Research continues to show that one of the best ways to lose weight and keep it off is to eat a diet that swaps protein for fat and or carbohydrate-rich foods. Protein takes longer (and more energy) to digest, provides essential amino acids to maintain muscle mass and together, this helps to keep your metabolism higher helping your body burn calories more effectively.
Since snacks contribute 25% of our daily calories, it’s essential that we make our snack calories count and instead of reaching for calorie-poor, calorie-rich snacks (read: candy, sweets) a healthier choice is to try protein-packed snacks.
Most of us snack on carbohydrate-rich snacks like chips, crackers, cookies, sweets and highly-processed grain-based foods. They’re tasty, convenient and available pretty much everywhere. However, with a little more thought, there’s as many protein-rich snacks that will help keep you more satisfied, reduce cravings for sweets and help you keep your total daily calories in check.
The RDA set for protein is 60 grams a day for women, however, the newer research shows diet benefits when much more than the RDA is consumed. However, this is not simply adding protein your diet. You need to REPLACE additional protein for carbohydrate and/or fat calories in your diet.
I recommend a gram of protein per pound of LEAN body mass. So, if you’re about 100 pounds of lean weight (read: muscle) then strive for 100 grams a day. While I weigh about 126 pounds, and I’m about 18 or 19% fat, so I try to get about 100 grams of protein every day to sustain 100 pounds of lean body mass.
Here’s a top-20 list of hi-pro healthy snacks. Keep this list handy so that when you’re looking for a calorie-controlled snack that will fill you up and not out, you’ve got several options from which to choose.
At Least 10 Grams of Protein
1 Pouch Starkist Tuna (19g) with onions, chopped tomato and light mayo
1 cup Edamame (17g)
1 oz Jack Link’s Beef Jerky (15g)
½ cup lowfat Cottage Cheese (14g) with cherry tomatoes
3 ounces Turkey deli slices (13g) in Romaine lettuce leaves with mustard
1 Carnation Instant Breakfast Packet with Skim Milk (13g)
3 ounces Tofu (12g)
2 Scrambled eggs (12g) on Half of Whole-wheat English muffin
8 ounces skim milk (10 g)
Morningstar Farm’s Veggie Patty (10g) on ½ Whole Wheat Roll and Lettuce and condiments
12 ounce Skim Latte (10g)
¼ cup Miso (10g)
At Least 5 Grams of Protein
8 ounces soymilk (8 g)
2 Tbsp Natural Peanut Butter (8g) with apple or banana
1 ounce (28) Peanuts (7g)
2 Tbsp Almond Butter (7g) with whole-wheat crackers
1 Hard-boiled Egg (6g) with whole wheat crackers
1 ounce (49) Pistachios (6g)
1 ounce (21) Almonds (6g)
–Julie Upton, MS, RD, CSSD