High Protein Snack Tips
Last week I promised to provide high-protein snack options but first I want to express why it’s important to incorporate protein-rich snacks throughout the day. First I’ll tell you why a hard boiled egg is a better choice than a handful of chips. This is because of the way that carbohydrates impact our blood sugar levels. Harvard School of Public Health’s Nutrition Source described exactly what carbohydrates do.
“When people eat a food containing carbohydrates, the digestive system breaks down the digestible ones into sugar, which enters the blood.
- As blood sugar levels rise, the pancreas produces insulin, a hormone that prompts cells to absorb blood sugar for energy or storage.
- As cells absorb blood sugar, levels in the bloodstream begin to fall.
- When this happens, the pancreas start making glucagon, a hormone that signals the liver to start releasing stored sugar.
- This interplay of insulin and glucagon ensure that cells throughout the body, and especially in the brain, have a steady supply of blood sugar.
Carbohydrate metabolism is important in the development of type 2 diabetes, which occurs when the body can’t make enough insulin or can’t properly use the insulin it makes.
Type 2 diabetes usually develops gradually over a number of years, beginning when muscle and other cells stop responding to insulin. This condition, known as insulin resistance, causes blood sugar and insulin levels to stay high long after eating. Over time, the heavy demands made on the insulin-making cells wears them out, and insulin production eventually stops.”
As we can see, carbohydrates can have a negative impact on blood sugar. Protein, on the other hand, helps to regulate blood sugar levels and keep them stable throughout the day. I’ve stated before that protein is a critical component to overall health. We need proteins for hair growth, organ formation, nerves and muscles, and formation of hormones. In addition to overall health, protein is an excellent tool for weight loss.
Have you heard about the thermogenic effect of food?
Your body actually burns more calories digesting protein, in comparison to carbohydrate and fat! This results in an increased metabolic rate (meaning your body burns more calories at rest). Protein also makes your feel more full (satiated). Ensuring that your meals and snacks have adequate amounts of protein will keep you away from the vending machine or avoid pantry raids ;) Lastly, though probably the FIRST thing most people think of when it comes to protein is that enables the body to maintain muscle mass and recover from exercise.
What are good sources of protein for a snack?
Overall, animal protein sources are more nutrient-dense because they contain a complete amino acid profile. These include: Chicken, turkey, pork, beef, lamb, buffalo/bison, seafood, eggs, dairy. If not on a vegetarian or vegan diet, they should serve as your primary source of protein.
Make an effort to consume pasture-raised or wild-caught animal proteins as opposed to conventionally-raised, as they contain more essential healthy fats and don’t have harmful antibiotics or hormones.
Plant sources of protein can be great ways to help increase overall intake, however in order to meet the same nutrient amounts as animal sources, you need to pair them together (ex: beans + rice). Great plant-based protein sources include: beans/legumes, nuts/seeds, whole grains, soy, lentils
To ensure that you’re getting enough, make sure to incorporate protein with each meal/snack. An easy rule of thumb is to aim for a palm or hand-sized portion 3-4x per day.
Here are some protein-rich snacks to keep you energized and satisfied throughout your day!
Avocado Egg Salad Snack
Servings: 6 • Size: 1/2 cup Calories: 154.7 • Fat: 11.7 g • Protein: 9.3 g
- 4 large hard-boiled eggs, chopped
- 4 hard boiled egg whites, chopped (discard the remaining yolk)
- 1 medium hass avocado, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 tbsp light mayonnaise
- 1 tbsp fat free plain yogurt (sub unsweetened, plain, coconut milk yogurt)
- 1/2 tablespoon finely chopped chives
- 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
- 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
- pinch freshly ground pepper
Combine the egg yolks with the avocado, light mayo, yogurt, chives, vinegar, salt and pepper. Mash with a fork. Combine with egg whites and adjust salt as needed.
Have 2 servings for a main meal or one ½ cup serving as an afternoon snack.
Protein Blueberry Muffin Snack
Author: Amy Stafford
- 1 cup oatmeal flour (quick oats ground in food processor)
- ¼ cup almond flour
- 3 egg whites
- ½ cup Greek Yogurt
- 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 2 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 medium banana, peeled and mashed
- 3 scoops Vanilla Whey Protein Powder
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon orange zest or lemon zest
- 1 cup fresh organic blueberries or frozen blueberries
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Place liners in one muffin pan and lightly spray with organic baking spray.
- In a large bowl combine egg whites, yogurt, applesauce, honey, vanilla extract and mashed banana.
- In a second bowl combine oatmeal flour, almond meal, vanilla whey protein powder, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and orange zest.
- Combine flour mix and egg mix together until smooth.
- Fill each tin ¾ of the way full, spreading evenly.
- Place about 8 blueberries on top spreading evenly over top of each filled muffin batter. Do NOT push blueberries down into batter.
- Bake for 20 minutes.
- Store in the refrigerator.
Serving size: 1 Calories: 126 Fat: 3 Carbohydrates: 17 Protein: 9
Tuna & White Bean Salad Snack
Makes: 4 servings, 1 cup each
Active Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or avocado oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1 19-ounce can cannellini (white kidney) beans, rinsed
- 1 6-ounce can chunk light tuna in water, drained and flaked (see Note)
- 1/4 cup chopped red onion
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- Whisk lemon juice, oil, garlic, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Add beans, tuna, onion, parsley and basil; toss to coat well.
TIPS & NOTES
- Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.
- Note:Chunk light tuna, which comes from the smaller skipjack or yellowfin, has less mercury than canned white albacore tuna.
- Nutrition Per serving: 226calories; 8 g fat 21 g carbohydrates 16 g protein
No time to prep? Don’t worry! Here are some quick Protein Options on the Go!
- 1 can of tuna mixed with 1 tbsp Dijon mustard, 1 tbsp olives season with Italian Seasoning
- 1-2 hard boiled eggs with salsa or salt and pepper
- 3-4oz of all natural deli turkey, chicken, or roast beef wrapped in lettuce with 2 tbsp hummus or guacamole
- 1 cup plain Greek yogurt with ½ cup berries, 1-2 tsp honey and 1 tbsp ground flaxseed
- 3/4th cup full-fat cottage cheese with 1 cup cherry tomatoes
- 1 apple and 1 Babybel or string cheese
- Protein shake (1 serving protein powder, 10oz milk of choice, 1 cup berries and/or greens)
- Health Benefits of Tuna - May 4, 2017
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- Protein Bars Reviewed: Danielle, registered dietitian - March 29, 2017
- Tips for Healthy Protein Snacks - March 24, 2017
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- Chia Seeds: Post-workout snack - March 15, 2017
- Benefits of Oatmeal: Danielle, registered dietitian - March 9, 2017