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20 High Protein Snacks and Recipes that Aren't Peanut Butter

High Protein Snacks and Recipes that Aren't Peanut Butter

Whether you are trying to hit your high protein goals or just keep your hunger in check between meals, high protein snacks are a healthy eating staple. The tricky part is finding snack options worth your time and dollars. Nearly everything on the market today claims to be "high protein", but is it really? And can those chocolate covered peanut butter balls really help you hit your macros

Learn how to find the highest quality protein snacks that fit your diet and fitness goals without all the B.S. 

What are the Benefits of High Protein Snacks?

Protein is a celebrated macro for its positive impacts on muscle gain, fat loss, and fitness. 

If you are looking to lose weight, eating more protein can help curb cravings, reduce your appetite, and protect your lean muscle mass while cutting calories. 

If you are looking to gain weight, protein can help you gain more muscle than fat and support your strength training workouts. 

But no matter what your fitness goal, eating high amounts of protein can feel like a challenge, especially if you are new to this style of dieting. Opting for protein packed meals is key - with only four ounces of meat or fish at each meal, you can get up to 90 grams of protein a day. Then use high protein snacks to help you fill in the gaps! 

High protein snacks can help you hit your macros and get you from one meal to the next without feeling hungry all day. 

What Counts as "High" Protein?

By FDA labeling standards, a good source of protein provides at least 10% of the daily value (standard 50g of protein per day is used) and an excellent source provides 20% or more. Thus any snack that has at least 5 grams protein per serving can claim it's a good source of protein and any snack with 10 grams of protein per serving or more is high in protein - even if this snack is well over 300 calories per serving. 

Yes, a serving of peanut butter will get you 7 grams of protein but it also packs in nearly 200 calories and only has 17% of its calories coming from protein vs. the 76% of its calories that are from fat.

This is why finding high protein snacks goes beyond how many grams of protein are listed on the label. To determine how well your options stack up, pay attention to protein density not just protein grams.

The best high protein foods contain more protein in them than other macros - meaning they are a better source of protein than they are a source of fat and carbs.

The high protein snacks listed below have at least 8 grams of protein per every 100 calories or, 30% of its calories coming from protein. 

What are the Best Protein Sources?

When it comes to pure protein density, nothing can quite compare to animal based sources like meat and dairy. Of course, they aren't your only option.

Plant based proteins and vegan protein sources can also provide a hefty dose of this macro along with beneficial nutrients like fiber, vitamins, and minerals. 

Opt for more healthy, minimally processed snacks, made with quality whole food ingredients and natural nutrition. And, double check the nutrition info for total calories, fat, carbs, sodium, etc. to make sure it matches your overall health needs. 

You should also consider using a nutrition tracking app to log your daily food intake. This will give you a lot of insight into where your macros are coming from and how you can improve. And whatever you do, don't forget portion control

Ultimately, the best sources of protein are the ones that you enjoy eating and that support your overall health and fitness goals! 

What About Protein Supplements? 

Sometimes opting for protein fortified foods or supplements can be an easy way to hit your goals, but they shouldn't be your only source of protein. 

Protein bars, shakes, cookies, baked goods, etc. can all be a great grab and go option. Or find a protein powder you enjoy and add it to your favorite recipes. 

As for the type - all are great options! Both dairy based powders like whey, and plant based powder like pea, soy, and hemp, all provide similar nutrition. 

One powder in particular, casein, may even offer some unique benefits since it is slow absorbing. Including a casein shake between meals is thought to help keep you even more satisfied and adding it before bed might support muscle growth while you sleep! 

If using supplements, just make sure to follow the same nutrition standards as you would for any food and track your intake

high protein snacks protein supplements

12 Healthy Protein Snack Ideas for Convenience

Build your ultimate list of staple snacks using simple foods you probably already enjoy eating.

Add cottage cheese, yogurt, deli meat, hummus, jerky, tuna, eggs, and edamame to your grocery list. Then, check out these easy 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 fact 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 turkey 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 aren't 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 its 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

Providing 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 to 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 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 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 Under 150 Calories Per Serving

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 its 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 packs 36 grams of protein per hefty serving (60% of calories).

High protein snacks greek yogurt parfait

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 packs 21 grams per serving (50% of calories).

high protein snacks watermelon protein shake

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 per half cup serving (49% of calories).

high protein snacks avocado egg salad

Get the recipe here - Avocado Egg Salad

4) Pesto Egg Toast

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

high protein snacks pesto egg toast

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 per hefty serving (37% of calories).

high protein snacks curried chicken salad

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 per half cup serving (34% of calories).

high protein snacks avocado tuna salad

Get the recipe here - The Best Avocado Ahi Tuna Salad

7) Bacon and Guacamole Deviled Eggs

Enjoy a modern twist on a classic recipe by changing up the filling in your hard boiled eggs. Plus, get more flavor and better macros! Creamy, savory, and ultra-satisfying! Not to mention, they are perfect for weekly meal prep. 

Provides 11 grams per serving (37% of calories).

high protein snacks deviled eggs

Get the recipe here - Bacon and Guacamole Deviled Eggs

8) Shredded Buffalo Chicken Dip

Spicy and creamy, this uber rich flavor packed dip will have you second guessing the low calories and perfect macros. It's also crazy easy to make and portion out for guilt-free snacking all week long. 

Provides 12 grams per hefty serving (35% of calories).

high protein snacks buffalo chicken dip

Get the recipe here - Shredded Buffalo Chicken Dip

Getting Enough Protein

Your daily protein needs are based on your existing muscle mass, weight loss and 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. Find out how much you need with our protein calculator.

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? Save time and money on meal prep with our ready-to-eat, macro balanced meal plans that are high in protein and designed to help you get results.

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