. Alternatively, you can take it during the day to stay full. It has high glutamine content, which helps speed up muscle recovery and boosts the immune system.
You can learn more about these sources of protein and how they compare. Go through the advantages and disadvantages of each to make an informed decision on the best protein for you.
What Your Protein Should be for Your Age and Weight
You now understand why it is essential to eat protein and the different sources of protein, but how much protein should you take per day? The amount of protein your body needs will depend on three main factors;
- Daily Calories
The USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) suggests that an adult should consume more than 10% but less than 35% of their total calories. Therefore, you need to track your calorie intake to see the total calories you consume per day. Then multiply the total number of calories by 10% and 35%. You will get an accurate range of calories you need for protein. For example, if you take 1,500 calories per day, you should get between 150 and 525 calories from protein. You can use our online caloric calculator to determine your exact calorie needs.
- Weight and Activity
An average adult needs to get at least 0.8 grams of kilogram per kilogram of their body weight. One kg is equal to 2.2 pounds. So, if you weigh 80 kgs or 176 pounds, you need 64 grams of protein each day. However, you might need more protein if you lead an active life.
Here is a table that shows your daily protein needs based on age.
AGE Protein Needs in grams/day 1-3 13 4-8 19 9-13 34 14-18- Girls 46 14-18- Boys 52 19-70- Women 46 19-70- Men 56
However, you might need to use an online protein calculator for more accurate results based on your weight and activity level.
You Can Snack Healthy
When trying to achieve your fitness goals, you need to watch your weight and diet. Although snacking has a bad image, you can snack healthy and include it as part of your diet.
Healthy snacks can provide the energy you need when exercising. Besides, it can decrease your hunger between meals, ensuring you don’t overeat during your mealtime. There are numerous healthy snacks you can try. However, not all snacks can help you lose weight.
Top 15 Protein Snacks
Remain healthy and fit by taking these protein-rich snacks:
- Turkey Roll-Ups
Besides being delicious, Turkey Roll-ups are nutritious and high-protein snacks. They are made of turkey breast, with a bit of cheese and vegetables wrapped inside. You can easily make a roll-up by taking four turkey breast slices, placing them on a plate, and spreading each with 1tp of cream cheese. Place a tomato slice or a cucumber strip of the turkey and roll it into wraps. Each wrap will provide 5 grams of protein and additional nutrients from the tomato and cucumber.
Loaded with protein, Tuna is a healthy and convenient snack that contains 9 grams of protein. It is also high in Vitamin B, selenium, and Omega-3 fatty acids.
- Greek Yogurt Parfait
Greek yogurt is a commonly recommended healthy snack. Most people don’t know it is high in protein and contains 20 grams of protein per serving. Thus, compared to other proteins, it is more filling and rich in protein, which will boost your bone health.
- Hard-boiled Eggs
Eggs are nutritious and contain different nutrients. One hard-boiled egg has 6 grams of protein. Eggs are satisfying and help reduce the calories you consume during meals.
- Cottage Cheese
You can enjoy cottage cheese on the go and get 14 grams of protein per half a cup. 69% of the total calorie content in cottage cheese is protein, although it also contains calcium, vitamin B12, and riboflavin. You can eat the cheese on its own or with nuts or fruits for a healthy and tasty snack.
- Beef Sticks
A beef stick contains 6 grams of protein for 28 grams. However, you should choose the right type. A healthy beef stick should only comprise beef, salt, and mild seasoning.
It refers to strips of meat that have been trimmed of fat and dried. They are high in protein, and a 28 grams serving has 9 grams of protein. Jerky can be made of beet, salmon, chicken, or turkey.
- Protein Bars
Try protein bars if you would like to easily consume enough protein to meet your daily requirements. When possible, make your protein bars instead of buying since most manufactured bars contain sugars. You can go through our award-winning protein bars to make a healthy decision when purchasing from a store.
- Chia Seed Pudding
Offering a combination of sweet, tasty, and healthy, chia seed pudding has 14 grams of protein per serving. Combine a cup of unsweetened almond milk with a quarter-cup of chia seeds and one cup of plain yogurt. You can add a fruit of your choice like dates or blueberries. Stir all the ingredients together and keep the bowl in the fridge overnight.
- Protein Shake
There are numerous ways you can make high-protein shakes. But here is a guide on how to make the best protein shake. You can put it in the fridge overnight for a cooling sensation after a workout.
- Roasted Chickpeas
If you are a vegetarian, you can get your daily protein from healthy snacks like roasted chickpeas. Chickpeas are legumes and are high in protein. You get 7.5 grams of protein for every half-cup serving.
- Salmon Salad
When building muscle, salmon is essential since it is rich in amino acids and omega-3 fatty acids that boost insulin sensitivity. Thus, it helps break down stored carbohydrates and fats. Take salmon, remove the skin and bones, add half-mashed avocado, and mix with diced green onions. Sprinkle a little lemon juice and spoon it to make it a pita. You can top it with tomatoes or spinach. It offers 24.8 grams of protein per serving.
- Energy Bites
They combine high-protein ingredients like nut butter, seeds, and oats, and then roll them into balls. They don’t need baking, and you can prepare a batch of them ahead to ensure you have a ready snack. Each bite has 5 grams of protein.
- Handful of Almonds
Almond nuts help fill up on protein, and one ounce provides 6 grams of protein. They are also high in trace minerals, healthy fats, and vitamin E. However, they are high in calories. Therefore, stick to a handful or around 20 almonds.
- Pumpkin Seeds
High in proteins, pumpkin seeds are a perfect quick snack. One ounce contains 5 grams of protein. Pumpkin seeds are also high in polyunsaturated fatty acids, fiber, zinc, and magnesium.
When juggling between work and training, you barely have enough time to prepare a meal. To achieve your training goals, you need to eat a balanced diet and meet your daily protein requirement. Try any of the 15 high-protein snacks to quickly reach your fitness goals and curb your appetite.