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High protein snack ideas

Hands adding spinach to a smoked salmon bagel
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Protein is one of three essential macronutrients that we need in our diet, along with fat and carbohydrates. It’s the second most abundant compound in our bodies (after water), and is present in all our cells and tissues.

Protein is essential for growth, repair, and the general maintenance of good health, so it’s important that we eat the recommended amount each day. The good news is it’s found in all kinds of foods.

How much protein do I need to eat?

The British Heart Foundation recommends that adults need about 0.75g of protein per kilo of their body weight. On average that means we need between 45g and 55g each day.

What are some high protein foods?

Meat, fish, and seafood are all really high in protein:

  • One fillet steak contains 36g
  • One skinless chicken breast contains 35g
  • One can of tuna contains 25g
  • One salmon fillet contains 24g

Protein is also found in eggs and dairy products:

  • 50g of reduced fat cheddar cheese contains 14g
  • One large egg contains 7g
  • 200ml of semi-skimmed milk contains 7g
  • 100g of plain low-fat yoghurt contains 5g

If you don’t eat animal products, pulses are a great source of protein:

  • Half a can of kidney beans contains 12g
  • Half a can of reduced sugar and salt baked beans contains 10g
  • 100g of lentils contains 7g
  • 80g of garden peas contains 4g

Other sources of protein include nuts and seeds, meat substitutes like Quorn, cereals like wheat and oats, and soya products like tofu. Read more about high protein foods here.

What are some easy high-protein snacks?

Nuts

A really easy high-protein snack is a handful of nuts. Nuts are also high in fat and packed with calories, which make them a good energy booster. Eat them on their own, or have some nut butter with a banana or on some wholemeal toast.

Just make sure you opt for plain nuts and nut butters that aren’t salted or sweetened. It’s also a good idea to avoid eating lots of Brazil nuts, cashews, or macadamia nuts as these are high in saturated fat.

Boiled eggs

Eggs are a quick and easy high-protein snack for vegetarians and meat eaters. To keep them healthy, have them boiled or poached, and avoid adding too much fat and salt. Try seasoning your egg with some black pepper, paprika, or sesame seeds to add a bit of flavour.

Cheddar and wholegrain crackers

Hard cheeses like cheddar are high in saturated fat, but they’re also a great source of calcium and protein. For an easy snack, have a small amount of reduced fat cheddar with some wholegrain crackers. Add a bit of ham for an extra protein boost!

Homemade hummus with veggies

This Change 4 Life hummus dip is bulked out with low-fat Greek yoghurt and contains 16g of protein per portion. For a healthy snack, pair it with carrot, celery, and cucumber sticks – or sliced up pitta breads if you’re feeling hungrier.

Low-fat yoghurt

Yoghurts can be a good source of protein, and are a great option for anyone on a calorie-controlled diet. Try a dollop of plain, low-fat yoghurt with some fresh berries for a high-protein, low-calorie snack.

Cooked prawns

Cooked prawns are a great source of protein. Just 75g of cooked prawns contains 14g of protein and only 60 calories, making this snack ideal for anyone on a low-calorie diet.

Protein shakes and bars

Flavoured protein shakes or protein bars can be a really quick and easy way to bulk out your diet and boost your daily protein intake. If you're vegan or veggie there are great-tasting protein options for you. Why not make a enjoy a high protein snack with: 

Just make sure you’re having protein shakes as part of a healthy and balanced diet.

Do I need to eat more protein?

You might need to eat more protein if:

  • You’re recovering from illness, injury, or surgery
  • You’re an athlete who trains more than once a day
  • You’re not getting enough protein in your current diet – this may be the case if you’re a vegan

You may be also looking to up your protein intake if you’re thinking about trying a specific diet. The Paleo Diet and Atkins prioritise protein intake and encourage you to eat fewer carbohydrates. The keto diet also includes a good amount of protein, although the main idea is to increase your fat intake.

If you’re looking to change up your diet dramatically, it’s important to speak to your GP first. These kinds of restrictive diets can put you at risk of missing out on important nutrients.

References

www.nutrition.org.uk/nutritionscience/nutrients-food-and-ingredients/protein.html
www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/heart-matters-magazine/nutrition/protein
www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/heart-matters-magazine/nutrition/ask-the-expert/nuts-as-a-healthy-snack
www.uhb.nhs.uk/Downloads/pdf/PiHighProteinHighCalorie.pdf

Protein values for food items correct on Tesco as of 17th May 2021.