When you live a busy lifestyle, snacks can be useful when hunger hits and you don't have time to prepare a meal.
The key is to make sure your snacks are nutritious and contain protein.
Protein promotes fullness because it signals the release of appetite-suppressing hormones, slows digestion and stabilizes blood sugar levels (, , , ).
Here are 30 high-protein snacks that are healthy and portable, so you can enjoy them even when you're on the go.
Jerky is meat that has been trimmed of fat, cut into strips and dried. It makes an excellent and convenient snack.
Beef, chicken, turkey and salmon are often made into jerky. It can be found at most grocery stores, but keep in mind that store-bought versions are typically high in added sugar and artificial ingredients.
Your best bet is to make your own jerky, using only meat and some seasonings.
The dried fruit and nuts in trail mix make it very high in calories, so it is important to not eat too much at a time. A handful is a reasonable serving.
Turkey roll-ups are a delicious and nutritious high-protein snack, consisting of cheese and veggies wrapped inside slices of turkey breast.
They are essentially a sandwich without the bread.
Snacks that are high in protein and low in carbs, such as turkey roll-ups, have been shown to improve blood sugar levels, which is an important factor for appetite regulation (, , ).
You can make roll-ups by placing four turkey breast slices on a plate and then spreading each with a teaspoon of cream cheese. Place a pickle or strip of cucumber and a tomato slice on the turkey and roll them into wraps.
Each wrap provides about five grams of protein from the turkey and cheese, as well as some extra nutrients and fiber from the tomato and cucumber.
Greek yogurt is an ideal healthy and high-protein snack, with 20 grams of protein per one-cup serving (224 grams). It has been shown to be more filling than yogurts with lower protein contents (14, ).
In addition to being a great source of protein, Greek yogurt is also high in calcium, which is important for bone health ().
To make yogurt even more delicious and filling, you can make a parfait by combining one cup of yogurt with granola and mixed berries in layers.
The addition of granola to yogurt provides four more grams of protein per ounce. However, be mindful of how much you use, as granola is high in calories and easy to overeat. A tablespoon or two is a reasonable serving size (17).
Veggies are great for snacking, but they're not very high in protein on their own. You can increase your protein intake by pairing them with yogurt dip.
Yogurt dip is typically made by combining yogurt with herbs and flavorings, such as dill and lemon juice, as in this recipe. For more protein, it's best to use Greek yogurt, which contains almost twice the amount of protein as regular yogurt (18, 14).
For convenience, make a batch of yogurt dip ahead of time and portion it out into snack-size containers so you can grab it when you need it.
Tuna is loaded with protein and makes a very healthy and convenient snack. One cup contains an impressive 39 grams of protein, making it extra filling (19).
In addition to being nutritious, they are also versatile. Hard-boiled eggs make a great portable snack.
One hard-boiled egg consists of six grams of protein, which will keep you full and satisfied until your next meal. Their fullness-promoting properties may also reduce the number of calories you consume later in the day (20, ).
Celery sticks spread with a tablespoon or two of peanut butter make for a delicious and easy snack. They contain a decent amount of protein from the peanut butter, which provides 4 grams of protein per tablespoon (32 grams) (22).
One study found peanut butter to be more filling than whole nuts, such as almonds or chestnuts ().
Energy bites are a delicious, high-protein snack made by combining a variety of ingredients, such as nut butter, oats and seeds, and then rolling them into balls.
The best part about energy bites is that they don't require baking. You can prepare a batch ahead of time so that you have a snack available when you need to grab one and go.
Here is a recipe for peanut butter energy bites, which provide five grams of protein per serving.
Cheese is incredibly healthy and filling, in addition to being a quick and easy snack. It is an excellent source of calcium, phosphorus and selenium, and it contains small amounts of many other nutrients (25).
Furthermore, cheese is rich in protein. Just one slice of cheddar cheese provides seven grams, which may help suppress your appetite (25, ).
In one study in overweight men, calorie intake decreased by 9% after they consumed cheese for a snack ().
Another study found that children who ate a combination of cheese and vegetables for a snack needed significantly fewer calories to make them full, compared to those who ate potato chips ().
A reasonable portion size for cheese is around 1–2 ounces (28–57 grams). Since it contains a significant amount of calories, it is best to consume it in moderation.
Eating a handful of almonds or another type of nut for a snack is a simple way to fill up on protein.
An ounce of almonds provides six grams of protein, in addition to high amounts of vitamin E, riboflavin, trace minerals and healthy fats (28).
Snacking on almonds regularly is associated with many other health benefits and may even help you control your weight (, ).
Almonds are also high in calories, so it's important to stick with the recommended serving size. A handful is equivalent to around 22 almonds.
A half-cup serving (82 grams) contains 7.5 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber, in addition to providing some of almost every vitamin and mineral. They are particularly high in folate, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, copper and manganese (31).
The combination of fiber and nutrients in chickpeas may help reduce the risk of several conditions, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers ().
One tasty way to prepare chickpeas for a snack is by roasting them with some basic seasonings and olive oil. Roasted chickpeas are crunchy and portable, so you can take them with you and enjoy them when hunger hits.
Hummus is made from cooked and mashed chickpeas that are blended with tahini or olive oil, then used as a dip or spread.
A 1/3-cup serving (113 grams) contains 6.5 grams of protein, making it a filling snack that's also high in many other nutrients (33).
Veggies are a fantastic, high-nutrient food to pair with hummus. To enjoy this snack on the go, simply place some carrot or celery sticks vertically in a portable container with hummus in the bottom.
Cottage cheese is known for being high in protein. It's a filling snack that can be eaten on the go.
There are 14 grams of protein in a half-cup (113 grams) of cottage cheese, which ends up being 69% of its total calorie content (34).
Cottage cheese is also a good source of some other important nutrients, including calcium, phosphorus, selenium, vitamin B12 and riboflavin (34).
You can enjoy cottage cheese on its own or combine it with fruits and nuts for a delicious snack.
Apples and peanut butter taste great together, and they also make for a nutrient-dense, high-protein snack that provides many health benefits.
The fiber and antioxidants in apples may improve gut health and reduce the risk of heart disease, while peanut butter has been shown to increase HDL (the "good") cholesterol and reduce LDL (the "bad") cholesterol and triglycerides (, , , ).
Despite the positive effects that peanut butter may have on your health, it is fairly high in calories, so is best consumed in moderation.
Beef sticks are a great high-protein and portable snack, but it's important that you choose the right type.
The beef sticks you consume should consist of beef and salt only, and maybe some seasonings. Ideally, they should be made from grass-fed beef, since it contains more healthy omega-3 fatty acids than grain-fed beef ().
Most beef sticks contain about six grams of protein per ounce (28 grams) (40).
Protein bars are an easy way to consume a significant amount of protein.
They are much healthier if you make them on your own, as store-bought versions are often high in added sugar and other unnecessary ingredients.
Larabars are a popular protein bar made with minimal ingredients.
You can also easily make a batch on your own by following this recipe, which uses nuts, dates and dried fruit.
Canned salmon is an excellent high-protein snack that you can take with you wherever you go. Just one ounce provides eight grams of protein and high amounts of a few other nutrients, including niacin, vitamin B12 and selenium (41).
Salmon also provides omega-3 fatty acids, which are anti-inflammatory and may lower the risk of heart disease, depression and dementia (, 43, ).
You can eat canned salmon on its own or add some extra flavor with a little bit of salt and pepper. It tastes great when paired with crackers or chopped veggies.
Chia seed pudding has become a popular snack in recent years — and with good reason. It's delicious and healthy, in addition to being high in protein.
There are four grams of protein in one ounce of chia seeds, and they provide some other nutrients, such as calcium, phosphorus and manganese (45).
Moreover, they're notable for their high omega-3 fatty acid content, which provides several health benefits ().
For example, snacking on chia seeds may help lower triglyceride levels, which is important for reducing the risk of heart disease ().
To make chia seed pudding, soak chia seeds in milk for a few hours until it achieves a pudding-like consistency. Then add flavorings like vanilla and cocoa, as in this recipe.
Granola is a baked snack food that consists of rolled oats, nuts and a sweetener such as honey. It makes a filling snack due to its protein content. Most types of granola provide at least four grams of protein per ounce (17).
Store-bought granola tends to be high in added sugar, which can be avoided by making your own granola at home. All you have to do is bake oats, dried fruit and seeds together, such as in this recipe.
Although it is healthy in moderation, granola is quite high in calories. One cup provides almost 600 calories, so it is easy to overdo it. To keep your intake in check, stick with a serving size of about 1/4 cup.
Pumpkin seeds are perfect for a quick snack, and they're also high in protein and some other valuable nutrients.
One ounce of pumpkin seeds contains five grams of protein, as well as a significant amount of fiber, magnesium, zinc and polyunsaturated fatty acids. They also provide disease-fighting antioxidants, including vitamin E and carotenoids (48).
Some evidence suggests that eating pumpkin seeds may help prevent certain cancers, and their healthy fat content may benefit heart health (, ).
Furthermore, their protein and fiber contents make them a great snack to curb hunger until you're able to eat a full meal. They can be eaten raw, or you can try roasting them with some spices. An appropriate serving size is about 1/4 cup.
Nut butter is perfect for when you need a quick and portable high-protein snack.
In the US, you can find single-serving nut butter packs. These are often found in the nut butter section or in the checkout lanes of many grocery stores.
One common brand is Justin's, which offers peanut butter, almond butter and hazelnut butter. Their single-serving peanut butter packs contain eight grams of protein and are made with only two ingredients — dry-roasted peanuts and palm oil.
While getting your protein from whole food sources is ideal, protein shakes make for an easy snack that will sneak some protein and other nutrients into your diet.
They can be made with several types of protein powder, including whey, egg, soy and pea protein.
Whey protein, in particular, may be beneficial for fullness. In one study, men who consumed a snack bar that contained whey protein consumed significantly fewer calories than those who ate a lower-protein snack (, 52).
In another study, a snack of yogurt with added whey protein reduced appetite more than a carb-rich snack with the same amount of calories ().
Generally, a scoop of protein powder provides about 20 grams of protein, which is sure to keep you full until your next meal (54).
To make a protein shake, simply combine a scoop of protein powder, a cup of milk or juice, a cup of ice and fruit, if desired. Then pour it into a portable container so you can take it with you wherever you go.
Edamame are immature soybeans that are still in the pod. They are high in protein, vitamins and minerals, and make for a quick and easy snack.
One cup of edamame provides some of just about every nutrient that you need, including 17 grams of protein, 52% of your daily need for vitamin K and over 100% of your daily need for folate (55).
Typically, edamame is served as a steamed dish. Many stores offer pre-cooked and frozen varieties that need to be heated in a microwave. All you have to do is place the heated edamame in a portable container so you can enjoy it on the go.
To enhance the flavor of edamame, add spices and seasonings of your choice.
Additionally, avocados are high in some important nutrients, including vitamin K, vitamin E, potassium and folate (56).
To make this easy salad, simply combine cooked chicken breast and avocado with some seasonings and chopped veggies, such as in this recipe, which contains 22.5 grams of protein.
Fruit and nut bars are a crunchy and high-protein snack that can be eaten on the go.
They are typically pre-packaged, which isn't always the healthiest option. However, some brands use natural ingredients without added sugar.
Most KIND Plus bars contain between 5–10 grams of protein, in addition to lots of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids.
A lentil salad is a great snack. It's highly nutritious and a great plant-based source of protein. In fact, one cup provides 18 grams of protein, along with high amounts of iron, folate and manganese (57).
In addition, lentils provide over 50% of your recommended daily fiber intake. The specific type of fiber found in lentils may promote a healthy gut because it helps feed the good bacteria in your colon (58).
The combination of protein, fiber and carbs in lentils is especially helpful for promoting fullness, and consuming them regularly may be helpful for controlling diabetes and reducing the risk of heart disease and some types of cancer (, , ).
To make lentil salad, combine cooked lentils with chopped veggies, spices and a dressing of your choice. It tastes great when topped with balsamic vinegar and olive oil, such as in this recipe.
Overnight oatmeal is easy to make, portable and very nutritious.
Oats are high in protein and loaded with many vitamins and minerals. In addition, one serving of 234 grams provides 16% of your recommended daily fiber intake (62).
Oats have been shown to promote fullness in several studies. This is likely due to the combination of healthy fiber and protein (, , ).
In one study, oats resulted in greater fullness and a reduced desire to eat, compared to ready-to-eat cereal with the same amount of calories ().
Another study compared perceived hunger and food intake after consuming either oatmeal or oranges. Those who ate oatmeal experienced less hunger immediately after eating and consumed less food later on in the day ().
To make overnight oatmeal, mix a 1/2 cup of milk with a 1/2 cup of oats. For extra flavor, add some peanut butter, chia seeds or fruit, like in this recipe. Place in a covered jar overnight, and they'll be ready to enjoy as a healthy snack the next day.
Egg muffins are a super healthy snack with lots of protein.
They're made by mixing eggs with veggies and seasonings, pouring the mixture into a muffin tin and then baking the muffins.
They are also very convenient, as they can be eaten hot or cold. You can increase their nutrient content by making them with veggies and add more protein by topping them with a tablespoon or two of cheese.
This egg muffin recipe combines eggs with broccoli, onions and bell peppers.
In addition, some research has shown that popcorn is a particularly filling snack. In one study, those who ate popcorn were less hungry and ate less than those who ate potato chips ().
Despite popcorn's filling effects, it's not incredibly high in protein on its own. You can significantly increase the protein content by adding Parmesan cheese, which provides 10 grams of protein per ounce (68).
To enjoy cheesy popcorn as a snack, simply combine three cups of popcorn with two tablespoons of Parmesan cheese.
High-protein snacks are important to have around when hunger hits between meals, as they keep you full and satisfied.
While many snacks can be unhealthy, there are plenty of healthy and portable options that you can enjoy even when you're crunched for time.