If you enjoy workouts at the gym or are an avid sportsman, you may be intent on increasing muscle mass. However, maybe your schedule doesn’t permit you to indulge in regular meals, so you may resort to snacking to get through the day. Herein lies the problem. Lots of snacks are full of carbohydrates and even sugar that may leave you hungrier and certainly won’t do much to increase your muscle mass.
The solution is to look for healthy snacks filled with nutrients and especially protein if your goal is to build muscle mass. Protein consumption not only helps us feel fuller. It slows down our digestive processes and aids in maintaining blood sugar levels constant.
There are quite a few healthy snacks that contain a generous amount of protein that you may already have in your pantry, so let’s review some protein-rich snacks that will aid in building muscle mass and keep you satiated at the same time.
1. Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt is practically the perfect muscle-building snack. You can find lactose-free, fat-free, and tons of flavors. 200 grams of Greek yogurt can afford you roughly 20 grams of protein and you’ll also take in B vitamins, selenium, and amino acids among others. Yogurt contains mostly casein protein which is absorbed slowly by the body that will not only build muscle mass but bones as well. You can add your favorite fruit and satisfy any sweet cravings. Watch yogurt flavors for added sugar and added calories.
2. Hard Boiled Eggs
Who doesn’t keep eggs on hand in the refrigerator? Eggs are rich in protein with approximately 6 grams in a single hard-boiled egg. They are easy to carry with you as a midday snack at the office or after you’ve completed your workout at the gym. Another reason to snack with an egg is that each one only contains about 80 calories. So, if you’re working out to lose weight and build muscle mass, hard-boiled eggs have you covered on both counts.
Nuts are a great snack, and they are highly nutritious. They do have a higher fat content but are filling. Mother Nature provides the perfect balance of protein, fat, and fiber. A handful of mixed nuts will get you approximately 8 grams of protein, but nuts are higher in calories, so the amount you eat will make a difference especially if you are also intent on weight loss. Almonds in particular can be easily carried in your pocket or purse and 100 gr. provides 20 grams of protein and healthy unsaturated fats.
4. Peanut Butter
Two tablespoons of peanut butter on whole grain crackers or wholemeal bread will satiate, provide about 25 grams of protein and taste great as well. Peanut butter also contains fiber to aid in digestion.
5. Protein Chips
Do you love comfort food and refuse to abandon your favorite unhealthy snacks? Surprise! You don’t need to. Many health-oriented food companies are now producing “healthy” comfort food. Protein chips made from pea protein can be the perfect solution for those with intolerances to fish, nuts, eggs, or gluten, and vegans will enjoy them too.
6. Protein Smoothies
Whether pea protein or whey protein, a smoothie is a favorite snack for many. A scoop of whey protein powder can afford you as much as 25 grams of protein. If you add in milk, you can increase your protein intake by another 5 to 6 grams. Whey is a dairy protein formulated as a by-product when producing yogurt and cheeses, so for those without lactose concerns, whey protein is optimal. If lactose is a problem, pea protein is a vegan alternative.
Tuna is part of any body-building protein menu. With zero carbohydrates and almost no fat, we’re talking almost pure protein. A can of tuna is easily transportable and requires very little space. It doesn’t require preparation or cooking, and you won’t need to refrigerate it. A carry-along snack doesn’t get much easier as long as you have a fork.
8. A Vegan Snack: Edamame Beans
If you are a vegan but want to build muscle mass with healthy eating, look no further than edamame beans. This plant protein snack is actually whole soybeans in their immature state. They are generally sold either frozen or pre-cooked. If you have a microwave at the office, they can be heated, or you can boil them briefly if desired. Pre-cooked edamame beans can also be consumed as a snack without any preparation and if they’re frozen, just allow them to thaw. A cup of these beans to snack on during the day will provide you with fiber, minerals, vitamins, and about 18 grams of protein.
The Bottom Line
Building muscle can be challenging when it comes to snacking with so many processed foods readily available. But with a bit of planning, you can stock up on and bring along a variety of healthy protein snacks to keep you satiated, control calorie intake, and build muscle all at the same time.