You hear that? The familiar gurgling sound of an empty post-workout stomach? Well, you’ve sure earned yourself a tasty treat. After burning off all those calories, pushing your body, and tearing those muscles, you need a protein-packed snack to keep you going.
There’s no doubt that food high in protein can help you stay fuller for longer, help your body repair cells, build muscle, as well as boost your metabolism and weight loss process. You just need to make sure that your choice of protein mainly comes from whole food sources, is of a high quality, and is consumed as part of a healthy, varied diet.
And if you’re here because you are bored of that same old protein shake, try these tasty treats that are loaded with protein, vitamins, and minerals you won’t usually find in a generic shake.
The humble egg is not only packed with protein, but it also serves up all the 9 essential amino acids that your body needs to run like a well-oiled machine. Boil it, fry it, poach it, or scramble it, there are 101 ways to enjoy an egg. If you are trying to lose the extra weight or have high cholesterol, limit yourself to an egg a day. Healthy persons and athletes who like and can eat eggs can have up to 3 or 4 eggs every few days.
2. Red Meat
Red meat is a go-to source of protein that keeps you fuller for longer. While also loaded with vitamins and minerals, just like eggs, red meats contain all 9 amino acids that help repair and build muscle, as well as keep your immune system in check. And while you can’t pack a whole steak in your gym bag (or can you?), air-dried Aussie beef jerky and biltong are convenient and uber tasty meat treats you can easily transport. Make sure to buy high quality dried meats from a transparent brand like The Jerky Co. who make some of the best jerky and biltong Australia has tasted.
Having a bowl of granola can give you the protein and fibre you need to maintain and achieve a healthy lifestyle. Its main ingredient is typically oats, which are a high protein grain where healthy fats and complex carbs are also present. Granola bars are a convenient version of the cereal that you can quickly snack on after an intense workout. Making your own granola bars at home also helps minimise your added sugar intake and lets you customise the flavours.
4. Legumes & Beans
Legumes and beans are an affordable source of plant-based protein that also provide fibre, potassium, and iron. Edamame (boiled soybeans) rank the highest in protein content, with lentils coming close behind and large white beans to follow. Tofu, which is made from soybean curds, is an example of a processed legume that also offers a high protein content. You can easily whip up a legume or bean- based salad, as well as set aside cooked tofu to snack on or use as a side dish.
Chicken is perhaps the most common source of protein for many athletes and gym-goers. In fact, chicken has a protein quality that matches eggs and beef. Chicken breast is the part of the animal that has the highest protein-to-fat ratio, and can be prepared in many tasty ways. You can also opt for turkey to change things up a bit. Turkey roll-ups, chicken sandwiches, caesar salads, and turkey wraps are some great options that you can quickly cook up.
6. Nut Butter
Nut butters provide a good dose of protein along with healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, and fibre. Lucky for us, long gone are the days when you could only get peanut butter in one texture at the grocery store. Today, we have access to the nutritional benefits of all sorts of nuts. For an easy, fuss-free, post-gym protein snack, pack some cut carrots and celery with an almond, peanut, pistachio, sunflower seed, or cashew butter for a healthy treat.
Seafood, in particular white fish and shellfish, comes pre-packed with a heap of protein. It is also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids that helps reduce inflammation and provides amazing health benefits. 2 servings or more of oily fish a week is perfect to maintain your body’s regular need for protein, while athletes and gym-goers may need more. For the gym, pack a few crackers and a tin of tuna, sardines, or salmon as a savoury snack to devour post-workout.
If you are looking to increase your protein intake, cheese is a delicious option that you can look forward to at each snack time. In most cases, the lower the fat, the higher the protein content. You can add it to your turkey sandwich, use it as a topping on a salad, or bake it into small quiches that you can easily grab on your way out the door. Low fat cottage cheese has the highest amount of protein per serve, with parmesan coming next, and ricotta cheese ranking third.
Much like nut butters, hummus can provide you a healthy dose of protein. In fact, it actually contains 3 essential macronutrients, those being protein, carbs, and healthy fats. With the high-protein legume as a main ingredient, it’s easy to see why you can get so much protein with each bite. Coming in a handy little tub for your dipping needs, pack this in your snack box with crackers and vegetable sticks for a crunchy and satisfying treat.
Chia seeds are endorsed by vegans as the perfect protein-packed egg alternative. Loaded with calcium and also omega-3 fats, chia seeds are a fun sized superfood. Just 1 tablespoon of chia seeds stirred together with some water to form a gel lets you replace an egg in many recipes. You can make a chia pudding to store in the fridge overnight. Keep it in a cooler bag when you take it to the gym for a refreshingly healthy snack.
Now that you have a handy list of go-to snacks rich in protein, be sure to try out some of these snack ideas. Pair your protein snack with a healthy source of carbs (and lots of water!) to boost your body’s recovery and muscle building process. Just keep an eye on your daily protein intake and you’re good to go.