These 13 convenience foods will help you build muscle and can be made in minutes.
Christina Simonetti and Men's Fitness Editors 1 / 14
The Best High-Protein Snacks
"I’m trying to take some pounds off, but I do like to snack every once in a while. Unfortunately, once I open a big bag or box of, say, chips or cookies, pretty soon I’ve eaten the entire thing. How can I keep my appetite (and my willpower!) under control?" - Dean R., Memphis, Tennessee
Been there, done that, felt awful later. But trust us, there are ways to keep your eating in check.
First, get more protein—it keeps you feeling fuller than any other nutrient. A 2014 University of Missouri study compared protein- and fat-rich snacks and found that even when the number of calories in all the snacks were the same, subjects who noshed on protein stayed fuller longer and ate less at the next meal.
Another strategy is portion control, and there’s some very helpful news on that front. A 2015 study in the journal Appetite found that people who ate their snacks out of larger packages seriously overestimated the size of one “serving.” Translation: If you eat from a trough, you’ll pig out more.
So when you do snack, make sure it’s one of these 13 protein-packed snacks, and find a smart way to limit portions.
Sunflower seeds seem to have fallen off people's radar—they're usually hiding on the bottom shelf in a grocery store—but don't neglect this underestimated healthy grab. A handful of sunflower seeds is ultra high in protein, fiber, and healthy unsaturated fats, which will keep you full for hours. Plus, they offer multiple health benefits, including lowering cholesterol and preventing cancer. Just be mindful your portion, since it’s easy to scarf down several serving servings in minimal time.
If you want a juicy piece of meat, but don’t have time to book it to the nearest grill, then stock up on canned tuna. One can of the good stuff contains nearly 40g of protein and just 5g of fat, and it tastes great when paired with a whole grain cracker or rice cake. Consume this snack in moderation, though, since tuna has been flagged before for relatively high concentrations of mercury.
Thanks to protein shakers, this fulfilling meal replacement can be made in seconds. The carbohydrate and protein content of protein shakes makes them ideal to consume around your workouts, since they'll give you a boost in energy while feeding your muscles with essential nutrients in order for them to recover and grow.
Keep your energy levels high and your hunger levels happy with a handful of nuts. Nuts like almonds, cashews, pistachios, or peanuts—okay, peanuts are technically legumes—are rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and pack more protein and fiber than the average snack, making them essential muscle-building foods. Stick to the serving size, though, and avoid the options layered in candy or coated in salty seasonings to make sure you're not setting yourself back.
Those two hard-boiled eggs packaged up near the refrigerator section in a convenience store are possibly the best affordable snack to add layers of muscle. Eggs are high in protein, which will ensure satiety, and are filled with neccessary vitamins and minerals needed for a healthy, well-balanced diet.
SlimFast’s new Advanced Nutrition line has been clinically proven to help you lose weight and keep it off. Its two varieties of meal replacements and three snacks (chocolate peanut butter bites, drizzled crisps, and baked crisps) are high in protein and fiber. The snack packs are only 100 calories, so you can rip through one but still stay under the day’s calorie ceiling.
This cup may look tiny, but at 100 calories, plain yogurt is rich in calcium, protein, and it's a core probiotic food that improves digestion. Nix the flavored options, though, since they're packed with extra sugar. If you need a little something to add some flavor, add your own fresh fruit or nuts.
Protein bars are easy to eat when on the move and are available in a wide variety of flavors—but go for a bar with minimally processed ingredients—like KIND, Think Thin, or Kashi—which are higher in protein and lower in sugar.
The average dairy product may not have as much protein as a steak, but cheese is still a great way to get some protein on the go. Part-skim string cheese packs 7 grams of protein and is rich in calcium—and each string only has 100 calories. It's an easy-to-eat portable option, too.
For a quick source of protein to grab on-the-go, beef jerky won’t dissappoint. This chewy, savory snack is an excellent source of protein and fiber with minimal fat content. Pro tip: Avoid brands that are high in saturated fat, sodium, and sugar, and search for healthy beef jerky like these options that are free of nitrates and artificial flavors.
Feeling a growl coming from your stomach? Chow down on a serving of trail mix—it's healthy and delicious. Trail mixes that consist of seeds, (minimal) dried fruit, and nuts are packed with protein, fiber, and healthy unsaturated fats, which will ensure adequate satiety. Keep an eye on portion size and avoid the options spinkled with candy, though, because the sugar and fat content can add up quickly.
If you’re in a hurry, here's a great fulfilling meal packed with protein that you can nosh on the go. Next time you step into a deli, customize your order and request a grilled chicken or turkey sandwich with one slice of whole wheat bread, lettuce (and any other veggies of choice) to make it crunchy. Opt for a healthy seasoning to give it flavor, rather than mayo or salad dressing.
If you're a peanut butter lover, then smear this spread on crackers, carrots, celery, rice cakes—you name it. PB contains adequate amounts of protein, fiber, and healthy monounsaturated fats to satisfy your hunger and fuel your body—plus, it's completely cholesterol-free.