You hear about it all of the time, but why is it so important? If you don’t want to bulk up, should you care how much protein you consume? Absolutely! While protein is certainly necessary to build muscle it is also needed to repair lean muscle. If your muscles don’t have the building blocks to repair, this can result in muscle wasting. The less lean muscle (not bulk) that you have, the slower your metabolism will be. Additionally, every cell and enzyme in our bodies is made from proteins. So are our hair, skin and nails. We need it to help our bodies perform daily functions and to help us look healthy.
I’ve spent some time reviewing protein bars, but those are really meant as a last resort. It’s much better for your body to get protein from whole food sources.
Here are some healthy protein-rich snacks to make part of your daily routine that can be just as quick to grab as a protein bar.
These still meet my criteria of under 250 calories, ≥10g of protein, ≥3 g of fiber and < 10g of sugar.
- Hemp Hearts:
These are excellent source of plant-protein and omega-3 fatty acids. A 1ounce serving provides 10g of protein, 3g of fiber and 170 calories. If you don’t like them plain, add to 2 Tbsp of Greek yogurt for approx. 20g of protein.
This is derived from soy, the only plant-based complete protein. Throw 1 cup in a bag with a little sea salt and you’ll get 17g of protein, 8g of fiber for just 189 calories. You can buy them shelled in your freezer aisle!
This yogurt-like, probiotic-rich beverage is great for gut health. A 1 cup serving of plain, low-fat kefir provides 11g of protein for 110calories. Pair it with an apple for 4.4g of satisfying fiber.
- Cottage cheese:
This easy, often-forgotten snack packs 14g of protein in a ½ cup serving for 110 calories. Add ½ cup baby carrots to meet the 3g of fiber requirement.