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15 High-Protein Snacks Nutritionists Actually Eat

It's so helpful to know what the pros eat! Nutritionists told us they love to stock up on these satisfying, high-protein snacks.

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Snacks with protein nutritionists say will keep you full

Getting enough protein is important to most any diet. Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health explains that protein is a key nutrient your body needs to complete important functions, like build bone and muscle and effectively move oxygen throughout your body, via your blood. These are just a few reasons many nutrition experts try to eat more protein however they can easily work it into their days.

And, snack time is the perfect window to grab a little extra protein…especially 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 onhand.

Here’s How Much Protein You Really Need in a Day, with a Kidney Doctor’s Wisdom

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Roasted chickpeas

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Roasted chickpeas are one of the best high-protein snacks, according to registered dietitian Malina Malkani, the creator of the Wholitarian Lifestyle. “They are filling, portable, brimming with plant-based protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals,” Malkani says. Plus, eating legumes like chickpeas supports digestive and heart health while offering a long-lasting source of energy, Malkani says. The pre-packaged variety is perfect on-the-go high-protein snacks. If you have time, roast them yourself and experiment with fun seasonings like cumin, pizza seasonings, and cinnamon, Malkani suggests. Chickpeas are so easy to cook, which is why they are also one of the canned foods nutritionists always buy.

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Cottage cheese

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Cottage cheese could have as much as a whopping 28 grams of protein per cup—but that’s only one of the benefits. Although it took registered dietitian Hillary Cecere time to warm up to cottage cheese, she’s glad she did. One of the many benefits of eating cottage cheese is the particularly high amount of casein, a slow-digesting protein that prevents muscle breakdown, Cecere says. Another benefit Malkani loves about cottage cheese is the calcium—an essential for bone health that helps regulate blood pressure.


Trail mix

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Nuts and seeds in trail mix are compact, minimally processed, and easy to take on the go, Malkani says. This convenient snack is especially great because the nuts provide a good source of healthy fats and protein, says registered dietitian Kristi King, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Just try to avoid the ones with lots of candy pieces as it adds sugar and calories to the mix. Budget for trail mix and these 15 other foods nutritionists buy at Costco.



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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,” Cecere says. “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. You could mix some with natural powdered peanut butter for a sweet and salty dip that’s perfect for apple slices, Cecere also recommends.


Hard-boiled eggs

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One hard-boiled egg is 75 calories and 7 grams of protein, King says. Cecere likes eating them with hot sauce for an extra kick. And don’t be afraid to eat the whole egg, so you get the protein along with the vitamins and minerals, Cecere says. High-protein snacks like hard-boiled eggs aren’t the only way to up your intake. You can actually eat even more protein with these 35 other sneaky tips.

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Nitrate-free jerky

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Cecere opts for nitrate-free jerky when she wants a salty snack. Some brands could have up to 16 grams of protein per serving. Jerky isn’t just for kids and long road trips. It’s actually one of the best healthy snacks to satisfy the munchies.



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This simple snack only needs a sprinkle of sea salt. “Edamame is a great plant-based source of protein and has tons of fiber,” Cecere says. Buy them frozen and steam them in the microwave for a high-protein snack that’s ready in minutes. Dry roasted edamame is also a good option, but there’s no need to add extra salt.

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Smoothies with protein powder

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The right smoothie combination could be a protein powerhouse. Cecere especially likes blending berries, almond butter, ice, and natural collagen peptides powder. Note, however, that collagen is technically not a complete protein. So although it has some protein, it’s not equivalent to the complete variety such as whey or soy. Want to try a new protein powder? Read how to find the best protein powder for your goals.


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 a candy bar, there are some good options for when you’re in a pinch. Look for bars with whole food ingredients, like nuts and dried fruit, to avoid added sugars and calories, King says. Cecere especially likes RX bars to hold her over. You can 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 your deli meat and cheese of choice and roll a slice of each together. King suggests turkey 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 with nut butter are an all-around yummy high protein snack, King says. Plus it feels like you’re indulging. You can opt for protein pancake mixes or add in Greek yogurt to your usual pancake recipe for a boost.


Nut butter

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Individual nut butter packets are a lifesaver if you have little control around peanut, almond, or cashew butter. King says they are great for on-the-go 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.

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“Protein, Omega-3, and vitamin D—what more could you want,” King says. Plus, you want to eat enough complete proteins, like tuna, to avoid the 7 things that happen when your diet is low protein.


Chocolate milk

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Yes, chocolate milk is one of the high-protein snacks nutritionists actually drink. Why? “Eight ounces gives you eight grams of protein and just enough pick me up; so it can be used in a pinch,” King says.



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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.

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Medically reviewed by Jessica Levinson, MS, RDN, CDN, on March 23, 2021

Emily DiNuzzo
Emily DiNuzzo is the former associate editor at The Healthy and a former assistant staff writer at Reader's Digest. Her work has appeared online at the Food Network and Well + Good and in print at Westchester Magazine, and more. When she's not writing about food and health with a cuppa by her side, you can find her lifting heavy things at the gym, listening to murder mystery podcasts, and liking one too many astrology memes.