The 15 High-Protein Snacks Nutritionists Say They Love Most

Updated: Nov. 10, 2023

Knowing what the pros eat makes it so simple! Nutritionists told us they love to stock up on these satisfying, high-protein snacks.

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gif with woman's hands eating nuts and various high protein snack products
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Snacks with protein nutritionists say will keep you full

Especially if your grocery bill looks steeper these days, stocking up pasta and processed foods can seem tempting. (Who saw a national egg shortage coming?) But protein—derived from the Greek protos, which means “first”—is at the top of our nutrition needs. According to Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, protein is a key nutrient for building bone and muscle, effectively moving oxygen throughout your body, and supporting healthy blood, connective tissue, and immunity. These are just a few reasons many nutrition professionals try to eat enough protein.

Snack time is the perfect window to grab a little extra protein and keep your body’s functions boostedespecially with the convenient products that have hit shelves in recent years (along with some classic bites). With that in mind, here are the best high-protein snacks dietitians told The Healthy @Reader’s Digest they love to keep stocked at home and work. Plus, plenty of these high-protein snacks can be tucked into your glove compartment, backpack or gym bag for a healthy, high-protein snack on-the-go.

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Chickpea snacks
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Roasted chickpeas

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Chickpeas are so nutritious they’re one of the canned foods nutritionists always buy, and roasted chickpeas are one of the best high-protein snacks, “They are filling, portable, brimming with plant-based protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals,” says registered dietitian Malina Malkani, creator of the Wholitarian Lifestyle. Plus, eating legumes like chickpeas supports digestive health and your heart, while offering a long-lasting source of energy.

Biena’s pre-packaged roasted chickpeas come in six flavors and are also sold in a variety pack so you can try them all—but regardless of the seasoning, this is the perfect high-protein snack when you’re busy.

Malkani suggests that if you have time, roast chickpeas yourself and experiment with fun seasonings like cumin, pizza spices, and cinnamon.

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Trail Mix
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Trail mix

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Malkani says nuts and seeds in trail mix are compact, minimally processed, and easy to take on the go.

Registered dietitian Kristi King, MPH, RD, LD and a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, says this convenient snack is especially great because the nuts provide a good source of healthy in addition to all the protein protein. Just try to avoid the trail mix products with candy pieces, as this adds sugar and calories to your bag. Budget for trail mix and these 15 other nutritionist favorites from Costco.

You can also buy nuts, seeds and dried fruit in bulk and make your own trail mix to help cut down on single-use plastic

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Combine plain, non-fat Greek yogurt with raw almonds and cinnamon for a delicious snack. “I love this snack because it’s really filling,” says Hillary Cecere, MS, RD, CDN. “The healthy fats, calcium, protein, and the anti-inflammatory effects of cinnamon make it a perfect choice that I always feel really good about eating.”

In fact, Greek yogurt is one of the most versatile high-protein snacks. Cecere also recommends you could mix some with natural powdered peanut butter (another good source of plant-based protein) for a sweet and salty dip that’s perfect for apple slices.

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Hard-boiled eggs

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One extra-large egg has 80 calories, eight grams of protein, and is an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, and all nine essential amino acids. Incorporating eggs into your diet is easy, especially since they’re so versatile. For a quick, nutrient-dense snack, Cecere likes hard-boiling and eating them with hot sauce for an extra kick. (We’re fans of the zero-calorie Melinda’s spicy Green Sauce with its all-natural ingredients.)

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Beef and turkey jerky

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Cecere opts for natural jerky when she wants a salty snack. Jerky isn’t just for kids and long road trips—it’s actually one of the best healthy snacks to satisfy the munchies.

The New Primal grass-fed beef jerky sticks have eight grams of protein per eighty-calorie beef jerky stick, and the turkey sticks have seven grams per 45 calories. 

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Edamame is a complete protein that packs 18 grams of protein in a cup, and it’s also an excellent source of potassium, iron and calcium.Edamame is a great plant-based source of protein and has tons of fiber,” Cecere says.

You can buy edamame frozen and steam them in the microwave for a high-protein snack that’s ready in minutes, or you can buy dry-roasted edamame for a crunchy snack. Some brands add wasabi, sriracha or buffalo seasoning for an extra kick that’s sure to satisfy, just be mindful of the sodium—these snacks can be quite salty. 

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Smoothies with protein powder

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The right smoothie combination can be a protein powerhouse. Cecere  likes blending berries, almond butter, ice, and natural collagen peptides powder, which gives her protein both from the almond butter and the collagen supplement, but sometimes we need something even simpler, like an all-in-one shake mix. If you don’t know where to start, here are some tips for how to find the best protein powder for your goals.

We like HLTH CODE shake mix (created by metabolic scientist Ben Bikman, PhD) because each serving contains 27 grams of protein and only six net carbs. Plus it’s GMO-Free, made with real ingredients, and doesn’t contain any artificial sweeteners, which give some shakes a funny taste. 

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Protein bars

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Protein bar quality varies by brand, protein source, and ingredient quality. Although there are some bars with more sugar than candy bars, there are some good options for when you’re in a pinch. In fact, you might even be looking for a sweet treat that’s healthier than candy and loaded with protein.

If so, The Healthy @Reader’s Digest Medical Review Board co-chair, Latoya Julce, RN, BSN (a registered nurse and certified personal trainer) suggests you look no further than KIND Protein Bars. KIND Bars deliver 12 grams of plant-based protein and zero trans-fat. They’ll satisfy your sweet tooth and your protein needs in flavors like Dark Chocolate Nut, Caramel Nut and Almond Butter Dark Chocolate. KIND bars are a great option when you forget to plan ahead because they can be found in most convenience stores, airport kiosks, and more.  

Overall, look for bars with whole-food ingredients—like nuts and dried fruit—to avoid added sugars and calories. You can also make them yourself or try these nutritionist-approved vegan protein bars

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Meat and cheese roll-ups

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If you’re short on time to make your own high-protein snacks, whip up meat and cheese roll-ups. Take the deli meat and cheese of your choice and roll a slice of each together. King suggests turkey for a low-fat option and says these are jam-packed full of protein and are super easy to eat and take with you on the go.

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High-protein waffles are an all-around yummy high-protein snack, King says. Plus, it feels like you’re indulging. Opt for protein pancake mixes like Birch Bender that has 10 grams of protein per serving, or add a low-sugar vanilla yogurt to your usual pancake recipe for a protein boost. Top it with nut butter for creaminess from a healthy fat.

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Nut Butter
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Nut butter

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King says individual nut butter packets are a lifesaver for lunches or to keep in your desk drawer. “Add them to a piece of fruit or celery, and you have a perfect snack: protein plus fiber,” she says. Enjoy peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter, and more.

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Seed butter

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Seed butters are a great alternative for people with nut allergies or who live or work with people who can’t be around nuts. 88 Acres is a Boston-based company that produces everything in an environment free of peanuts, tree nuts, gluten, dairy, eggs, soy and sesame. They make seed butter out of sunflower seeds, watermelon seeds and pumpkin seeds. For a delicious treat that’s also nutritious and a good source of protein, try their vanilla cinnamon or dark chocolate sunflower seed butters. 

Also, our editors count Once Again’s sunflower seed butter as a favorite.

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“Protein, Omega-3, and vitamin D—what more could you want?” King says in reference to tuna. This is another of those versatile foods and adds beautifully to a salad, pasta, or blended with some mayo on crackers.

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Hummus is a blend of roasted chickpeas with tahini or olive oil. So if you prefer dips to crunchy chickpeas, this could be one of the best high-protein snacks for you. Small cups of on-the-go hummus make it easy to get enough protein. Load up on even more protein with some of these other on-the-go healthy snacks nutritionists eat. Hummus in single-serve packets makes it easy to pair with carrots, celery for crackers for a healthy snack. 

Additional writing and reporting by Emily DiNuzzo