Quick Protein Snacks - Lean Protein
Foods & Muscle Building Meals
Protein, like carbohydrate and fat, is a macronutrient that
our bodies need to provide energy to our cells and muscles. It has a series of
functions in our bodies that include cell repair and maintenance. It also has
a stabilizing effect on blood sugar, unlike simple carbohydrates that send your
blood sugar soaring. When your body senses a high blood sugar, it releases insulin,
which then sends your blood sugar spiraling downwards prompting you to feed it
some quick acting carbohydrate, and the seesaw cycle of high and low blood sugars
starts all over again.
Snacks are important as they help to refuel the body.
Snacking on vending machine selections can add calories in the form of fats and
sugar, and provide little nutrients in the diet. Because protein has a balancing
effect on blood sugars, it's a good choice for a snack. Taken with a complex carbohydrate,
like fresh fruit, cut-up vegetables, or 100% whole grain crackers, it can stave
off hunger pains, keep you energized, and keep you from eating sweets.
is found in both animal and vegetable foods. Animal foods can also provide fat
calories so it is best to select leaner cuts of meats or low fat dairy choices.
Below are some examples of low fat, high protein snacks and are divided into their
sources. They can be eaten alone or combined with complex carbohydrates to provide
- 8oz soymilk
1oz soy cheese
- 2T hummus
- 1oz unsalted nuts (22 almonds
or 10 walnuts)
- 2T all natural peanut or almond butter. Be careful
because the nut spreads can lend a lot of calories in fat. A healthier product
would be to purchase a non- hydrogenated nut spread where the oil is separated
and sitting at the top of the jar.
- ½ c legumes (chickpeas,
kidney, cannelloni, etc)
- 8oz non-fat
or 1% low fat milk
- 1oz low fat cheeses (less that 5 grams of fat
per ounce) such as part- skim milk
- mozzarella (string cheese), Laughing
Cow cheese, fat free American, soy cheese, Jarlsberg Lite cheese , 50% reduced
- ½ c nonfat or 1% cottage cheese
2T nonfat cream cheese
- One container of low fat or nonfat yogurt
One egg or ½ c egg whites
- 1-2 oz of sliced deli meats like
turkey, chicken, ham, and lean roast beef
- Whey protein powder (available
in health food stores in health specialty stores)
Another quick option
is to eat a sports bar for a snack. Check the food panel to make sure it contains
a significant amount of protein and is high in fiber.
Remember, it's important
to eat three balanced meals a day, along with the two to three snack choices from
the lists above. The key to a healthy diet is to make sure that you are getting
an appropriate amount of calories a day as well as to ensure the proper distribution
of these calories between the three major macronutrients, protein, carbohydrate
and fat. A registered dietitian can assist you in setting up a personalized menu
plan to ensure nutritional adequacy.