Protein on the go!

By: Oct 19, 2011

Healthy snacks that are high in protein and easy to eat on the go.

Protein is a naturally occurring nutrient critical to our bodies. It forms our nails and hair and is responsible for the healing and restoration of muscles and tissue. This nutrient serves as a building block of many elements inside of the body and is crucial to health deep within. Beyond the hidden benefits though, protein is beneficial because it keeps you energized, decreases the amount of fat stored, and keeps you feeling full longer which, overtime, can help with losing weight and toning your muscles.

Is There Such a Thing as Too Much Protein?
Knowing the benefits of protein, you may be tempted to run out and start an all protein diet, however, caution must be used. Your body needs some protein, but too much can cause problems as well. With an extreme amount of protein in your system, your liver might overwork and stress can be placed on the adrenal system and kidneys. To achieve maximum benefit, protein must be balanced with healthy fats, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Although experts disagree on the range of protein necessary each day, the average individual should aim for somewhere between 25 and 30 grams daily.

Not All Proteins Are Equal
Now that you have decided to add extra protein to your diet, you may wonder the best way to do that. Although a debate continues over which is better, plant-based protein or animal-based protein, you really cannot go wrong with either one. Where you should be careful is with highly processed proteins such as deli meats, sausage, and hot dogs. A small amount of these is fine, but filling your diet with these proteins also fills it with high fat and other processed ingredients. Your best choices come from fish, chicken, lean meats, low-fat dairy, nuts, beans, and eggs.

Protein Powders and Bars
A quick and easy way to add protein to your diet is the use of whey protein powder or eating ready-made protein bars. While using these can be easy and beneficial, moderation is the key. When picking a protein powder, you want to make sure the primary ingredient is protein. Amazingly enough, if it is not listed as one of the first two ingredients, you may be surprised to find that protein is not a main ingredient.  Additionally, protein bars may seem like such a convenience item but if you look at the ingredients for those you may be surprised as well. Several of these bars could easily be substituted with a snack of high fructose corn syrup, which obviously makes you lose any benefit you could potentially get from the protein.

Protein on the Go
When considering adding protein to your diet, let’s face it, convenience is the way to go. With schedules so hectic today, you want great tasting foods you can grab on the go or make with ease.

One of the easiest ways to start is to keep basic high protein snacks ready. Some examples of these are:

  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Low fat cheese sticks (mozzarella, muenster, or cottage cheese)
  • Tree based nuts such as almonds or walnuts
  • Tuna fish
  • Peanut butter (or almond butter for those with peanut allergies)
  • Chicken breast
  • Skim Milk or Yogurt with additional protein added (Greek yogurt is a great option)

In addition to these simple basic snacks, you should also know a couple of easy, high protein snacks that you can make and grab.

Homemade Protein Bars

  • Combine two cups dry oatmeal, four scoops whey protein powder, half a cup of peanut or almond butter, and one third cup of skim milk together and press into a 9x9 pan, freezing for forty minutes before slicing and serving.

Oatmeal Raisin Protein Muffins

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare muffin pan. In one bowl, combine one half cup dry oatmeal, one half cup egg whites, one quarter cup raisins, two tablespoons of brown sugar, one half teaspoon both vanilla extract and baking powder, and a pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg. Fill each tin two-thirds of the way full and bake for twelve to fifteen minutes.

Protein is an excellent source of nutrition for your body and one you should work to actively increase in your diet. Knowing the best sources of protein, and even a few fun recipes, can help you do just that. Now, go enjoy some muffins!