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Protein intake—or the amount of protein consumed daily—is an important part of any healthy and balanced nutrition plan. Protein is an essential nutrient for building muscle, satiating hunger and maintaining energy during extended periods of exercise. Some of the best, most natural protein sources come in animal form via fish, poultry, and lean beef. But, if you're following a vegetarian or vegan diet, there are also high-protein pasta options and snack options such as peanut butter or nut butter alternatives.
High-Protein Snacks - Our Top Picks
- Trifecta Protein Meal Prep
- ONNIT Protein Bites
- Kaged Clean Meal
- ONNIT Fatbutter®
- Transparent Labs UNCUT Protein Cereal
- Fast Bar
- CanDo Krisp
- Transparent Labs MRP
It can be time-consuming to read dozens of nutrition labels to find the best high-protein snacks, so we've done all the research for you. In our list, you'll find high-protein foods that won't go bad if you're on the go as well as high-protein options that accommodate a variety of dietary restrictions. These options may not all seem like traditional "snacks"—we have included a list of those as well—but they can help combat cravings and keep you on track, especially if you're keeping an eye on less-than-healthy snacking habits.
The health and safety of ACTIVE's readers is of the utmost importance to us. To ensure your well-being when consuming high-protein snacks, the ACTIVE.com editorial team prioritizes products that are independently tested by a third party. We've also consulted with a team of nutritionists and dieticians to ensure the products we feature are of the highest standard. This helps us create the most accurate, authentic review content for our readers.
Trifecta Protein Meal Prep
There's no sugar-coating it; meal prep can often be a difficult and time-consuming process. However, it's one of the better ways to portion out your meals and snacks if you're tracking your diet. It also takes the guesswork out of what you'll be preparing for dinner every night. This is especially helpful the busier your schedule is between work, the gym, and family activities. When your schedule gets hectic, it can be hard not to grab a snack at the drive-through or gas station to keep satiated.
Trifecta is a dietitian-designed meal prep and plan service that does the food gathering for you with ready-to-eat meals or pre-portioned ingredients for your meal prep needs. We especially like the breakdown of protein, carbohydrates, and vegetables so that you can put together a well-balanced meal—or high-protein snack—ahead of time to take with you when on the move. For additional diet support you can also utilize their personalized macro tracking and nutrition coaching.
ONNIT Protein Bites
For a high-protein snack with a range of 7 to 9 grams of protein per serving and additional nutrients from over 60 plant sources, you want to reach for an ONNIT Protein Bite. These snack-sized protein bars feature a combination of whey and milk protein isolate and are high in fiber content. They can also be purchased either individually or in a box of 24 and come individually wrapped for active snacking.
ONNIT Protein Bites also come in five decadent flavors for the chocolate lover; white chocolate cookies and cream, chocolate s'mores, chocolate coconut cashew, chocolate cookie dough, and chocolate peanut butter.
Kaged Clean Meal
For days when you don't have the time—or sometimes energy—for a whole nutritional meal but still want a hearty amount of protein, meal replacement shakes can be a very convenient solution. Kaged Clean Meal has a whopping 29 grams of protein per two-scoop serving, as well as 20 grams of carbs, 5 grams of fat, and a bevy of vitamins and minerals sourced from real plant foods. It also comes in three delicious flavors. So, rather than supplement your missed meal with a less-than-healthy snack, try a Kaged Clean Meal shake and keep your macronutrient levels high and free from empty calories.
Peanut butter spread on sliced apples, celery, or whole-grain bread can be a delicious snack and an excellent source of protein and healthy fats. That is, only if the peanut butter being used doesn't contain added sugars, trans fats, or vegetable oils. The majority of commercially-processed peanut butter can do more harm than good to your diet.
ONNIT Fatbutter® is low in sugar and high in clean, healthy fats from natural sources. It also contains 5 grams of protein per serving. Fatbutter® is also versatile; check out ONNIT's website for recipes for overnight oats, smoothies, or even mug cakes using their almond butter, peanut butter, snickerdoodle, or hazelnut flavors. ONNIT also makes it easy to keep your pantry fully stocked by offering a subscribe-and-save program for an additional 15% off.
Transparent Labs UNCUT Protein Cereal
If one of your go-to snacks is a comforting bowl of cereal, Transparent Labs UNCUT takes the breakfast staple up a notch. This high-protein cereal is packed with 20 grams of milk protein concentrate, 10-11 grams of fat from medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), and only 1 gram of sugar with zero added sugars. UNCUT is also free from artificial sweeteners, flavoring, and preservatives, along with being gluten-free.
There are two flavors to choose between, Fruity Splash and Cocoa Crunch. Pair this cereal with low-fat milk or your favorite plant-based milk substitute for a tasty treat that's high in protein and MCTs but low in sugar.
If you're on an intermittent fasting diet, having a little snack while fasting may sound a bit counterproductive. Isn't the point of fasting not to eat? Enter the Fast Bar. Fast Bar is designed to be eaten while you are in your fasting window for extra hunger support without removing you from fasting mode. They also claim that with its proprietary ingredients, the Fast Bar may be the only snack you can eat while fasting without breaking your fast. The ideal time to consume one of these bars is in the morning after an overnight fast to prolong your window.
Fast Bar is gluten, soy- and dairy-free, non-GMO, and contains 4-5 grams of plant-based protein per serving. It also comes in the flavors nuts & honey, chocolate macadamia, and chocolate chip.
Protein bars can seem like a nutritious snack option in a pinch, and while some can be, others are so full of sugar and additives; you might as well have just had a Snickers. The vast collection of CanDo Krisp Bars are an excellent choice because they are low-carb, low-sugar, gluten-free, and keto-friendly. Each bar also contains 10 grams of protein and healthy fats from MCT oil, coconut, and almonds.
Krisp Bars come in packs of 12 with satisfying flavor choices like peanut butter chocolate chunk, almond butter blackberry jelly, and chocolate mint. You can purchase boxes separately or use the custom box builder to mix and match flavors. Additionally, there is a subscribe-and-save option for 15% off and free shipping.
Transparent Labs MRP
Transparent Labs MRP is another meal replacement protein with a serving of 24 grams of protein coming from a comprehensive blend of whey protein isolate, whey protein concentrate, grass-fed beef bone broth, egg white protein, and pea protein isolate. It is also free from additives, soy, artificial sweeteners, and fillers. Just a pure, high-protein shake to keep you going on those days when you can't sit down for your regular meal.
Other High-Protein Snacks
We hear you, sometimes you just need a little high-protein something to keep you satiated between meals. Here is a list of other great high-protein snacks that we recommend:
- Tillamook Zero Sugar Beef Jerky
- Ready-to-Eat Sockeye Salmon
- Old Wisconsin Turkey Sausage Snacks
- Vital Farms Hard Boiled Eggs
- Good Culture Cottage Cheese
- Starkist Chunk Light Tuna Packs
- The Only Bean Edamame Beans
- Kodiak Cake Protein Balls
- 365 Whole Foods Market String Cheese
- RX Protein Bars
- Vermont Smoke and Cure Mini Jerky
- Ostrim Beef and Elk Snack Stick
- Ocean Prince Sardines
- 365 Whole Foods Market Greek Yogurt
- Creminelli Mini Salami Snacks
- Shrewd Food Protein Puffs
- Quest High-Protein Peanut Butter cups
- Designer Wellness Protein Smoothie
- Chike Vanilla High-Protein Iced Coffee
- Fairlife Core Power Protein Milk Shakes
- Starkist Salmon Creations Pouch
- Powerful Nutrition Vegan Protein Shakes
- Go Raw Pumpkin Seeds
- No Cow High-Protein Bars
- Country Archer Zero Sugar Beef Jerky
What to Look for When Shopping for High-Protein Snacks
High protein is really a relative term, and the number on the nutrition label could be misleading if you don't consider these other factors.
Protein is one of the three key macronutrients most athletes keep track of. The other two are fat and carbohydrates. Some snacks have high-protein content but may also have an even higher amount of fat or carbs that then offsets the benefits of the protein.
If a snack has a high-sugar content, it may offset any benefits you might gain from the higher protein intake. Sugar is either used for quick energy or stored as fat. It also spikes your insulin levels which can cause an energy crash or increased hunger quickly.
Some packaging advertises a certain amount of protein, but the nutrition label has a number that doesn't match. If this is the case, it's likely that the package contains multiple servings. While that's not necessarily a problem, be aware of how multiple servings per container affect other amounts of nutrients (like fats and sugars) as well.
FAQs About High-Protein Snacks
What snacks are high in protein?
There are a lot of snacks that are high in protein, but there are some common food types that have higher protein than others. Natural sources that are high in protein are meats, nuts, seeds, dairy products, and fish. But, there are also protein bars and other items in that category that have other sources of protein in the ingredients.
What 5 foods have the most protein?
The top 5 foods that have the highest natural protein are lean red meats, fish, poultry, seeds and nuts, and legumes. Protein can be extracted and put into protein powders or protein bars in higher quantities, but generally, those five foods will have the highest amount of protein per serving.
What snacks are high in protein but low in calories?
High protein and low calories are relative to what you’re looking for in your diet. If you're looking for the best protein-to-calorie ratios, target snacks that have ten or fewer calories for every gram of protein per serving. Anything close to that ratio is a good high-protein, low-calorie snack.
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