The human body contains thousands of different kinds of proteins, each made up of unique sequences of amino acids. These proteins create the building blocks of most structures in our body, including muscles, skin, bones, and even blood. Proteins also function as enzymes in the body; enzymes help to instruct and perform countless physical and chemical processes.  Proteins also help to regulate fluid balance, form part of the endocrine (hormone) system, and help to transport nutrients via circulation. Phew, what a resume! As you can probably tell, proteins are incredibly important.

As we mentioned above, proteins are made up of amino acids. Some amino acids are referred to as ‘non-essential’ amino acids. This means that the body can self-generate them. Other amino acids, on the other hand, are labelled as ‘essential’, meaning the body cannot generate them itself and must obtain them through diet. Translation – you need to get enough protein in your diet! 

The recommended daily intake of protein per day for the average adult males is 0.84 grams per kilogram of body weight. For the average adult female, the recommended daily intake is 0.75 grams per kilogram of body weight. Some research estimates this number to be even higher, particularly if an individual is very physically active or is trying to change body composition. Speak with your dietitian about how much protein your unique body may need. Not only do we typically need more protein than we realise, the general population does not always consume enough protein at each meal to fulfil those requirements. 

This is where snacks can be an incredibly useful tool. By consuming a regular morning and or afternoon snack, a person can significantly improve their protein intake across the day. Note that research has also demonstrated that spreading protein intake across meals (and snacks) is more effective for building and maintaining lean muscle mass, versus consuming all protein in one meal. This is useful to know for anyone with athletic or body composition goals, but also for the general population.  Muscle maintenance is very important for all individuals’, but especially as we age to optimise quality of life. 

From a nutritional perspective, snacking on protein rich foods also helps you to feel nice and full throughout the day, i.e. satiety, which in turn decreases the likelihood of overeating at meals.  Protein has also been shown to stabilise blood sugar levels, which may help in creating more sustained energy levels throughout the day. Ideally aim to eat 10-20 grams of protein at snacks

Here is a list of some great high protein snack foods to try, as well as some ideas for how to enjoy them:

  • A single serve tub of natural or Greek style yoghurt (Yo Pro’s 160g tub gives 15.8g of protein). Sprinkle with some mixed nuts for an added protein and fibre boost.  
  • 2 boiled eggs (12g protein). Slice in half and sprinkle with dill or paprika. Yum! 
  • Cottage cheese (150g will provide 18.8g of protein). Spread on brown rice cakes and top with sliced tomato and basil for a fresh and easy snack option. 
  • Tinned tuna (95g gives 23.6g protein). Opt for varieties tinned in spring water or extra virgin olive oil. 
  • Smoked salmon (100g is approximately 24g protein). We enjoy smoked salmon on multigrain crackers or on a piece of rye toast. Add a couple of your favourite toppings and voila!  
  • 4 bean mix (1 cup gives 12.2g protein). Sprinkle with chopped avocado, red onion, and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. For an extra burst of flavour, add some lemon juice or fresh or dried herbs. Trust us – delicious! 
  • 1 serve plant based protein powder (30g protein). Add to water or your choice of milk, or even incorporate into a fruit smoothie if time permits.  
  • Mini frittatas (16.4g protein). Homemade frittatas are quick to make. Pop them in the fridge and grab and go throughout the week at home or at the office. 

What are your favourite healthy snacks? Reach out and let us know, we’d love to hear! 

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