20 High Protein Snacks that Aren't Peanut Butter

    
Emmie Satrazemis, RD, CSSD
Emmie Satrazemis, RD, CSSD

Whether you are looking to lose fat or gain muscle, adding more protein to your diet can help you get results. High protein intake may help manage hunger, support muscle growth, and is associated with better body composition. Opting for protein-rich snacks is one way to help you beef up your intake, but not all options are created equal. Keep reading to learn what snack foods are the best source of quality protein to support your fitness goals.

What Counts as "High" Protein?

The best sources of protein contain more protein than other macros - meaning they are a better source of protein than they are a source of fat and carbs. To determine how well your options stack up, pay attention to protein density not just protein grams. Yes, a serving of nut butter will get you 8 grams of protein (which by the way is not even considered a goo excellent source of protein by FDA labeling standards) but it also packs in nearly 200 calories and only has 17% of it's calories coming from protein vs. the 76% of its calories that are from fat.

The following options that have at least 8 grams of protein per every 100 calories or 30% of it's calories coming from protein. 

12 Super Easy Protein Snacks

Check out these simple grab and go snacks that take little time to throw together.

1) Deli Meat

Considering deli meat is really just a cut of meat, it's going to be high in protein. But some brands can be pumped full of filler ingredients, excess sodium and higher in fat. So read the ingredients and the nutrition facts labels and look for leaner, less processed options to get the most of this choice. Two ounces of roasted turkey deli meat has:

  • 50 calories
  • 0 grams of fat
  • 0 grams of carbs
  • 12 grams of protein

Making lean deli roughly 100% protein! 

Pair this with a serving of whole grain crackers (you'll still get a total of 36% calories from protein) or make deli and cheese roll-ups for 45% of calories from protein. 

Prosciutto wrapped cantaloupe also counts with 150 calories and 16 grams of protein (with 43% of calories from protein) per two ounce portion of prosciutto. 

2) Tuna Pouches

Seasoned tuna pouches are also a super rich source of protein that come in a variety of flavors like lemon pepper, buffalo sauce, teriyaki, etc. You can eat these as is or pair with some whole grain chips, veggies, or bread for a great snack option. One typical tuna pouch has:

  • 78 calories
  • 1 gram of fat
  • 0 grams of carbs
  • 16 grams of protein

Providing 82% of calories as protein!

Psst… canned tuna or fresh ahi tuna also works great, add in your own seasoning or try a traditional tuna salad with mayo (with light mayo you’ll get 57% of your calories as protein).

3) Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese, no matter what percent fat you choose, is a great source of protein that pairs well with just about anything. Enjoy it plain or add in tomatoes and pepper flakes or fresh fruit. One 1/2 cup of 1% fat cottage cheese contains:

  • 81 calories
  • 1 gram of fat
  • 3 grams of carbs
  • 14 grams of protein

With 69% of calories coming from protein!

Dairy is also a source of the hormone insulin growth factor-1 (IGF-1) which has been positively associated with more muscle growth.

4) Greek Yogurt

Similar to cottage cheese, Greek yogurt is an excellent dairy based source of protein and also pairs well with a lot of different flavors. Make it savory style with a drizzle of olive oil and Mediterranean veggies, or sweeten it up with fresh fruit and honey. One plain, non-fat Greek yogurt (6 ounces) has:

  • 100 calories 
  • 0 grams of fat
  • 7 grams of carbs
  • 17 grams of protein

Making it 68% protein!

5) Jerky

No surprise that meat based snacks like jerky and beef sticks are protein dense. Just keep an eye out for options that are higher in fat or contain a lot of added sugar. Most lean, grass-fed jerky contains:

  • 120 calories  
  • 1 gram of fat
  • 8 grams of carbs
  • 20 grams of protein

Providing 67% protein per one ounce serving!

6) Chicken & Hummus

Hummus is delicious, but it is not super protein dense on it’s own - one serving has 50 calories and only two grams of protein (16% of calories from protein). But when paired with chicken strips for dipping, you’ve now got a satisfying high protein snack. Two ounces grilled chicken with two tablespoons of hummus has:

  • 112 calories
  • 4 grams of fat
  • 4 grams of carbs
  • 15 grams of protein

With protein making up for 54% of the calories!

7) String Cheese

While cheese can be a source of fat, low-fat cheese is more protein-rich and lower in calories. Look for naturally lean varieties like mozzarella, cheddar, blue cheese, jack, provolone, and Swiss. And for snacking convenience, try individually wrapped slices or string cheese. One light string cheese has:

  • 50 calories
  • 2.5 grams of fat
  • 0 grams of carbs
  • 5 to 7 grams of protein

Giving you roughly 40 to 56% of your calories from protein!

8) Shrimp Cocktail

Shrimp is naturally lean protein that also works great as a snack. Dip it in pesto sauce, guacamole or cocktail sauce. A serving of Trifecta shrimp dipped in three tablespoons of cocktail sauce has:

  • 136 calories
  • 1 gram of fat
  • 14 grams of carbs
  • 15 grams of protein

Porviding 43% of the calories from protein!

9) Protein Waffles

Protein waffles or pancakes are pretty easy to make - just add a scoop of your favorite protein powder to any mix, but there are also some quick options available in-store like microwaveable protein muffin cups, pre-made protein waffle mix, and protein cookies. And yes waffles can make a great snack option, you can make them in advance or on the spot and enjoy plain or with your favorite toppings! Similar to protein bars, keep an eye out for at least 8 grams of protein per every 100 calories (36 to 40% calories from protein).

10) Protein Bars

It’s no question many store bought protein bars are a great on-the-go option that require no cooking time and can fit into your pocket. However, a lot of them also have an overwhelming amount of processed sugars and added fats you may not have been looking for. For the best options, look for other nutritional benefits besides protein, like fiber, vitamins and minerals, and pay attention to the ingredients list and avoid high amounts of added sugar. The most dense protein bars will have at least 8 grams of protein per every 100 calories (36 to 40% calories from protein).

11) Edamame

Soy is not only protein dense, but it is also a complete protein option that is also 100% vegan. For snacking purposes, look for edamame in its pods (typically available in the frozen section of your local store). Then lightly stem or thaw and serve with a sprinkle of salt or whatever seasoning you like. A 1/2 cup portion has:

  • 100 calories
  • 3.5 grams of fat
  • 8 grams of carbs
  • 10 grams of protein

Making this plant-based protein 40% protein!

12) Hard-Boiled Eggs

Hard boiled eggs are an easy snack that you can get pre-cooked or prep on your own. One hard-boiled egg has:

  • 77 calories
  • 6 grams of fat
  • 0 gram of carbs
  • 6 grams of protein

Because whole eggs are also a source of fat, they only provide 31% of calories from protein. However, if you skip the yolk and opt for egg whites, you'll get 94% of the calories as protein (4 grams of protein, 0 grams of fat, and 17 calories).

8 High Protein Snack Recipes for Your Meal Prep

Want to get a little more gourmet with you snacking? Check out these protein-packed recipes to help you snack your way through the week and definitely hit your macros!

1) Protein Yogurt Parfait

Greek yogurt is an excellent source of protein on it's own, but you can add a little extra boost with your favorite protein powder. Pair with any fruit or a small amount of granola for crunch and extra flavor.

Cut this recipe in half for a smaller portion or add this to your muscle building diet as a mini meal. This recipe has 36 grams of protein per hefty serving (60% of calories).

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Get the recipe here - Protein Yogurt Parfait

2) Strawberry Watermelon Protein Shake

Shake up your protein drinks with this light and refreshing version that tastes just a a starburst candy. Plus it has 21 grams of protein per hefty serving (50% of calories).

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Get the recipe here - Strawberry Watermelon Protein Shake

3) Avocado Egg Salad

Creamy, tangy and easy to make with Trifecta hard-boiled eggs. This simple and healthy egg salad makes for the perfect high protein snack or main meal, with 18 grams of protein per hefty serving (49% of calories).

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Get the recipe here - Avocado Egg Salad

4) Pesto Egg Sandwich

Check out this prosciutto, pesto and egg toast for a drool-worth snack option. Cut this recipe in half for 14.5 grams of protein per slice (44% of calories).

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Get the recipe here - Pesto Egg Toast

5) Curried Chicken Salad

Spicy, sweet and hits the pot. Curried chicken salad is the ultimate twist on a traditional staple. This recipe has 13 grams of protein per hefty serving (37% of calories).

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Get the recipe here - Curried Chicken Salad

6) Ahi Tuna Salad

Add a bit more flavor and creaminess to your tuna salad with avocado and fresh veggies. This recipe works great for portioning throughout the week and has almost nine grams of protein per half serving (34% of calories).

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Get the recipe here - The Best Avocado Ahi Tuna Salad

7) Shrimp Stuffed Avocado

Light and refreshing, this low-carb shrimp stuffed avocado dish is absolutely delicious. Cut this recipe in half for 12.5 grams of protein per serving (33% of calories).

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Get the recipe here - Shrimp Stuffed Avocado

8) BBQ Chicken Sweet Potato Toast

Sweet and savory, this BBQ chicken sweet potato toast is perfect for a fun new meal or a healthy snack. And you'll get 21 grams of protein per hefty serving (30% of calories).

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Get the recipe here - BBQ Chicken Sweet Potato Toast

Getting Enough Protein

Your daily protein needs are based on your existing muscle mass, fitness goals, and how often/hard you are working out. In simplest terms, the more muscle you have and the more you use your muscles, the more protein you need in your diet. 

In addition, you cannot absorb all of your daily protein from one or two meals - it's better to space out your protein intake throughout the day and include plenty of high protein snacks or mini meals. For those looking to eat more protein, this can take some serious strategy and meal planning.

Need help getting more protein into your day? Check out our ready-to-eat, macro balanced meal plans that are high in protein and designed to help you get results.

FIND YOUR MEAL PLAN

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