You know the feeling: The mid-afternoon slump has hit and your stomach is rumbling. Lunch feels like a distant memory; dinner like a far-off dream. You need a snack, and fast—but you end up reaching for a candy bar, chips, or a cookie, which ends up making you even more tired in the long run. What you really need is a high-protein snack to keep you feeling full until your next meal.
When between-meal hunger strikes, the type of snack you choose determines how the rest of your day will go. Something sugary and full of simple carbs may cause your energy levels to take a nosedive, causing you to overeat. A snack with plenty of protein, meanwhile, will leave you pleasantly surprised at how little you need to eat to feel satisfied. “Ensuring your snacks have protein can help prevent mindless munching during the day that can add empty calories to your diet,” says Elizabeth Shaw, R.D.N., C.P.T., a California-based dietitian and author.
Why are high-protein snacks so healthy?
When you dig into a high-protein snack, your body will digest it slowly, helping you feel fuller longer, but for less calories per gram of food compared to other nutrients that come at a higher calorie count, like fats, says Dani Levy-Wolins, R.D., in-house dietitian at meal-delivery service Thistle.
“I like to pair protein-rich ingredients with foods that offer healthy fats and fiber, both of which also help keep you satiated,” says Amy Gorin, R.D.N., a dietitian based in New York City. “If you eat a snack that’s mainly carbs, you’ll likely be hungry again a lot more quickly.” Animal products and plant-based options like soy pack in protein, while fruits and veggies offer plenty of fiber, Levy-Wolins notes. A small amount of fat will likely already be present in whichever food you choose.
How much protein should a snack have?
Most dietitians agree 10 to 15 grams of protein is a good amount for a snack. “I would consider anything more than 15 grams as more of a mini-meal, so 10 grams is the sweet spot,” Shaw says.
You should also watch the number of calories in your snack, since it’s easy to go overboard with packaged options or calorie-rich foods like nuts. Levy-Wolins suggests figuring out how many calories you need in a day, plus how many you get at each meal—for example, if you have a 2,000-calorie plan and eat 500 calories three times a day, you have 500 extra calories to spread throughout the day. Most people, Shaw says, should stick to snacks of 300 calories or less.
With that, this list of high-protein snacks features healthy combos that contain plenty of fiber and healthy fats in the mix. Reach for one when you need something tasty to beat hunger between meals.
Searching for a vegan recipe that’ll satisfy your cravings? Look no further—this fruit-filled, plant-based pudding has an incredible 9 grams of protein and 14 grams of fiber per serving. Bonus: It doubles as a commuter-friendly breakfast, too.
Protein: 9 grams per serving
If you’re feeding a crowd (or just craving a springtime favorite), prep these classic deviled eggs, which pack 4 grams of protein into each bite. Served with home-pickled shallots and dill, they’re a step up from a regular old hard-boiled egg.
Protein: 4 grams per egg
Buttery, fresh, and satisfying, this goat cheese spread is exactly what you’ve been looking for. Every bite includes fruits and veggies, too, meaning you don’t have to worry about any empty calories.
Protein: 8 grams per three pieces
Greek yogurt isn’t just for eating with a spoon. Grab a fiber-rich fruit or veggie, like apples or celery sticks, and get dippin’. Mix some yogurt with honey, or even peanut butter powder for the easiest protein-packed dip around. Fancy something savory (and a little bit fancy)? Try this spiced chickpea Greek yogurt dip.
We’ve all wished we could order a pizza as soon as that first pang of afternoon hunger hits. This recipe delivers on that craving: It’s got plenty of greens and all the cheese you could want, and it takes just 20 minutes to prepare. You’ll even make your own tomato salad, too.
Protein: 12 grams per serving
Feast your eyes on this nutritious dip, which quells cravings with 6 grams of protein and just 133 calories per serving. Dip baby carrots, celery, pita chips, or basically anything else you have on hand—it’ll all taste good.
Protein: 6 grams per serving
Name a better combo than crusty bread, ricotta, and stone fruit. We’ll wait. Combined with honey, olive oil, and cracked black pepper, that trio is enough to make even the dreariest day feel magical.
Protein: 9 grams per serving
These tater-less tots are loaded with calcium and protein, plus a hefty dose of comfort. This recipe makes four servings of indulgent (but still healthy) bites that provide just the right ratio of veggies to cheese. Plus, they’re less than 200 calories per serving, meaning you can totally go for seconds.
Protein: 12 grams per serving
With 4 grams of protein and just 107 calories per roll, these snacks are perfect for sharing or eating alone as a mid-afternoon pick-me-up. Plus, they take just 10 minutes to make, meaning you don’t have to spend tons of time preparing your snack.
Protein: 4 grams per roll
This flatbread is completely vegan, but it packs in a whopping 9 grams of protein per piece thanks to chickpea flour. It’s delicious topped with peppers, paprika, and plant-based mayo, but you can also make the flatbread on its own for a lighter snack.
Protein: 9 grams per piece
Toast can be a high-protein snack to enjoy morning, noon, and night, says Shaw. “Using your favorite whole-grain toast as a base, mix a little cinnamon and a dash of honey with full-fat cottage cheese and slather it on toast,” she says.
Protein: 14 grams per slice
Everyone could use a sweet pick-me-up in their day, and this chia pudding does the trick. It’s the ideal combination of tasty treat, protein, fiber, and healthy fats. Plus, it’s beyond simple to meal prep for a grab-and-go snack. In a small container, combine 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk, 1/4 cups chia seeds, 2 tablespoons honey, and 1 cup plain Greek yogurt with any fruits you have, like blueberries, bananas, or dates. Stir it together and refrigerate overnight.
Protein: 14 grams per serving
“Homemade protein bars can be a great thing to prep ahead and keep around to satisfy your snack cravings,” Shaw says. “I also love that you can really customize these,” she adds. Many recipes require simple ingredients like oats, dates, nuts, and protein powder. Satisfy your sweet tooth with Shaw’s raw chocolate peanut butter protein bars. (But hey, store-bought bars are great, too).
Protein: 12 grams per bar
When hunger strikes, don’t head to the fridge. Instead, look to the freezer for your favorite microwaveable sushi appetizer. These green bean pods serve up plant-based protein and gut-filling fiber for just 95 calories per serving.
Protein: 9 grams per 1/2 cup
If you had a sad desk lunch and need a little protein to power you through the afternoon, roll up a black bean and hummus wrap. Cut a whole wheat tortilla in half and fill with a ½ cup of black beans, ¼ cup of hummus, a tablespoon of chopped bell pepper, a teaspoon of diced red onion, and a squeeze of lime juice. Because who doesn’t want to feel like they're having a Mexican fiesta for a snack?
Protein: 9 grams per wrap
Artisanal jerky is going mainstream, and this dried meat delicacy is packed with protein. Brands like Krave and Epic make interesting flavors, such as bacon cranberry and chili lime. If jerky is a rare treat, feel free to opt for any type of meat that satisfies your taste buds. But if you’ve always got a bag of jerky in your purse, try to look for ones that are made with salmon, turkey, or chicken for a leaner piece of protein.
Protein: 9 grams per ounce (about the size of half a bag, one bar, or one stick)
Don’t have tortillas? No problem—throw together a few simple ingredients to make a protein-rich vegan salsa. The combination of black beans, tomato, orange juice, and tomato makes the quickest and most flavorful salsa recipe that you’ll want to put on everything from crackers to crudité.
Protein: 8 grams per 1/3 cup
Serious question: Do you peel your string cheese or take a bite out of it? Either way you eat it, this portable snack contains just 80 calories per stick, plus a healthy dose of bone-building calcium.
Protein: 7+ grams per stick
High-protein smoothies can be made so many different ways, but it’s best to opt for ones that have quality protein in the form of Greek yogurt, milk, or nut butter. “This coffee-flavored smoothie is full of protein-offering ingredients, like soy milk and Greek yogurt,” says Gorin. For a fruit-based smoothie, try this immune-boosting tropical sunshine smoothie—and feel free to add protein powder.
Protein: 10+ grams per smoothie
“Top 1/2 cup plain cottage cheese with a couple of tablespoons of pistachios for a high-protein, delicious snack,” Gorin recommends. “Pistachios are one of the highest-protein snack nuts, and they offer the incredibly satiating trio of plant-based protein, healthy fat, and fiber.”
Protein: 13 grams per 1/2 cup
No, we’re not talking about that type of frozen yogurt, but this one may be just as good. Made with frozen Greek yogurt, 100 percent juice, and peanut butter powder, this PB&J Frozen Yogurt from Snacking Sneakers is a high-protein treat you will look forward to eating all day.
Protein: 12 grams per ½ cup
Seeds are an often-overlooked food group that offer plenty of satiating protein, fiber, and healthy fats. Simply toss them in a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper and bake at 250 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes for a crunchy snack. Looking for something sweeter? These maple and vanilla roasted pumpkin seeds are a mouth-watering snack that you’re going to want to make in large batches
Protein: 9 grams per 1/4 cup
Oatmeal isn’t just for breakfast. Make a heaping bowl of loaded oats (roughly 1/2 cup raw makes 1 cup cooked) for a fiber-rich, high-protein snack. To up the protein ante, cook the oats with 1/2 cup milk and 1/2 cup water. Top with fruit, like apples, pears, berries, unsweetened coconut flakes or bananas, and a tablespoon of chopped nuts, hemp seeds, or flax seeds.
Protein: 10 grams per 1 cup cooked
Levy-Wolins’ go-to snack is a simple cucumber and edamame salad, which she makes with diced cucumber, 1/2 cup shelled and cooked edamame, shredded seaweed, and a drizzle of rice wine vinegar and soy sauce, plus sesame seeds on top.
Protein: 10 grams per salad
Good old peanut butter is a great solution for afternoon cravings. Enjoy it solo, spread it on toast, or pair it with fresh fruit for an extra dose of fiber.
Protein: 10 grams per 2 tablespoons
Eat nuggets like you’re a kid again with this meatless tofu nuggets recipe from Delish Knowledge. It is as simple as dredging tofu pieces in flour, cornstarch, and spices and baking in the oven. If you think you don’t like tofu, then you haven’t tried these nuggets! Bonus: Tofu is low in calories, contains all of the essential amino acids, and is a great source of magnesium, zinc, and iron.
Protein: 11 grams per 4 nuggets
Homemade energy bites come in many shapes and sizes, but most include protein-rich ingredients, like nut butters or seeds. This chocolate peanut butter variety combines two popular flavors alongside oats to serve up a bite-sized high-protein snack.
Protein: 14 grams per two bites
“I enjoy snacking on a bowl of plain Greek yogurt topped with a sprinkle of chia seeds and berries,” Levy-Wolins says. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, this is the midday snack for you.
Protein: 18+ grams per cup
Muffins might not seem like the healthiest morning pick, but not these savory cheese muffins (which happen to be gluten-free!). Made with zucchini, white cheddar, and egg, each muffin in this recipe from Marisa Moore Nutrition packs a protein punch.
Protein: 10 grams per muffin
Protein pancakes are a thing, and you can thank us later for introducing you to them. There are a ton of varieties on Pinterest, but this gluten-free pancake recipe from Edwina Clark includes eggs, flax seeds, and Greek yogurt for a filling snack. If you rather reach for a mix, go for this option from Kodiak Cakes, which packs 14 grams of protein per serving.
Protein: 10+ grams per large pancake
Homemade chicken salad is always the ultimate palate pleaser. Combine 2 cups of chopped leftover white meat chicken with 1/2 cup crunchy fruits and veggies, like chopped celery and apple. To make it healthier than traditional chicken salads, coat the chicken mixture with 1/4 cup mayo and 1/4 cup low-fat Greek yogurt and season with salt and pepper.
Protein: 15 grams per 1/2 cup
This Asian lettuce cups recipe is is made with protein-rich chicken breast combined with a spicy Asian slaw. “Each serving has 11 grams of protein, 2 grams of fiber, and only 1 gram of saturated fat, and it’s a delicious way to add protein to any meal,” says Toby Amidor, M.S., R.D.N., author of Smart Meal Prep for Beginners.
Protein: 11 grams per 2 cups
Hummus, a spread made from chickpeas, is an easy, reliable way to get a ton of protein without overdoing it before dinner. There are countless varieties out there to choose from, meaning you’ll find one that’s right for you to enjoy with whole-grain crackers or veggie sticks.
Protein: up to 15 grams per serving
Don’t feel like cooking anything? Take a slice of deli turkey and wrap it around an apple slice. The varying textures and flavors pair together really nicely.
Protein: 12 grams per 2 roll-ups